Chloe Zhao made history last night at the Golden Globes. She’s now only the second woman to win Best Director after Barbra Streisand did it in 1983 – which means it’s been, do the math, 38 years between women – and the first woman of Asian descent to be given the award. Also this: 


If we were talking about a white man here, we’d be saying she’s a lock for Oscar, the real prize. But while she’s a lock for an Oscar nomination, there’s still some hesitation in terms of a win because, well, she’s a woman and a woman of colour and even though the Oscars are working on themselves, I think we’ve all seen enough of their past to not be able to put anything past them. 

That said, she’s the undeniable frontrunner with a considerable lead. And this in and of itself is a rare thing. For a woman to be a frontrunner? When’s the last time? Kathryn Bigelow and The Hurt Locker, right? Ava DuVernay should have been a frontrunner but, well, you know. Spike Lee’s never been a frontrunner so how could Ava possibly be one. Yet here we are, with an Asian woman in the lead in the Best Director Oscar race. If you had asked me a year ago, when an Asian man was the lead in the Best Director Oscar race (Bong Joon-ho), if I could imagine an Asian woman in the same position, I’m pretty sure I would have said f-ck no. Is that a failure on my part? I’m still trying to figure that out. 


What’s amazing about Chloe’s year is that she could very well go to the Oscars and make history for this small film and end the year directing one of the biggest films of 2021 – that would be Marvel’s Eternals, currently still scheduled for release in November. And here’s just one of the ways Chloe is connecting her two projects: 


She’s referring to a scene in Nomadland where you can see a movie theatre in the background. But it’s also interesting what she says about the camera. When we talk about auteur-directors, almost always men, they often have visual signatures – their films connect visually; Wes Anderson is a good example, all his films, you can tell, look like they belong to the same family. Chloe is establishing her signature, quite deliberately. And we’ll be able to see it represented back to back, relatively close together, with these two projects, massively different in scale and story. I wonder though … will they talk about her with the same reverence? Do they talk about her with the same reverence?