It’s now been 6 years since a female director got an Oscar nod

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Among the most anticipated categories revealed Thursday morning during the announcement of the 2016 Oscar nominations was Best Director. This year's honorees are Lenny Abrahamson (Room), Alejandro G. Iñárritu (The Revenant), Adam McKay (The Big Short), Tom McCarthy (Spotlight), and George Miller (Mad Max: Fury Road).

You may have noticed that none of those people are women, making this year's Best Director category look much the same as last year's. And the year before that. And the year before that. Also, that other year. The previous one, too.


It's now been the better part of a decade since a woman director was last nominated for an Academy Award.

Kathryn Bigelow—the only woman ever named Best Director—took home the Oscar for The Hurt Locker at 2010's 82nd Academy Awards, defeating her ex-husband James Cameron, who was nominated for Avatar. Her Jeremy Renner-starring war film also won Best Picture.


To put this into perspective, in the six-year period since Bigelow's nod, David O. Russell has been nominated three times (for The Social NetworkSilver Linings Playbook, and American Hustle), Alexander Payne twice (for The Descendants and Nebraska), Martin Scorsese twice (for Hugo and The Wolf of Wall Street), and Iñarritu twice (also for Birdman). Women, as a whole: Zero times.

In the entirety of Oscars history, just four women directors have been recognized for their work. Besides Bigelow, there was Lina Wertmüller (1976), Jane Campion (1993), and Sofia Coppola (2003).

It's worth noting that women are much better represented in other key behind-the scenes Oscars categories this year—for writing Inside Out (Meg LeFauve), Straight Outta Compton (Andrea Berloff), Carol (Phyllis Nagy), and Room (Emma Donoghue); and for editing Star Wars: The Force Awakens (Maryann Brandon and Mary Jo Markey) and Mad Max: Fury Road (Margaret Sixel).

But these crafts, while vital to filmmaking, fall short of the prestige and creative control associated with directing. It's clear now more than ever than Hollywood has a problem with institutionalized sexism, to say nothing of its institutionalized racism. When will we give women in show business the same opportunities we give men?


Molly Fitzpatrick is senior editor of Fusion's Pop & Culture section. Her interests include movies about movies, TV shows about TV shows, and movies about TV shows, but not so much TV shows about movies.