Welcome to the 4th. article in our five week series on Women in Hollywood.
Since the first Academy Awards ceremony back in 1929, only four women have been nominated for best director and only one woman has won the award out of those four.
The first female nominee was Lina Wertmuller in 1977 for her film Seven Beauties which was spoken in Italian. In total, the movie was nominated for four awards (Best Director, Best Actor in a Leading Role, Best Foreign Language Film, and Best Original Screenplay) however it lost out to Sidney Lumet’s Network and Jean-Jacques Annaud’s Noirs et blancs en couleur.
The next nomination was seventeen years later when Jane Campion was nominated for her film The Piano in 1994. It won three Oscars (Best Actress, Holly Hunter and Best Supporting Actress, Anna Paquin) including one for Jane herself for Best Writing. It also had five more nominations, including Best Director, but it lost out to Steven Spielberg’s Schindler’s List (Best Director, Best Editing, Best Cinematography and Best Picture) and Martin Scorsese’s The Age of Innocence (Best Costume Design).
Sofia Coppola was the third woman in Oscar history to be nominated for Best Director. In 2004 her film, Lost in Translation, was up for four awards. It lost three nominations to Peter Jackson’s The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King (Best Picture and Best Director) and Clint Eastwood’s Mystic River (Best Actor, Sean Penn). However, Sofia did win Best Original Screenplay.
Finally, in 2010, a woman finally won Best Director. Kathryn Bigelow’s The Hurt Locker was up for nine categories! It only lost out to three awards, Best Actor (Jeff Bridges in Scott Cooper’s Crazy Heart ), Best Original Score (Peter Docter and Bob Peterson’s Up ) and Best Cinematography, which ironically, went to her ex-husband James Cameron, for his film Avatar. The Hurt Locker won the awards for Best Film Editing, Best Sound Editing, Best Sound Mixing, Best Original Screenplay, Best Picture and Best Director.
Despite having only four female nominees for Best Director, there have been other films directed by women (another 7 in total), that have had nominations in other categories. Randa Haines’ Children of a Lesser God was nominated in five categories (winning Best Leading Actress for Marlee Matlin). Penny Marshall’s Awakenings was nominated for three awards but won none. Barbra Streisand’s The Prince of Tides was up for seven awards but also won none. Valerie Faris’ Little Miss Sunshine (co-directed with Jonathon Dayton) was nominated for four awards and won two (Best Supporting Actor for Alan Arkin and Best Original Screenplay). Lone Scherfig’s An Education was nominated for three categories but won none. The last two of the seven women, were nominated for the 2011 awards. Lisa Cholodenko’s The Kids Are All Right was nominated for four categories but won none and Debra Granik’s Winter’s Bone was also up for four awards but again won none.
Also there have been twelve female directors (thirteen if you include Lina Wertmuller) whose films have been nominated for Best Foreign Film category. The first nomination was in 1960 (Paw), seventeen years before the first female Best Director nomination. Also two of these directors have had two films each nominated for Best Foreign Film. Those that have been nominated are Astrid Henning-Jensen’s Paw, Lina Wertmuller’s Seven Beauties, Diane Kurys’ At First Sight, Maria Luisa Bemberg’s Camila, Coline Serreau’s Three Men and a Cradle, Mira Nair’s Salaam Bombay, Nana Dzhordzhadze’s A Chef in Love, Agnes Jaoui’s The Taste of Others, Caroline Link’s Beyond Silence, Christina Comencini’s Don’t Tell, Claudia Llosa’s The Milk of Sorrow, and Susanne Bier’s After the Wedding. There has been three winners in this category too. They are Marleen Gorris’ Antonia, Caroline Link’s Nowhere in Africa (her second nominated film) and Susanne Bier’s In a Better World(also her second nominated film).
So in 82 year history of the Academy Awards (or in the 83 ceremonies as it had two ceremonies in 1930 Academy_Award ), only 23 female directors have had their films nominated. So what about this year’s? There are nine films with female directors eligible for nomination. They are Sarah Smith’s Arthur Christmas (co-directed with Barry Cook), Angelina Jolie’s In the Land o Blood and Honey, Vera Farmiga’s Higher Ground, Jennifer Yuh’s Kung Fu Panda, Dee Rees’ Pariah, Phyllida Lloyd’s The Iron Lady, Larysa Kondracki’s The Whistleblower, Madonna’s W.E. and Lynne Ramsay’sWe Need to Talk About Kevin. Here at L.I.H. we’ll be waiting with bated breath for the 24th of January, when the nominations are announced, to see if any female directors are selected!
Please join us for a discussion on Thursday 1/5/2012@7pmE/12UTC