The 2021 Oscar nominations have been unleashed around the world and, like every year, people have strong feelings.
Before we dive in, let’s clarify one thing: The Oscars are a remarkably flawed way to value good storytelling. Snubs and surprises don’t – or, at least, should not—Designed a lot for the inherent quality of a movie. What are the Oscars are is a fascinating finger on the pulse of power in Hollywood, and how that power is unevenly and often jarring. So while the changing trends and deserving nominees are worth celebrating, it’s important to remember that none of these announcements take place in a vacuum. This may be the first year that more than one woman has been nominated for Best Director – and the first year that a Woman of Color has been nominated in that category, ever – but it still means it took nearly a century to happen. This story does not evaporate overnight.
With that in mind, let’s talk about snubs and surprises.
Snub: Regina King is not nominated for directing One night in Miami.
Case in point: While the Academy of Cinema Arts and Sciences may finally feel comfortable nominating two women for Best Director, it seems they are not yet ready to consider three. King, whose acclaimed time in the director’s seat for One night in Miami positioned her as a shoo-in for best director, hasn’t received a nod this year.
Surprise: Steven Yeun becomes the first Asian American actor to be nominated for Best Actor.
The surprise here isn’t that Yeun was nominated for his Breathtaking Tour Minari, but more that he is the first Asian American actor to be nominated in the category, ever. When an awards ceremony has been around since 1929 and still celebrates “firsts” on a regular basis, this should tell you something about the validity of the awards themselves. Still, it’s a moment worth applauding for Yeun, whose work in Minari is nothing less than to pierce.
Snub: Never Rarely Sometimes Always gets no love.
The critically adored drama directed by Eliza Hittman Never Rarely Sometimes Always That’s not a shocking snub given his run under the radar for much of awards season, but that doesn’t make the lack of recognition any less frustrating. Especially when the topic – access to abortion, or the lack of it – is perhaps more polarizing and essential than ever.
Surprise: Daniel Kaluuya and Lakeith Stanfield are nominated for Best Supporting Actor.
The recognition is fabulous. The category is… weird. Daniel Kaluuya and Lakeith Stanfield, stars of Judas and the Black Messiah, earned a nod, but was named Best Supporting Actor rather than Best Actor. This is confusing for a number of reasons, but not least because it begs the question: if they are both supporting actors, who the hell was the head of? Judas?
Snub: Delroy Lindo does not win a nomination for Da 5 bloods.
Spike Lee is gorgeous Da 5 bloods has been almost universally excluded from Oscar consideration this year, in short, a nod to the best original music. But perhaps one of the most egregious snubs of this awards season has been Delroy Lindo’s lack of recognition. His performance as Paul, one of the five “Bloods” that made up a group of black soldiers in the US Army during the Vietnam War, has been consistently praised by critics and even earned him a Critics’ Choice Award. . But it didn’t get enough attention to get him the Oscar gold medal.
Surprise: Jodie Foster’s Golden Globes won spit.
The Golden Globes are usually good news for an actor or actress’ prospects at the Oscars, but this year Jodie Foster’s spotlight has gone off and on. After winning the Globe Supporting Actress for her performance in Mauritanian, the acclaimed but low-key film apparently couldn’t do more for her.
Snub: Dick Johnson is dead is ignored.
The Documentary category seemed to be the niche where many of the morning’s surprises unfolded. Both Boys state and Dick Johnson is dead, two of the year’s most acclaimed documentaries, were eliminated from the competition. Johnson ‘The absence of s is particularly glaring, given its popularity among doc enthusiasts. Still, it’s a surprise in itself that one of the most controversial categories of this year’s Oscar nominations was Best Documentary. What that says about the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences – and its changing priorities – remains to be seen.
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