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The Power of Jane Campion: AFTRS Alum Wins the Academy Award for Best Director

Jane Campion has won the Academy Award for Best Director for The Power of the Dog, making history as the third woman to win the title. The AFTRS alum, who previously won the Oscar for Best Screenplay in 1993 for The Piano, is also the first woman to be nominated in the category twice. It’s the first time in Oscars history that women receive the trophy twice consecutively, following Chloé Zhao’s win in 2021 for Nomadland.

Campion was chosen over Kenneth Branagh (Belfast), Ryusuke Hamaguchi (Drive My Car), Paul Thomas Anderson (Licorice Pizza) and Steven Spielberg (West Side Story) for her first big-screen venture since 2009’s Bright Star.


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Taking the stage at the Dolby Theatre in the heart of Hollywood for her acceptance speech, Campion thanked her cast, crew, family, Savage and Netflix, along with the Academy for “the lifetime honour”, and gave a special mention to everyone back at home in Australia and New Zealand.

“I love directing because it’s a deep dive into story,” Campion said. “Yet the task of manifesting a world can be overwhelming. The sweet thing is I’m not alone. On The Power of the Dog, I worked with the actors who I grew 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.”

Jane Campion accepting the Academy Award for Best Director

The picture was the year’s most-nominated title at the Academy Awards, recognised in 12 categories including Best Picture, Best Lead Actor (Benedict Cumberbatch), Best Supporting Actress (Kirsten Dunst), Best Supporting Actor (Jesse Plemons and Aussie Kodi Smit-McPhee,) Best Adapted Screenplay for Campion, Best Cinematography for Australian Ari Wegner, Best Original Score, Best Sound, with AFTRS alum, sound effects editor and re-recording mixer Tara Webb recognised among the sound team, Best Film Editing, and Best Production Design.

Kodi Smit-McPhee discusses a ‘Jane Campion bootcamp’ on the Oscars red carpet

This momentous achievement caps off an exceptional run for The Power of the Dog. After debuting at Venice Film Festival, where it received a four-minute standing ovation and the Silver Lion for Best Director in honour of Campion, the contemplative western garnered a series of rave reviews and was a tour de force on the awards circuit. Countless prizes ensued, as Campion and her work won the top directing and feature film awards at the BAFTAs (where it received eight nominations), the Golden Globes (where it was nominated for seven), The Directors Guild of America Awards, and the Critics Choice Awards (where it was nominated for 10).

In addition to the slew of major prizes and nominations for the film’s main cast, The Power of the Dog also garnered praise and prizes for some of the other creatives who contributed to the work. Australian cinematographer Ari Wegner became the first woman to be nominated for an Oscar and a BAFTA in cinematography and won Best Cinematography at the Critics Choice Awards as well as seven other US state Critics Association awards: Boston, Chicago, Florida, Los Angeles, New York and St Louis. The film also provided a breakout role for Aussie wunderkind Kodi Smit-McPhee, who was recognised with the Golden Globe for Best Supporting Actor, and nominations for the Academy Award and BAFTA for Best Supporting Actor sitting among his haul.

And if the awards weren’t enough, the critical acclaim kept pouring in.

“Jane Campion’s eighth feature film, her first in 12 years, The Power of the Dog reconfirms the director as a powerful force in contemporary cinema.” – David Stratton, The Australian

The Power of the Dog builds tremendous force, gaining its momentum through the harmonious discord of its performances, the nervous rhythms of Jonny Greenwood’s score and the grandeur of its visuals.” – Manohla Dargis, The New York Times

Congratulations to the inimitable Jane Campion and her mighty team.