When Greta Gerwig (Lady Bird) received an Oscar nomination for best director last month, she became only the fifth woman in history to be nominated. Since its inception in 1929, female nominees for best director have consisted of Lina Wertmüller (Seven Beauties, 1977), Jane Campion (The Piano, 1994), Sofia Coppola (Lost in Translation, 2004) and Kathryn Bigelow (The Hurt Locker); only Bigelow has won.
Much of the blame rests on the systemic lack of opportunities for female directors. In 2017, according to the Center for the Study of Women in Television & Film, women comprised 18 percent of all directors, a dismal proportion that has more or less held steady for years. Yet often female-helmed films are not recognized at award shows.
Among the directing shutouts this year is Dee Rees, whose film Mudbound — about black sharecroppers in 1940s Mississippi — received nearly universal critical acclaim after it premiered on Netflix. Though Rees earned an Oscar nomination for best adapted screenplay for Mudbound, making her the first black woman nominated for the category, the Academy did not give her a best director nomination.
Rees isn’t the only woman whose innovative directing work has failed to garner an Oscar nod. In the spirit of celebrating the accomplishments of women in directing, here is a round-up of seven female directors whom you haven’t seen on the best director ballot despite their enormous contributions.