This year Sofia Coppola could make Oscar history with her newest film “On The Rocks.” Unfortunately, the significance of these potential accomplishments is a reminder of the academy’s legacy of female underrepresentation. She directed and wrote the film, in which Rashida Jones stars opposite Bill Murray in a father-daughter caper. It’s a delicate and delightful film that touches on relationships, insecurity and the voices of women.
Coppola last directed Murray 17 years ago in the 2003 film “Lost in Translation.” It was famously shot in less than a month with a slim $4 million budget. It received critical acclaim and comfortably broke $100 million at the global box office. That movie not only earned an Oscar nomination for Best Picture, but Coppola became the third woman in history to score a Best Director nomination. She went on to win the Oscar for Best Original Screenplay.
If Coppola gets nominated for and wins Original Screenplay again for “On The Rocks,” she will become only the third woman in history to win two Oscars for writing. Incredibly, the first time this was accomplished was in 1932 (the fifth Oscars!). This is when Frances Marion prevailed for the aptly titled “The Champ” in Best Original Story. She had also won in 1930 for “The Big House” in the sole Best Writing Achievement category (before original and adapted scripts were separated).
This feat would not be accomplished again until 60 years later, when Ruth Prawer Jhabvala won for “Howard’s End” (1992). This made her the first (and still only) woman to win twice in the Adapted Screenplay category. She had previously won in 1986 for “A Room With a View.”
Coppola would not only be the third woman with two writing wins, but technically also the first woman with two wins in the Original Screenplay race since Marion’s first was for a catch-all writing honor. She would also break a 13-year drought for women in the writing categories: the last female screenwriter who took home an Oscar in either category was Diablo Cody for her original script for “Juno” (2007).
Coppola could also make history in the Best Director category this year. When nominated for “Lost in Translation,” the only previous female directing nominees were Lina Wertmuller for “Seven Beauties” in 1976 and Jane Campion for “The Piano” in 1993. Since 2003 two more women have joined their ranks: Kathryn Bigelow won Best Director in 2009 for “The Hurt Locker,” and Greta Gerwig was nominated in 2017 for “Lady Bird.”
None of those five women have received a second directing nomination as of yet. This despite 27 men having received four or more nominations in the award’s history. So if Coppola is able to break into that race this year as well, she will be the first woman to achieve this.
“On The Rocks” star Rashida Jones reflected to Gold Derby that in the film “my character says, ‘You are going to have to start hearing women’s voices.’ There’s something so poignant about that line. Whether you grew up in that generation, or your used to it, or whatever. Too bad. You have to figure out a way to hear their voices. You can’t just say you love women. And that’s the same when it comes to filmmaking and representation. If you really love women then you also have to listen to and celebrate their stories. In a way that we have more than five women ever nominated for Best Director.”
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