“Nomadland” director Chloe Zhao has won yet another honor — the Directors Guild of America award for feature film.
The DGA Awards were presented April 10 in a virtual ceremony.
Zhao is the first woman of color and the second woman ever to win the DGA’s top prize, following Kathryn Bigelow, who won for 2008’s “The Hurt Locker” and went on to win the Oscar for best director .
The other DGA nominees in the feature category were Lee Isaac Chung for “Minari,” Emerald Fennell for “Promising Young Woman,” David Fincher for “Mank,” and Aaron Sorkin for “The Trial of the Chicago 7.”
Zhao has already won Golden Globe and Critics Choice awards for her work on “Nomadland,” which was also named best picture at both ceremonies.
Over the weekend, Zhao was named best director at the BAFTAs (EE British Academy Film Award), “Nomadland” took best film, and the star, Frances McDormand, was named best leading actress.
The other directors nominated were Chung for “Minari,” Thomas Vinterberg for “Another Round,” Shannon Murphy for “Babyteeth,” Jasmila Žbanić for “Quo Vadis, Aida?” and Sarah Gavron for “Rocks.”
“Nomadland” stars McDormand as a woman who, after losing everything in the Great Recession, embarks on a journey through the American West, living as a van-dwelling modern-day nomad. Zhao adapted the screenplay from a book by Jessica Bruder.
Since 1948, there have only been eight times that the winner of the DGA award for feature film directing has not gone on to win the Oscar for best director. The most recent time was last year, when Sam Mendes won the DGA Award for “1917,” but the Oscar went to Bong Joon Ho for “Parasite.”
In addition to Zhao and Chung, the Academy Award nominees for best director are Vinterberg for “Another Round,” Fincher for “Mank,” and Fennell for “Promising Young Woman.” For the first time, there are two female nominees in the category.
Oscar winners will be announced on April 25 on ABC.
“We celebrate both women nominees for best director — what a phenomenal achievement for Emerald Fennell and Chloe Zhao,” Women’s Media Center co-founder Jane Fonda said. “How wonderful it is to finally see that glass ceiling burst with Chloe Zhao’s history-making nomination as the first Chinese woman and the first woman of color to be nominated for best director. Yet, it’s also a glaring reminder that there’s still a long road ahead on the journey to equality and inclusion in Hollywood and the Oscars.”
The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences made history in another way. Two films with female leads — “Nomadland” and “Promising Young Woman” (starring Carey Mulligan) — were nominated for best picture for the first time in the 93-year history of the awards.
However, the number of female nominees in the 18 non-acting categories increased by only two percentage points this year, according to a WMC analysis. Of the total of 205 nominees for directing, producing, writing, editing and other crucial behind-the scenes roles, 140 (68 percent) are men and 65 (32 percent) are women. Last year, women received only 30 percent of the nominations, while men received 70 percent.
This year, for the first time, WMC has included race and ethnicity data for three categories: directing, writing (original screenplay), and writing (adapted screenplay). In the best director category, two out of the five nominees, or 40 percent, are people of color: Zhao and Chung.
Among the 10 writers nominated for best original screenplay, only one, Chung, is Asian. No women of color were nominated.
Zhao was nominated for best adapted screenplay along with the screenwriters of “Borat Subsequent Moviefilm,” “The Father,” “One Night in Miami” and “The White Tiger.”