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Archive for March 8th, 2018

Today is International Women’s Day at a risk of being accused of mansplaining, I thought I would take a look at the five female nominees for the best director Oscar.  With Greta Gerwig recently becoming the fifth woman to be nominated in the 90 year history of the Academy Awards it is hard to avoid.  Is the problem a lack of woman making movies or those that are not getting the recognition?  Probably a combination of both. Here are the female directors who have been nominated for a best director Oscar to date:  

1976 – Lina Wertmüller for Pasqualino Settebellezze aka Seven Beauties – Unfortunately I haven’t seen this movie and couldn’t get hold of a copy before writing.   Described as a comedy drama, the film appears to tells the story of an Italian who will do anything to survive through crime, prison, a mental institution, the army and a concentration camp.  At the time of her nomination, she was in her late forties with about a dozen credits behind her.  She was also nominated for the screenplay.  A strong year, the other nominees were Sidney Lumet (Network), Ingmar Bergman (Face to Face), Alan J. Pakula (All the President’s Men), and the winner, John G. Avildsen (Rocky).  Amazingly, Martin Scorsese wasn’t nominated for Taxi Driver.  Now 89, Wertmüller has continued to make movies, her last credit was for a documentary: Roma, Napoli, Venezia… in un crescendo rossiniano (2014).  Amongst her credits are Travolti da un insolito destino nell’azzurro mare d’agosto aka Swept Away, the film that was remade by Guy Ritchie and starring then wife Madonna. Pasqualino Settebellezze

1993 – Jane Campion for The Piano – A generation later New Zealand director Campion became the second nomine with her third movie, The Piano.  I must admit I find the movie a real slog, however it is worth watching for Michael Nyman’s amazing score.  The film won Oscars for Holly Hunter (Best Actress in a Leading Role) and Anna Paquin (Best Actress in a Supporting Role) as well as Campion for the original screenplay.  It was also nominated for Best Picture, Best Cinematography (Stuart Dryburgh) Best Costume Design (Janet Patterson) and Best Film Editing (Veronika Jenet).  The other nominees were Robert Altman (Short Cuts), Jim Sheridan (In the Name of the Father), James Ivory, who has just won his first Oscars for Best Adapted Screenplay, Call Me by Your Name, (The Remains of the Day) and the winner Steven Spielberg (Schindler’s List).  Campion continues to write, produce and direct for film and television.  For me her most interesting work includes the poorly received In the Cut (2003) and the TV show Top of the Lake (2013 and 2017). The Piano

2003 – Sofia Coppola for Lost in Translation – Coppola was best known as the daughter of Francis Ford Coppola, and for her (not great) performance in The Godfather Part III.  Then in 1999 she made a sensational directorial debut with The Virgin Suicides.   Then came Lost in Translation, the film that made a star of Scarlett Johansson and reminded us how great Bill Murray is.  The film was also nominated for Best Picture (and for my money should have won) and Coppola won her only Oscar to date for the Original Screenplay.  The other nominees: Clint Eastwood (Mystic River), Fernando Meirelles (Cidade de Deus aka City of God), Peter Weir (Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World) and the winner, Peter Jackson(The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King).  Return of the King also won best picture despite being the weakest movie nominated in the Best Picture and Best Director categories, and the weakest of the Lord of the Rings movies.  Coppola has made another four features since her nomination but none have improved on her masterpiece. Lost in Translation

2009 – Kathryn Bigelow for The Hurt Locker – Finally we have a winner.  This was the last Oscars I actually watched.  I feared it would lose out to the  giant Smurph movie.  There was no need to worry, it walked away with Best Picture, Best Director, Best Original Screenplay, Best Sound Editing, Best Sound Mixing, and Best Film Editing, Making Kathryn Bigelow the only woman to have won a best director Oscar.  The film was also nominated for Best Actor (Jeremy Renner),  Best Original Score (Marco Beltrami and Buck Sanders), Cinematography (Barry Ackroyd).  The other nominees for best director were: James Cameron (Avatar), Jason Reitman (Up in the Air), Lee Daniels (Precious), Quentin Tarantino (Inglourious Basterds).  In the decade since The Hurt Locker was released Bigalow has only made two further films, Zero Dark Thirty and Detroit.  While I can’t complain about the quality of his work, I would like her to be a little more prolific, after all her back catalogue includes two of my favourite movies, Point Break and Strange Days. The Hurt Locker

2017 – Greta Gerwig for Lady Bird – Gerwig co-directed the low budget Nights and Weekends.  A decade later, her solo feature début made her the fifth woman to be nominated for a best director Oscar, she was also nominated for Best Original Screenplay.  The other nominees are Christopher Nolan (Dunkirk), Jordan Peele (Get Out), Paul Thomas Anderson (Phantom Thread) and the winner Guillermo del Toro (The Shape of Water).  While I think the right person won this time, I am keen to see what Gerwig does next on both sides of the camera. lady bird

Who will be the next woman to win a directing Oscar?  I am keeping an eye on Ava DuVernay, Lynne Ramsay, Sally Potter, Clio Barnard, Amma Asante and Patty Jenkins. 

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