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Felicity Warner / HCM
Culture > Entertainment

Female Directors at the Oscars

This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at Emmanuel chapter.

The Academy Awards, also known as the Oscars, is a prestigious American film award ceremony that began in California in 1929 and has continued to be held annually every year. Much like many other elements of Hollywood, women have continuously been neglected from winning these titles—aside from the categories denoting ‘actress’ meant specifically to separate the gendered awards. 

The first nomination for a woman in the category ‘Best Director’ was in 1977 for Lina Wertmuller’s Seven Beauties. In total, only 7 women in the 93 years this award ceremony has existed have ever been nominated in this category. Only 2 have won. In 2010, after 81 years of the Oscars being held, a woman finally won the title for ‘Best Director’ with Kathryn Bigelow’s directing of The Hurt Locker. Since then, Chloé Zhao won for her directorial work on Nomadland. For the upcoming ceremony on March 27th, only one woman is nominated in the category:Jane Campion for Power of the Dog (this is her second nomination for best director, having been nominated in 1994 for The Piano).

While there are categories designated for women, such as best lead/supporting actress, this is not enough. Women being overlooked for their work next to their male peers is nothing new, especially within the entertainment industry, yet is a disheartening reality. In the upcoming ceremony, only 28% of nominees are women which is the lowest percentage in the last 3 years. Only 65 of the 229 Oscar nominations are for women.

While the film industry is aiming towards demonstrating progressive ideals with new queer films and non-gender conforming actors being spotlighted, it is clear that there is a lot of work to be done in removing the White cis male shadow from film prestige. That being said, I want to recognize the 3 other women I had not mentioned who have been nominated for ‘Best Director’ in the award show’s 93 years: Sofia Coppola: Lost in Translation (2003), Greta Gerwig: Ladybird (2017), and Emerald Fennell: Promising Young Woman (2020). The film industry and its prestige has a long way to go to be an inclusive cultural beacon, but I will be watching and rooting for all 60 female nominees this year!

Madyn is a senior at Emmanuel College and studying English with a focus in writing and communications, as well as pursuing an art history minor. She loves all things vintage, Hozier, One Direction, and her cats. She is the 2021-2022 President for the Emmanuel College chapter!