Sun. Sep 20th, 2020

2021 Oscars: The Best Director Contenders (February)

After another year of no female Best Director Oscar nominees, and plenty of uproar and backlash about it, it’s looking like that will shape up to repeat itself once again this year.

Early last year it was easy to call for the eventual nominations of heavy hitters like Martin Scorsese (The Irishman) and Quentin Tarantino (Once Upon a Time a in Hollywood). As the season progressed, the majority of female contenders came from small films that couldn’t break out of the Spirit Awards mold, like Lorene Scafaria (Hustlers), Alma Ha’rel (Honey Boy) and Lulu Wang (The Farewell).

2021 Oscars: The Best Actress Contenders (February)

As one of only five previous female director nominees ever, Greta Gerwig got close with Little Women, a blockbuster box office hit that also earned Best Picture, Best Actress and Adapted Screenplay nominations. But it wasn’t enough to break through the boys club that was rounded out by DGA and BAFTA winner Sam Mendes (1917), eventual Oscar winner Bong Joon Ho (Parasite) and Todd Phillips (the billion dollar grossing Joker). Women didn’t stand a chance against this lineup, with mostly small and personal films and are rarely given the types of movies that earn this kind of acclaim. Female directors who break out of the indie shell are often tossed into the heavy-hitter ring from A to Z. From a $1M budget drama to a $100M sci-fi or comic book film. Unless you’re Black Panther or Joker, that doesn’t get your Best Picture or Best Director (just ask Patty Jenkins).

2021 Oscars: The Best Actor Contenders (February)

This year is packed with even more Academy director royalty with Spike Lee (Da 5 Bloods), David Fincher (Mank), Paul Greengrass (News of the World), Guillermo del Toro (Nightmare Alley), Ron Howard (Hillbilly Elegy), Joel Coen (Macbeth, if it comes out this year), Christopher Nolan (Tenet), George Clooney (Good Morning, Midnight), Ridley Scott (The Last Duel), Denis Villeneuve (Dune), Wes Anderson (The French Dispatch), David O. Russell (TBD), Paul Thomas Anderson (TBD) and Steven Spielberg (West Side Story) – all of whom have won or been nominated for Best Director and helming major Best Picture contenders that only male directors could possibly be given. The slate of female directors this year range from first-time features like theater veteran Lila Neugebauer directing Jennifer Lawrence for A24 to the purest example of that A-Z in Chloé Zhao, who has two films this year: Nomadland (Searchlight) and The Eternals (Disney). We also have Herself by Phyllida Lloyd (Amazon), First Cow by Kelly Reichardt, I’m Your Woman by Julia Hart (Amazon), Kajillionaire by Miranda July (A24), ( Never Rarely Sometimes Always by Eliza Hittman (Focus Features), On the Rocks by Sofia Coppola (A24/Apple+), Story of My Wife by Ildiko Enyedi and the Untitled Nora Fingscheidt Project starring Sandra Bullock and Viola Davis.

2021 Oscars: The Best Supporting Actress Contenders (February)

To this day, only one woman has ever won Best Director – The Hurt Locker‘s Kathryn Bigelow – and it’s telling that her win came from a film trenched deeply in a heavily male genre. Coppola, as a previous Best Director nominee and screenplay winner, probably stands the best shot from this group (and possibly Zhao for Nomandland) but it’s going to take real change from within the directing branch to look outside its own box at the types of films they nominate.

2021 Oscars: The Best Supporting Actor Contenders (February)

Check out a full list below of Best Director contenders and my current top 10 (in alphabetical order) for February.

