While there is no disputing the “talent” part, the blinding light generated by Bigelow or Campion on these occasions hides the tall barriers women face in the resource-intensive world of commercial filmmaking. When viewed as singular successes, Campion and Bigelow are subjects of excellence and objects of isolation.
Now two women have received Oscars nods for directing in the award’s 93rd year, and it’s noteworthy — both in terms of behind-the-scenes factors and the films they’ve created: Nomadland and Promising Young Woman.
The lowdown on Lina Wertmüller – the rule-breaking, nonagenarian female director finally awarded an Oscar
Changing the rules
Several factors have been credited for diversification of the Oscars and other award events this year, including subtle shifts in membership and eligibility criteria to unfold over the next few years and the holding off of some larger budget productions due to pandemic cinema closures.
The contribution of big streamers like Netflix is also a matter of debate. The needle-moving role of each of these factors may not be known for a little while; after all, some changes aren’t due to bear fruit until 2025 or later.
Regardless of the cause, there is no doubt this year the door has opened to more nominations for women and people of colour across all categories in all major ceremonies (the BAFTAs, Golden Globes, and Oscars).
A number of things unite the female-helmed Best Picture and Best Director nominees this year: both Nomandland and Promising Young Woman centre their stories around a female protagonist; both are low-budget, independent films, with flashes of innovation in cinematic style.
Both are about the dashing of dreams, due (in Nomadland) to the economic collapse experienced by itinerant workers in Trump’s America, or (in Promising Young Woman) to the scourge of sexual violence against women and the persistently unfair rules that privilege young male professionals over their female counterparts.