Kathryn Bigelow: 1st Woman Nominated for Best Director at Oscars Plus Our Favorite Female Directors

Kerry Pieri

If you’ve been paying attention to Oscar buzz, then you’ve definitely heard of Kathryn Bigelow (pictured above), director of The Hurt Locker. Not only do we appreciate this film as a war story told from a female perspective, but so do the Directors Guild of America and the BAFTAs– who have already showered Bigelow with awards for best director this year. Bigelow is well-known for her work on 1987’s Near Dark, but we love the over-the-top performances she pulled out of Keanu Reeves, as Johnny Utah, and Patrick Swayze as surfer/robber, Bodhi, in Point Break. We’re keeping our fingers crossed that she becomes the first woman to bring home the gold as Best Director at the 82nd Annual Academy Awards. See a clip from The Hurt Locker below.

In addition to this year’s favorite, there are some other talented ladies who have been puncturing the glass ceiling in the male-dominated field of directing over the years. Below is a list of some of our other favorite women who spend some serious time behind the camera.

Catherine Hardwicke:
Most well-known among vampire fans for directing that film about the Seattle teen who’s very into a cute, walking, dead guy– Catherine Hardwicke has been in the movie biz for years. Twilight is set to be Hardwicke’s piece de resistance on her IMDB page, with its nearly $200 million domestic gross at the box office, but the director has some other noteworthy films under her belt, as well. The UCLA film school grad directed the dark, angsty teen-drama, Thirteen. She also co-wrote the film starring Evan Rachel Wood and Nikki Reed, whom Hardwicke later cast as the not-so-nice vampire, Rosalie, in the Twilight saga. So, apparently she’s also a lady who hooks up her friends– what’s not to like about that?

Sofia Coppola:

This Marc Jacobs muse may have been born into film royalty, but she has certainly carved out a place for herself among film’s elite. Her director Dad, Francis Ford Coppola, may be a household name (ever heard of The Godfather?), but Sofia has found her way out of his shadow with such critically-acclaimed successes as The Virgin Suicides, and the fashion eye-candy that is Marie Antoinette. Coppola’s greatest cinematic victory to date is 2003’s Lost in Translation, for which she received an Oscar nom for Best Director. She may have gone home empty-handed, but we’re certainly still wondering what Bill Murray whispered to Scarlett Johansson at the end of the film.

Nora Ephron:

For the purpose of this list, we’ll call Ms. Ephron a director– but this Hollywood heavyweight is also a producer, novelist, journalist, and blogger. She is also the director behind some of our very favorite, equal parts tear and laughter-inducing, rom-coms. The kinds of films we love to tune into on a lazy Sunday come to mind– Sleepless in Seattle, You’ve Got Mail, and When Harry Met Sally. Ephron has also dabbled in more serious fare; she co-wrote the tragic story of a plutonium factory worker played by Meryl Streep in Silkwood. Most recently, Ephron directed the foodie-fave film also starring the illustrious Streep, Julie & Julia.

Jane Campion:
This Kiwi director has an acute sense for doomed romance– comedy not included. 1996’s Portrait of a Lady, based on a novel by Henry James, starred Nicole Kidman as a young, wealthy, and innocent woman who marries an avaricious older man– tragedy ensues. Campion later earned an Oscar nomination for Best Director for The Piano— a dark film about love, music, lust, and consequences set in the rugged forests of New Zealand. Campion’s latest directorial debut was last year’s Bright Star. The beautifully shot film portrayed the true-life tale of the romantic poet John Keats, his subsequent death by tuberculosis, and the woman who was madly in love with him. Her knack for heart-wrenching love stories leaves us wanting more.

Julie Taymor:

Taymor is a triple-threat– serving as a director for films, theater, and opera. She’s won a Tony, an Emmy, and an Academy Award (for original song). On occasion, she also designs costumes. We’re not going to lie, we’re intimidated. We loved her work on Frida, the story of Mexican painter Frida Kahlo, which proved that Salma Hayek could look hot even with a unibrow. 2007’s Across the Universe made us fall in love with The Beatles’ music all over again, and was a visual wonderland to boot. Whatever Taymor decides to do next, we’re sure she’ll be amazing at it.

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