Regina King, Emerald Fennell, and Chloé Zhao shatter an HFPA record for women.

By Joey Nolfi
February 03, 2021 at 10:03 AM EST
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One year after facing public backlash for failing to nominate a score of female directors in its Best Director category, the Golden Globes have recognized a record number of women in one of its highest competitive brackets.

On Wednesday morning, the Hollywood Foreign Press Association hoisted the Oscar prospects of Regina King (One Night in Miami...), Chloé Zhao (Nomadland), and Emerald Fennell (Promising Young Woman) with a trio of nods for Best Director, tripling the group's previous record of recognizing a sole female directing nominee across five past ceremonies.

Prior to today's nominations, Selma's Ava DuVernay was the last woman to receive a nod for her work in directing the 2014 biopic. Before her, eventual Oscar winner Kathryn Bigelow (2008's The Hurt Locker), Sofia Coppola (2003's Lost in Translation), Jane Campion (1993's The Piano), and Barbra Streisand (1983's Yentl and 1991's The Prince of Tides) were the only female directors to be nominated by the HFPA, with Streisand still holding the title as the sole woman winner after triumphing at the 1984 Golden Globes ceremony.

Though nods for King and Zhao (who also becomes the first woman of Asian descent to score a nod in the Best Director category) were largely expected, given the precursor success of their respective titles, Fennell — despite Promising Young Woman star Carey Mulligan reaping heaps of pre-Oscars awards — appeared to be more of an outlier, but the HFPA's support for the film overall (it received nods for Best Picture, Best Director, Best Screenplay, and Best Actress) indicates the title is perhaps a stronger across-the-board player than many assumed.

Last year, social media erupted with HFPA criticism after the Golden Globes did not nominate a slew of female directors — including Little Women's Greta Gerwig — despite none of them racking up significant, widespread precursor attention from the industry on the awards trail.

When it comes to the Oscars, Bigelow remains the sole female winner in the Academy's corresponding bracket. Gerwig also missed out on a nod at last year's Oscars, though she did score recognition for directing Lady Bird in 2017. Coppola, Campion, and Lina Wertmüller (Seven Beauties) round out the Oscars' list of female directing nominees.

The 78th Golden Globes air Sunday, Feb. 28 on NBC.

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