Women performers and filmmakers enjoyed empowering moments and milestones during the 2020 Oscars, but the notion that female directors were snubbed loomed large throughout the evening.
In the weeks leading up to the Oscars on Sunday, critics were quick to note the lack of female nominees for the Best Director category. Women were responsible for critically acclaimed movies including “Little Women” directed by Greta Gerwig and “The Farewell” directed by Lulu Wang, yet all of the Best Director nominations went to men. The award was ultimately snagged on Sunday night by Bong Joon-ho for his suspense slasher “Parasite,” which also cleaned up for Best International Feature and Best Film.
Shining moments for women came through in the form of camaraderie and masterful performance. Here are the top memories for women at the Oscars 2020.
1. Natalie Portman’s cape.
One of the best Oscar moments for women wasn’t broadcast on TV. Actress Natalie Portman donned a cape that was embroidered with the names of snubbed female directors, including “Gerwig,” “Wang,” “Scafaria” in tribute to Lorene Scafaria for “Hustlers,” and “Heller” for Marielle Heller, who directed “A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood.” Portman told the Los Angeles Times on the red carpet: "I wanted to recognize the women who were not recognized for their incredible work this year in my subtle way.”
2. Chris Rock and Steve Martin’s open.
During the Oscars open, Chris Rock and Steve Martin came out and addressed the elephant in the room right away. Rock noted that a lot of great directors were nominated, but Martin said that something was missing. Rock replied: “Vaginas?” While the scripted open didn’t solve the problem or go further, it was one of several moments of male allyship in the evening.
3. Sigourney Weaver, Brie Larson, and Gal Gadot’s biting presentation.
Actresses Sigourney Weaver (“Alien”), Brie Larson (“Captain Marvel”) and Gal Gadot (“Wonderwoman”) graced the stage together to introduce Eimear Noone, the first woman ever to conduct the Best Original Score medley at the Oscars. The women first bantered about forming a Fight Club where men wouldn’t be allowed to wear shirts, and the losers would “have to answer questions about how it feels to be a woman in Hollywood,” read Gadot. The trio went on to present Best Original Score award, which went to Hildur Guðnadóttir, the first woman ever to receive the award.
4. Cynthia Erivo’s powerful performance.
Actress and singer Erivo played Harriet Tubman in “Harriet” and performed the film’s original song “Stand Up” to the Oscars crowd on Sunday. Flanked by an ensemble of dancers wearing slave costumes, Erivo belted out the chilling and powerful anthem to a standing ovation. The song was capped by a large image of Tubman rising at the top of the stage.
5. Joaquin Phoenix’s acceptance speech.
After winning the Best Actor Award for his role in “The Joker,” Joaquin Phoenix delivered an impassioned acceptance speech filled with personal repentance and political messaging. “I see commonality,” he said. “I think, whether we’re talking about gender inequality or racism or queer rights or indigenous rights or animal rights, we’re talking about the fight against injustice. We’re talking about the fight against the belief that one nation, one people, one race, one gender, one species, has the right to dominate, use and control another with impunity.”.