2021 Oscar Nominations

  • Publish Date: March 15, 2021
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Better late than never?

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Films with Most Academy Award Nominations - 2021
1 Mank 10 noms
2 The Father 6 noms
  Judas and the Black Messiah 6 noms
  Minari 6 noms
  Nomadland 6 noms
  Sound of Metal 6 noms
  The Trial of the Chicago 7 6 noms

A few months later than originally planned, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences finally revealed the nominees for the 93rd Academy Awards early Monday morning, recognizing the best films, filmmakers, and on- and off-screen talent of 2020.

Leading all films with 10 nomiinations was David Fincher's long-gestating pet project Mank, a black-and-white Netflix drama about the writing of the screenplay for the all-time classic Citizen Kane, a film that itself only received nine Oscar nominations. (Remember, however, that Kane only actually won a single Oscar—for that screenplay, a category in which Mank wasn't nominated.). Six of the seven remaining best picture nominees (all but Promising Young Woman) tied for second with six nominations apiece.

Mank helped Netflix collect 35 nominations on the morning, leading all studios/distributors this year. A year ago, Netflix was nominated 24 times but won just twice.

Note that the Academy tweaked a number of rules this year to reflect the pandemic-related changes to the movie industry in 2020. Not only was the eligibility period extended by two months (through February 28, 2021), but the usual theatrical release requirement was waved for the first time in Oscar history, allowing streaming-only films to be considered (provided that they were once intended to be released in theaters). Drive-in screenings also counted toward eligibility, another Oscar first.

Listed below are the 2021 Academy Award nominees in all 23 categories (down one from recent years, thanks to the combination of Sound Editing and Sound MIxing into a single category).

Best picture and director

Best picture

Metascore / Film / Producers
The Father David Parfitt, Jean-Louis Livi and Philippe Carcassonne
Judas and the Black Messiah Shaka King, Charles D. King and Ryan Coogler,
Mank Ceán Chaffin, Eric Roth and Douglas Urbanski
Minari Christina Oh
Nomadland Frances McDormand, Peter Spears, Mollye Asher, Dan Janvey and Chloé Zhao,
Promising Young Woman Ben Browning, Ashley Fox, Emerald Fennell and Josey McNamara
Sound of Metal Bert Hamelinck and Sacha Ben Harroche
The Trial of the Chicago 7 Marc Platt and Stuart Besser

While none of the eight nominated films are surprises, there are still many snubs, most notably Ma Rainey's Black Bottom and One Night in Miami. Next year, the best picture field will be fixed at 10 nominees, rather than fluctuating each year (with anywhere from 5-10 nominees) based on voting results as it has since 2011. The Father and Judas and the Black Messiah are the two films here that took advantage of the extended eligibility period; both opened in February 2021 rather than in 2020. The latter is also the first best picture nominee in Oscar history with an all-Black producing team.

Note that Golden Globe best picture nominee Hamilton, a filmed stage production of the hit Broadway musical, was deemed ineligible for Oscar consideration by a decision of the Academy's rules committe. That film will be eligible for Emmy consideration later this year instead, as will Steve McQueen's Small Axe Prime Video anthology series (whose individual films were also deemed ineligible for Oscars as they were never intended for theatrical release).

Director

Nominee Film Career Oscar Totals*
Noms. Wins
Lee Isaac Chung Minari 2 0
Emerald Fennell Promising Young Woman 3 0
David Fincher Mank 3 0
Thomas Vinterberg Another Round 1 0
Chloé Zhao Nomadland 4 0

Prior to this year, just five women had ever been nominated for a best director Oscar (most recently Greta Gerwig for 2017's Lady Bird). Emerald Fennell (in her directorial debut) and Chloé Zhao are now the sixth and seventh, and both are also the first women ever nominated for best director and best picture (as a producer) in the same year. Zhao has also made Oscars history as the most-nominated woman in a single year, thanks to additional nominations for writing and editing. (That's still not close to the overall record; Walt Disney once had six nominations in one year, though if Zhao wins in all four of her categories she would match Disney's record total for wins in one year.) Having two women nominated in this category in the same year is another first, coming on a morning when the Academy awarded a record of 76 nominations to women.

