It’s hard to fathom, but there’s at least one more layer of meaningfulness to ’s success worth noting as 2023 draws to a close. While it cemented the global economic influence of female consumers, Greta Gerwig’s juggernaut fantasy-adventure-satire (co-written with her real-life partner, Noah Baumbach) also served as a fever-pitch moment for female auteurship. What’s even cooler, Gerwig has a lot of impressive company: This year has seen the largest group of female writer-directors to see their work released, either theatrically or via streaming, and in many cases they also campaigned for their films during season. Among 2023’s standout titles made by women are Chloe Domont’s (Netflix), Emerald Fennell’s (Amazon/MGM), Kelly Reichardt’s (A24), Nicole Holofcener’s (A24), Kelly Fremon Craig’s (Lionsgate), Celine Song’s (A24), Kitty Green’s (Neon), Ava DuVernay’s (Neon), Nia Vardalos’ (Focus Features), Sofia Coppola’s (A24) and A.V. Rockwell’s (Focus Features). Other hot titles include those on which writing and/or directing duties were shared, including Justine Triet’s (Neon), Emma Seligman’s (Orion), Maggie Betts’ (Amazon/MGM), Emma Tammi’s (Universal), Elizabeth Chai Vasarhelyi’s (Netflix) and Nia DaCosta’s (Marvel Studios). These artists represent an exciting swath of diversity and wild scope of genres, with titles ranging from quiet character studies ( ) and tense mysteries ( ) to complex, timely dramas ( ) and very R-rated comedies (hello, ). They also each represent the core ethos that inspired the concept of the auteur, which was born in Paris in the 1950s as artists were growing wary of American and European approaches to filmmaking. Among them was Francois Truffaut (arguably film’s first globally recognized auteur), who, in 1954, penned an essay in the French journal exploring a theme that intrigued him: “a certain trend in French cinema” of artists writing, directing and often also editing and starring in their movies, as opposed to fare being helmed by “metteur en scene,” or “stagers” of scripts written by others. The views of the filmmaker that considered “la politique des auteurs” (“the policy of the authors”) a superior approach to making movies would inspire the larger sensibilities of the French New Wave. It would also inform a perennial bifurcation of the film marketplace that demanded that artists (usually male) decide if they were artsy (say, Gus Van Sant) or commercial (Michael Bay). These divisions softened a bit in the 1990s, when such companies as Miramax and Sony Pictures Classics kick-started an actual marketplace for American auteurs like Quentin Tarantino and Woody Allen to make money. But outside of the occasional Sundance breakout (Allison Anders, Gina Prince-Bythewood) and a few select feature comedy creators (Nancy Meyers, Nora Ephron), women weren’t so much enjoying the spoils of this burgeoning marketplace. And things weren’t any better at the : Aside from Lina Wertmüller’s history-making nomination for best director in 1975 for , female auteurs remained on Oscar’s sidelines, too — it took 18 years before another woman was nominated in the category (Jane Campion for in 1993; she would win best director in 2022 for ). Female writer-directors more often have been acknowledged for penning their work (Campion, Coppola, Fennell and Sarah Polley all scored screenplay wins for films they helmed), while the first woman to be voted best director, Kathryn Bigelow for in 2009, shattered that glass ceiling without writing the film. (As a producer, Bigelow also took home the prize for best picture.) These relatively poor stats changed in an instant with Chloé Zhao’s history-shattering wins for best director and best picture in 2020 for , for which she was also nominated for writing and editing. What’s interesting is, in the past 40 years, the Academy has actually seemed rather averse to awarding best picture to films made by even male directors who also penned their screenplays. The 1980s had just three such winners ( , , ); the 1990s just two ( , ); and the 2000s only three ( , , ). But starting in 2010 — perhaps buoyed by the best picture pool jumping from five to as many as 10 contenders — the next decade saw seven (male) writer-director winners, those behind , , , , , and . And since 2020, there’s been a three-for-three winning streak for auteur films: , (both written and directed by women) and , which marked the second victory — after the Coen brothers’ triumph in 2008 — for a writing-directing team and a surprising display of just how wild and weird voters are willing to go if given the chance. The Academy’s growing preference for the work of writer-directors during awards season appears to be holding steady this year, as most top feature contenders are auteur-made: Gerwig’s , Christopher Nolan’s (Universal), Cord Jefferson’s (Orion), Martin Scorsese’s (Apple; it also features a rare co-writing credit for the 80-year-old director), Fennell’s , Song’s , Bradley Cooper’s (Netflix), Jonathan Glazer’s (A24), Andrew Haigh’s (Searchlight) and Sean Durkin’s (A24). Whether it’s conscious or not, audiences and industry insiders seem to be most drawn to stories that feel fully and totally inhabited by their tellers — stories that boast a seamlessness between script and visionary, reinforcing the artistic phenomenon of what Truffaut observed as the artist’s “policy” nearly 70 years ago. And to see female auteurs like Gerwig and her peers wholly owning their narratives en masse — and scooping up wins and nominations at film festivals and the Gotham Awards along the way — feels like the happy ending to 2023 Hollywood could really use right now. . THR Newsletters Sign up for THR news straight to your inbox every day More from The Hollywood Reporter

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