Directors Chloé Zhao & Emerald Fennell Break Oscars’ Glass Ceiling.

By Anthony D’Alessandro

Anthony D’Alessandro

Editorial Director/Box Office Editor

In Oscar history, there’s never been more than one female filmmaker nominated in the Best Directing category in a single year. Until now.

Nomadland Chinese director Chloé Zhao and Promising Young Woman UK filmmaker Emerald Fennell broke several Oscar historical records Monday for women when the 93rd Academy Awards nominations were revealed. Of note, it’s the first time that two female directors have been nominated for directing in the same year.

Photo by AP Images

In total, they rep the sixth and seventh women to be nominated in the category following Lina Wertmüller (1975’s Seven Beauties), Jane Campion (1993’s The Piano), Sofia Coppola (2003’s Lost in Translation), Kathryn Bigelow (the category’s only winner with 2008’s The Hurt Locker) and Greta Gerwig (2017’s Lady Bird).

Zhao is the first woman to receive four nominations in a single year for Directing, Editing (the first female Asian to be recognized in the category), Best Picture and Adapted Screenplay. As we already reported, she is the first woman of color to be recognized by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences in the directing category.

Fennell is the third woman to be recognized with three noms in a single year following Coppola and Lord of the Rings: Return of the King‘s Fran Walsh who actually won all three of her trophies: Best Picture, Original Song and Adapted Screenplay. Fennell is also the first woman to be nominated for their feature film directorial debut.

Searchlight’s Nomadland is in theatrical release and available on Hulu, and has grossed during the pandemic with roughly 50% of the theaters closed, $1.529M. Focus Features’ Promising Young Woman, in theaters and on PVOD, has totaled $5.5M through 12 weekends.

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