Emmys vs. Oscars: Female directors honored by TV academy in record numbers

While you can count the number of women nominated for Best Director at the Oscars on one hand, the Emmys have feted female helmers for years, with both bids and wins.

In 88 years, only four women have ever been nominated for Best Director at the Oscars. That’s not a typo. Four women out of 435 nominees. It took 49 years for Lina Wertmuller to break the glass ceiling in this category when she was nominated for “Seven Beauties” in 1976. Seventeen years later in 1993, Jane Campion (“The Piano”) became the second woman to contend in this category. Sofia Coppola followed 10 years later in 2003 for “Lost in Translation.” Finally, in 2009, Kathryn Bigelow, only the fourth-ever female nominee, became the first woman to win the Oscar for Best Director for her Best Picture-winning “The Hurt Locker.”

To that end, it is encouraging to see how well women have fared at the Emmys, especially in recent years.

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Women have won the Best Comedy Directing category for the last three years (Gail Mancuso in both 2013 and 2014 for “Modern Family” and Jill Soloway last year for “Transparent”). Better yet, in 2011 and 2013, there were more women nominated than men in that category. In 2011, Beth McCarthy-Miller for “30 Rock,” Pamela Fryman for “How I Met Your Mother” and Mancuso for “Modern Family” contended (Michael Spiller won for “Modern Family”), and in 2013, McCarthy-Miller was back for “30 Rock” and Lena Dunham was up for “Girls,” while Mancuso won for “Modern Family.”

In the Best Drama Directing category, women have also fared well, with four nominations going to women over the last five years (Patti Jenkins for “The Killing” in 2011, Michelle MacLaren for “Breaking Bad” in 2013 and Lesli Linka Glatter for “Homeland” in 2013 and 2014).

This year, eight women have been nominated across five of the six separate directing categories at the Emmys (none made the cut for variety series helming). Let’s take a moment to celebrate them:

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Best Comedy Directing
Jill Soloway, “Transparent” (“Man on the Land”)
This is Soloway’s eighth Emmy bid, having been nominated three times for Best Drama Series as one of the producers of “Six Feet Under” (2002, 2003, 2005), and landing an impressive four nominations last year as a producer of both “This is Me” (Best Short-Format Nonfiction Program) and “Transparent” (Best Comedy Series), for writing the “Transparent” pilot and for directing the “Transparent” episode “Best New Girl,” for which she won her first and only Emmy to date.

Best Drama Directing
Lesli Linka Glatter, “Homeland” (“The Tradition of Hospitality”)
This is Glatter’s fifth Emmy nomination overall, having contended four times for Best Drama Directing: for the “Mad Men” episode “Guy Walks Into an Advertising Agency” in 2010 and the “Homeland” episodes “Q&A” in 2013 and “From A to B and Back Again” last year. Glatter also shared in a Best Drama Series nomination for “Homeland” last year as one of the show’s producers. Glatter is a previous Oscar nominee for Best Live Action Short Film for “Tales of Meeting and Parting” in 1985, which she shared with Sharon Oreck.

Best Movie/Mini Directing
Susanne Bier, “The Night Manager”
This is the first Emmy nomination for the celebrated Danish filmmaker, whose film “In a Better World” won the Best Foreign Language Film Oscar for Denmark in 2011.

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Best Variety Special Directing
Beth McCarthy-Miller, “Adele Live in New York City”
McCarthy-Miller boasts 10 Emmy nominations on her resume, but she has yet to score a win. She was first nominated in 1999 for directing “Saturday Night Live,” which also earned her bids in 2000, 2003 and 2006. She was cited three times for directing “30 Rock,” for the episodes “Reunion” in 2006, “Live Show” in 2011, and “Hogcock!” and “Last Lunch” in 2013, and has three nominations for directing variety specials, including “America: A Tribute to Heroes” (shared with Joel Gallen) in 2002, “The Sound of Music Live!” (shared with Rob Ashford) in 2014 and this year’s Adele special.

Beyonce Knowles Carter, “Lemonade”
This is the first directing nomination for Beyonce, who has been nominated at the Emmys twice before, for her performance in the “Superbowl Halftime Show” for Best Special Class Short Format Live-Action Entertainment Program in 2013 and for Best Special Class Program last year for “On the Run Tour: Beyonce and Jay Z.”

Best Nonfiction Program Directing
Laura Ricciardi and Moira Demos, “Making a Murderer”
The duo are also nominated as producers for Best Nonfiction Series, writers for Best Nonfiction Writing, and Demos is also up for editing the heavily-hyped Netflix docuseries.

Liz Garbus, “What Happened, Miss Simone?”
This is the second time that Garbus has been nominated at the Oscars and the Emmys in the same year for the same film. In 1999, she received nominations at the Oscars for Best Documentary Feature and the Emmys for Best Non-Fiction Special for “The Farm: Angola USA.”  She also won an Emmy as a producer in 2007 (for Best Nonfiction Special) for the HBO documentary “Ghosts of Abu Ghraib.”

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