The official Oscar nominees have been announced, so here’s your first look at the list of the lucky hopefuls from Ahmed to Zhao.
It’s been a tricky year for film, what with cinemas closing around the world as a precaution against Covid-19, so one might expect the ceremony to be a bit more low-key than usual.
Exploding that hypothesis were the presenters of this year’s list of nominees, Priyanka Chopra and Nick Jonas, the latter of whose shiny yellow suit was so loud that it was difficult to hear what he was saying.
The upside of a year with few blockbusters is that a light was shone on more indie projects that deserve the extra attention. We’ll take you through the nominees in the major categories so you can see who’s who in the year the pandemic put the pictures on hold.
Oscars 2021: Best Picture
- The Father
- Judas and the Black Messiah
- Promising Young Woman
- Sound of Metal
- The Trial of the Chicago 7
Most of this year’s Best Picture nominees are character studies, which makes sense considering that large-scale spectacles might have been held back for a big-screen release. Nomadland, which tells of a woman who wanders the American West after losing her livelihood, is currently the clear front-runner according to the betting markets.
Oscars 2021: Best Director
- Thomas Vinterberg (Another Round)
- Emerald Fennell (Promising Young Woman)
- David Fincher (Mank)
- Lee Isaac Chung (Minari)
- Chloé Zhao (Nomadland)
In a category that has shut out women for such a shamefully long period on history, it’s refreshing to see two women in the race for the Best Director prize. It’s also unusual to see Vinterberg in the running, considering that his work didn’t make the eight-strong Best Picture shortlist. Although David Fincher is the biggest name on the billing, the heavy favourite is Chloé Zhao for Nomadland.
Oscars 2021: Best Actor
- Riz Ahmed (Sound of Metal)
- Chadwick Boseman (Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom)
- Anthony Hopkins (The Father)
- Gary Oldman (Mank)
- Steven Yeun (Minari)
The range of characters portrayed in this shortlist is remarkably wide, from a drummer going deaf, to an alcoholic screenwriter, to an aged man struggling with dementia. The late Chadwick Boseman, in his final role as a hubristic horn player, is likely to win the award posthumously.
Oscars 2021: Best Actress
- Viola Davis (Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom)
- Andra Day (The United States vs Billie Holliday)
- Vanesa Kirby (Pieces of a Woman)
- Frances McDormand (Nomadland)
- Carey Mulligan (Promising Young Woman)
The race for Best Actress could be much more unpredictable. Though Viola Davis and Frances McDormand have the most star power, Andra Day took home the Golden Globe for her portrayal of jazz legend Billie Holliday, and Carey Mulligan has also received rave reviews for her leading performance in Promising Young Woman.
Oscars 2021: Best Supporting Actor
- Sacha Baron Cohen (The Trial of the Chicago 7)
- Daniel Kaluuya (Judas and the Black Messiah)
- Leslie Odom, Jr (One Night in Miami)
- Paul Raci (Sound of Metal)
- Lakeith Stanfield (Judas and the Black Messiah)
The main surprise here is that the two lead actors of Judas and the Black Messiah were selected in the Supporting category, but both stand a strong chance of winning this gong. Better known for his comedic performances such as in this year’s Borat: Subsequent Moviefilm, it’s interesting to see Baron Cohen gain prestige as a dramatic actor with this nomination.
Oscars 2021: Best Supporting Actress
- Maria Bakalova (Borat: Subsequent Moviefilm)
- Glenn Close (Hillbilly Elegy)
- Olivia Colman (The Father)
- Amanda Seyfried (Mank)
- Yuh-Jung Young (Minari)
Speaking of Borat, it’s quite a surprise to see such an irreverent comedy up for an acting award, but Bakalova certainly earned her position on the shortlist with her daring and possibly dangerous performance. Glenn Close, who was widely tipped to win an Oscar for The Wife but lost out to her fellow nominee Olivia Colman, will be hoping to make it eight time lucky.
The full list of nominees in all categories is available on the website for the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.
If your favourite artist didn’t make the cut, just remember they’re in good company; after all, the likes of Orson Welles and Alfred Hitchcock never won the coveted Best Director award despite their considerable contributions to cinema.