Jane Campion has become the third woman in history to win the best director Oscar, as the Academy celebrated a female filmmaker for two consecutive years.
The New Zealand-born director took home the prize for her western The Power Of The Dog, starring Benedict Cumberbatch, Kirsten Dunst and Kodi Smit-McPhee.
Campion is the the first woman to be nominated twice for the directing prize, after also landing a nod for her 1993 film The Piano.
The period drama, starring Holly Hunter, Harvey Keitel, Sam Neill, and a young Anna Paquin, landed her the prestigious Palme d’Or at the Cannes film festival, the first first female filmmaker to receive the gong, as well as the Oscar for best original screenplay.
Hunter and Paquin were also named best actress and best supporting actress for their turns as a mute Scottish woman who travels to a remote part of New Zealand and her young daughter.
Campion’s triumph follows the success of Chloe Zhao at the 2021 Oscars, where she was recognised for her directing of Nomadland.
Zhao made history as the first woman of colour to win the prize, and only the second woman ever, following on from Kathryn Bigelow for The Hurt Locker in 2010.
Since The Piano, Campion’s films have included The Portrait Of A Lady, starring Nicole Kidman and John Malkovich; Holy Smoke! which reunited her with Keitel; In the Cut, starring Meg Ryan, and the John Keats biopic Bright Star, starring Ben Whishaw.
She took a lengthy hiatus from cinema to co-create and direct the TV miniseries Top Of The Lake and its sequel China Girl, starring Elisabeth Moss, which were widely acclaimed and nominated for a string of awards.
The Power Of The Dog marks Campion’s first film since 2009’s Bright Star and was immediately tipped as an awards front runner.
Speaking in the Oscar winners’ room following her best director triumph, she said: “I’m very proud to have won tonight for my film, for my crew and for my cast, but also just to be another woman who is going to be followed by a fourth, a fifth, sixth, seventh and eighth.
“I’m very excited that this is moving fast now. Equality matters.
“I look at the other Oscar nominees for best director and I think they’re all extraordinary directors and I’ve learnt at their feet.
“Maybe this time it’s me but, maybe it’s a lottery, I don’t know, but I’m proud and grateful to the Academy for choosing me on this occasion.”
Campion’s path to Oscar glory has included wins at the Baftas and the Directors Guild of America, but she faced a speedbump after she made a remark about tennis stars Venus and Serana Williams while accepting the best director gong at the Critics’ Choice Awards (CCA).
During her acceptance speech for best director at the CCA, Campion said she was “honoured” to be in the same room as Venus and Serena, but added they “don’t play against the guys like I have to”.
Following a backlash to her comments online, Campion apologised for her “thoughtless” comment, saying she “did not intend to devalue these two legendary black women and world-class athletes”.