Oscars: Janelle Monae Applauds "All the Women Who Directed Phenomenal Films" in Musical Number

'Parasite' made history as the first non-English language film to win best picture at the 92nd Academy Awards.

At the 2020 Oscars on Sunday at the Dolby Theatre, the lack of diversity amongst nominees was mentioned onstage during the opening introduction as well as the ceremony itself.

The first comment came in Janelle Monáe's opening musical number, when she exclaimed, "This year] we celebrate all the women who directed phenomenal films" — a reference to the absence of female nominees in the category.

When Chris Rock and Steve Martin were onstage giving their opening monologue, Martin noted that "something is missing this year" from the directing category. And then Rock filled his sentence in with, "vaginas?"

Presenting the best documentary category, Mark Ruffalo highlighted the fact that four of the five films were directed by women. The award went to American Factory, co-directed by Julia Reichert and Steven Bognar.

Pitch Perfect actor Utkarsh Ambudkar also referenced the overall lack of diverse nominees when he took the stage to perform a recap of the Oscars in a rap, noting that few of the nominees "look like him."

Further into the program, Sigourney Weaver, Gal Gadot and Brie Larson took the stage to present an orchestral performance by the first female-led orchestra in the Academy's 92-year history. The trio of actresses also joked that they are starting a fight club where men are welcome as long as they don't wear shirts. "The loser will answer questions from journalists about how it feels to be a woman in Hollywood," said Gadot, giving a jab at the lack of diversity in this year's nominees. 

Moments later, Hildur Gudnadóttir won the Oscar for best original score for Joker (she is the first woman to win in the category since it was called best original score). "To the girls, to the women, to the mothers, to the daughters who hear the music bubbling from within, please speak up," she said at the podium. "We need your voices."

Emerging triumphant at the end of the ceremony, Parasite made history as the first non-English language film to win a best picture Oscar. Bong Joon Ho's drama about class discrimination also won best director, best original screenplay and best international feature. 

Amongst this year's nominees and following the pattern of last year, none of the five motion picture directing nominees were female. Additionally, Greta Gerwig is the only female director to have a film nominated — Little Women — for best picture. Her nomination in 2018 for Lady Bird is the last time that a female director was nominated in the category.

In the acting categories, only one of the 20 nominations went to a person of color — Cynthia Erivo — who portrays abolitionist Harriet Tubman in Harriet.

On the red carpet, Natalie Portman wore a Dior Haute Couture dress that paid tribute to the snubbed female directors by listing their names in gold embroidery down the lapel. The names were [Lorene] Scafaria, [Lulu] Wang, [Greta] Gerwig, [Mati] Diop, [Marielle] Heller, [Melina] Matsoukas, [Alma] Har'el and [Celine] Sciamma.

Since the #OscarsSoWhite controversy arose over the all-white acting nominees at the 2016 Oscars, there has been a push for inclusion within the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Science, whose membership predominantly comprises older, white male voters.

The decision to diversify included an effort to invite more women and people of color to become members, which, the Academy hoped, would be more representative of the U.S. population and global film audience. As of 2019, the Academy indicated that its group is 84 percent white and 16 percent nonwhite (recorded figures from 2015 indicate the Academy was 92 percent white and 8 percent nonwhite). Looking at the latest gender figures, it is 68 percent male and 32 percent female (as compared with 2015's 75 percent male and 25 percent female). 

But while its membership has diversified significantly since 2016, that has seemingly not translated to a notable diversification among nominees.

In the Academy Awards' 92-year history, only five women have ever been nominated for best director. Italian screenwriter and director Lina Wertmüller became the first, receiving a nomination in 1977 for Seven Beauties. (In October 2019, the 91-year-old Wertmüller was presented with an honorary Oscar at the Governors Awards.) She was followed by Jane Campion in 1993 for The Piano, Sofia Coppola in 2003 for Lost in Translation, Kathryn Bigelow in 2009 for The Hurt Locker and finally Gerwig for Lady Bird in 2018.