Jan. 24 (UPI) -- The blockbuster female-empowerment comedy Barbie was nominated for eight Oscars -- including Best Picture, but the absence of Greta Gerwig and Margot Robbie in the Best Director and Best Actress categories was met with widespread disappointment and even outrage.
The Women Film Critics Circle voted Barbie as the Best Film About Women of 2023. It was also the highest-grossing movie of the year and the highest-grossing movie ever made by a woman with nearly $1.4 billion in box-office receipts.
Robbie's nominated co-stars America Ferrera and Ryan Gosling tempered their glee for their own mentions in the Best Supporting Actress and Actor races with their shock that Gerwig and Robbie weren't given more credit.
"No recognition would be possible for anyone on the film without their talent, grit and genius," Gosling said in a statement Tuesday after the nominations were announced. "To say that I'm disappointed that they are not nominated in their respective categories would be an understatement."
"Greta has done just about everything that a director could do to deserve it," the actress told Variety. "Creating this world, and taking something that didn't have inherent value to most people and making it a global phenomenon. It feels disappointing to not see her on that list."
Gerwig, 40, was nominated for Best Adapted Screenplay, along with her husband, co-writer Noah Bombach, and she and Robbie are credited as producers, so they will take home Oscars should the movie win Best Picture. But many say that is not enough.
Detractors are accusing the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences of sexism by continually ignoring the contributions of women artists, most recently and egregiously by omitting Gerwig and Robbie from the five-person categories in which they were eligible, given their presence in other recent competitions.
Gerwig -- the first filmmaker in history to have her first three solo features Lady Bird, Little Women and Barbie nominated for the Best Picture Oscar -- is up for the Directors Guild of America award.
Robbie has been nominated for Screen Actors Guild, BAFTA, Critics Choice and Golden Globe awards for her performance.
"The directing branch [of the Oscars academy] is still about 80% male. Barbie was not looked at as a 'serious' movie like Oppenheimer was. But it's still ridiculous. Women directors are always pushing a boulder uphill, even those directing a big budget studio film. The fact that the film received a Best Picture nomination without a nomination for Gerwig adds insult to injury," Women and Hollywood columnist Melissa Silverstein wrote in an email newsletter.
"Nothing will take away from what Greta Gerwig and Margot Robbie have accomplished. It was a radical feminist look at womanhood in our world and while awards are awesome, Greta can do whatever the [expletive] she wants now, Best Director nom or not."
MSNBC host Jennifer Palmieri posted on X: "Both Gerwig and Robbie ignored...it's still so easy for Hollywood to overlook and discount artistic contributions of women - EVEN WHEN ITS THE POINT OF THE YEAR'S BIGGEST MOVIE! My God. It was nominated for best picture. Didn't direct itself, friends!"
Others voicing their opinions pointed out the academy's traditional preference for artistic independent films, prestigious historical epics and heart-breaking dramas over more popular fare like Dune, Top Gun: Maverick or Avatar: The Way of Water.
Comedies that have won in recent years have been quirky, esoteric stories such as Everything Everywhere All at Once (2023), Parasite (2019) and Birdman (2014) as opposed to crowd pleasers like Barbie.
"I do think that the Academy membership has a bit of a bias, unconscious or otherwise, against true comedies and toward heavier dramas," Dave Karger, Turner Classic Movies host and author of 50 Oscar Nights, told People on Wednesday.
"Even though [Gerwig and Robbie] both received nominations for their work on Barbie in other categories, these two high-profile omissions will be remembered -- and they will sting -- for a long time."
Barbie, along with the historical epic Oppenheimer, made up last summer's "Barbernheimer" phenomenon, which drove audiences back to cinemas that were struggling in the wake of coronavirus pandemic shutdowns and the rise of streaming services.
Each movie earned about $1 billion worldwide, but only one had millions of moviegoers flocking to theaters in peppy pink attire.
Deadly serious Oppenheimer starred Cillian Murphy as Robert Oppenheimer, the real-life "father of the atomic bomb."
The period film was nominated for Best Picture, while co-stars Robert Downey Jr. and Emily Blunt were nominated in the Best Supporting Actor and Actress races.
Christopher Nolan, who helmed it, is nominated for Best Director.
In Barbie, Robbie, 33, plays the titular gorgeous doll, who lives in Barbieland, which is cheerfully run by fashionably dressed women confident they can be anything they want and handsome men, including Gosling's Ken, are always at their beck and call.
An existential crisis drives Barbie into the real world where she meets Gloria (Ferrera), a disillusioned Mattel employee, and is saddened to discover women are not as well regarded or powerful as they are in Barbieland.
Ken, along for the ride, is delighted to embrace "the patriarchy."