The 2021 Oscar Nominations Were Announced & We Have Some Questions

Dimas Sanfiorenzo Dimas Sanfiorenzo is the Managing Editor for Okayplayer. He specializes…
2021 Oscar Nominations
Photo Credit: Kevin Winter/Getty Images

The 2021 Oscar nominations were announced this morning. And, yeah, we have some questions (and concerns) about the upcoming awards show.

On Monday morning (March 15th) nominations for the 93rd Academy Awards were announced. Which is already odd. In a typical year, the Oscars would have already happened. 

But, like everything else, COVID-19 fucked things up. And the 2021 Oscars will now take place on April 25, almost three months later than last year’s ceremony

So it’s understandable why a lot about the moment feels off. Usually, we have an indication about what is an Oscar movie vs. what isn’t an Oscar movie. Because movie theaters have been closed for most of 2020, those lines are muddled. In the past, things like box office receipts would play a part in one got nominated. Now, what does and doesn’t get nominated depends on the marketing muscle streaming giants like Netflix and Amazon Prime have in place.  

Leading the Oscar race is Mank, which got 10 2021 Oscar nominations, including Best Picture and Best Director. Right behind Mank is a bunch of movies nominated for six nominations, including Judas and the Black Messiah, Minari, Nomadland, Sound of Metal, The Trial of the Chicago 7, and some shit called The Father. All those movies got Best Picture nominations, alongside the polarizing revenge flick Promising Young Woman.

But this morning’s 2021 Oscar nominations left us with more questions than answers. Here are some we have. 

 Who was the lead star of Judas and the Black Messiah?

Shaka King’s Judas and the Black Messiah picked up six nominations, including two acting nods. The problem — they were both supporting acting nominations. Daniel Kaluuya picked up a nomination for his riveting portrayal as Fred Hampton; while Lakeith Stanfield was nominated for his role as snitch William “Bill” O’Neal. Remember, these are the two leads in the film; see the title: Judas (Stanfield) and the Black Messiah (Kaluuya). So, why are they both in supporting actor categories? Who was the actual star of this movie? (Yes, we know this decision was made by studios because Chadwick Boseman is a shoo-in to win Best Actor for his role as Levee Green in Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom. That doesn’t mean it’s not dumb.)

If a movie is one is of the best pictures, has some of the best cinematography, and one of the best screenplays, doesn’t that mean it has one of the best directors?

Despite those six nominations, King didn’t receive any Best Director love, which is bonkers, considering the movie picked up Best Cinematography, Original Screenplay, and Best Picture nominations. Now, we guess we can say kudos to the Oscars for realizing women are alive and nominating Chloé Zhao (Nomadland) and Emerald Fennell (Promising Young Woman) for Best Director. (The first time multiple women have been nominated for a Best Director Oscar in the same year.) 

Do the Oscars just hate people named King?

Shaka King wasn’t the only King to get snubbed. A lot has already been written about the historic nature of having multiple women in the Best Director race. But we should note that King, who directed One Night in Miami…, did the best directing job last year (overcoming an unfortunate script.) Not having her in this category is a woeful decision by the Academy. 

Did the Academy members actually watch the The Trial of the Chicago 7 or just read the wiki page and pencil it in?

Aaron Sorkin’s latest, The Trial of the Chicago 7, inexplicably picked up five 2021 Oscar nominations. The thing is, despite the talent involved and the interesting premise, the movie is actually quite bad. Forget Oscar winner, this is made-for-TV kind of stuff here. 

What does Delroy Lindo have to do to get some love?

Delroy Lindo, one of the greatest actors of all time, has never been nominated for an Oscar. Criminal. Da 5 Bloods is a pretty uneven film but Lindro is mesmerizing as a Trump-loving Vietnam vet suffering from PTSD. His absence here is a shame.

Will Glenn Close put her Oscar next to her Razzie?

Glenn Close, who plays Mamaw in the truly horrific Netflix movie Hillbilly Elegy, is the favorite to win an Oscar for her showy performance. Funny enough, she will probably also win a Worst Actress Razzie for her showy performance. This is truly an unparalleled situation. It will be the first time an actor wins the Best Actor Oscar and Worst Performance Razzie award in the same year. In fact, the only movie to win an Oscar and Razzie in the same year was Wall Street,when Michael Douglas won the Best Actor Oscar while Daryl Hannah earned a Worst Supporting Actress Razzie.

Damn, can a feel-good movie with Black people get some love? 

The 40-Year-Old Version was one of the best most charming movies of 2020 and didn’t even get a sniff of an Oscar. The coming-of-age movie Miss Juneteenth, which features an amazing performance from Nicole Beharie, got nada, despite being one of the most critically acclaimed movies of last year. Oscars really need to do a better job of honoring Black movies that don’t end with the FBI killing the protagonist. 

Are documentaries not a picture?

No documentary has ever been nominated for Best Picture, which is crazy because, particularly over the last five years, this genre has dominated. Garrett Bradley’s Time was flat out one of the most devastating pieces of art to release last year. Very few movies will stay with you like Time. If a movie like Time — which got a Best Documentary Feature nomination — can’t get the Best Picture nomination no movie can. 

Is Mank a movie people going to care about in five years?

Despite being directed by one of the masters, David Finch, the movie leading the Oscar race is a tough hang. It’s a move made for a small, niche audience. (Basically for those who romanticize movies before the ’50s.) There is a decent chance that Mank will win Best Picture and be remembered like The Artist, Birdman, The Shape of Water (very stylish movies that are basically unwatchable after the initial viewing.) 

Do the Oscars care nobody is going to watch this thing?

There’s some good movies but not a lot of mainstream films or movies that became pop culture moments (like Black Panther or Get Out). So expect the ratings for this to be low. Very low. An early indication it’s going to be a tough ride is if you look at Golden Globes’ ratings, which tanked.

Maybe Oscars should have given Bad Boys For Life more love.

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