First woman ever nominated for the Best Director gets her Oscar

Ben Arnold
Contributor
Lina Wertmüller (Credit: Kevin Winter/Getty Images)

Lina Wertmüller, the first woman ever to be nominated in the Best Director category at the Academy Awards, has been given an honorary Oscar.

The 91-year-old Italian screenwriter and director was nominated for her movie Seven Beauties in 1976, a World War II drama which she also wrote.

The category was hotly contested, with Wertmüller up against Ingmar Bergman for Face To Face, Sidney Lumet for Network, Alan J. Pakula for All The President’s Men, and John G. Avildsen for Rocky (Avildsen ended up winning).

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Wertmüller is one of only five women to ever be nominated in the director's category, and also received nominations for Best Foreign Language Film, Best Original Screenplay and Best Actor for Giancarlo Giannini.

Another female director wouldn't be nominated again until Jane Campion, who was acknowledged for her 1993 movie The Piano.

Geena Davis, Lina Wertmüller, David Lynch, and Wes Studi attend the Academy Of Motion Picture Arts And Sciences' 11th Annual Governors Awards (Credit: Kevin Winter/Getty Images)

Only five women have ever been nominated for Best Director; Wertmüller, Campion, Sofia Coppola for Lost In Translation, Kathryn Bigelow for The Hurt Locker and Greta Gerwig for Lady Bird, with Bigelow the only one to win.

Wertmüller was given the Oscar at the annual Governor's Awards, hosted by the Academy.

She told AP: “I didn’t even know. I’m obviously very happy and proud and full of admiration but five is too few. There should be a lot more.”

Wertmüller became a protege of the Italian auteur Federico Fellini in the 1960s, and worked as assistant director on his 1963 classic 8½.

Her last movie was the 2004 comedy Too Much Romance... It's Time for Stuffed Peppers, starring Sophia Loren and F. Murray Abraham.