Eighteen years later, Kathryn Bigelow became the first woman to win a best director Oscar for her gritty 2009 war drama “The Hurt Locker.” Streisand, presenting the award, declared: “Well, the time has come.” Just four women had received best director nods before Bigelow’s historic win, beginning in 1976 with Lina Wertmüller for her Italian-language film, “Seven Beauties.” Jane Campion got a nod for “The Piano” in 1994, and Sofia Coppola received a nomination in 2004 for “Lost In Translation.”
Greta Gerwig joined that exclusive group in 2018, becoming the first woman to get a best director nomination for a debut film with her coming-of-age dramedy “Lady Bird.” Bigelow remains the only woman to have won the coveted prize to date, a fact that has come into glaring focus in the past decade as female directors continue to be overlooked in the prestigious category.
Those oversights have continued even as the industry has become more inclusive toward female directors. A recent study by the Annenberg Inclusion Initiative at the University of Southern California declared 2019 “a banner year” for female directors, who helmed more than 10 percent of last year’s top-grossing films. But the same study found that of the 273 best director nominations given out over the past 13 years at the Oscars and three other major awards shows (Golden Globes, Critics’ Choice Awards and the Directors Guild of America Awards) just 14 went to women.
Here’s a look at some of the biggest female director Oscar snubs in the past decade.
Three years after her historic best director nomination, Gerwig’s “Little Women” is up for six awards — including best picture and best adapted screenplay — at this year’s ceremony. But Gerwig did not receive a nod for directing her acclaimed adaptation of Louisa May Alcott’s classic novel.
The omission of Gerwig is the most high-profile snub of a female director this year, given her film’s best picture nomination. But there other women who directed critically acclaimed films who were also left out, such as Lulu Wang, who directed “The Farewell,” and Alma Har’el, whose drama, “Honey Boy,” won the best first-time feature award from the Directors Guild of America. Marielle Heller’s “A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood” earned Tom Hanks best supporting actor nominations at a host of awards shows, including the Oscars, but Heller herself was left off the best director ballot in each case.
Who is actually nominated: Martin Scorsese, “The Irishman”; Quentin Tarantino, “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood”; Bong Joon-ho, “Parasite”; Sam Mendes, “1917”; Todd Phillips, “Joker”
Heller was also snubbed at last year’s ceremony, where “Can You Ever Forgive Me?,” her drama based on Lee Israel’s memoir, earned Oscar nods for lead Melissa McCarthy and supporting actor Richard E. Grant. Lynne Ramsay also failed to get a nomination for her acclaimed thriller “You Were Never Really Here.”
Who was actually nominated?: Alfonso Cuarón, “Roma”; Yorgos Lanthimos, “The Favourite”; Spike Lee, “BlacKkKlansman”; Adam McKay, “Vice”; Pawel Pawlikowski “Cold War”
Who won?: Cuarón
The Oscars haven’t historically embraced superhero films, but the absence of Patty Jenkins on the best director ballot still drew backlash given the critical acclaim of “Wonder Woman,” the 10th-highest-grossing film of 2017.
Who was actually nominated?: Gerwig, “Lady Bird”; Christopher Nolan, “Dunkirk”; Guillermo del Toro, “The Shape of Water”; Jordan Peele, “Get Out”; Paul Thomas Anderson, “Phantom Thread”
Who won?: del Toro
Ava DuVernay failed to get what would have been a history-making nod for her 2014 Martin Luther King Jr. drama “Selma,” despite the film’s nomination in the closely linked best picture category.
Who was actually nominated?: Alejandro González Iñárritu, “Birdman”; Richard Linklater, “Boyhood”; Bennett Miller, “Foxcatcher”; Wes Anderson, “The Grand Budapest Hotel”; Morten Tyldum, “The Imitation Game”
Who won: Iñárritu
Nicole Holofcener did not get a nomination for directing the romantic dramedy “Enough Said,” despite the film’s critical acclaim and best supporting actor nods for the late James Gandolfini from the Screen Actors Guild Awards and the Critics’ Choice Awards.
Who was nominated: Alfonso Cuarón, “Gravity”; Steve McQueen, “12 Years a Slave”; Alexander Payne, “Nebraska”; David O. Russell, “American Hustle”; Martin Scorsese, “The Wolf of Wall Street”
Who won?: Cuarón
Kathryn Bigelow returned to the awards space with her 2012 thriller “Zero Dark Thirty,” picking up directing nods at the Golden Globes, BAFTAs and the Directors Guild of America Awards, among other ceremonies — but not at the Oscars.
Who was actually nominated: Michael Haneke, “Amour”; Benh Zeitlin, “Beasts of the Southern Wild”; Ang Lee, “Life of Pi”; Steven Spielberg, “Lincoln”; David O. Russell, “Silver Linings Playbook”
Who won: Lee
A previous version of this story incorrectly stated that James Gandolfini received a posthumous best actor Oscar nomination for the 2013 film “Enough Said.” He received best supporting actor nods from the Screen Actors Guild Awards and the Critics’ Choice Awards. This story has been updated.