  • Da 5 Bloods – Spike Lee (Netflix)
  • Mank – David Fincher (Netflix)
  • Minari – Lee Isaac Chung (A24)
  • News of the World – Paul Greengrass (Universal)
  • Nightmare Alley – Guillermo del Toro (Searchlight)
  • Nomadland – Chloé Zhao (Searchlight)
  • On the Rocks – Sofia Coppola (A24/Apple+)
  • Stillwater – Tom McCarthy (Focus Features)
  • Untitled David O. Russell Project aka Amsterdam – David O. Russell (20th Century)
  • West Side Story – Steven Spielberg (20th Century)


  • Ammonite – Francis Lee (Neon)
  • Annette – Leos Carax (Amazon)
  • Benedetta – Paul Verhoeven (TBD)
  • Blonde – Andrew Dominik (Netflix)
  • Breaking News in Yuba County – Tate Taylor (TBD)
  • C’mon C’mon – Mike Mills (A24)
  • Da 5 Bloods – Spike Lee (Netflix)
  • Deep Water – Adrian Lyne (20th Century)
  • Druk – Thomas Vinterberg (TBD)
  • Dune – Denis Villeneuve (Warner Bros)
  • The Eternals – Chloé Zhao (Disney)
  • The Eyes of Tammy Faye – Michael Showalter (Searchlight)
  • Everybody’s Talking About Jamie – Jonathan Butterell (20th Century)
  • The Father – Florian Zeller (Sony Pictures Classics)
  • First Cow – Kelly Reichardt (A24)
  • Flag Day – Sean Penn (TBD)
  • The French Dispatch – Wes Anderson (Searchlight)
  • French Exit – Azazel Jacobs (Sony Pictures Classics)
  • Good Morning, Midnight – George Clooney (Netflix)
  • The Green Knight – David Lowery (A24)
  • Harry Haft – Barry Levinson (TBD)
  • Herself – Phyllida Lloyd (Amazon)
  • Hillbilly Elegy – Ron Howard (Netflix)
  • The Humans – Stephen Karam (A24)
  • I’m Thinking of Ending Things – Charlie Kaufman (Netflix)
  • I’m Your Woman – Julia Hart (Amazon)
  • In the Heights – John Chu (Warner Bros)
  • Kajillionaire – Miranda July (A24)
  • The King of Staten Island – Judd Apatow (Paramount)
  • Land – Robin Wright (Focus Features)
  • The Last Duel – Ridley Scott (20th Century)
  • The Life Ahead – Edoardo Ponti (Netflix)
  • Macbeth – Joel Coen (A24)
  • Mank – David Fincher (Netflix)
  • Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom – George C. Wolfe (Netflix)
  • Minari – Lee Isaac Chung (A24)
  • Mob Girl – Paolo Sorrentino (TBD)
  • Never Rarely Sometimes Always – Eliza Hittman (Focus Features)
  • News of the World – Paul Greengrass (Universal)
  • Next Goal Wins – Taika Waititi (Searchlight)
  • Nightmare Alley – Guillermo del Toro (Searchlight)
  • Nomadland – Chloé Zhao (Searchlight)
  • On the Rocks – Sofia Coppola (A24/Apple+)
  • Passing – Rebecca Hall (TBD)
  • Prisoner 760 – Kevin Macdonald (STX Entertainment)
  • The Prom – Ryan Murphy (Netflix)
  • Respect – Liesl Tommy (MGM)
  • The Roads Not Taken – Sally Potter (Bleecker Street)
  • Stillwater – Tom McCarthy (Focus Features)
  • Story of My Wife – Ildiko Enyedi (TBD)
  • Tenet – Christopher Nolan (Warner Bros)
  • The Personal History of David Copperfield – Armando Iannucci (Searchlight)
  • The Trial of the Chicago 7 – Aaron Sorkin (Paramount)
  • The United States v Billie Holliday – Lee Daniels (TBD)
  • Those Who Wish Me Dead – Taylor Sheridan (Warner Bros)
  • Untitled David O. Russell Project aka Amsterdam – David O. Russell (20th Century)
  • Untitled Fred Hampton Film aka Jesus was my Homeboy – Shaka King (Warner Bros)
  • Untitled Paul Thomas Anderson Project – Paul Thomas Anderson (Focus Features)
  • Untitled Lila Neugebauer Project aka Red, White, Water – Lila Neugebauer (A24)
  • Untitled Nora Fingscheidt Project – Nora Fingscheidt (Netflix)
  • West Side Story – Steven Spielberg (20th Century)
  • The White Tiger – Ramin Bahrani (Netflix)
  • Wild Mountain Thyme – John Patrick Shanley (Bleecker Street)
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