Oscar nominations 2021: Snubs and surprises

This past Monday, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences announced the nominees for its upcoming Oscars ceremony. The ceremony will occur on April 25, which is almost two months later than the usual time. Photo courtesy of PngImg.

This past Monday, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences announced the nominees for its upcoming Oscars ceremony. The ceremony will occur on April 25, which is almost two months later than the usual time. 

The nominations are fairly unsurprising overall, though there are some snubs and selections  worth pointing out. 

Starting with the Best Supporting Actor race, most of the nominees were expected except one – for an interesting reason. The nominees are Sacha Baron Cohen for “The Trial of the Chicago 7,” Daniel Kaluuya for “Judas and the Black Messiah,” Leslie Odom Jr. for “One Night in Miami,” Paul Raci for “Sound of Metal” and Lakeith Stanfield for “Judas and the Black Messiah.” The surprise nominee is Stanfield, not because of a relative disparity in performance compared to the other nominees, but because many considered him the lead actor of “Judas and the Black Messiah.” Nonetheless, his nomination was thoroughly deserved, just in a surprising category. Kaluuya is the clear front-runner for his incredible portrayal of Fred Hampton in “Judas and the Black Messiah.” It would be shocking if he does not win the award on April 25. 

In the running of “Best Supporting Actor” is Lakeith Seyfried of “Judas and the Black Messiah”, to which is a surprise to many, not due to any relative disparity, but because of how many considered him to be a main character. Photo courtesy of Ka-os.

The Best Supporting Actress category may be the most wide open race of them all. The nominees are Maria Bakalova for “Borat Subsequent Moviefilm,” Glenn Close for “Hillbilly Elegy,” Olivia Colman for “The Father,” Amanda Seyfried for “Mank” and Youn Yuh-jung for “Minari.” The Golden Globe winner Jodie Foster, who won for her performance in “The Mauritanian,” wasn’t even nominated, which makes this race much less clear. If I had to choose a winner, I would say the Academy is leaning towards Seyfried for the award. Unless there is some major change in buzz before the ceremony, this race is one to keep an eye on, as it’s anyone’s trophy. 

In the Best Actor field, the nominees selected were fairly expected based off of the awards buzz the past few months. The nominees are Riz Ahmed for “Sound of Metal,” Chadwick Boseman for “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom,” Anthony Hopkins for “The Father,” Gary Oldman for “Mank” and Steven Yeun for “Minari.” Though these nominations are all deserved, it is worth pointing out Delroy Lindo’s performance in Spike Lee’s “Da 5 Bloods” that has gone fairly unrecognized this awards season. Lindo’s performance in the film is one of the best of the year, yet due to the film’s summer release, Academy voters have largely forgotten about the film. When looking at the nominees, there is no doubt Boseman is the front-runner for the award. Boseman delivered an incredible performance in “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom,” and most definitely deserves the posthumous award for Best Actor. 

Next we have the Best Actress category, where the nominations are in line with expectations as well. The nominees are Viola Davis for “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom,” Andra Day for “The United States vs. Billie Holiday,” Vanessa Kirby for “Pieces of a Woman,” Frances McDormand for “Nomadland” and Carey Mulligan for “Promising Young Woman.” Unlike the Best Actor award, this race is wide open. Day took home the Golden Globe a few weekends ago, but that was regarded as a surprise, especially since “The United States vs. Billie Holiday” had the lowest critical reception of any film of the nominees. The front-runner is considered to be McDormand, but she already has taken home two Academy Awards in her career (the last one being only a few years ago in 2017). The Academy tends to award first-time winners, which bodes well for Kirby, Day and Mulligan, as Davis won Best Supporting Actress in 2016. I expect one of those three to win, with a slight advantage to Mulligan. 

Viola Davis in “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom”. Davis is one of the nominations for the “Best Actress Category”. Photo courtesy of film-rezensionen.

In the Best Director category, there is another surprising nomination. The nominees are Lee Isaac Chung for “Minari,” Emerald Fennell for “Promising Young Woman,” David Fincher for “Mank,” Thomas Vinterburg for “Another Round” and Chloé Zhao for “Nomadland.” The surprise was Vinterburg, who was not at all expected to be nominated. Many experts believed either Aaron Sorkin or Regina King would be nominated for “The Trial of the Chicago 7” and “One Night in Miami,” respectively. This surprise nomination leads many to believe Vinterburg’s film “Another Round,” which is a Danish production, will take home the Best International Feature prize. The front-runner in this competition is Zhao, who could become only the second woman to ever win Best Director. In fact, this year is the first time multiple women – Fennell and Zhao – have been nominated for the award, which is great to see and hopefully is a trend that continues in the future.  

The last prize – the biggest of them all – is for Best Picture. The nominees are “The Father,” “Judas and the Black Messiah,” “Mank,” “Minari,” “Nomadland,” “Promising Young Woman,” “Sound of Metal” and “The Trial of the Chicago 7.” All of these nominees were expected. The most surprising outcome is “One Night in Miami” not being nominated. Of these, the front-runner is most definitely “Nomadland,” which has been taking home tons of trophies this awards season. Personally, I hope to see “Judas and the Black Messiah” win the prize, as it is the best film of this lot that I have seen this year. Nonetheless, you really can’t go wrong with a winner this year. All of these movies are quite good. 

In conclusion, this awards season has a few clear front-runners but also a few prizes that seem to be up for grabs. We’re still a long way away from the ceremony, but it is fun to speculate.  

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