2021 Oscar nominations recap

Navigate Left
Navigate Right
  • Film Critic Hunter Friesen discusses the 2021 Academy Award nominations.

  • Film Critic Hunter Friesen discusses the 2021 Academy Award nominations.

  • Film Critic Hunter Friesen discusses the 2021 Academy Award nominations.

Navigate Left
Navigate Right


After being delayed by nearly two months due to the pandemic, the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts & Sciences finally revealed their nominations this Monday for what they thought was the best of cinema in 2020. Below is a recap of the above-the-line categories, complete with the nominees and analysis of who got in and who didn’t.

Best Supporting Actor

NOMINEES: Daniel Kaluuya, LaKeith Stanfield, Leslie Odom Jr., Paul Raci and Sacha Baron Cohen.

NOTABLE INCLUSION: LaKeith Stanfield (“Judas and the Black Messiah”).

NOTABLE SNUB: Chadwick Boseman (“Da 5 Bloods”).

First things first, LaKeith Stanfield gives a lead performance in “Judas and the Black Messiah.” There seems to be at least one instance of category fraud each year, and this is the clearest example I’ve seen in a while. His co-star Daniel Kaluuya – a previous nominee for “Get Out” – looks to be a lock for the win. Paul Raci completed his underdog story by being nominated for “Sound of Metal.” Chadwick Boseman might have missed here for “Da 5 Bloods,” but he did get nominated for another performance in a different category.

Best Supporting Actress

NOMINEES: Amanda Seyfried, Glenn Close, Maria Bakalova, Olivia Colman and Youn Yuh-jung.

NOTABLE INCLUSION: Maria Bakalova (“Borat Subsequent Moviefilm”).

NOTABLE SNUB: Jodie Foster (“The Mauritanian”).

Sure, you could claim that Bakalova is the perceived front-runner at the moment and her getting in here isn’t all that notable. However, purely comedic performances rarely ever get nominated for Oscars, especially ones given by unknowns. Amanda Seyfried was able to get in after being snubbed by other groups, and Glenn Close achieved the rare feat of being nominated for both a Razzie and an Oscar for her performance in “Hillbilly Elegy.” With eight career nominations, she is still looking for her first win.

Best Leading Actor

NOMINEES: Anthony Hopkins, Chadwick Boseman, Gary Oldman, Riz Ahmed and Steven Yeun.

NOTABLE INCLUSION: Steven Yeun (“Minari”).

NOTABLE SNUB: Delroy Lindo (“Da 5 Bloods”).

It was a battle between Steven Yeun and Delroy Lindo for the final spot, with Yeun edging out thanks to his film’s overwhelmingly positive buzz. With both Boseman and Lindo missing, “Da 5 Bloods” severely underperformed on the day. Much of that can be chalked up to the film’s divisive nature and its early release. With his first (and sadly only) nomination, Boseman will most likely take home the win for his role in “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom.” Riz Ahmed also becomes the first Muslim to be nominated in this category.

Best Leading Actress

NOMINEES: Andra Day, Carey Mulligan, Frances McDormand, Vanesa Kirby and Viola Davis.

NOTABLE INCLUSION: Andra Day (“The United States vs. Billie Holiday”).

NOTABLE SNUB: Sophia Loren (“The Life Ahead”).

This category played out exactly as expected, with the five getting in being the heavy favorites all along. Andra Day and Vanessa Kirby both netted their first nominations in polarizing films while veterans McDormand and Davis continue to dominate. Debuting at the pre-pandemic Sundance Film Festival, Carey Mulligan’s buzzy turn in “Promising Young Woman” seems to be the favorite so far.

Best Original Screenplay

NOMINEES: “Judas and the Black Messiah,” “Minari,” “Promising Young Woman,” “Sound of Metal” and “The Trial of the Chicago 7.”

NOTABLE INCLUSION: “Sound of Metal.”


“Judas and the Black Messiah” and “Sound of Metal” showed off their overall strength by getting unexpected nominations in this category, while “Mank” showed off its tepidness by missing after being nominated here all season. It will be a battle between Emerald Fennell’s darkly satiric “Promising Young Woman” and Aaron Sorkin’s timely courtroom drama “The Trial of the Chicago 7” to see who will take home the prize.

Best Adapted Screenplay

NOMINEES: “Borat Subsequent Moviefilm,” “Nomadland,” “One Night in Miami,” “The Father” and “The White Tiger.”


NOTABLE SNUB: “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom.”

Just like the original did back in 2006, “Borat Subsequent Moviefilm” was able to make its way into this category despite largely being improvised. After getting a BAFTA and WGA nomination, Netflix’s India-set “The White Tiger” netted its sole nomination. Missing in action was the adaptation of August Wilson’s “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom,” which was still expected to get in despite underperforming in this category all season.

Best Director

NOMINEES: Chloé Zhao, David Fincher, Emerald Fennell, Lee Isaac Chung and Thomas Vinterberg.

NOTABLE INCLUSION: Thomas Vinterberg (“Another Round”).

NOTABLE SNUB: Aaron Sorkin (“The Trial of the Chicago 7”).

Besides David Fincher (who nets his third nomination), everybody present is here for their first time. This year also marks the first time more than one woman has been nominated in this category. Kathyrn Bigelow remains the only woman to win Best Director for 2009’s “The Hurt Locker.” Chloé Zhao seems poised to join her as she has swept the competition this year. The directors’ branch continues to love European talent as Thomas Vinterberg came out of nowhere with his Danish comedy-drama “Another Round.” Aaron Sorkin became this year’s heavyweight snub similar to Martin McDonagh in 2017 and Peter Farrelly in 2018.

Best Motion Picture

NOMINEES: “Judas and the Black Messiah,” “Mank,” “Minari,” “Nomadland,” “Promising Young Woman,” “Sound of Metal,” “The Father” and “The Trial of the Chicago 7.”

NOTABLE INCLUSION: “Judas and the Black Messiah” and “Sound of Metal.”

NOTABLE SNUB: “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom” and “One Night in Miami.”

The age of streaming is upon us as half of this year’s nominees debuted on streaming platforms. While getting two in with “Mank” and “The Trial of the Chicago 7,” Netflix is still hurting after missing out on “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom.” Both “Judas and the Black Messiah” and “Sound of Metal” were underdogs throughout the season, as was “Minari” for a while until it started to rack up precursor attention. Even though it commandingly led the day with ten total nominations, “Mank” is still a distant second place behind the powerhouse that is “Nomadland,” which looks primed to take home the ultimate prize.