Film Festivals

Oscar Nominations 2021: Snubs, Surprises, and Predictions

They’ve come later than usual but the 2021 Oscar nominations are finally here. After a year of digital releases and very limited theater-going opportunities, this year’s lineup may be unfamiliar to most of the general public. Unfamiliar doesn’t mean undeserving though, and this year’s slate is one of the most refreshing in recent memory. Here are some of the surprises, snubs, and who we think might walk away with an Oscar come April.

Making History

Oscar Nominated Minari
Minari (2020) via A24

This year’s nominees for acting are the most diverse to date, with nine actors of color across the four categories.

Steven Yeun (Minari) and Riz Ahmed (Sound of Metal) both made history in the Best Actor category, with Yeun being the first ever Asian American nominated for the award while Ahmed is the first Muslim in the lead actor category. Some other notable nominees are Andra Day (The United States vs. Billie Holliday) and Viola Davis (Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom.) Their nomination in the Best Actress category marks only the second time in Oscars history where two Black women will compete in this category. Chadwick Boseman also received a nomination for his performance in Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom, making him the seventh performer with a posthumous Oscar nomination.

In the non-acting categories, there were a few firsts as well. Ann Roth tied the record for oldest nominee with her nomination for Best Costume Design (Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom). Chloé Zhao (Nomadland) became the first woman of color to be nominated in the Best Director category. In addition to Zhao’s nomination, Emerald Fennel snagged a nod for her directorial debut Promising Young Woman making this the first time 2 women are nominated for Best Director.


Regina King One Night in Miami
Regina King via Indiewire

Although the general consensus doesn’t seem to be outrage, there are still a few notable snubs from this year’s slate.

The most talked about has been Regina King not receiving a nod for her directorial debut One Night in Miami. The film secured 3 nominations in other categories, King did not receive a Best Director nomination and the film is not in Best Picture contention.

Da 5 Bloods was also noticeably absent, only receiving a nomination for Best Original Score. Delroy Lindo was surprising left out of the acting categories and the film didn’t get the coveted Best Picture nomination.

In other acting snubs, Jodie Foster is the first supporting actress Golden Globe winner to miss out on an Oscar nomination since Katherine Ross in 1976.


Oscar Nominated Nomadland
Nomadland via Searchlight Pictures

Coming off of a year in film like no other, it’s tough to say which way certain categories will go. Based on the Golden Globes and just some guessing, here’s how things could go.

David Fincher’s Mank leads the pack with 10 total nominations, including Best Picture. We expect it will walk away with something, perhaps a few in the technical categories and maybe Amanda Seyfried for Best Supporting Actress.

There are a handful of films with a total of 6 nominations, Judas and the Black Messiah, Minari, Nomadland, Sound of Metal, The Father and The Trail of the Chicago 7. Out of this bunch look out for Daniel Kaluuya (Judas and the Black Messiah) for Best Supporting Actor. Nomadland seems poised for a big night as well coming off of 2 Golden Globe wins. Minari and Sound of Metal have also quietly made their way into the best of the year conversation. We wouldn’t be surprised to see those teams walk away with something as well.

Other notable multi-nominee films are Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom, Promising Young Woman, News of the World, and Soul. Chadwick Boseman seems to be the favorite for Best Actor while Best Animated Feature seems like it’s Soul’s to lose. Film fans across the country will be waiting anxiously to see how these all play out.

Check out the full list of nominees here.


About author


Jordyn Mihok is a senior at the University of Connecticut studying Communication and Women's, Gender, and Sexuality Studies. Her interests include movies, TV, travel, and music.
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