June 15, 2021

DCTRS

Damascus Center for Theoretical and Civil Rights Studies

2021 Golden Globe nominations: Three women in director race

Chloe Zhao (“Nomadland”) and Regina King (“One Night in Miami”) will make history at this year’s Golden Globes as the first Asian American female nominee and the second Black female nominee to compete for the director trophy, respectively. Together with Emerald Fennell (“Promising Young Woman”), the three are the first women up for the award since Ava DuVernay in 2014.

Zhao was nominated for her Western “Nomadland,” which she also wrote and produced, about a woman (Frances McDormand) who decides to head West after she loses everything in the recession. King’s directorial debut “One Night in Miami,” from a screenplay by Kemp Powers, recounts a fictional account of a night shared by Malcolm X (Ben Kingsley-Adir), Muhammad Ali (Eli Goree), Sam Cooke (Leslie Odom Jr.) and Jim Brown (Aldis Hodge). And Fennell’s debut feature, “Promising Young Woman,” stars Carey Mulligan as a woman dead-set on revenge after her longtime best friend falls victim to a sexual predator.

The other nominees in the category are David Fincher for “Mank” and Aaron Sorkin for “The Trial of the Chicago 7.”

“Nomadland” and “Promising Young Woman” — which also scored best actress in a drama nods for stars McDormand and Mulligan, respectively, and screenplay nominations for Zhao and Fennell — are also up for best motion picture drama Globes alongside “The Father,” “Mank” and “The Trial of the Chicago 7.”

In comparison, this year’s Spirit Awards nominees included four women in the director category: Zhao, Fennell, Eliza Hittman (“Never Rarely Sometimes Always”) and Kelly Reichardt (“First Cow”) were nominated alongside Lee Isaac Chung (“Minari”). At this year’s Gotham Independent Film Awards, Radha Blank and Channing Godrey Peoples were nominated for the ceremony’s Bingham Ray breakthrough director award for their debuts “The 40-Year-Old Version” and “Miss Juneteenth,” respectively.

Prior to this year, a woman had only been nominated for best director seven times in the Globes’ 76-year history: DuVernay (“Selma”), Barbra Streisand (“Yentl” and “The Prince of Tides”), Jane Campion (“The Piano”), Sofia Coppola (“Lost in Translation”) and Kathryn Bigelow (“The Hurt Locker” and “Zero Dark Thirty”). Streisand remains the sole winner of the award, which she won for “Yentl” in 1984.

Comparably, in its 92-year history, only five female filmmakers have been nominated for directing trophies at the Academy Awards: Coppola, Bigelow, Campion, Greta Gerwig (“Lady Bird”) and Lina Wertmüller (“Seven Beauties”).

Despite last year’s gains, female filmmakers remain underrepresented among the top grossing films. The latest “Celluloid Ceiling” study, conducted annually by San Diego State’s Center for the Study of Women in Television and Film, found that women accounted for a historic high of 20% of all directors, writers, producers, executive producers, editors and cinematographers working on the top 100 and top 250 films in 2019, a 4% increase from the previous year.

However, just 23% of women were employed on the top 500 films and female filmmakers comprised just 14% of directors working on the top 500 movies, down 1 percentage point from 2018.

Beyond just the awards season, 2020 was a strong year for movies directed by women. The year’s releases also included Sofia Coppola’s “On the Rocks,” Patty Jenkins’ ”Wonder Woman 1984,” Tara Miele’s “Wander Darkly,” Julia Hart’s “I’m Your Woman,” Marjane Satrapi’s “Radioactive,” Niki Caro’s “Mulan,” Julie Taymor’s “The Glorias,” Miranda July’s “Kajillionaire,” and Josephine Decker’s “Shirley.”

This year, Zhao is expected to unveil Marvel’s highly anticipated “The Eternals,” Cate Shortland will reveal the studio’s heavily delayed Black Widow feature and Nia DaCosta will release a reboot of the horror “Candyman.”