If there's one thing you remember about this year's Golden Globes, it's likely Natalie Portman's "all-male nominees" comment. While presenting the award for Best Director, Portman pointed out the lack of women in the category to some shocked faces, and in the case of her co-presenter, director Ron Howard, an uncomfortable chuckle. But, that right there was the very point. In an interview with BuzzFeed, Portman said her "all-male nominees" comment was meant to make people uncomfortable.
In fact, the comment stemmed from Portman's own discomfort with the category, that she said "seemed to be excluding some deserving nominees." (Cough, Lady Bird 's Greta Gerwig, cough.) Before the awards, Portman was told she'd be introducing Best Director and talked to some of the women she was working with to figure out how to best handle her concerns.
"How could I bring attention to it without disrespecting the nominees?" she told BuzzFeed of those men nominated that night: Dunkirk's Christopher Nolan, All the Money In The World's Ridley Scott, The Post's Steven Spielberg, Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri's Martin McDonagh, and the night's winner, Shape Of Water's Guillermo del Toro. It wasn't a dig against them, "because it's not their fault and they all made great work," she continued. "You don't want to not recognize them. It's just, why aren't we recognizing the people who aren't part of this exclusive club?"
That's when one of the women she was working with, who she didn't name, suggested that she say, "And here are all the all-male nominees." "It felt like stating something that was true," Portman said of her planned mic-drop moment.
And she's right, because it wasn't just true of that night, it's been true on many Golden Globes nights. No woman has been nominated for Best Director since 2015 when Ava DuVernay earned a nom for Selma. No woman has actually won that award since Barbra Streisand in 1984 for Yentl. She remains the only woman who has ever taken home the Best Director in the Globes' 75-year history.
That night, Portman walked the Globes red carpet as part of the #TimesUp movement, which stands in solidarity with anyone who has come forward with sexual harassment and assault allegations in Hollywood and beyond. But the movement also stands for gender equality, and that night Portman showed up at the Golden Globes telling the world, "It's time we want our workplaces to reflect the world we're living in and have everyone represented."
Portman's comment about the lack of women in the directing category was meant to make things awkward, but it was also to get people thinking about what her words meant. She explained to BuzzFeed,
"We have to make it weird for people to walk in a room where everyone's not in the room. If you look around a room and everyone looks like you, get out of that room. Or change that room. Whether you go to a restaurant, whether you go to your kid's school, whether you go to work — if you look around, and everyone's not in the room, change that room."
Portman has been expressing the need for change in Hollywood any chance she gets. Recently, she reacted to the whitewashing controversy surrounding her new movie Annihilation, saying that it was "problematic," but an example of a bigger problem not just with her movie, but in the industry. "We just don't have enough representation," she told Yahoo! Entertainment.
Portman has found a way to use these moments to stump for a bigger cause. When BuzzFeed asked Portman about whether time is up on Woody Allen's career, she suggested people shift the focus away from him and to something bigger. She said,
"Let's not talk about what man's career is over. Let's talk about the vast art trove we've lost by not giving women, people of color, people with disabilities, and the LGBTQ+ community opportunities — let's talk about that loss for all of us in art. Let's talk about that huge hole in our culture."
No matter how Portman's Golden Globe moment made you feel, she was looking for it to start a conversation about representation. And since people are still talking about her "all-male nominees" comment more than a month after it happened, it seems Portman's plan is working. Maybe that room will be changed sooner than anyone imagined.