Breaking Down the 2021 Oscar Nominations

It’s that time of year again! If you consider yourself a cinephile like me it’s likely that the Oscars are on your calendar every year. While some see the ceremony as simply celebrities patting themselves on the back and others ignore it due to the politics behind it all, the Oscars is the only award show I truly make a point to watch to celebrate the best films of the previous year…well according to the Academy anyway. The announcement of the nominees is like Christmas morning to me and today was no different. The 2021 edition of the show, the 93rd Annual Academy Awards, is certainly going to be a unique one as the eligibility pool was widened and the cutoff dates expanded in order to accommodate the limited release windows due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The result is a list of nominees that sets new standards in terms of diversity. The 93rd edition of the show includes several firsts and record numbers in terms of women and minorities nominated for specific categories and the show in general. It includes a record breaking number of women nominated among its categories with over 70, a nearly fifty-fifty split between minorities and Caucasian actors and actresses in the acting awards, an for the first time two women in the Best director category none of this feels like a betrayal of the integrity of the show in terms of honoring the most worthy performers and filmmakers of the year. So, let’s break down the nominees and categories and take a look at who will be chasing gold at the Academy Awards in April. As with past Oscar breakdowns I won’t be looking at categories like documentaries and short films as these are not categories I tend to embrace personally or cover on this blog so I don’t feel I have any place discussing those nominees to any length.

Amanda Seyfried and Gary Oldman in “Mank” Courtesy of Netflix

First lets take a look at the most nominated film of the year, “Mank”. In addition to a nod for Best Picture, Director David Fincher earned a Best Director nomination, the third such nomination of his career but his first since 2011. The cinematic tail of “Citizen Kane” writer Herman Markiewicz stars Gary Oldman who also earned an Oscar nomination for Best Actor, the third of his career. Amanda Seyfried earned her first Academy Award nomination as an actress for her role in the film as well. “Mank” also receives nominations for a slew of technical awards including cinematography, production design, makeup and hairstyling, costume design, and sound design as well as a nod for its original score. Surprisingly it missed out on a screenplay nomination which it previously earned at the Golden Globes.

Frances McDormand in “Nomadland” courtesy of Searchlight Pictures

Looking at the rest of the Best Picture nominees there was a clear pool of favorites for this year’s ceremony with five of the remaining Best Picture contenders all receiving six nominations each among all categories and the seventh film earning five nominations all contributing to a diverse set of nominees across the board. One of the most talked about movies of the year was “Nomadland” which took home the Best Picture – Drama award at the Golden Globes and is a heavy Best Picture favorite going into April. Director Chloé Zhao has made history as the first woman of color to be nominated for the Best Director Oscar while her movie’s star Frances McDormand, a two-time Oscar winner for Best Actress, picked up her fourth acting nomination overall and is nominated as part of the film’s Best Picture run since she helped produce the movie. Chloé Zhao also earned a nomination for her adapted screenplay as she wrote “Nomadland” based on Jessica Bruder’s book of the same name and for film editing as Zhao also edited the film on her own. “Nomadland” also earned a nod for its cinematography.

Directors Chloé Zhao and Emerald Fennell made history as the first women to be nominated for Best Director at the same time. Photo courtesy of Deadline

Before tackling the other six-nomination Best Picture contenders I want to touch on the underdog of the bunch, “Promising Young Woman”, which earned five nominations including Best Picture. What’s really notable about this movie’s nominations is that director Emerald Fennell earned her first Oscar nomination for Best Director making this the first time ever that two women have been nominated for Best Director at the same time at the Oscars. Carey Mulligan, the star of the film, earned her second Oscar nomination for Best Actress while Fennell also earned a nomination for Best Original Screenplay. “Promising Young Woman” earned another nomination for Best Film Editing.

Youn Yuh-jung and Steven Yeun in “Minari” Courtesy of a24

Another Best Picture nominee “Minari” continued the diversity movement with director Lee Isaac Chung scoring a Best Director nomination and Best Original Screenplay nod. The movie’s star Steven Yeun earned a Best Actor nomination along with Youn Yuh-jung for Best Supporting Actress who played Yeun’s wife in the film. “Minari” also earned a Best Original Score nomination. Yeun’s nomination is significant when paired with another Best Actor nominee Riz Ahmed who starred in the Best Picture nominated “Sound of Metal”, a movie I sadly did not see last year. Ahmed and Yeun make up the first ever pair of men of Asian heritage (Yeun was born in South Korea and Ahmed who is of Pakistani descent) to be nominated in the category at the same time. It’s also their first nominations in their respective careers. “Sound of Metal” also earned nominations for Paul Raci in the Best Supporting Actor category, a Best Original Screenplay nomination, Best Film Editing and, to nobody’s surprise, a nod for Best Sound.

Daniel Kaluuya in “Judas and the Black Messiah” courtesy of Warner Bros.

Another movie I sadly didn’t see in 2020 that was considered one of the year’s best was “The Trial of the Chicago 7” which earned a Best Picture nomination as well as scoring a Best Supporting Actor nomination for Sacha Baron Cohen. Aaron Sorkin, who took home a Golden Globe for his work, earned a Best Original Screenplay nomination while cinematography, original song and film editing nominations round out the Netflix movie’s recognitions. Warner Bros.’s “Judas and the Black Messiah earned not only a Best Picture nomination but scored Daniel Kaluuya and LaKeith Stanfield both Best Actor nominations as well as nods for Best Original Song, Original Screenplay and Cinematography. “The Father” rounds out the Best Picture nominees also earning Anthony Hopkins a nomination for Best Actor, Olivia Coleman as Best Supporting Actress nod, and being recognized for its production design, editing and adapted screenplay.

