An illustration of people at the Oscars in front of an Oscar.

Everything You Need To Know About the 2021 Oscars Nominations

While more BIPOC actors and producers are being recognized at the 93rd annual Academy Awards, there were many snubs during the nomination season.
March 27, 2021
9 mins read

The 93rd annual Academy Awards are scheduled to air live and in person at Los Angeles’ Dolby Theatre and Union Station. Only the nominees, their guests and the show’s presenters will be present, with no option for nominees to attend virtually, as the producers believe going virtual would diminish the efforts of the show. It’ll honor Hollywood’s greatest films released between Jan. 1, 2020, and Feb. 28, 2021. Quite a bit of history has been made with the nominations for this year’s ceremony. Still, it wouldn’t be the Oscars without a few surprises and snubs.

Best Picture Oscar Nominees

Mank,” a biographical film about Herman J. Mankiewicz and his creation of the screenplay for “Citizen Kane,” has garnered 10 nominations for best picture, making it the most nominated on the list. “Mank” also earned the most nominations at this year’s Golden Globes, but did not win any awards.

Netflix has received 35 nominations for films it has distributed — the most of any distributor this year.

Other films in the running for best picture include “Minari,” “Nomadland,” “The Father,” “Judas and the Black Messiah,” “Sound of Metal,” “Promising Young Woman” and “The Trial of the Chicago 7.”

“Judas and the Black Messiah”

Judas and the Black Messiah,” a film about FBI informant William O’Neal and his betrayal of Fred Hampton, the chairman of the Illinois chapter of the Black Panther Party, has been nominated for the best picture award. Directed by Shaka King and produced by Shaka King, Ryan Coogler and Charles D. King, it marks the first time an all-Black production team has been nominated for their work at the Oscars.  

LaKeith Stanfield for Best Supporting Actor

It was a surprise when LaKeith Stanfield was nominated for best supporting actor alongside co-star Daniel Kaluuya for their roles in “Judas and the Black Messiah.” Many people see Stanfield’s role as Willian O’Neal — the man who infiltrated the Illinois chapter of the Black Panther Party — as the lead of the film, with Kaluuya as the supporting role. Both of them being nominated for best supporting actor has raised some eyebrows.

Furthermore, Warner Bros actively campaigned for Stanfield as the lead actor of the film and Kaluuya as the supporting actor. Though both actors deserve recognition for their work, these nominations do beg the question: If both were supporting actors — who was the lead in the film?

Steven Yeun and Riz Ahmed for Best Actor

Steven Yeun has been nominated for his role in “Minari,” where he plays the father of an immigrant South Korean family trying to build a life in 1980s rural America; Riz Ahmed has been nominated for his work in “Sound of Metal,” where he plays a punk rock drummer dealing with the loss of his hearing. This marks the first time that two actors of Asian descent have been nominated in the best actor category at the Oscars. Ahmed, who is of Pakistani descent, is the first-ever Muslim nominee for best actor, and Yeun has become the first-ever Asian American nominee.

Chloé Zhao and Emerald Fennell for Best Director

This year’s Oscars is the first year that two women have been nominated for best director at the same time. Chloé Zhao has been nominated for her film “Nomadland,” which follows the story of a woman living out of a van after the town she lived in shut down, and Emerald Fennell received a nomination for “Promising Young Woman”— a film about a woman who tries to avenge her best friend who was a victim of rape.

Regina King Received No Oscar Nominations

Despite earning a nomination at the Golden Globes for her film “One Night in Miami,” Regina King has not earned any nominations at this year’s Oscars. Still, King, Fennell and Zhao all made history at the Golden Globes when they were nominated for best director, making it the first time more than one woman has been nominated in that category.

“One Night in Miami” details a fictionalized meeting between Malcolm X, Muhammad Ali, Jim Brown and Sam Cooke in 1964 after Ali’s surprise victory over Sonny Liston, and it has received praise from critics for King’s direction and the cast’s performances. While King has not been nominated for best director, it has still garnered three nominations: one for Leslie Odom Jr. in a best supporting role, one for best song and one for best adapted screenplay.

Viola Davis Is the Most-Nominated Black Actress

Viola Davis has been nominated for best actress for “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom.” She is now the most-nominated Black actress ever, with four nominations, as well as the only Black woman with two best actress nominations.

Thomas Vinterberg for Best Director

A surprise best director nomination has gone to Thomas Vinterberg for his film “Another Round” — a Danish film about four high school teachers who decide to drink alcohol on a daily basis to see how it affects their lives. This best director nomination is a first for Denmark. “Another Round” is also up for best international feature.

“Sound of Metal” Earned Six Oscar Nominations

“Sound of Metal” was mostly ignored at the Golden Globes, with the sole nomination going to Ahmed for best actor. However, the film has picked up six Academy Award nominations this year for best picture, best actor, best supporting actor, best sound, best film editing and best original screenplay.

“Da 5 Bloods” Received No Nominations

Spike Lee’s “Da 5 Bloods” is a film about four Vietnam War veterans who return to Vietnam to find the treasure they buried while serving, all while searching for the remains of their fallen squad leader.

It has been praised by critics for its direction, themes and performances, and it was named the best film of 2020 by the National Board of Review as well as one of the top 10 films of the year by AFI. It seemed like an obvious candidate for the Oscars. However, the film has earned no nominations.

No Best Picture Nomination for “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom”

“Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom” has earned Oscar nominations for best actor, best actress, best production design, best costume design and best hair and makeup, but none for best picture.

Up to 10 films can be nominated for best picture, and this year only eight of the possible 10 spots have been filled, causing many people to question why “Ma Rainey’s” was not included.

Isabelle Juan, Truman State University

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Isabelle Juan

Truman State University

My name is Isabelle Juan. I’m a sophomore at Truman State University majoring in English. I am most interested in writing about topics concerning the environment, music, literature, movies and nutrition.

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