“Nomadland” director Chloé Zhao, “Promising Young Woman” helmer Emerald Fennell, and “One Night in Miami” filmmaker Regina King have made history at the 2021 Golden Globes by becoming the first three women nominated in the Best Director category in the same year. Zhao, Fennell, and King’s nominations also mark the first time in six years women directors have landed a spot in the Best Director category full-stop. “Selma” director Ava DuVernay was the last woman to compete in the category at the 2015 Golden Globes.
The 2021 Golden Globes bring the total number of women nominated for Best Director up to eight in the ceremony’s 78-year history. Barbra Streisand has two nominations, one for “Yentl” and one for “The Prince of Tides,” as does Kathryn Bigelow, one for “The Hurt Locker” and one for “Zero Dark Thirty.” The other three women nominated at the Globes for Best Director are DuVernay, Jane Campion for “The Piano,” and Sofia Coppola for “Lost in Translation.” Streisand’s win for “Yentl” represents the only win for a woman in the category.
The Hollywood Foreign Press Association has come under fire in recent years for shutting female filmmakers from its Best Director category. Natalie Portman famously called out the HFPA while presenting the Best Director category at the 2018 Golden Globes, saying, “And here are the all-male nominees.” Greta Gerwig’s snub for “Lady Bird” at the 2018 ceremony caused an uproar, especially because the film earned nominations for Best Picture (Musical or Comedy), Best Screenplay, Best Actress (Musical or Comedy), and Best Supporting Actress, winning the middle two categories.
The Globes were at the center of backlash again in 2019 after nominations for the 2020 ceremony omitted women directors, including Lulu Wang for “The Farewell,” Lorene Scafaria for “Hustlers,” Greta Gerwig for “Little Women,” Marielle Heller for “A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood,” and Olivia Wilde for “Booksmart.”
King’s nomination for “One Night in Miami” makes her the fifth Black filmmaker nominated in the Best Director category after Spike Lee (two nominations for “Do the Right Thing” and “BlacKkKlansman,” Steve McQueen (“12 Years a Slave”), DuVernay (“Selma”), and Barry Jenkins (“Moonlight”). No Black filmmaker has won the category. As an actress, King is a three-time Golden Globe nominee thanks to “American Crime,” “Seven Seconds,” and “If Beale Street Could Talk,” the latter of which won her the Globe for Best Supporting Actress in a Motion Picture.