The Women of ‘Barbie’ Were Largely Left Out of the Oscars

America Ferrera was the only woman in "Barbie" that was recognized with an Oscar nomination. Was The Academy right?

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America Ferrera was the only woman nominated for an Oscar for Barbie. Ironic, isn’t it?

She was nominated in the Best Supporting Actress category, but where are the rest of her female teammates in this feminist-ish movie? It seems like the Academy wasn’t moved by the year of "all pink everything," and the women empowerment that stemmed from the movie. 

The star, and our now-forever Barbie, Margot Robbie was left out of the Best Actress category. No one else could’ve played Barbie better than Robbie in my opinion—she is Barbie—but in all honesty, the character itself had no depth. There was no arc aside from Barbie realizing she wanted to be a woman, but her concerns seemed a bit superficial. The whole movie did. Robbie was a treat for the eyes in all of Barbie’s iconic outfits, and she was charming and doll-like in all the best ways, but the performance itself was not Oscarworthy.

Fans are calling her lack of a nomination a snub, and while she embodied Barbie's energy, the intensity of Robbie's performance does not come close to the other nominees in the category. Robbie simply would have no chance in a category that is surely going to Emma Stone for Poor Things. But performance aside, leading the biggest movie of the year at the box office and in terms of cultural impact, Robbie should have been enough to get recognition.

On the other hand, Ferrera earned the nomination, delivering perhaps one of the most moving moments in the film. Her speech about the perils of being a woman has made the rounds, and while to most people it felt like elementary feminism, it got people’s attention. Her role grounded this film as it gave us someone to truly root for because she represented us — the audience and the women who once adored playing with Barbie — and honored what the doll symbolized. 

Ferrera played Gloria, a woman who worked at Mattel and was having trouble connecting to her teenage daughter Sasha (Adriana Greenblatt). They're both Latina actors but their background and culture are never mentioned in the film. The speech might have been even more powerful if Gerwig and cowriter Noah Baumbach made it more specific: Yes, life is hard for women, but it's particularly difficult for women of color. This was a misstep from Gerwig as director, but even the basic speech about something all women already know landed them a nomination. So who was the speech for if not for women? Girls? Men? Academy voters? Who knows, the answer is not clear. But the words and Ferrera’s delivery got somebody’s attention.

Ryan Gosling also drew some favorable attention. While his director and costar were "snubbed," he nabbed a Best Supporting Actor nomination. It’s ironic, sure, but that was a given. Gosling became Ken for this role and the nomination is a testament to his efforts. He’s unlikely to win since he’s up against other heavyweights who delivered career-best performances. But still, Gosling, to me, was a bright spot in the fluorescent pink film that showcased pretty dull performances from everyone else. That was also my general impression while watching Barbie the first time: It was Gosling’s movie. He stole the show in a film that was seemingly intended to be a celebration of women. But that wasn’t solely Gosling’s doing — the film was written and directed in a way that made him the star and made Barbie an afterthought — or more like his supporting actor.

Meanwhile, among a sea of men and one woman, Greta Gerwig was also nowhere to be found in the Best Director category. Anatomy of a Fall’s Justine Triet is the only woman director nominated in a year of incredible cinematic wins. Whether or not I agree with Gerwig’s direction, she should have been at least recognized for helming a film of this magnitude and with this much box office success. This is not the first time the Oscars left out women directors in the Best Director category, including a previous Gerwig snub for directing Little Women.

I do not believe Gerwig would have won competing against Martin Scorcese or Christopher Nolan, but she was just as deserving of a nomination as they are.

The film's gotten consolation prizes in the awards circuit, like winning the Golden Globes’ new Cinematic Box Office Achievement Award. It also has taken various awards for Best Original Song and Best Costume Design, but it has yet to win any acting awards. 

The Gosling nomination and subsequent snubs for Robbie and Gerwig prove the movie’s point: The patriarchy is alive and well. And even when you put your heart and soul into something like Gerwig did, a man is more likely to get the credit for it than you are — and there’s nothing we can do to stop it.

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