Oscars 2021: 2 Women Earn Best Director Nods for First Time Ever

Chloé Zhao and Emerald Fennell made history on Monday

oscars 2021 emerald fennell chloe zhao
Photo: Getty Images

Oscar history was made on Monday as for the first time ever, multiple women received nominations for Best Director with Chloé Zhao and Emerald Fennell earning nods for their work on “Nomadland” and “Promising Young Woman,” respectively.

Prior to Monday, only five women have ever been nominated for Best Director; and only one, “The Hurt Locker” director Kathryn Bigelow, has ever won the award. The other four to earn a nomination were Lina Wertmuller (“Seven Beauties”), Jane Campion (“The Piano”), Sofia Coppola (“Lost in Translation”) and Greta Gerwig (“Lady Bird”).

To see the full list of nominees this year, click here.

Zhao is considered the heavy favorite to join Bigelow as an Oscar winner, as “Nomadland” has steamrolled through festival and awards season, most recently earning Best Picture and Best Director at the Golden Globes. Zhao is also the sixth Asian-born director to earn a nomination, joining Hiroshi Teshigahara, Akira Kurosawa, M. Night Shyamalan, Ang Lee and last year’s Best Director winner, Bong Joon-ho.

Emerald Fennell earned a Best Director nomination thanks to a late surge by “Promising Young Woman,” which earned critical acclaim for its confrontational approach to sexual assault and the culture of silence surrounding it. The film has also been nominated for four other categories, including Best Picture, while lead star Carey Mulligan is a top contender to win Best Actress.

The two women join the Best Director field that includes David Fincher (“Mank”), Thomas Vinterberg (“Another Round”) and Lee Isaac Chung (“Minari”).

“Mank” was the most-nominated film of the year with 10. “Nomadland,” “The Father,” “Minari,” “The Trial of the Chicago 7,” “Sound of Metal” and “Judas and the Black Messiah” all scored six nominations, with “Promising Young Woman” and “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom” each receiving five nominations.

The winner will be announced at the Oscars on April 25.


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