Margot Robbie and Greta Gerwig both missed out on Oscar nominations, but for very different reasons.

The slightly pathetic yet lovable strains of the song I'm Just Ken hit a little differently for fans today.

All thanks to the fact that when the 2024 Academy Award nominations were announced this week there were some surprising omissions when it came to the team behind Barbie, the highest-grossing film of 2023.

While Barbie was nominated for Best Actor in a Supporting Role (Ryan Gosling), Best Actress in a Supporting Role (America Ferrera), Best Writing Adapted Screenplay (Greta Gerwig and Noah Baumbach), Best Costume Design (Jacqueline Durran), two nominations for Best Original Song (I’m Just Ken and What Was I Made For), Best Production Design, and the coveted Best Picture award, its star and producer Margot Robbie was not nominated for Best Actress, and Greta Gerwig was not included on the Best Director list.

Watch: Margot Robbie takes you inside the Barbie Dream House. Post continues below.

Video via Architectural Digest.

In the same amount of time it took for the phrase 'Kenergy' to catch on, critics and fans alike drew a parallel between the plot of Barbie, where the patriarchy is celebrated and revered while women do the work behind the scenes, to the fate of Barbie at the hands of the Academy.

And while internet culture is somewhat known for always being that one friend in the group chat who takes a piece of unverified information and blows it out into a lengthy statement without considering the full facts, in this case, the memes do speak the truth.


Despite its box-office success and critical acclaim, there were always fears that Barbie would be shown the (Dream House) door when it came to Oscar nominations, due to the Academy's longstanding hesitation to honour films that fall into the comedy category, are targeted at women, and anything that favours the colour pink.

Just this week, multi-Academy Award winning director Oliver Stone addressed past comments he had made about Barbie and the team who created it. Stone had previously told City Am that Barbie was responsible for the "infantilisation of Hollywood" and that an actor like Ryan Gosling was "wasting his time if he’s doing that s**t for money, and he should be doing more serious films".

After actually seeing the movie, Stone released a statement saying he now "appreciated the film's originality" and that "Barbie's box office greatly boosted the morale of our business."

While one lone filmmaker's voice was never going to completely sway the Oscar voting process, it's safe to say that Stone's comments felt very much like they were echoing the sentiments of his contemporaries within the Academy. He was just one of the few to say it out loud.

Listen to a brutally honest review of Barbie on The Spill podcast.

Within this Barbie backlash conversation, Margot Robbie and Greta Gerwig's nomination fates have been linked, and the reason behind their names being left out of their respective categories have been conflated. 


But the reality is that they were always facing two very different challenges when it came to their nomination fields.

In the acting categories, roles that are billed as comedic rather than dramatic are rarely even flirted with when it comes to Oscar nominations. For the Best Actress category in particular, the nominees and winners are primarily for performances that feature a female character overcoming a great hardship, being abused, ostracised, and tormented. With extra winner's cache added if the actress in question undergoes a makeunder for the role.

(With the possible exception of Julie Andrews winning for Mary Poppins in 1964, but if you look at the way those kids kept that playroom, I would argue that she did, in fact, 'overcome a great hardship'.)

When you look at this year's Best Actress nominee list, which includes Annette Bening (Nyad), Lily Gladstone (Killers of the Flower Moon), Sandra Hüller (Anatomy of a Fall), Carey Mulligan (Maestro) and Emma Stone (Poor Things), it could be surmised that Robbie's performance was always destined to fall into the trap of 'too comedic', 'too beautiful', and too 'happily ever after' to ever be in real contention for the award.

When it comes to Gerwig's fate in the Best Director category, however, the story differs and becomes a little more complicated.

In the Academy Awards' century-long history, just eight women have ever been nominated in the Best Director category and only three women have won the award – Kathryn Bigelow for The Hurt Locker in 2009,  Chloé Zhao for Nomadland in 2020, and Jane Campion won for The Power of the Dog in 2021.


In the years since the very first Academy Awards presentation was held in 1929, there has only been one year in which two women were included on the nomination list for Best Director, when in 2020 Zhao was nominated in the category alongside Emerald Fennell for Promising Young Woman.

This year, with Justine Triet's Best Director nomination for Anatomy of a Fall taking up the 'sometimes up-for-grabs just one woman' slot, it appears there was even less opportunity for Gerwig to be included on the list, and she was not the only female filmmaker to suffer this fate. The brilliant Past Lives was nominated for Best Picture, while the film's director Celine Song was not included in the Best Director category.

In Gerwig's case, the cause of her exclusion from the Best Director category almost certainly comes down to the subject matter of her film and who is voting in this category.

Greta Gerwig and Margot Robbie accept the Best Comedy Award for Barbie at this year's Critics Choice Awards. Image: Getty. 


Unlike the acting categories, which can include more varied voters, less than six percent of the Academy is eligible to vote in the Best Director category. The Best Director voters are also traditionally the older voters within the Academy and the voting body that skews mostly male, with 75 percent of this year's voters being men.

So the question here is not just how many of the eligible voters in this category appreciated Gerwig's directorial work on Barbie, but also, how many of them actually saw it?

The Oscars voting system works on an honour system, so while there is no way to know for sure who saw what, this situation does feel eerily similar to when Gerwig was left off the Best Director list in 2020.

That year, despite her film Little Women being a critically acclaimed box office success, and being included on the Best Picture list, Gerwig was – surprisingly – left off the Best Director nominations list.


Amy Pascal, one of Little Women's producers, noted that many male members of the Academy did not come to screenings of the movie or watch the screener tapes provided, and therefore her team was prepared for both the movie and Gerwig to be shut out of some of the Oscars categories.

"I don't think that men came to the screenings in droves, let me put it that way," Pascal told Vanity Fair at the time of the RSVPs she had tracked. "And I'm not sure when they got their screener DVDs that they watched them.

"It's a completely unconscious bias. I don't think it's anything like a malicious rejection."

While both Robbie and Gerwig are nominated in other 2024 Oscars categories – Robbie as producer and Gerwig for the screenplay, alongside her husband – the lack of a Best Director nomination in particular highlights the uncomfortable fact that there is still a limited value placed upon stories told by women, for women.

In the words of Ken himself, in a statement released by Ryan Gosling, "There is no Ken without Barbie, and there is no Barbie movie without Greta Gerwig and Margot Robbie, the two people most responsible for this history-making, globally celebrated film. 

"To say that I’m disappointed that they are not nominated in their respective categories would be an understatement."

Laura Brodnik is Mamamia's Head of Entertainment and host of The Spill podcast. You can follow her on Instagram here.

Feature Image: Getty. 

Calling all internet users! Take our survey now and go in the running to win a $50 gift voucher!