Thomas Vinterberg is easily the most surprising inclusion—and the only one of the nominees whose film didn't get a best picture nomination—while the many snubs include Sound of Metal's Darius Marder, One Night in Miami's Regina King, The Trial of the Chicago 7's Aaron Sorkin, and The Father director Florian Zeller.

* All career Oscar nomination totals on this page include today's nominations but exclude honorary awards

Writing

Original screenplay

Nominee Film Career Oscar Totals
Noms. Wins
Will Berson & Shaka King Judas and the Black Messiah 1/1 0
Lee Isaac Chung Minari 2 0
Emerald Fennell Promising Young Woman 3 0
Darius Marder & Abraham Marder Sound of Metal 1/1 0
Aaron Sorkin The Trial of the Chicago 7 4 1

If there's an omission here, it is probably the Mank screenplay by Jack Fincher. That said, it's hard to say which of the nominated films is a surprise inclusion.

Adapted screenplay

Nominee Film Career Oscar Totals
Noms. Wins
Sacha Baron Cohen & Anthony Hines & Dan Swimer & Peter Baynham & Erica Rivinoja & Dan Mazer & Jena Friedman & Lee Kern Borat Subsequent Moviefilm    
Ramin Bahrani The White Tiger 1 0
Christopher Hampton & Florian Zeller The Father 3/1 1/0
Kemp Powers One Night in Miami 1 0
Chloé Zhao Nomadland 4 0

While nothing here is too shocking—though if there is one surprise, it might be The White Tiger—notable omissions include Ruben Santiago-Hudson for Ma Rainey's Black Bottom and (to a lesser extent) Charlie Kaufman for I'm Thinking of Ending Things.

Acting

Lead actress

Nominee Film Career Oscar Totals
Noms. Wins
Viola Davis Ma Rainey's Black Bottom 4 1
Andra Day The United States vs. Billie Holiday 1 0
Vanessa Kirby Pieces of a Woman 1 0
Frances McDormand Nomadland 7 2
Carey Mulligan Promising Young Woman 2 0

It's hard to say there are any surprises here, though it would also have been unsurprising to see a field that included, say, Sophia Loren (The Life Ahead)—or possibly even Michelle Pfeiffer (French Exit) rather than Andra Day, whose worthy performance came in a film that didn't receive great reviews.

Because category co-favorite (along with Carey Mulligan) Frances McDormand is also a Nomadland producer, she is now the first woman ever nominated in acting and best picture categories for the same film. (Multiple men have accomplished the double, including Bradley Cooper in 2018.)

Lead actor

Nominee Film Career Oscar Totals
Noms. Wins
Riz Ahmed Sound of Metal 1 0
Chadwick Boseman Ma Rainey's Black Bottom 1 0
Anthony Hopkins The Father 6 1
Gary Oldman Mank 3 1
Steven Yeun Minari 1 0

The category turned out as predicted. Steven Yeun is the first Asian-American lead actor nominee in this category in Oscar history. If Chadwick Boseman ultimately wins the best actor trophy (and he is a favorite, along with Hopkins), he will become just the second posthumous winner in the category following Network star Peter Finch in 1977.

Supporting actress

Nominee Film Career Oscar Totals
Noms. Wins
Maria Bakalova Borat Subsequent Moviefilm 1 0
Glenn Close Hillbilly Elegy 8 0
Olivia Colman The Father 2 1
Amanda Seyfried Mank 1 0
Youn Yuh-jung Minari 1 0

While there was some minor late-building buzz for Dominique Fishback (Judas and the Black Messiah), and a few predictions for Pieces of a Woman's Ellen Burstyn, News of the World's young co-star Helena Zengel, and Jodie Foster (who just won a Golden Globe), the field doesn't contain any major shocks—though Glenn Close (whose film was widely panned) is the closest thing here to a surprise.

