An Oscar is arguably the most prestigious award anyone in Hollywood — from actors to directors, producers and editors — can win. Two of the most closely watched categories are those for Best Director and Best Picture. Oftentimes, they have the same nominees. The difference is that the award for Best Director goes to — well, the director — and the statuette for Best Picture goes to the producers.
For the first time in Oscar history, two women are nominated for Best Director in a single year. Chloé Zhao earned the nomination for “Nomadland” and Emerald Fennell for “Promising Young Woman.” Other Best Director nominees include Lee Isaac Chung (“Minari”), David Fincher (“Mank”), and Thomas Vinterberg (“Another Round”). Before this year, only five women had been recognized in the prestigious category even though 14 movies directed by women had been nominated for Best Picture.
24/7 Tempo reviewed Oscar nominations since the first awards ceremony in 1929 to create a list of all feature films that were directed by women and were nominated for Best Picture.
No woman has been nominated twice in the Best Director category, but one woman was the director of two movies that were nominated for Best Picture. Kathryn Bigelow directed “The Hurt Locker,” which has won Bigelow her the two Oscars so far in her career — Best Director and for Best Picture. Her thriller about the hunt for Osama Bin Laden, “Zero Dark Thirty” was nominated for Best Picture in 2013, but the award went to Ben Affleck and “Argo.”
Though the two awards usually go hand in hand, there have been instances in which helmers were recognized with directing honors without their films being honored with a Best Picture nomination. Female directors are in this group as well.
This year’s Oscar nominees excluded, there have been 10 Best Picture nominees directed by women who have not been also nominated for Best Director. Here is a list of every Oscar winner for Best Director since 1929.