Emerald Fennell, Regina King and Chloé Zhao Make History for Female Directors at 2021 Golden Globes
By Meredith B. Kile
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The Golden Globes made history on Wednesday, nominating three women for Best Director for the first time in the award show's history.
Nomadland director Chloe Zhao, One Night in Miami's Regina King and Promising Young Woman's Emerald Fennell became just the sixth, seventh and eighth women ever to be recognized in the category, alongside David Fincher for Mank and Aaron Sorkin for The Trial of the Chicago 7.
Zhao has also made history ahead of this year's ceremony, as the first Asian woman ever to be nominated for Best Director -- she is also just the third Asian Best Director nominee, following Ang Lee and Bong Joon-ho -- while King is the second Black woman to be recognized in the category, following Selma'sAva DuVernay.
Fennell, who made her feature directorial debut with Promising Young Woman, also landed a nod for Best Original Screenplay, while the film earned a spot in Best Motion Picture - Drama and Carey Mulligan is up for Best Actress in a Drama.
"Unbelievably thrilled and honored for Promising Young Woman to be among so many incredible nominees at this year’s Golden Globes," Fennell said in a statement. "Thank you so much to the Hollywood Foreign Press Association for this amazing recognition! The film was only possible because of the immensely gifted, wonderful and brilliant cast and crew who worked impossibly hard to make it real, and because our amazing producers and Focus believed in it. It’s impossible to truly express the depth of my gratitude without swearing so I’d better stop here."
Mulligan also issued a statement of thanks for her nod, calling out the empowering female nominees: "Thank you to the Hollywood Foreign Press Association for this recognition. Emerald Fennell’s vision for Promising Young Woman was so unique and uncompromising. She is one of the most talented filmmakers I've ever worked with. I'm so incredibly grateful she came to me with this project and I was thrilled to see her recognized alongside Chloe Zhao and Regina King this morning. I also wanted to thank Margot Robbie and LuckyChap Entertainment for helping get this film made and their unwavering support."
Nomadland also earned Zhao a Globe nomination for Best Original Screenplay, as well as Best Drama and Frances McDormand in Best Actress in a Drama. One Night in Miami, meanwhile, earned additional nods for supporting star Leslie Odom Jr., who plays Cooke, as well as his original song, "Speak Now."
Like the Oscars, the Globes have become notorious for snubbing female Best Director nominees. Recent years have seen contenders like Greta Gerwig, Lulu Wang, Marielle Heller and more go unrecognized, even as their films were celebrated in other categories. DuVernay was the last woman to be nominated in the category, back in 2015.
In 2018, Natalie Portman famously called out the lack of female nominees while presenting that year's Best Director Globe, saying, "We are honored to be here to present the award for best director... and here are the all-male nominees." Two years later, when Ricky Gervais hosted in 2020, he made a joke about the category still being only men.
"No female directors were nominated this year. I mean, that's bad," he said. "I've had a word with the Hollywood Foreign Press, and they've guaranteed that will never happen again. Working with all the major studios, they've agreed to go back to the way things were a few years ago, when they didn't even hire women directors and that will solve the problem."
In the history of the Golden Globes, the HFPA has previously only recognized five female Best Director nominees, with Barbra Streisand the only one to win, for Yentl in 1984. (The statistics are nearly the same at the Oscars: five nominees and just one win: Kathryn Bigelow for The Hurt Locker in 2010.) Maybe that, too, can change this year.