The Power Of The Dog Filmmaker Jane Campion Is The First Woman To Receive Two Best Director Nominations

It's never a good thing when a major organization like the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences is still dolling out "firsts" when it comes to award nominations for people based on gender, race, and/or sexual orientation. True, the Academy has made some improvements in recent years, but it's only just begun to compensate for decades of overlooking films starring and/or made by anyone who wasn't a cisgender heterosexual white man. Still, it took another small but significant step forward in that regard in 2022 by making New Zealand filmmaker Jane Campion the first cisgender woman to receive more than a single nod for the Best Director Oscar.

Campion was among the five Best Director nominees announced for the 94th annual Academy Awards for her work on "The Power of the Dog," along with Kenneth Branagh for "Belfast," Ryûsuke Hamaguchi for "Drive My Car," Paul Thomas Anderson for "Licorice Pizza," and Steven Spielberg for "West Side Story." It was the second Best Director nod for Campion after her nomination for "The Piano" in 1994, as well as one of many nods for "The Power of the Dog" in such categories as Best Picture, Best Actor (for Benedict Cumberbatch), Best Supporting Actress (for Kirsten Dunst), and Best Supporting Actor (for Kodi Smitt-McPhee and Jesse Plemons). Director of photography Ari Wegner was also nominated for her work on Campion's western drama, making her only the second cisgender woman nominated at the Oscars in the cinematography category after Rachel Morrison's nod for "Mudbound" in 2018.

Only 7 (Count 'Em, 7) Women Have Been Nominated Total

As noted by Variety, Campion is only one of seven (count 'em, seven) cisgender women nominated for Best Director at the Oscars since the annual awards show launched in 1929. The other six nominees to date are Lina Wertmüller for "Seven Beauties" in 1977, Sofia Coppola for "Lost in Translation" in 2004, Kathryn Bigelow for "The Hurt Locker" in 2010, Greta Gerwig for "Lady Bird" in 2018, and Chloé Zhao for "Nomadland" and Emerald Fennell for "Promising Young Woman" in 2021. Zhao and Fennell's dual Oscar nods also meant 2021 was the first time that two women competed against one another for Best Director in the same year, with Zhao going on to become the second woman to win in that category after Bigelow's victory in 2010.

Adapted from the 1967 Thomas Savage novel of the same name, "The Power of the Dog" stars Cumberbatch as a wealthy, cruel rancher who torments his brother's (Plemons) new wife (Dunst) and son (Smit-McPhee) when they come to live at the duo's Montana ranch circa 1925. Having already taken home the Silver Lion for Campion's direction at the 78th Venice International Film Festival, the film has only further cemented its status as one of the front-runners (if not the front-runner) to win Best Picture at the 2022 Oscars thanks to its many nominations. And while Campion's directing nod is certainly well-deserved, it's also a reminder that the Academy's work is nowhere near done when it comes to being inclusive with the movies and artists it nominates for its top prizes.

The 94th annual Oscars ceremony will air on ABC on March 27, 2022.