By John H. Foote

91-year old Lina Wertmuller, the first woman ever nominated for an Academy Award as Best Director, will receive an Honorary Oscar next month as well as be awarded a Star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

Wertmuller, an Italian filmmaker dominated her country’s cinema in the seventies, especially Swept Away (1975) and her masterpiece Seven Beauties (1976). She and Bernardo Bertolucci created some of the greatest Italian film ever made during the seventies

Famous for her white framed glasses, she was a gifted visionary as well as a fine screenwriter.

It was Seven Beauties that drew the director-writer her greatest acclaim, with rave reviews and four Academy Award nominations including Best Director, Best Actor (Giancarlo Giannini), Best Original Screenplay (Wertmuller) and Best Foreign Language Film. Never before had a woman been a Best Director nominee, and since only Jane Campion (The Piano-1993), Sofia Coppola (Lost in Translation-2003), and Greta Gerwig (Lady Bird-2017) have been nominated. Kathryn Bigelow made history winning the Academy Award and DGA Awards for Best Director for The Hurt Locker (2009).

Wertmuller is without question a pioneer for women in the film business.

Despite great acclaim through the seventies, she would never again soar to those heights. Swept Away (1975) a brilliant film was nominated for Best Foreign Language Film and remade, dreadfully, with Madonna and Gianinni’s own son in 2003, directed by Guy Ritchie. Mercifully, no one has tried to remake her biting film Seven Beauties, her masterpiece, the film for which she will be best remembered.

If her health permits, she will appear at the Academy Awards in February 2020.

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