Last year was a stellar one for Black women filmmakers. First, there was Amma Asante’s exquisitely filmed Belle (starring an impressive Gugu Mbatha-Raw), followed later by Gina Prince-Bythewood’s emotionally layered Beyond the Lights (also starring Mbatha-Raw). The year finally closed out with Ava DuVernay’s critically acclaimed historical drama, Selma.
However, while Belle was summarily dismissed by movie critics as a “black Jane Austen drama,” and Beyond the Lights received more favorable reviews but was nonetheless ignored at the box office, DuVernay has a real shot at becoming the first Black woman to be nominated for a Best Director Oscar (having already made history with her nomination at the Golden Globes). Of course, there is something to be said for women receiving critical acclaim when the films they direct focus on the lives of men, but that’s another story. Nonetheless, the acclaim she has received is absolutely earned.