The Oscars nominations were announced last Monday capping off what has been a far from conventional awards season.
Thomas Vinterberg’s directorial nod for “Another Round” was a shocker, as the Danish director previously failed to receive a nomination at any notable circuit with the exception of the BAFTAs.
Similarly, “The Father” sneaking into the Best Picture category was a surprise for many. The small budget film starring Anthony Hopkins and Olivia Colman, who both garnered nominations for their respective roles, hit theaters just three weeks ago. In fact, the Best Picture category this year opted for the minimum requirement of eight films — indicative of the shortage of accessible movies due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
With all that said, here are some winners and losers from the 2021 Oscar nomination announcements.
Winner: Late campaigners
I alluded to this a little bit with “The Father’s” unforeseen success, but films either with late release dates or booming awards season campaigns performed very well with the Academy.
“The Sound of Metal” scored a pair of acting nominations, as well as a Best Picture nod, and Sundance’s darling “Judas and the Black Messiah” matched those achievements plus an underdog supporting actor nomination awarded to Lakeith Stanfield. While I don’t think these films have much of a chance of winning, their success does follow a pattern of the Academy in recent years to reward late-on-the-scene films, like when “Phantom Thread” received six nominations in 2018.
Loser: Aaron Sorkin
Though the eminent screenwriter scored a nomination, and in all probability, another victory for best original screenplay, his directorial work in just his second film behind the camera did not garner a nomination from the Academy.
Given the success of “The Trial of the Chicago 7” with critics and the public, Sorkin’s snub was viewed as a major surprise. As for me, I think his writing in the film outshines anything achieved behind the camera, and in a strange way I think that hurts him. Nonetheless, Aaron Sorkin is sure to be back in a short time searching for his first nomination for directing.
The Academy Award frontrunner “Nomadland” did not diverge from its blazing award season trail as it scored all six of its predicted nominations. Chloe Zhao’s bid to become only the second female filmmaker to take home Best Director remains alive and well, and given her momentum, she’s a surefire bet to win.
As for its Best Picture chances, the film’s nomination for best screenplay leaves it in a great position. While I don’t think it’ll take home the screenplay award, a win for Zhao in directing would pave the way for a Best Picture win. In fact, two of the last three Picture winners saw their directors hoist the trophy for Best Director.
Loser: Play adaptations
“Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom” and “One Night in Miami,” both play adaptations, were amongst films snubbed from Best Picture considerations.
This was a genuine surprise, Chadwick Boseman and Viola Davis both received acting nominations for “Ma Rainey”, but the movie as a whole was more or less left out of the top categories. This is a case where the film’s reliance on its performances proved to be counterproductive.
On the other hand, Regina King’s “One Night in Miami” was perhaps the biggest snub of the 2021 Oscars. Not only was the film well received by critics and moviegoers alike, its themes were also extremely relevant.
In a year with a stacked field, I understand how this movie could be left out, but with only eight nominees for Picture, it’s a baffling snub that has many questioning the Academy’s verdict.