As Women and Hollywood reports, on Friday the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (AMPAS) released the list of the 282 films that have qualified for best picture. These are films that are eligible to win Oscars.

1986's Children of a Lesser God was the first film directed by a woman (Randa Haines) to be nominated for Best Picture. Often, the Best Picture nomination goes hand in hand with Best Director. (As you may know, only one woman has ever won an Oscar for Best Director — Kathryn Bigelow, for the 2009 film The Hurt Locker. Lina Wertmüller, Jane Campion and Sofia Coppola have been nominated.)

Of the 282 films on the list, 39 were directed by women. Thirteen percent. These include some you may have heard of — The Guilt Trip, by Anne Fletcher; Friends With Kids, by Jennifer Westfeldt; Bachlorette, by Leslye Headland; Disney's Brave, co-directed by Brenda Chapman; Seeking a Friend for the End of the World, by Lorene Scafaria; the documentary Diana Vreeland: The Eye Has to Travel, by Lisa Immordino Vreeland; and the documentary Ethel, by Rory Kennedy.

One of the films, Ava DuVernay's Middle of Nowhere, won a Best Director award… at the Sundance Film Festival. It got good audience buzz and some nice reviews, but as a very small movie without any stars, chances are it will not get much love from the Academy. As Women and Hollywood's Melissa Silverstein writes:

Historically, a doc, an animated or a foreign language film must be beyond extraordinary to get a best picture nomination. So then eliminating those films there are 27 left. I dream that Lynn Shelton and or Ava DuVernay could get a screenplay nomination. But when it comes to best picture, we all know the reality, there will be one left standing — Zero Dark Thirty. And that's one more than the zero that were nominated last year.


Winning an Oscar isn't everything, but if you were a producer, wouldn't you be more likely to pick an "Oscar-winning director" or an "Oscar-nominated director" over another? The award exposes your talent to a wider audience, you can renegotiate fees, you can meet new collaborators and actors, you can work on pet projects. Think about how only one woman has won Best Director in 83 years, and how that lack of exposure may have affected female filmmakers. If men keep winning awards, then men are chosen to direct projects, and eligible for more awards, and chosen again for new projects. But then again: some very special folks — Alfred Hitchcock, Orson Welles, Robert Altman, Stanley Kubrick, David Lynch, Spike Lee — never won Best Director Oscars. Here's to Kathryn Bigelow and all of the women eligible — it seems like just finishing a film in this male-dominated industry deserves applause.

The Women Directed Films That Are Qualified for 85th Academy Awards [Women And Hollywood]