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Jane Campion is the big favorite to win the Oscar for Best Director for her movie The Power of the Dog at the Academy Awards this Sunday. The New Zealand native competes for the award in the category with Steven Spielberg (West Side Story), Paul Thomas Anderson (Licorice Pizza), Kenneth Branagh (Belfast) and Ryûsuke Hamaguchi (Drive My Car) – four men.
This situation is not unusual, as a look at nominations for the 94th Academy Awards, held in Los Angeles this weekend, shows. Categories ranked even lower for female representation than Best Director include a single female nominee facing five male nominees for Film Editing and seven male nominees for Best Short Documentary. In the category Best Original Screenplay, no women are nominated for the first time since 2016. Best Visual Effects also has no female nominees.
In 1994, Campion had become the second woman in Oscar history to be nominated for Best Director after Lina Wertmüller, but Kathryn Bigelow would be the first female to win this Academy Award for On Hostile Ground (2009). Last year, Chloé Zaoe became only the second female to achieve the feat when she took home the trophy for Nomadland. In total, only seven women have ever been nominated in this category in the history of the world’s most prestigious film awards.
Representation of women was slightly higher for Best Picture, where eight women are facing off against 21 men, among them producers Laura Berwick and Becca Kovacik for Belfast, Mary Parent for Dune and Sara Murphy for Licorice Pizza. Best Feature Documentary was a rare category that came close to achieving gender parity at 47% female nominees.
Overall, 27% of Oscar nominees in non-acting categories this year are female. According to the Women’s Media Center, this is the lowest rate of female representation in the 18 categories not separated by gender in three years and a setback compared to the modest advances registered in the two previous editions. In 2020 and 2021, the share of women nominated was 30% and 32%, respectively. The report notes that this setback is “especially disappointing considering the industry-wide effort to make changes since the #MeToo/Time’s Up movements gained prominence in 2017-2018.”
Independent of the overall result, the number of female nominees increased this year in the categories Best Adapted Screenplay, Cinematography, Soundtrack, Original Song and Animated Film. However, in another 12 categories, female representation decreased.
Regina Hall, Wanda Sykes and Amy Schumer will host this year’s gala. It will be the first time since 1977 that multiple women have hosted an Oscars ceremony.