Jane Campion has once again written her name into the Oscars history books. The New Zealander took home best director at Sunday’s ceremony, becoming only the third woman to win the award, behind The Hurt Locker’s Katheryn Bigelow and .
Campion’s simmering western The Power of the Dog saw her take home the top directing prize over Steven Spielberg (West Side Story), Paul Thomas Anderson (Licorice Pizza), Kenneth Branagh (Belfast) and Ryûsuke Hamaguchi (Drive My Car). She was the only woman to be nominated in the category.
Campion is also the only woman to be nominated for best director twice. She scored her first nod in 1994 for period drama The Piano. While she didn’t take home the directing prize, she won her first Oscar for best original screenplay.
“It’s both sad but it’s also great that women are punching that glass ceiling out of the way. I really feel things are changing,” Campion told Variety of her directing nomination. “We’re not there yet. But, I would say that it’s the end of apartheid for the industry when it comes to gender.”
The Power of the Dog led nominations with 12, including for best picture, actor for Benedict Cumberbatch, supporting actress for Kristen Dunst, supporting actor for Kodi Smit-McPhee and Jesse Plemons, adapted screenplay, editing, score and cinematography. Surprisingly, Campion’s best director win was the only success for the Western on the night.
Only seven women have been nominated for best director: Lina Wertmüller for Seven Beauties, Campion for The Piano and The Power of the Dog, Sofia Coppola for Lost in Translation, Kathryn Bigelow for The Hurt Locker, Greta Gerwig for Lady Bird, Chloé Zhao for Nomadland and Emerald Fennell for Promising Young Woman.
Campion unfolded the director’s chair to oversee The Power of the Dog more than a decade after her previous feature film, Bright Star. The western centers on Phil Burbank, a rancher who torments his younger brother and his new wife, but develops a complicated interest in her effeminate son.