In the history of the Academy Awards only three women have ever been nominated for best director.
The first wasn't until the 1977 Oscar ceremony when the foreign film from Italy, Seven Beauties (Pasqualino Settebellezze), was nominated for four awards, including two for Lina Wertmüller, for directing and original screenplay. It is at this moment the first woman is nominated for best director.
That year John G. Avildsen went onto to win for Rocky, but I'm sure Wertmüller did not go unnoticed.
17 years later, in 1994 New Zealand director Jane Campion was nominated for The Piano. While she did not win the Oscar for directing (Steven Spielberg won for Schindler's List) she did win for best original screenplay.
10 years later, in 2004 Sofia Coppola became the first American woman not be nominated for her direction of Lost in Translation. Like the women before, she did not win (Peter Jackson won for the final installment of The Lord of the Rings), but Sophia Coppola did win for best original screenplay.
**Trend Alert: All three women nominated directors also wrote the original screenplay for there film and were nominated for best screenplay, and in two of the three cases won.
This year four women directors' names are frequenting the mix of potential director nominees. Pictured directly above are Mira Nair (Amelia), Lone Scherfig (An Education), Kathryn Bigelow (The Hurt Locker), and Jane Campion (Bright Star).
At this point I'd say Jane Campion has the best chance as a return nominee and also with a well buzzed about project, but I certainly am not counting out any of these women.
And if the original screenplay trend holds true, again, Jane Campion is the only contender as the only one of the women to have writter and directed her own original screenplay. In the case of the other three projects all are written or adapted by other writers, and two of the projects (Amelia and An Education) are adapted screenplays.
All that to say, the trend might not be broken, but as I look towards the Academy Awards and the best director race, the role these women play could be historic.