WEEK IN WOMEN: Fennell and Zhao make AMPAS history – Brandy McDonnell reports

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Nomadland‘s Chloe Zhao and Promising Young Woman‘s Emerald Fennell are now part of Academy Awards history.

For the first time, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences has nominated two women in the directing category, with Zhao and Fennell picking up nods in the coveted category.

Zhao and Fennell will compete against Minari‘s Lee Isaac Chung, Mank‘s David Fincher and Another Round‘s Thomas Vinterberg.

As she already has been the most-awarded filmmaker in a single awards season, Zhao is likely the frontrunner in the category. She has at least a share of four of Nomadland‘s six nominations: Zhao is also nominated for best adapted screenplay, best editing and best picture, along with fellow producers Frances McDormand (who is also nominated for best actress), Peter Spears, Mollye Asher and Dan Janvey.

Zhao, who is Chinese, also is the first woman of color ever nominated for best director.

A first-time director Fennell also is nominated for best original screenplay as well as best picture alongside fellow producers Ben Browning, Ashley Fox and Josey McNamara. “Promising Young Woman” earned five nominations, including a best actress nod for Carey Mulligan.

Prior to this year, only five women had been nominated for best director: Lina Wertmüller, in 1976 for Seven Beauties; Jane Campion, in 1993 for The Piano; Sofia Coppola, in 2003 for Lost in Translation; Kathryn Bigelow, in 2009 for The Hurt Locker; and Greta Gerwig, in 2017 for Lady Bird.

Bigelow is the only woman to win best director in the history of the Oscars. Contonue reading on THE WEEK IN WOMEN.

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Brandy McDonnell

Brandy McDonnell

Brandy McDonnell writes features and reviews movies, music, events and the arts for The Oklahoman, Oklahoma's statewide newspaper, and NewsOK.com, the state's largest news Web site. Raised on a farm near Lindsay, Okla., she started her journalism career in seventh grade, when she was elected reporter for her school's 4-H Club. Taking her duties seriously, she began submitting stories to The Lindsay News, and worked for the local weekly through high school. She attended Oklahoma State University, where she worked for The Daily O'Collegian and earned her journalism degree with honors. She worked for three years at small Oklahoma dailies The Edmond Sun and Shawnee News-Star. In 2002, she joined The Oklahoman as a features reporter, writing about movies, the arts, events, families and nonprofits. She moved to The Oklahoman's entertainment desk in 2007. In 2004, she won a prestigious Journalism Fellowship in Child & Family Policy from the University of Maryland's Philip Merrill College of Journalism. Along with her membership in AWFJ, she also is a founding member of the Oklahoma Film Critics Circle. Brandy writes The Week In Women blog for AWFJ.org.