Closing The Gap

Jane Campion becomes first woman to be nominated for best director twice at the Oscars

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Jane Campion attends the 2021 AFI Fest - Official Screening of Netflix's "The Power of the Dog" at TCL Chinese Theatre on November 11, 2021 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Axelle/Bauer-Griffin/FilmMagic)
Axelle/Bauer-Griffin | FilmMagic | Getty Images

Jane Campion is making Oscars history. 

The New Zealand writer-director is now the first woman to be nominated twice for the best director honors, picking up her second nod for "The Power of the Dog." 

Campion's western psychological drama explores the tense conflict that ensues between a Montana rancher and his brother after his brother brings home a new wife and her teenage son. It leads the pack with 12 nominations including best picture, adapted screenplay, actor, supporting actor and actress, which will all be awarded March 27. 

The film, starring Benedict Cumberbatch, Kirsten Dunst, Jesse Plemons and Kodi Smit-McPhee, arrived on Netflix Dec. 1 after a short theatrical run. 

Campion was also nominated in 1994 for "The Piano," a period drama that follows a mute piano player and her daughter in 19th century New Zealand. Though Campion lost that year, she won the Academy Award for best original screenplay. 

She is the only woman nominated for best director this year, facing off against Kenneth Branagh, Ryuske Hamaguchi, Paul Thomas Anderson and Steven Spielberg. This is the second time Campion will compete with Spielberg at the Academy Awards – he won the category in 1994 for his work on "Schindler's List." 

"The Power of the Dog" has received rave reviews from critics and earned Campion a best director award last month at the Golden Globes. It's the first feature film she's directed in 12 years — and it almost didn't happen. 

In an interview with The Guardian, the 67-year-old revealed that she was thinking of retiring before she picked up Thomas Savage's 1967 novel "The Power of the Dog," and became enthralled with the characters. 

"Then I thought, 'Oh man, this is gonna be a big one' …  I'd read the book and loved it and afterwards I just kept thinking about it," she says. "When I made a move to find out who had the rights, that's when I knew it had got me … I needed to do it."

Only seven women have ever been nominated for best director in Oscars history, and as of last year, two have won: Kathryn Bigelow took home the award in 2010 for "The Hurt Locker" and Chloé Zhao won in 2021 for "Nomadland."

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