The Chinese filmmaker is also the second woman to win the category in the Golden Globes' 78-year history, only after Barbra Streisand for Yentl in 1984.
Run by the Hollywood Foreign Press Association, the 78th Annual Golden Globe Awards honored the best in American television of 2020, as well as film in 2020 and early 2021.
As the first major show of this Hollywood awards season, the virtual ceremony, which was postponed for nearly two months amid the Covid-19 pandemic, took place live from both New York City and Los Angeles.
Zhao, born in Beijing in 1982, bested her fellow nominees Emerald Fennell (Promising Young Woman), Regina King (One Night in Miami), David Fincher (Mank) and Aaron Sorkin (Trial of the Chicago 7).
The critically-acclaimed road-trip drama starring two-time Oscar winner Frances McDormand scored four nominations including Best Motion Picture-Drama for the 78th Annual Golden Globe Awards.
Zhao received two individual nominations, namely Best Director and Best Screenplay, while McDormand was nominated for best performance by an actress in a motion picture-drama. - Xinhua