Academy Misogyny in True Grit Nominations

Academy Misogyny in True Grit Nominations

Like many people, I acknowledge the many flaws of the Academy Awards. Every year many a masterpiece is ignored while blockbuster hits are awarded for their “artistry.” Like most things in life, it seems that politics are far more involved than actual talent and accomplishment. They also reflect the colorless privilege that lines the rest of society, which is also sad and disappointing, but not surprising.

That said, there are usually a few nice surprises. This year, I was pleasantly surprised, for example, to see Hailee Steinfeld’s nomination for Best Supporting Actress in the Coen brothers’ adaptation of True Grit. I’m a big Coen brother fan and rooted for No Country for Old Men as well. (Unlike most of my female friends, I’m also a Cormac McCarthy fan—and let’s face it, Javier Bardem was made of awesome in that movie. I am still afraid to go into a dark room in case Anton Chigurh is sitting in the corner, waiting to settle some obscure score with my flesh.)

However… I have to wonder why, exactly, she’s being nominated for a supporting role when, in fact, she was the star of the film? And why, exactly, is Jeff Bridges being nominated as Best Actor for the same film? Surely he could get this nomination if his coworker, Ms. Steinfeld, received nomination of its equivalent, since it really was her movie.

A big part of me wants to attribute this to sexism, and I think it is quite sexist to not give such a wonderful first starring role the attention and recognition it—she—deserves. However, I’m also wondering if A. this is due to the desire to give attention to another, grown “leading lady” in the Best Actress category, or B. to give Ms. Steinfeld a better chance at winning an award rather than have her compete with “the big girls.” Either way, it remains a disgrace and a disservice to her performance.

Many people are hoping that Ms. Steinfeld is chosen for the role of Katniss in The Hunger Games—myself included. I wish her the best of luck on both her nomination this weekend as well as in the running for the role of perhaps the character of the century in the YA literary world. Steinfeld would surely give Katniss the look and voice that she deserves, and perhaps ensure that at least one YA lit adaptation floats rather than sinks this year.