The Oscars 2021: A Rundown

Photo from variety.com

Without further ado (cough, cough a global pandemic) the 2021 Oscar nominations are in. 

Competing for best picture are “The Father,” “Judas and the Black Messiah,” “Mank,” “Minari,” “Nomadland,” “Promising Young Woman,” “Sound of Metal” and “The Trial of the Chicago 7.”

“Mank” is the year’s most-nominated picture-with a total of 10 nominations. The Netflix original is a biographical film about screenwriter Herman J. Mankiewicz and his development of the screenplay for Citizen Kane. The remaining best picture nominees follow with a total of 6 nominations each, with the exception of “Promising young Women” with a total of 5 nods. 

Fellow best picture nominee, “The Trial of the Chicago Seven” directed by Aaron Sorkin is also a Netflix original. The film tells the true story of seven men on trial stemming from various charges surrounding the uprising at the 1968 Democratic National Convention in Chicago, Illinois. Among the film’s nominations are a best supporting actor nomination for Sacha Baron Cohen who plays Abbie Hoffman and an original screenplay nod for Sorkin. But the film did not result in the best director nomination. 

Despite the snub, Sorkin insists he could not be upset even if he tried. “I cannot find a way to be unhappy about only getting six nominations,” he tells the LA Times. “I tried. And I couldn’t do it. There isn’t a single one of the five nominees for best director who doesn’t deserve to be there.”

Among the real-life historical figures portrayed in Sorkin’s film is Fred Hampton, the chairman of the Illinois Black Panther Party. This is one of two best picture nominees with depictions of Hampton as “Judas and the Black Messiah” is a biographical drama about the late activist and his fateful betrayal by an FBI informant. 

Variety predicts that Chloé Zhao’s “Nomadland” will take home the best picture prize as the Producers Guild of America Awards awarded it with their top prize, “one of the key indicators for the Academy Awards, particularly the best picture category.” “Nomadland” tells the story of a woman who after losing everything in the great recession becomes a modern-day nomad and embarks on a journey through the American West.

The film starring Francis McDormand is considered by Vulture to be two Oscar archetypes at once, “It’s both the unbeatable steamroller that claims the guild prizes and the artsy indie that critics love.” The film made history as director Chloe Zhao is one of only two women this year to be nominated for best director. This is the first time that two women have been nominated for this award at the same time. Zhao is accompanied by Emerald Fannel, the director of “Promising Young Women.” 

“Promising young Women” tells the story of a woman seeking vengeance as a result of traumatic events in her past. Carey Mulligan, the film’s leading actress is up for a best actress nomination. Meanwhile, Daris Marder’s “The Sound of Metal” depicts the struggle of a heavy metal drummer whose world gets flipped upside down when he loses his hearing.

“The Father” directed by Florian Zeller starring Olivia Coleman and Anthony Hopkins tells the story of an aging man reconsidering his reality, his loved ones and himself. Hopkins is up for best actor for his role. If he were to win, Hopkins would be among few actors to ever win best actor twice; the actor is also the oldest nominee in history at 83. 

Other historical nominees in this category this year are Riz Ahmed (“Sound of Metal”) and Steve Yeun (“Minari”). Ahmed is the first Muslim lead actor nominee ever, while Yeun is the first Asian American to ever be nominated in this category and Chadwick Boseman (“Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom“) is the first black posthumous acting nominee. Variety predicts Boseman as this year’s winner. 

And finally, Lee Issac Chung’s “Minari” is about a Korean family who moves to Arkansas to start a farm in the 1980s. The Wall Street Journal described the film as “Intimate, poignant, improbably funny and steadfastly stirring.”

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