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Power of the Dog’s Jane Campion Becomes 3rd Woman Ever to Win Best Director at the 2022 Oscars

Oscars 2022 Complete List Nominees Winners Jane Campion
 Jim Ruymen/UPI/Shutterstock

It’s her-story! Jane Campion won Best Director at the 94th Academy Awards on Sunday, March 27, for her work on The Power of the Dog.

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“Just want to say big love to my fellow nominees, I love you all, you’re all so extraordinarily talented and it could have been any of you,” Campion, 67, said. “I love directing because its a deep dive into story. The task of manifesting a story can be overwhelming. The sweet thing is, I’m not alone. On The Power of the Dog, I worked with actors I move to call my friends. They met the challenge of the story with the depth of their gifts: Benedict Cumberbatch, Kirsten Dunst, Kodi Smit-McPhee, Jesse Plemons and my whole crew who are true hearts.”

The New Zealand native beat out fellow filmmakers Paul Thomas Anderson (Licorice Pizza), Kenneth Branagh (Belfast), Steven Spielberg (West Side Story) and Ryûsuke Hamaguchi (Drive My Car). Her win marks the third time that a woman has earned the directorial trophy, following Kathryn Bigelow in 2010 and Chloé Zhao in 2021.

Campion — who also won Best Director at the 2022 Critic’s Choice Awards on March 13 — was previously nominated for the directorial Oscar in 1994 for her work on The Piano. (Spielberg, 75, took home the prize that year for Schindler’s List.)

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The Bright Star filmmaker prefaced her Academy Award win with a successful run at the Directors Guild Awards earlier this month, where she accepted the Theatrical Feature Film.

The Power of the Dog earned 11 other Oscar nominations total, including Best Picture, Best Actor in a Leading Role, Best Actor in a Supporting Role, Best Actress in a Supporting Role and Best Adapted Screenplay. The movie, which was released in November 2021, follows rancher Phil Burbank (Benedict Cumberbatch), who lives with his brother (Jesse Plemons) in rural Montant in 1925. When the 33-year-old Friday Night Lights alum’s character returns home with a new wife (Kirsten Dunst) and stepson (Kodi Smit-McPhee), it’s up to Phil to teach the newcomers how to run the family farm.

When Oscar nominations were announced in February, Campion told Deadline: “I really feel emotional. I guess the Oscars, or rather the Academy, is the gold standard in most of the world’s mind for what’s great in cinema, and I am so full of gratitude that they recognize so many people that were involved in our film.”

She added: “That makes me so happy because I love the work they did and I think they did a great job. But it’s also special to be amongst just all the nominees because they’re all great cinema-makers. It does feel like a special moment in your whole career. Like, the last time I was in this position was with The Piano — and that was 30 years ago. So it’s a comeback.”

While The Power of the Dog has been lauded for its cinematic achievement throughout awards season, it also found itself at the center of controversy. Last month, Sam Elliott criticized the movie’s portrayals of cowboys in the Old American West.

“They’re running around in chaps and no shirts. There’s all these allusions of homosexuality throughout the movie,” the A Star Is Born actor, 77, said during an appearance on Marc Maron’s “WTF” podcast, comparing the stars of Campion’s movie to Chippendale dancers who “wear bow ties and not much else” and calling the film a “piece of s—t” as a whole.

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Elliot continued at the time: “What the f–k does this woman from down there know about the American West? Why the f–k did she shoot this movie in New Zealand and call it Montana? And say this is the way it was? That f–king rubbed me the wrong way.”

Campion has since defended her film and the decision to shoot it in her native country.

“I’m sorry, he was being a little bit of a B-I-T-C-H,” the In the Cut director told Variety at the DGA Awards on March 12. “I’m sorry to say it but he’s not a cowboy, he’s an actor. The West is a mythic space and there’s a lot of room on the range. I think it’s a little bit sexist because think about the number of amazing Westerns that were made by Sergio Leone.”

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