Breaking The Gold Ceiling: An Oscar Quiz Regarding Cinematic Women


Oscar nominations are in! And, unlike last year’s shameful shutout of exquisite works by women writer/directors, from Laure de Clermont-Tonnerre (“The Mustang”) to Lulu Wang (“ The Farewell”), the industry is finally recognizing female filmmakers. For the first time in Oscar history, two women (Emerald Fennell and Chloé Zhao) are nominated for Best Director! They are among the 70 sisters who received a record-breaking total of 76 Oscar nominations over all.

As the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences challenges its status quo, Rebellious Magazine challenges your knowledge of women in film with the following Oscar quiz.

1) This year, the Academy delivered nine of its 20 acting nominations to people of color. Viola Davis (“Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom”) and Andra Day (“The United States vs. Billie Holiday”) are both nominated in the Best Actress category. If either wins, it will only be the second time an African-American woman has received the title. Who is the first, and to date only, Black woman to win Best Actress?

2) With Best Picture, Director, Adapted Screenplay, and Film Editing nods for “Nomadland,” Chloé Zhao is the first woman to receive four Oscar nominations in a single year. She’s also the only Chinese woman to be nominated as Best Director. If she takes home the prize, she’ll only be the second woman to win in this category. To date, who is the sole woman to be named Best Director? Bonus points if you can list all of the past nominated female directors. Hint: It will only take one hand to count them.

3) In addition to being a director and screenwriter, Emerald Fennell is an actress. If she wins Best Original Screenplay for “Promising Young Woman” this year and picks up an acting Oscar in the future, she’d tie with one person who has won Oscars in both the screenwriting and acting categories. Who is the only person to accomplish this major feat?

4) As the lead and co-producer of “Nomadland,” Frances McDormand is nominated this year for Best Actress and Best Picture. If she wins the latter, she will be the only person with two Best Actress Oscars (she previously won for 1997’s “Fargo” and 2018’s “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri”) to have a Best Pic win. If her lead performance is victorious, she will have three Best Actress wins. Who is the only person to win four Academy Awards for a lead performance? Note: One of these triumphs was a tie.

5) Initially scheduled for February 28, the 93rd Oscar celebration has been pushed back due to the global pandemic. When will the ceremony take place and where can it be seen?

And the answers are…

1) Halle Berry became the first Black woman to win a Best Actress Oscar for her lead role in “Monster’s Ball” (2002). Since then, other African-American actresses have been nominated in the category but none have won — yet.

2) Prior to this year, only five women have been nominated for Best Director: Lina Wertmüller for “Seven Beauties” (1977), Jane Campion, for “The Piano” (1994), Sofia Coppola for “Lost in Translation” (2004), Greta Gerwig for “Lady Bird” (2017), and the sole winner (so far) Kathryn Bigelow for “The Hurt Locker” (2010).

3) Emma Thompson is the only person to win Oscars for both acting and writing. Following her Best Actress victory for “Howard’s End” (1992), she received an Oscar for Best Adapted Screenplay for Jane Austen’s “Sense and Sensibility” (1995).

4) Katharine Hepburn is the only four-time winner in the Academy’s lead acting category. In 1969, she shared her victory for “The Lion in Winter” with Barbra Streisand, who won for “Funny Girl.” To date, it’s the only tie in this category.

Hepburn's Oscar
Katharine Hepburn’s four Best Actress Academy Awards — “Morning Glory” (1933), “Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner” (1967), “The Lion in Winter” (1968), and “On Golden Pond” (1981) — on display at the Smithsonian.

5) The 93rd Academy Awards air live at 7 p.m. CT on Sunday, April 25, 2021 on ABC and at

Photo of Oscar statues courtesy ABC/Adam Rose.

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Ms. Arvia is an online columnist and critic; entertainment ghostwriter reaching nine million visitors per month; award-winning artist; grant-winning filmmaker; and Janet-of-all-trades. She’s interviewed SNL’s Cecily Strong and Julia Sweeney, the travel industry’s Rick Steves and Pauline Frommer, and directors Taylor Hackford and Laurie Anderson. Press releases on Chicago cultural events can be sent to