Hollywood awards shows are notorious for not nominating any minorities. The Golden Globes nominations for 2021 just made history for nominating three women for Best Director. 

The Hollywood Foreign Press has decided to recognize three female directors this year: Chloé Zhao, Emerald Fennell and Regina King. There has only ever been one woman nominated in this category per year before. The other female nominees for this category were Barbara Streisand, Jane Campion, Sofia Coppola, Kathryn Bigelow and Ava Duvernay. There were no female nominees for best director for the first 40 years that the Golden Globes were held, between 1944 and 1984. Barbara Streisand’s first nomination in 1984 for Yentl broke that streak. She is also the only woman to ever win a Golden Globe for best director, also for Yentl. 

With three women in the mix this year, odds are better for a female winner. Only five directors are nominated for the award per ceremony, so the women now have the upper hand. Aaron Sorkin and David Fincher were also nominated; Sorkin for The Trial Of The Chicago 7 and Fincher for Mank. The Trial Of The Chicago 7 was nominated in four other categories, and Mank was nominated in five. Both were nominated for Best Motion Picture Drama. 

Who Is Chloé Zhao?

Chloé Zhao is nominated for best director for her film, Nomandland, which she also wrote, edited and produced. The film stars Frances McDormand as Fern, a woman who leaves the home she shared with her late husband to explore the American West. The film features real life nomads, and is based on the book Nomandland: Surviving America In The Twenty-First Century. It debuted at the Venice Film Festival, where it won the Golden Lion. Nomandland is nominated in three other categories at the Golden Globes: Best Motion Picture Drama, Best Screenplay, and Best Actress In A Motion Picture Drama for Frances McDormand. McDormand also helped produce the film. 

Zhao, 38, is a Chinese filmmaker, and the first woman of Asian descent to be nominated for Best Director at the Golden Globes. She gained notoriety for her 2017 film, The Rider, another contemporary western. The film premiered at Cannes and earned her a nomination for Best Director at the Independent Spirit Awards. She was also the first winner of the Bonnie Award for a mid-career female director.

Who Is Emerald Fennell?

Fennell, 35, is an English director, actress, screenwriter and author. Fennell holds a series of impressive acting and writing credits. She has acted in films like The Dansih Girl and popular television series like Call The Midwife and The Crown. Fennell is friends with Phoebe Waller-Bridge, and replaced her as a writer on Killing Eve in season 2. She wrote six episodes for the show. Her directorial debut, Promising Young Woman, was nominated for four Golden Globes this year, including Best Director. The film stars Carey Mulligan as a woman who seeks out predatory men after her best friend is raped and commits suicide. Promising Young Woman has received a lot of media attention, for the subject matter and excellence of the film. Other actors in the film include Bo Burnham, Alison Brie, Jennifer Coolidge, Laverne Cox and Connie Britton. Mulligan is nominated for Best Actress, and Fennell’s screenplay is nominated as well. 

Who Is Regina King?

King, 50, is best known as an award winning actress, but has a long career as a director as well. Her latest film, One Night In Miami, earned her the Golden Globe nomination for Best Director. King is no stranger to award nominations. She has won four Emmys, a Golden Globe and an Academy Award for acting. However, this is her first award nomination for directing. King previously directed several episodes of Scandal and This is Us, as well as a music video for artist Jaheim. One Night In Miami is the story of a fictional meeting between Malcom X, Muhammad Ali, Jim Brown and Sam Cooke. The film stars Kingsley Ben-Adir, Eli Goree, Aldis Hodge, and Leslie Odom Jr. It was nominated for three Golden Globes, but not for Best Motion Picture, like Nomandland and Promising Young Woman. King is now the second ever Black woman to be nominated for Best Director, after Ava Duvernay’s 2015 nomination for Selma. 

What Is The Significance Of This?

The Golden Globes has historically been a sort of precursor to the Oscars. The Globes are seen as a less formal occasion, where stars are seen partying hard and the hosts can be more risque. This year, the event will be hosted by Golden Globes experts Tina Fey and Amy Poehler for the third time. The Golden Globes tend to set the tone for the rest of awards season, predicting who the nominees will be for the Academy Awards. However, since they aren’t taken as seriously as other awards shows, it remains to be seen whether the unprecedented inclusion of three female directors will carry over to the Academy Awards. 

Of the women nominated for Best Director at the Golden Globes, only Jane Campion, Sofia Coppola and Kathryn Bigelow were nominated for Best Director at the Academy Awards. Kathryn Bigelow remains the only woman to ever win the award, in 2009 for The Hurt Locker. Lina Wertmuller was the first woman nominated for Best Director at the Oscars in 1976 for Seven Beauties. Only four other women have ever been nominated for Best Director: Campion for The Piano, Coppola for Lost In Translation, Bigelow for The Hurt Locker and Greta Gerwig for Lady Bird. 

The underrepresentation of women and people of color has long been an issue in Hollywood, and has been showcased brutally at awards shows in recent years. The nomination of three women for Best Director at the Golden Globes – not to mention two women of color – shouldn’t be a huge step, but it is. The question remains; can we keep this going next year?