‘Nomadland’ director Chloe Zhao sets Oscars record with 4 Academy Award nominations

With 2021 Academy Award nominations in the Best Picture, Best Director, Best Adapted Screenplay, and Best Editing categories, “Nomadland” filmmaker Chloe Zhao is the first woman to ever receive four Oscar nominations in a single year and just the ninth person to ever earn that much recognition in a single ceremony.

Zhao is a producer on “Nomadland,” in addition to the film’s director, writer, and editor. If she wins Best Director as expected, she will become only the second woman to ever earn the Academy Award in that category following Kathryn Bigelow for “The Hurt Locker.” Zhao would also be the first woman of Asian descent to win Best Director. (She is already the first woman of color ever nominated for Best Director.)

But her four nominations already put Zhao in the history books. Before Monday, only four women had ever received three nominations in a single year:

–In 1964, famed costume designer Edith Head earned three nominations across both the black-and-white and color costume categories.

–In 1983, songwriter Marilyn Bergman received three nominations in the Best Original Song category.

–In 2004, writer and director Sofia Coppola received three nominations for her breakout film, “Lost In Translation.” She won Best Original Screenplay and was nominated as a producer in the Best Picture category and also received a Best Director nomination.

–Also in 2004, filmmaker Fran Walsh earned three nominations for “The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King.” Walsh won three Oscars that year, including Best Picture (she was a co-producer on the film), Best Adapted Screenplay, and Best Original Song. She’s the only woman to ever win three Oscars in a single year.

Before Zhao, the last person to receive four or more nominations in a single year was Alfonso Cuaron, who earned Best Picture, Best Director, Best Original Screenplay, and Best Cinematography nominations for 2018’s “Roma.” (Cuaron won Best Director and Best Cinematography at the 2019 Oscars ceremony.) 

Last year, “Parasite” director Bong Joon-Ho received three individual nominations — for Best Picture, Best Director, and Best Original Screenplay. He won all three awards and even accepted a fourth Oscar, for Best International Feature. That award, however, is given to the film’s country of origin and not the individual filmmaker.

Other four-time nominees include filmmakers Ethan and Joel Coen (for “No Country for Old Men”), songwriter and composer Alan Menken (who earned four nominations at the 1992 ceremony for his musical work on “Beauty and the Beast”), filmmaker Warren Beatty (who received four nominations twice, for “Heaven Can Wait” and “Reds”), writer-director Francis Ford Coppola (who received five nominations at the 1974 ceremony for both “The Godfather Part II” and “The Conversation”), filmmaker Orson Welles (a four-time nominee for “Citizen Kane”), and legendary mogul Walt Disney (who received four nominations at the 1939 Oscars and a record six nominations at the 1954 ceremony).

Overall, “Nomadland” earned six Oscar nominations, including the four Zhao received, Best Actress for Frances McDormand, and Best Cinematography.

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