Golden Globes’ Female Director Milestone Is Hopefully Just One of Many Firsts This Awards Season

Three female Directors Nomiated for Golden
Courtesy of Amazon Studios/Searchlight/Focus

I love firsts.

In my lifetime, I’ve been fortunate enough to have witnessed a number of historic milestones, including the first human to walk on the moon, the first Black president to be elected and now the first woman to become vice president, who is also the first woman of color to hold that high office.

While what happened this week at the Golden Globes may seem insignificant by comparison, for Hollywood it is a historical marker worth celebrating: Three women were nominated for best director in the same year, outnumbering the men three to two.

Directors Chloé Zhao (“Nomadland”), Regina King (“One Night in Miami”) and Emerald Fennell (“Promising Young Woman”) joined a pathetically small group of women who were ever nominated for their directing achievements in the Globes’ 78-year history. They’ve been shut out for the past six years, and only one woman — Barbra Streisand — ever won (in 1984 for “Yentl”).

So what does this mean for Hollywood, which over the decades has given far fewer directorial opportunities to women than men? Could this be a turning point where we begin to see more women landing behind-the-camera gigs and getting awards recognition on a consistent basis? Women still make up a fraction of directors, despite making gains in the past two years. The latest study from the Center for the Study of Women in Television & Film at San Diego State University showed a record 16% of women were behind the 100 top-grossing films of 2020, up from 12% in 2019 and a mere 4% the prior year. Dr. Martha Lauzen, who oversees the study, noted that while the two consecutive years of growth is good news, “the bad news is that fully 80% of top films still do not have women at the helm.”

Now the spotlight turns to the Oscars, which last year handed out zero nominations to female directors despite acclaimed movies from Lulu Wang (“The Farewell”), Alma Har’el (“Honey Boy”) and Greta Gerwig (“Little Women”), among others. As we all know, only five women
in the Academy Awards’ 92-history have ever been nominated for best director and only one — Kathryn Bigelow — has ever won.

I am hopeful and so ready to witness more history being made this year.