Jane Campion is a celebrated and talented filmmaker, and she's been riding her modern Western The Power of the Dog into a deep award season run. Along the way, as we've all talked about, actor and iconic mustache-owner Sam Elliott hopped on Marc Maron's podcast and essentially claimed the movie was not a real western partly because it was made by a woman from New Zealand (Campion), partly because of its themes dealing with gay characters, and partly because... it wasn't filmed in the actual American West.

All of these things are pretty bonkers, but the last one makes you wonder if Elliott even knows how movies have been made. 

Unfortunately, we can't build time machines and shoot in old-timey Dodge City, Kansas. It looks different now. John Ford had to use Arizona to double as Texas. Why? Because he didn't even care what state it was shot in or supposed to be shot in, he just liked the way the rocks looked. That's called "making movies."

Campion's film continues to break out, and along the way, the stars Benedict Cumberbach and Kodi Smit-McPhee replied to Elliott's comments and stated how proud they are of the film.

Campion got a little fierier on Saturday at the DGA Awards. 


Jane Campion responds to Sam Elliott’s comments on #thepowerofthedog

“I’m sorry, he was being a little bit of a B-I-T-C-H. He’s not a cowboy; he’s an actor,” she told Variety’s Marc Malkin. “The West is a mythic space and there’s a lot of room on the range. I think it’s a little bit sexist.”

She's right, and she got all the flowers for this one. 

But here comes the record scratch. 

After accepting the award for best director at the 2022 Critics Choice Awards on Sunday, Campion made some comments about other honorees there.

“What an honor to be in the room with you,” Campion said to Venus and Serena Williams, in the crowd. “I’ve taken up tennis. I truly have. And Will [Smith], if you want to come over and give me lessons, I would truly love it. I actually had to stop playing because I’ve got tennis elbow."

Shortly after, she tossed out this zinger to the Williams sisters.

“Venus and Serena, you’re such marvels. However, you don’t play against the guys, like I have to.”

Whatever the intent here was (probably a joke) is beside the point. This is a cringey and offensive statement. Campion walked away from condemning Elliott's short-sighted comments to making her own—proving, mostly, that some individuals are unfortunately out of touch. Being sensitive to others' feelings, and also not demeaning others to uplift yourself, shouldn't be that difficult.

Where do you even begin? Winning a directing award is symbolic, but it's not actual proof of quality directing. Is it? 

No. Before you answer that, I'll tell you. It's not.

The reality is Campion "won" by getting her movie made and seen. She won when we showed up. And her battle against sexism doesn't end because she won a Critics Choice Award. It continues forever.

Today, Campion released a statement apologizing to the Williams sisters.

"I made a thoughtless comment equating what I do in the film world with all that Serena Williams and Venus Williams have achieved. I did not intend to devalue these two legendary Black women and world-class athletes.

The fact is the Williams sisters have, actually, squared off against men on the court (and off), and they have both raised the bar and opened doors for what is possible for women in this world. The last thing I would ever want to do is minimize remarkable women. I love Serena and Venus. Their accomplishments are titanic and inspiring. Serena and Venus, I apologize and completely celebrate you.”