Oscars 2021: Two women nominated for Best Director for the first time in awards' history

The Best Director category has never seen more than one woman nominated in any given year – until now

Directors Chloe Zhao, left, and Emerald Fennell have been nominated for an Oscar in the Best Director category this year. AFP

For the first time in Academy Awards history, two female filmmakers have been nominated in the Best Director category.

This year, Chloe Zhao and Emerald Fennell will be competing for Best Director for Nomadland and Promising Young Woman respectively.

The nomination also makes Zhao the first woman of colour to ever be nominated.

Other nominees include Thomas Vinterberg for Another Round, David Fincher for Mank, and Lee Isaac Chung for Minari.

The category has never seen more than one woman nominated in any given year. Throughout the Oscars history, only five females have ever been nominated and only one has won. That sole winner is Kathryn Bigelow for The Hurt Locker in 2010. Last time a female director was nominated was in 2018 – Greta Gerwig for Lady Bird.

Similarly, Fennell and Zhao, along with director Regina King, also made history at the Golden Globes when they were nominated in the Best Director category, the award that Zhao later won.

Zhao's Nomadland has picked up numerous awards since its release and is among the films leading the Oscar nominations. It has also been nominated for Best Picture, Best Adapted Screenplay, Best Cinematography, Best Film Editing, as well as a nomination for Frances McDormand for Best Actress. The film, starring McDormand, tells the story of Fern, who loses her job in the recession and so sells her belongings following her husband's death and buys a van, embarking upon a journey through America as a nomad.

Promising Young Woman is Fennell's directorial debut. The film tells the story of smart and talented Cassie (Carey Mulligan), who is leading a double life at night, before an unexpected encounter gives her the chance to right the wrongs of her past. It has also been nominated for Best Picture, Best Film Editing, Best Original Screenplay and Best Actress for Mulligan.

All the women nominated for Best Director in Oscars history:

Lina Wertmuller for Seven Beauties in 1997

Jane Campion for The Piano in 1994

Sofia Coppola for Lost in Translation in 2004

Kathryn Bigelow for The Hurt Locker in 2010 – winner

Greta Gerwig for Lady Bird in 2018