Supporting actor

Nominee Film Career Oscar Totals
Noms. Wins
Sacha Baron Cohen The Trial of the Chicago 7 3 0
Daniel Kaluuya Judas and the Black Messiah 2 0
Leslie Odom Jr. One Night in Miami 2 0
Paul Raci Sound of Metal 1 0
Lakeith Stanfield Judas and the Black Messiah 1 0

Leslie Odom Jr. also received a nomination in the original song category, marking the third straight year with an acting/song double nomination (following Harriet's Cynthia Erivo last year and Lady Gaga for A Star Is Born two years ago).

Lakeith Stanfield (originally expected to land in the lead actor category instead) is the biggest surprise among the supporting actor nominees—his co-star, Kaluuya, had been the one getting most of the awards-season buzz—while Chadwick Boseman (for Da 5 Bloods) is the most notable omission.

Other best film nominations

Animated feature

Metascore / Film / Producers
Onward Dan Scanlon and Kori Rae
Over the Moon Glen Keane, Gennie Rim and Peilin Chou,
A Shaun the Sheep Movie: Farmageddon Richard Phelan, Will Becher and Paul Kewley
Soul Pete Docter and Dana Murray
Wolfwalkers Tomm Moore, Ross Stewart, Paul Young and Stéphan Roelants

If Pixar's Soul wins here—and it is the favorite to do so—it will make Pete Docter the first three-time animated feature winner in Oscar history following his prior wins for Up and Inside Out. (It's Docter's fourth nomination in the category, which is also a record.) The Croods: A New Age is the sole snub (only because it had been widely predicted to be here, not necessarily because it's a great film), while Farmageddon is the biggest surprise, though only a mild one.

Documentary feature

Metascore / Film / Producers
Collective Alexander Nanau and Bianca Oana
Crip Camp: A Disability Revolution Nicole Newnham, Jim LeBrecht and Sara Bolder
The Mole Agent Maite Alberdi and Marcela Santibáñez
My Octopus Teacher Pippa Ehrlich, James Reed and Craig Foster
Time Garrett Bradley, Lauren Domino and Kellen Quinn

Collective is a double nominee, also landing in the international feature category. Shortlisted films that failed to land a nomination include All In: The Fight for Democracy, Boys State, and—most shocking of all, the oft-awarded and critically praised Dick Johnson Is Dead—(while semi-surprise omissions from the shortlist announced last month included The Social Dilemma, A Thousand Cuts, and City Hall). The most surprising inclusion is probably The Mole Agent, which had less buzz than some of the snubbed titles.

International feature

Metascore / Film / Producers
Another Round Denmark
Better Days Hong Kong
Collective Romania
The Man Who Sold His Skin Tunisia
Quo Vadis, Aida? Bosnia and Herzegovina

Voting in this category was opened up to the entire Academy this year after previously being restricted only to those members who specifically signed up to view a set number of qualifying films, and the shortlist was doubled in size and taken out of the hands of a special committee that could add and subtract from the titles selected by voters. Shortlisted films that did not make the final cut include La Llorona and Night of the Kings (while the highest-profile film to miss out on the mostly surprise-free shortlist was Portugal's Vitalina Varela). Semi-surprise inclusion The Man Who Sold His Skin (which has yet to be screened to the general public in the U.S.) marks Tunisia's first-ever Oscar nomination. (It's just the 10th African film ever nominated.)

