Jane Campion poised to set several Oscar records with ‘The Power of the Dog’

Back in 1994, Jane Campion became only the second woman to reap Oscar bids for writing and directing with “The Piano”; Lina Wertmüller had broken this glass ceiling in 1977 with her dual nominations for “Seven Beauties.” Campion won Best Original Screenplay and became the 12th female champ across the two writing categories but lost Best Director to Steven Spielberg (“Schindler’s List”). Campion’s current contender, “The Power of the Dog,” could bag her that elusive directing Oscar (Spielberg is also in contention for his remake of “West Side Story”) plus awards for her adapted screenplay and producing. 

Should she prevail for penning a script based on Thomas Savage’s 1967 novel, she’d become the first woman to conquer both writing categories. To date, the only female writers to have won twice at all are Frances Marion (“The Big House,” 1930 and “The Champ,” 1932; both original) and Ruth Prawer Jhabvala (“A Room with a View,” 1987 and “Howards End,” 1993; both adapted).

A Best Director bid would make Campion the category’s first two-time female nominee, and she could become the third woman to nab the prize after Kathryn Bigelow (“The Hurt Locker,” 2010) and Chloe Zhao (“Nomadland,” 2021). Joining Wertmuller as also-rans were: Sofia Coppola (“Lost in Translation,” 2004), Greta Gerwig (“Lady Bird,” 2018), and Emerald Fennell (“Promising Young Woman,” 2021). Coppola and Fennell did win Best Original Screenplay Oscars for their films, while Gerwig and Zhao respectively received nominations for their original and adapted scripts.

At 67, Campion would be the third oldest Best Director winner of all time, behind only Clint Eastwood (74, “Million Dollar Baby,” 2005) and Roman Polanski (69, “The Pianist,” 2003). The 28-year gap between her two nominations would also be the second largest for any director behind only that of John Huston, whose fifth bid for “Prizzi’s Honor” (1986) came 33 years after his fourth for “Moulin Rouge” (1953). The current second and third place holders are Polanski (22 years between “Tess,” 1981 and “The Pianist”) and Mel Gibson (21 years between “Braveheart,” 1996 and “Hacksaw Ridge,” 2017).

According to our odds, Campion is expected to emerge triumphant in both the Best Adapted Screenplay and Best Director contests. Running behind her in the writing race are Maggie Gyllenhaal (“The Lost Daughter”), Sian Heder (“CODA”), Tony Kushner (“West Side Story”), and Eric Roth, Jon Spaihts, and Denis Villeneuve (“Dune”). Besides Campion, our current directing top five consists of Villeneuve, Kenneth Branagh (“Belfast”), Spielberg (“West Side Story”), and Paul Thomas Anderson (“Licorice Pizza”). Several more women have outside shots at making that final lineup, including Heder (ninth place), Julia Ducournau (“Titane,” 10th), Gyllenhaal (12th), and Rebecca Hall (“Passing,” 19th).

As it stands, we further predict that “The Power of the Dog” will win Best Supporting Actor (Kodi Smit-McPhee) as well as the top honor of Best Picture, thus netting Campion a third statue for serving as one of its producers. The film also ranks second in two other acting races: Best Actor (Benedict Cumberbatch, behind Will Smith, “King Richard”) and Best Supporting Actress (Kirsten Dunst, behind Ariana DeBose, “West Side Story”). As for below-the-line categories, we expect it to contend in three: Best Cinematography, Best Film Editing, and Best Score.

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