How Jane Campion’s ‘The Power of the Dog’ Could Shatter Multiple Oscar Records for Women If She Wins

Those who do not know Oscar history are surprised when it repeats. It’s a different take on philosopher George Santayana’s famous quote: “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.”

Statistics are an important piece to consider when analyzing an Oscar race. Too often, from the casual awards-watchers on social media, contenders are easily dismissed because of “missing x or y” during its run. However, this new Academy membership, which has diversified immensely in the last few years, has led to various statistics falling in the wake of a new movie being crowned. Jane Campion has been the prom queen of the awards season, with her film “The Power of the Dog” leading the way in the Oscar nomination tally, and despite a recent surge from “CODA,” it remains competitive in many of its races, including best picture.

Read more: Variety’s Awards Circuit Predictions Hub

All of this year’s nominees have at least one “blemish” that typically equates to the best picture win; however, the Netflix feature has strong pockets of passionate support throughout the industry, and hopes that it could lead to the film becoming the first winner for the Netflix streaming platform. The only genuine hurdle, at least in terms of stats, is the snub for cast ensemble at the SAG Awards. However, three of the last four best picture winners did it without it.

Awards seasons tend to have narratives that embrace the winners, like Hollywood redemption (“Birdman”), LGBTQ themes (“Moonlight”), or embrace of global cinema (“Parasite”). It’s unclear what this season has agreed upon, but it could easily be a woman’s year.

Campion represents so many records with just her nominations, such as being the first woman to be nominated for directing twice. Campion is only the fourth woman to score three nods in a single year after Sofia Coppola, Fran Walsh and Emerald Fennell. Chloé Zhao made history with four noms last year. If “Power” wins in all three categories, she would shatter the ceiling for women at the Academy Awards.

She would be the ninth person to pull off the “hat trick” in a single year: Leo McCarey, “Going My Way” (1944), Billy Wilder, “The Apartment” (1960), Francis Ford Coppola, “The Godfather Part II” (1974), James L. Brooks, “Terms of Endearment” (1983), Peter Jackson, “The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King” (2003), Joel Coen and Ethan Coen, “No Country for Old Men” (2007), Alejandro G. Iñárritu, “Birdman” (2014) and Bong Joon-ho, “Parasite” (2019). One of her closest competitors, Kenneth Branagh (“Belfast”), is also nominated in three categories.

If she wins adapted screenplay solely, she becomes the first woman to win in both screenplay categories, after picking up original screenplay for “The Piano” (1993).

If the film wins best picture, it also becomes the 13th film with female producers (also shared with Tanya Seghatchian) to achieve the feat behind “The Sting” (1973), “Driving Miss Daisy” (1989), “Forrest Gump” (1994), “Shakespeare in Love” (1998), “The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King” (2003), “Crash” (2005), “The Hurt Locker” (2009), “12 Years a Slave” (2013), “Spotlight” (2015), “Moonlight” (2016), “Parasite” (2019) and “Nomadland” (2020). At 67, Campion would be the oldest woman of the other trailblazers.

In addition, the movie would be the first shot by a woman to win best picture. Cinematographer Ari Wegner is within an earshot of becoming the first woman to win her category as well.

All of the film’s competitors have significant hurdles to climb, statistically speaking.

If Kenneth Branagh’s semi-autobiographical portrait of his childhood won best picture, it would be the 11th film to win without a nomination for best editing. It would follow: “It Happened One Night” (1934), “The Life of Emile Zola” (1937), “Hamlet” (1948), “Marty” (1955), “Tom Jones” (1963), “A Man for All Seasons” (1966), “The Godfather Part II” (1974), “Annie Hall” (1977), “Ordinary People” (1980) and “Birdman” (2014).

Sian Heder’s “CODA” would be only the second film to win without a DGA mention (behind “Driving Miss Daisy”) and the second film in history to win without any below-the-line nominations.

Denis Villeneuve’s “Dune” may have been helped by the director’s Oscar miss and stands a chance at picking up many of its 10 nomination haul. If so, it would be the sixth film to win without a best director nomination: “Wings” (1927/28), “Grand Hotel” (1931/32), “Driving Miss Daisy” (1989), “Argo” (2012) and “Green Book” (2018).

If Steven Spielberg’s “West Side Story” wins, it would be the first remake of a movie that previously won best picture. However, with no nomination for adapted screenplay, only eight films have been able to cross the finish line, with the last being “Titanic” (1997).

If the race is down to “CODA” and “The Power of the Dog,” either would become the third movie directed by a woman to win the best picture.

Can the narrative hold up for either of the films? First, let’s see what the BAFTA, DGA and PGA awards do for the lot.

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