This Year’s Oscar Nominees Make History with a Bunch of Big Firsts

The 2021 Oscars are more diverse than ever—but there were still some surprising snubs
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The 2021 Oscars nominations—announced early this morning by actress Priyanka Chopra and husband Nick Jonas—cap off a strange year in cinema that saw theaters in the country’s biggest markets closed for nearly a year, but also ushered in a wider release window and broader eligibility for movies released via streamers and video on demand, not to mention a concerted push for inclusion. The result? A notably more diverse slate of nominees.

Of this year’s 30 actor nominees in leading and supporting performances, the Academy chose its most diverse slate ever: nine actors of color were nominated, as opposed to last year, when there was only one: Cynthia Erivo for Harriet. Riz Ahmed, nominated for Best Actor in Sound of Metal, became the first person of Pakistani descent and the first Muslim ever nominated for an acting Oscar. Steven Yeun, nominated for Best Actor for Minari, is the first Asian American actor to get a nod in the category. The other names include Daniel Kaluuya, Best Supporting Actor for Judas and the Black Messiah; his co-star LaKeith Stanfield for the same film; Leslie Odom Jr., as Best Supporting Actor in One Night in Miami; Chadwick Boseman, the Best Actor frontrunner for Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom; Andra Day for Best Actress in The United States vs. Billie Holiday; Yuh-Jung Youn for Best Supporting Actress in Minari; and Viola Davis as Best Actress for Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom. As Variety notes, Boseman is also the first actor ever nominated for a posthumous Oscar.

It’s also the first year in Oscars history that more than one woman appears among the Best Director nominees. While many think Regina King was snubbed for her directorial debut One Night in Miami, Emerald Fennell (Promising Young Woman) and front-runner Chloe Zhao (Nomadland) were part of the history-making slate. Zhao was also nominated in three other categories—Best Adapted Screenplay, Best Film Editing, and Best Picture—making Oscar history again by being the first woman to get four noms in a single year. Quintuple nominee Judas and the Black Messiah makes history with its all-Black production team.

To the joy of Netflix, David Fincher’s Mank led in overall nominations with ten (among them Best Picture, Best Actor for Gary Oldman, Best Supporting Actress for Amanda Seyfried, Best Director for David Fincher, and Best Original Screenplay for Fincher’s late father, Jack Fincher), but Amazon also had a good showing, beating its personal record with a dozen nominations. (Netflix was still dominant overall with 35 nods.) Streamer supremacy remains intact, much to the chagrin of the traditional studios.

There are always some surprises, and this year’s include Danish director Thomas Vintenberg’s nod for Another Round (starring Mads Mikkelson), a film that was just released (though to very good reviews). Besides Regina King’s directing snub, her film One Night in Miami was also out of Best Picture contention, which surprised the pundits. Glenn Close was nominated for Best Supporting Actress for Hillbilly Elegy, a film critics were lukewarm on—and once again, she’s up against Olivia Colman, who toppled expected winner Close in 2019. (Perhaps Close, an eight-time nominee, will finally get her gold statue this year; if she does, expect one very long ovation.)

Jodie Foster, who won The Golden Globe for Best Supporting Actress for The Mauritanian, was not nominated; nor was Rosamund Pike, who took the Best Supporting Golden Globe for in the comedy category for I Care a Lot. Jared Leto was passed over in the Best Supporting Actor category for his turn as a creepy murderer The Little Things, as was Delroy Lindo, who many expected would get a Best Actor nod for his work in Da 5 Bloods. Sacha Baron Cohen, who got multiple Golden Globe noms (and won Best Supporting Actor for The Trial of the Chicago 7), got a single Oscar acting nod for his work in Aaron Sorkin’s historical drama. He’s probably not too disappointed since his Borat sequel earned two Oscar noms: Best Supporting Actress for Maria Bakalova and Best Adapted Screenplay.

Here’s another bit of history: for the first time ever, the Oscar ceremony—produced by famed director/producer Steven Soderbergh and Stacy Sher (who helped discover Quentin Tarantino)—will reportedly broadcast from its traditional home, the Dolby Theatre at Hollywood and Highland,and the L.A. landmark of Union Station, which gives the Academy a lot more space for social distancing.

Check out the list of 2021 Oscars nominees below.


Best Picture
The Father
Judas and the Black Messiah
Mank
Minari
Nomadland
Promising Young Woman
Sound of Metal
The Trial of the Chicago 7

Best Directing
Thomas Vinterberg, Another Round
David Fincher, Mank
Lee Isaac Chung, Minari
Chloe Zhao, Nomadland
Emerald Fennell, Promising Young Woman

Best Actress in a Leading Role
Viola Davis, Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom
Andra Day, United States vs. Billie Holiday
Vanessa Kirby, Pieces of a Woman
Frances McDormand, Nomadland
Carey Mulligan, Promising Young Woman

Best Actor in a Leading Role
Riz Ahmed, Sound of Metal
Chadwick Boseman, Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom
Anthony Hopkins, The Father
Gary Oldman, Mank
Steven Yeun, Minari

Best Actress in a Supporting Role
Maria Bakalova, Borat Subsequent Moviefilm
Glenn Close, Hillbilly Elegy
Olivia Colman, The Father
Amanda Seyfried, Mank
Yuh-Jung Youn, Minari

Best Actor in a Supporting Role
Sacha Baron Cohen, The Trial of the Chicago 7
Daniel Kaluuya, Judas and the Black Messiah
Leslie Odom, Jr., One Night in Miami
Paul Raci, Sound of Metal
LaKeith Stanfield, Judas and the Black Messiah

Best Original Screenplay
Judas and the Black Messiah
Minari
Promising Young Woman
Sound of Metal
The Trial of the Chicago 7

Best Adapted Screenplay
Borat Subsequent Moviefilm
The Father
Nomadland
One Night in Miami
The White Tiger

Best Cinematography
Judas and the Black Messiah
Mank
News of the World
Nomadland
The Trial of the Chicago 7

Best Film Editing
The Father
Nomadland
Promising Young Woman
Sound of Metal
The Trial of the Chicago 7

Best Animated Feature Film
Onward
Over the Moon
A Shaun the Sheep Movie: Farmageddon
Soul
Wolfwalkers

Best Animated Short Film
Burrow
Genius Loci
If Anything Happens I Love You
Opera
Yes-People

Best Live-Action Short Film
Feeling Through
The Letter Room
The Present
Two Distant Strangers
White Eye

Best International Feature Film
Another Round
Better Days
Collective
The Man Who Sold His Skin
Quo Vadis, Aida?

Best Documentary Feature
Collective
Crip Camp
The Mole Agent
My Octopus Teacher
Time

Best Documentary Short Subject
Colette
A Concerto Is a Conversation
Do Not Split
Hunger Ward
A Love Song for Latasha

Best Original Score
Da 5 Bloods
Mank
Minari
News of the World
Soul

Best Original Song
“Fight For You,” Judas and the Black Messiah
“Hear My Voice,” The Trial of the Chicago 7
“Husavik,” Eurovision Song Contest: The Story of Fire Saga
“Io Si (Seen),” The Life Ahead
“Speak Now,” One Night in Miami

Best Sound
Greyhound
Mank
News of the World
Soul
Sound of Metal

Best Costume Design
Emma
Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom
Mank
Mulan
Pinocchio

Best Makeup and Hairstyling
Emma
Hillbilly Elegy
Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom
Mank
Pinocchio

Best Production Design
The Father
Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom
Mank
News of the World
Tenet

Best Visual Effects
Love and Monsters
The Midnight Sky
Mulan
The One and Only Ivan
Tenet


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