Short subjects

Animated Short
Burrow Madeline Sharafian and Michael Capbarat
Genius Loci Adrien Mérigeau and Amaury Ovise
If Anything Happens I Love You Will McCormack and Michael Govier
Opera Erick Oh
Yes-People Gísli Darri Halldórsson and Arnar Gunnarsson
Documentary Short
Colette Anthony Giacchino and Alice Doyard
A Concerto Is a Conversation Ben Proudfoot and Kris Bowers
Do Not Split Anders Hammer and Charlotte Cook
Hunger Ward Skye Fitzgerald and Michael Scheuerman
A Love Song for Latasha Sophia Nahli Allison and Janice Duncan
Live-Action Short
Feeling Through Doug Roland and Susan Ruzenski
The Letter Room Elvira Lind and Sofia Sondervan
The Present Farah Nabulsi
Two Distant Strangers Travon Free and Martin Desmond Roe
White Eye Tomer Shushan and Shira Hochman

Music

Original score

Composer Film Career Oscar Totals
Noms. Wins
Terence Blanchard Da 5 Bloods 2 0
Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross Mank 4/4 1/1
Emile Mosseri Minari 1 0
James Newton Howard News of the World 9 0
Trent Reznor, Atticus Ross and Jon Batiste Soul 4/4/1 1/1/0

Original song

Song/Composer Film
"Fight for You"
by H.E.R., Dernst Emile II, Tiara Thomas
Judas and the Black Messiah
"Hear My Voice"
by Daniel Pemberton and Celeste
The Trial of the Chicago 7
"Húsavík"
by Savan Kotecha, Rickard Goransson, Fat Max Gsus
Eurovision Song Contest: The Story of Fire Saga
"Io Si (Seen)"
by Diane Warren, Laura Pausini, Niccolò Agliardi
The Life Ahead
"Speak Now"
by Leslie Odom, Jr. and Sam Ashworth
One Night in Miami

Technical categories

Cinematography

Nominee Film Career Oscar Totals
Noms. Wins
Sean Bobbitt Judas and the Black Messiah 1 0
Erik Messerschmidt Mank 1 0
Phedon Papamichael The Trial of the Chicago 7 2 0
Joshua James Richards Nomadland 1 0
Dariusz Wolski News of the World 1 0

If we had to pick a surprise here, it would probably be Phedon Papamichael, whose inclusion likely comes at the expense of Tenet's Hoyte van Hoytema. Whoever ultimately collects the trophy will be a first-time Oscar winner. Richards has been dominating on the awards circuit so far this year and appears to be the frontrunner.

Film Editing

Nominee Film Career Oscar Totals
Noms. Wins
Alan Baumgarten The Trial of the Chicago 7 2 0
Yorgos Lamprinos The Father 1 0
Mikkel E.G. Nielsen Sound of Metal 1 0
Frédéric Thoraval Promising Young Woman 1 0
Chloé Zhao Nomadland 4 0

Costumes/Makeup

Costume Design Makeup and Hairstyling
Emma. Emma.
Ma Rainey's Black Bottom Hillbilly Elegy
Mank Ma Rainey's Black Bottom
Mulan Mank
Pinocchio Pinocchio

Sound

Sound
Greyhound
Mank
News of the World
Soul
Sound of Metal

Prior to this year, awards were given in two distinct sound categories: Sound Editing and Sound Mixing. (This is a permanent change and not pandemic-related, driven by the fact that the winners in both categories were often the same film.)

Visuals

Production Design Visual Effects
The Father Love and Monsters
Ma Rainey's Black Bottom The Midnight Sky
Mank Mulan
News of the World The One and Only Ivan
Tenet Tenet

More Oscar coverage to come

The belated 93rd Annual Academy Awards ceremony will air live on ABC on Sunday, April 25 at 8p ET/5p PT, and will take place for the first time at Los Angeles' Union Station, though additional details about the nature of this year's broadcast (including the name of the host) have yet to be revealed. Look for additional Oscars coverage on our site over the coming weeks, including a chance for you to predict this year's winners as well as a roundup of Oscar predictions from dozens of critics and industry experts. You can also check out our 2020-21 Film Awards Scorecard for a compilation of all of this season's movie awards from 66 different organizations.

What's your take?

What do you think of the Academy's nominations this year? Let us know in the comments section below.

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