On Wednesday, history was made during the 78th Golden Globe Award nominations. After receiving backlash for only nominating seven women filmmakers in their 77-year run, the Hollywood Foreign Press Association recognized three women for Best Director. Notably, Eternals filmmaker Chloé Zhao became the first Asian woman to receive a Golden Globe directing nomination for Nomadland.
Zhao joins One Night in Miami director Regina King and Promising Young Woman’s Emerald Fennell in this year’s directing category. The last woman nominated was Ava DuVernay for her 2015 film, Selma. Prior to this year, Ang Lee (Sense and Sensibility & Life of Pi) and Bong Joon-ho (Parasite) were the only Asian directors to receive nominations from the Globes.
The 38-year-old Zhao also served as the writer, co-producer, and editor of Nomadland. She adapted the screenplay from the Jessica Bruder novel, Nomadland: Surviving America in the Twenty-First Century. The film is centered on a woman (Frances McDormand) in her 60s who embarks on an adventure through the American West after she loses everything in the Great Recession. Not only did Nomadland receive four Golden Globe nominations (Directing, Screenplay, Picture, and Lead Actress), but it also became the first film to receive the top prize at both the Toronto and Venice Film Festival.
This is Zhao’s third independent feature to date. Her debut film, Songs My Brothers Taught Me, earned rave critical reviews as it went on to receive a nomination from the Independent Spirit Awards for Best First Feature. Zhao can once again make history by receiving an Oscar nomination. The Academy has only recognized four Asian directors in its 92-year history. Meanwhile, Lina Wertmüller (Seven Beauties), Sofia Coppola (Lost in Translation), Kathryn Bigelow (The Hurt Locker), and Greta Gerwig (Lady Bird) are the only women to have been nominated for Best Director to date.
More attention is coming Zhao’s way, as her next film is the highly anticipated Marvel’s Eternals. In 2018, Marvel hired her to direct the superhero flick that stars Angelina Jolie, Kumail Nanjiani, and Salma Hayek. Eternals follows a group of superheroes that must reunite after staying hidden for thousands of years. Due to the pandemic, the release of this upcoming blockbuster has been postponed to November 5, 2021.
Nomadland will premiere in theatres and on Hulu on February 19th, 2021.