As surprising as it may seem, there have only been eight movies from female filmmakers nominated in the Best Director category at the Academy Awards® over the years, with only two of those taking home top honors. However, that tally could very well increase at the 94th Oscars® on March 27th with Jane Campion’s THE POWER OF THE DOG up for Best Director as well as 11 other nominations, including Best Picture.
In honor of Women’s History Month, we have put together a list of all the Best Director-nominated Movies from a female director that includes information on each of the eight titles and how they fared at the annual awards show. Let’s take a look…
Seven Beauties (Lina Wertmüller)
The 1975 genre-bending epic, SEVEN BEAUTIES, tells the story of a rather unlikeable man living in Fascist-controlled Italy during World War II who will do anything to survive. Upon being convicted of killing and dismembering a man who turned his sister into a prostitute, he manages to get transferred to a psychiatric ward which he escapes by volunteering for the Italian army, which he deserts. After being captured, he’s sent to a German concentration camp where he is forced to make an extremely difficult decision.
Lina Wertmüller became the first female filmmaker to be nominated for a Best Director Oscar at the 1977 Academy Awards. Wertmüller also received a nomination for Best Screenplay Written Directly for the Screen.
The Piano (Jane Campion)
Upon arriving in New Zealand following a long voyage from Scotland, Ada McGrath, a talented pianist portrayed by Holly Hunter, and her young daughter, Flora, played by Anna Paquin, are left to make a new life for themselves in their new home. Soon after settling in, Ada finds herself stuck in a battle between the head and the heart when she’s sold into marriage with one man, but falls for another.
Jane Campion received her first Best Director nomination for the 1993 historical drama, THE PIANO, a film that would not only earn her an Oscar for Best Screenplay Written Directly for Screen, but also awards for the film’s stars, Holly Hunter and Anna Paquin, who took home Best Actress and Best Supporting Actress respectively. In total, THE PIANO received eight Oscar nominations.
Lost In Translation (Sofia Coppola)
During a work trip to Tokyo to film a whiskey commercial, actor Bob Harris, played by Bill Murray, forms a tight bond with a young newlywed named Charlotte, portrayed by Scarlett Johansson, as they explore the massive city, its culture, and their unconventional friendship while also contemplating life in Sophia Coppola’s LOST IN TRANSLATION.
Nominated in four categories at the 2004 Academy Awards, including Best Picture, Best Director, and Best Actor, Sophia Coppola’s eye-catching and contemplative drama would take home an Oscar for Best Original Screenplay.
The Hurt Locker (Kathryn Bigelow)
When the leader of an Explosive Ordnance Disposal unit is killed in combat, the team’s new lead, Staff Sergeant William James, played by Jeremy Renner, brings a new feel and philosophy to the group that will help them grow, just as long as he doesn’t get them killed first, in Kathryn Bigelow’s THE HURT LOCKER.
Kathryn Bigelow made history in early 2010 when she became the first female director to be named Best Director at the Academy Awards. But, that wasn’t the only award to be won by THE HURT LOCKER that night, as the gripping military drama took home Oscars for Best Picture, Best Original Screenplay, Film Editing, Sound Editing, and Sound Mixing.
Lady Bird (Greta Gerwig)
Greta Gerwig’s solo directorial debut, LADY BIRD, follows Saoirse Ronan’s Christine “Lady Bird” MacPherson, a fiercely independent high school senior, as she prepares to leave her hometown and family behind to attend college and start a new life somewhere on the East Coast.
LADY BIRD was nominated for a total of five Oscars at the 90th Academy Awards, including Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actress, Best Supporting Actress, and Best Original Screenplay. And, even though the movie didn’t take home any of those awards, Greta Gerwig’s coming-of-age drama received universal praise upon release.
Promising Young Woman (Emerald Fennell)
In the years since her life was completely upended by a shockingly tragic incident, 30-year-old medical school dropout Cassie Thomas, played by Carey Mulligan, puts a plan in motion to get revenge against the supposed “nice guys” of the world. But, things get a little more complicated in Emerald Fennell’s feature film directorial debut, PROMISING YOUNG WOMAN, when Cassie runs into an old classmate who’s eager to know what she’s been up to all these years.
Emerald Fennell didn’t take home an Oscar for Best Director, but the actress-turned-filmmaker did take home an Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay at the 93rd annual award show. The movie was also up for Best Picture, Best Actress, and Best Film Editing.
Nomadland (Chloé Zhao)
After losing everything she has ever known and loved in the Great Recession, a fiercely independent woman named Fern, played by Frances McDormand, makes a new life for herself in the vast open spaces of the American West in Chloé Zhao’s breathtaking and meditative drama, NOMADLAND.
In early 2021, Chloé Zhao became only the second female filmmaker to take home an Oscar in the Best Director category when her name was called at the 93rd Academy Awards. The movie also took home Oscars for Best Picture and Best Actress for Frances McDormand’s magical performance.
Perhaps Jane Campion will become the third female director to be win Best Director with her western drama THE POWER OF THE DOG which is nominated for a total of 12 Academy Awards. This is also the second time Campion has been nominated for directing, her first time being for THE PIANO in 1993.
Before the 94th Academy Awards take place on Sunday, March 27th, we recommend that you experience the films listed in this article on AMC Theatres On Demand.