Chloe Zhao, Emerald Fennell Make History With Directors Guild Nominations

Until this year, only eight women had been nominated by the DGA in the feature-film category

Nomadland Chloe Zhao Frances McDormand
Chloe Zhao, right, with Frances McDormand on the set of 'Nomadland' / Photo by Joshua James Richards / Searchlight

Chloé Zhao, Emerald Fennell, David Fincher, Aaron Sorkin and Lee Isaac Chung have been nominated for best director of a feature film by the Directors Guild of America, which announced its film nominations on Tuesday.

Zhao and Fennell, who were nominated for “Nomadland” and “Promising Young Woman,” respectively, become only the ninth and tenth women ever nominated in the category in the 73-year history of the DGA Awards. This is the first time two women have been nominated in the same year.

Fincher was nominated for “Mank,” Sorkin for “The Trial of the Chicago 7” and Chung for “Minari.”

Directors who were not nominated this year include Spike Lee for “Da 5 Bloods,” Paul Greengrass for “News of the World,” George C. Wolfe for “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom” and Shaka King for “Judas and the Black Messiah.”

In the relatively new category of Outstanding Directorial Achievement of a First-Time Feature Film, two more women were nominated, Regina King for “One Night in Miami” and Radha Blank for “The Forty-Year-Old Version.” Other nominees in that category were Florian Zeller for “The Father,” Darius Marder for “Sound of Metal” and Fernando Frías de la Parra for “I’m No Longer Here.”

Until this year, eight women had been nominated for the feature-film prize: Lina Wertmuller for “Seven Beauties” in 1976, Randa Haines for “Children of a Lesser God” in 1986, Barbra Streisand for “The Prince of Tides” in 1991, Jane Campion for “The Piano” in 1993, Sofia Coppola for “Lost in Translation” in 2003, Valerie Faris (with Jonathan Dayton) for “Little Miss Sunshine” in 2006, Kathryn Bigelow for “The Hurt Locker” in 2009 and “Zero Dark Thirty” in 2012 and Greta Gerwig for “Lady Bird” in 2017. Bigelow was the only one to win, for “The Hurt Locker.”

The DGA was the last of the four major Hollywood guilds to announce its nominations, following the Screen Actors Guild, the Writers Guild of America and the Producers Guild of America.  The DGA nominations mean that “The Trial of the Chicago 7” is the only film to be nominated in the top categories by the DGA, PGA and WGA, and in the ensemble-cast category at SAG Awards.

“Minari,” though, has received DGA, PGA and SAG ensemble nominations and was ineligible for a WGA award under that guild’s more restrictive rules. “Promising Young Woman” has received nominations from all four guilds, with its SAG nomination coming for the individual performance by Carey Mulligan rather than the ensemble performance.

While this is a risky year to take anything for granted, history suggests that four out of the five DGA nominees will go on to be nominated for the Best Director Oscar. That four-for-five match has happened eight times in the last 10 years, with two outlier years of only two and three matches.

The DGA Awards and Oscars have not had a five-for-five match since 2009, and have only done so twice in this century.

The nominees:


Lee Isaac Chung

Mr. Chung’s Directorial Team:
Unit Production Manager: Dylan Brodie
First Assistant Director: Jeff Dubray
Second Assistant Director: Ann Laudick
Second Second Assistant Director: Stephen J. Hanan

Emerald Fennell
“Promising Young Woman”
(Focus Features)

Ms. Fennell’s Directorial Team:
Unit Production Manager: Reena Magsarili Raasch
First Assistant Director: Michael T. Meador
Second Assistant Director: Alexander Armero
Second Second Assistant Director: Anthony Manzo

David Fincher

Mr. Fincher’s Directorial Team:
Unit Production Manager: Allen Kupetsky
First Assistant Director: Richard Goodwin
Second Assistant Director: Samantha McGrady
Second Second Assistant Director: Matt McKinnon
Additional Second Assistant Directors: Jeff Goodell, John Stern, George Williams III

Aaron Sorkin
“The Trial of the Chicago 7”
(Netflix; DreamWorks Pictures)

Mr. Sorkin’s Directorial Team:
Unit Production Managers: Charles Miller, Stuart M. Besser, Jonathan Shoemaker
First Assistant Director: Joseph P. Reidy
Second Assistant Director: Rachel Jaros
Second Second Assistant Director: Justin Bischoff
Location Managers: Dennis Voskov, Nick Rafferty (Chicago Unit)

Chloé Zhao
(Searchlight Pictures)

Ms. Zhao’s Directorial Team:
Unit Production Manager: Mary Kerrigan
First Assistant Director: Mary Kerrigan


Radha Blank
“The Forty-Year-Old Version”

Ms. Blank’s Directorial Team:
Unit Production Manager: James Price
First Assistant Director: Michael L. Walker
Second Assistant Director: Kenyon Noble
Second Second Assistant Director: Jonathan Santos
Location Managers: Katarina Dedicova, Tim Stacker

Fernando Frías de la Parra
“I’m No Longer Here”

Mr. Frías’ Directorial Team:
Production Managers: Martín Pérez Valle, Assia Fratz (New York Unit)
First Assistant Director: Carlos Suazo
Second Assistant Directors: Alí Santiago, Alex Burstein (New York Unit)
Second Second Assistant Directors: Karen Alcázar, Anthony James Faure (New York Unit)

Regina King
“One Night in Miami”
(Amazon Studios)

Ms. King’s Directorial Team:
Unit Production Manager: Paul O. Davis
First Assistant Director: Mark Anthony Little
Second Assistant Director: Kevin O’Neil

Darius Marder
“Sound of Metal”
(Amazon Studios)

Mr. Marder’s Directorial Team:
Unit Production Manager: Amy Greene
First Assistant Director: Matthew Vose Campbell

Florian Zeller
“The Father”
(Sony Pictures Classics)

Mr. Zeller’s Directorial Team:
First Assistant Director: George Every
Second Assistant Director: Jamie D. Allen


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