93th Academy awards are more female than ever with Zhao and Fennell vying for Best Director

Alexia Muiños Ruiz
Alexia Muiños Ruiz

Zhao and Fennell nod multiple nominations at the 93th Academy Awards

Next monday 26th, we might think we wake up in Uranus if Chloé Zhao, Emerald Fennell, Pippa Ehrlich, Maite Alberdi, Jasmila Žbanić or Kaouther Ben Hania would win the coveted statuette. The Academy Awards will make their statement celebrating a more diverse cinematic world or sticking to same old darlings in this disruptive year which has harvested invaluable works.

However unlikely this poker of aces may be, both Zhao and Fennell have chances to win best director, in the first time that two women are nominated in this category. Moreover, they have earned their nods at best adapted screenplay (Zhao) and original screenplay (Fennell) and both are nominated as producers for the Best Picture Award.

Chloé Zhao has just been crowned at the Independent Spirit Awards, winning Best Film, Best, Director, and Editing with her third feature film, Nomadland. She has beaten Alexander Payne's Sideways former record of 42 awards and nods more nominations than any other filmmaker making Zhao lead the Oscars field, with permission of Fincher's Mank (10 nominations). Nomadland has been acclaimed worldwide since it conquered the Golden Lion in Venice .

The film offers exquisite performances from Frances McDormand and David Strathairn acting opposite non-professional actors. Its auteur approach and observational storytelling brings some fresh air to the Academy contenders in a year lacking of big budgets or box-office hits. Its message raise awareness of all the marginalized people, hitting people hearts amidst the pandemic.

Brand new discovery Emerald Fennell has won the Los Angeles Film Critics, Writers Guild Award, the BAFTA for Best English Film and Original screenplay among hundred awards with her impressive debut, Promising Young Woman.

The Best international Film category includes multi-awarded Bosnian war drama Quo Vadis Aida, by Golden Bear winner Jasmila Žbanić, who also earned a Best Director nod at the BAFTA's. This is the first film from Bosnia and Herzegovina to be nominated since No Man’s Land.

Kaouther Ben Hania's  The Man Who Sold His Skin is the first Tunisian film nominated at the Oscars. The film is co-produced by France, Belgium, Germany and Sweden.

Best Documentary

Less documentaries directed by women than last year, but the South African My Octopus Teacher, co-directed by Pippa Ehrlich, is likely to walk home with the win.

A fierce contender is Chilean Maite Alberdi, who reached the stars with her sixth film, the international co-production The Mole Agent, which premiered in Sundance 2020.

Other Female nominees

Ubiquitous Chloé Zhao got another nod at Best Film Editing.

Four women can walk home with the Best Costume Design. Alexandra Byrne (Emma), Ann Roth (Ma Rainey's Black Bottom ), Trish Summerville (Mank) or Bina Daigeler (Mulan )

Sophia Nahli Allison is nominated at Best Documentary (Short Subject) for A Love Song for Latasha

American Madeline Sharafian got her nod at Best Animated Short Film (Burrow )

Danish Elvira Lind ( The Letter Room) and Palestinian Farah Nabulsi (The Present ) will vie for the Best live action Short film

Revision after the Academy Awards

With a record of picking up 17 trophies, women earned 36% of the awards handed out in the 23 competitive categories.

Chloé Zhao blazed a new trail in Film History on walking away with the Best Director statuette ( not to mention that she received another Oscar received for Best film) for Nomadland. Such an epic story worthy of the highest accolades.

Emerald Fennell was bestowed the Best  Original Script for Promising Young Woman, eleven years after Diablo Cody had won it for JUNO.

Best Actress winner Frances McDormand and Best Director winner Chloe Zhao received, alongside Mollye Asher, the accolades that crowned Nomadland the Best Film.

The acting categories crowned Frances MacDormand as Best Actresss and  Yuh-Jung Youn for supporting actress in Minari. It's worth noting that Yuh-Jung Youn is the first Korean actress and second Asian winning the Academy Award for supporting actress.

Other wins for women outside the two acting categories included:

• Mia Neal and Jamika Wilson, who became the first Black women to win for best makeup and hairstyling, for “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom
• H.E.R. and lyricist Tiara Thomas for their original song “Fight for You” for “Judas and the Black Messiah”
• Dana Murray, producer of Best Animated Feature “Soul”
• Ann Roth, costume designer for “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom
• Pippa Ehrlich, one of three producers on the Documentary Feature “My Octopus Teacher
• Alice Doyard, a producer of the doc short winner “Collette
• set decorator Jan Parsale, who shared the Production Design award with Donald Graham Burt for “Mank
• Michellee Couttolenc, one of five sound design winners for “Sound of Metal