Chadwick Boseman in “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom” Courtesy of Netflix

While his film didn’t receive a Best Picture nomination, Thomas Vinterberg accomplished the not-so-rare feat of earning a Best Director nomination without a nod for the night’s top honor for his film “Another Round”. The movie also earned a Best International Feature Film nomination where it will compete against “Better Days”, “Collective”, “The Man Who Sold His Skin” and “Quo Vadis, Aida?”. While it was snubbed for Best Picture, “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom” certainly wasn’t ignored especially in the acting categories. The late Chadwick Boseman earned a much-expected posthumous nomination for Best Actor after winning a Golden Globe for his work while his co-star Viola Davis made her own bit of Oscar history earning her fourth career acting nomination, the most ever in the show’s history for an African American actress. “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom” was the most nominated movie not to be included in the Best Picture category with three other nominations for its production design, costume design and makeup and hairstyling and five nods in total.

Andra Day in “The United States vs. Billie Holiday” Courtesy of Hulu

Davis will have quite the competition in the Best Actress category if she wants to earn the win. Joining her, McDormand, and Mulligan will be Andra Day, who earned a Golden Globe and now an Oscar nomination for her work in “The United States vs. Billie Holiday”, and Venessa Kirby who was critically praised for her role in “Pieces of a Woman”. For Best Supporting Actress joining Colman, Yuh-jing and Seyfried is Glenn Close for “Hillbilly Elegy” making her the third person ever to be nominated for an Oscar (celebrating the best of the year in film) and a Golden Raspberry Award (celebrating the worst of the year in film) for the same role. Rounding out that category is Maria Bakalova who had a breakout year for her performance in “Borat Subsequent Moviefilm”. Moving over to Best Supporting Actor we see Leslie Odom, Jr. rounding out the category alongside Cohen, Kaluuya, Raci and Stanfield for his role in One Night in Miami. His inclusion puts three African American men in the funning for the award.

Best Animated Feature Film nominee “Soul” Courtesy of Disney & Pixar

The Best Animated Feature Film category seems a bit downplayed this year likely due to the limited number of mainstream contenders. Pixar is the likely winner with “Soul”, which also earned a Best Original Score nomination, but the studio also earned a nod for “Onward” alongside “Over the Moon”, “A Shaun the Sheep Movie: Farmageddon”, and “Wolfwalkers”. Looking at other nominees throughout the categories: “Borat Subsequent Moviefilm”, “One Night in Miami” and “The White Tiger” earned Best Adapted Screenplay nominations. “News of the World” earned nominations for its production design, cinematography and score. “Tenet” earned a production design nomination as well as a visual effects nomination alongside “Love and Monsters”, “The Midnight Sky”, “Mulan” and “The One and Only Ivan”. “Emma” earned nominations for its costume design and makeup and hairstyling. The latest take on “Pinocchio” earned nominations for makeup and hairstyling and costume design, “Mulan” also earned a costume design nod while “Hillbilly Elegy” earned a makeup and hairstyling nomination. “Da 5 Bloods” earned only one nomination for Best Original Score and “Greyhound” rounded out the Best Sound category. Best Original Song saw one-off nominations for “Eurovision Song Contest” and “The Life Ahead”.

Look for my Oscar predictions to be posted late next month. For now, here is a full list of nominations for the 93rd Academy Awards:

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 Actress

Viola Davis, “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom”
Andra Day, “The United States vs. Billie Holiday”
Vanessa Kirby, “Pieces of a Woman”
Frances McDormand, “Nomadland”
Carey Mulligan, “Promising Young Woman”

Best Actor

Riz Ahmed, “Sound of Metal”
Chadwick Boseman, “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom”
Anthony Hopkins, “The Father”
Gary Oldman, “Mank”
Steven Yeun, “Minari”

Best Director

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

Best Supporting Actress

Maria Bakalova, “Borat Subsequent Moviefilm”
Glenn Close, “Hillbilly Elegy”
Olivia Colman, “The Father”
Amanda Seyfried, “Mank”
Yuh-Jung Youn, “Minari”

Best Supporting Actor

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 Animated Feature Film

”Onward”
“Over the Moon”
“A Shaun the Sheep Movie: Farmageddon”
“Soul”
“Wolfwalkers”

Best Cinematography

”Judas and the Black Messiah”
“Mank”
“News of the World”
“Nomadland”
“The Trial of the Chicago 7″

Best Production Design

”The Father”
“Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom”
“Mank”
“News of the World”
“Tenet”

Best Sound

”Greyhound”
“Mank”
“News of the World”
“Soul”
“Sound of Metal”

Best Visual Effects

”Love and Monsters”
“The Midnight Sky”
“Mulan”
“The One and Only Ivan”
“Tenet”

Best Film Editing

”The Father”
“Nomadland”
“Promising Young Woman”
“Sound of Metal”
“The Trial of the Chicago 7″

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 Costume Design

”Emma”
“Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom”
“Mank”
“Mulan”
“Pinocchio”

Best Hair and Makeup

”Emma”
“Hillbilly Elegy”
“Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom”
“Mank”
“Pinocchio”

Best Original Score

”Da 5 Bloods”
“Mank”
“Minari”
“News of the World”
“Soul”

Best Original Song

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

Best International Feature

”Another Round”
“Better Days”
“Collective”
“The Man Who Sold His Skin”
“Quo Vadis, Aida?”

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s