Trophy Talk

The Biggest Snubs, Surprises, And Milestones of the 2021 Oscar Nominations

Sound of Metal scores string of surprise nominations, LaKeith Stanfield enters the race, the Academy nominates the most diverse acting field, ever... And Eurovision becomes an Oscar nominee!?

by and | March 15, 2021 | Comments

Sound of Metal

(Photo by © Amazon Studios)

So much history was made at this Monday’s nominations announcement for the 93rd Academy Awards that it was frankly hard to keep up.

Some nine actors of color were nominated – the most diverse field in Oscars history – and within their categories further milestones were crossed: First Korean acting nominee, first Muslim Best Actor nominee, first Asian-American Best Actor nominee, and more. In other categories, we saw the first time ever that more than one woman was nominated for Best Director (repeat after us: about time), as well as a major breakthrough in the Best Picture category, too. It seems the Academy’s efforts at diversifying its membership – and in turn, its honorees – are paying off.

Along with milestones came the usual shocks – both surprise nominees and surprise snubs. There were the baffling (what does Delroy Lindo have to do?!), the ones we never saw coming (LaKeith Stanfield enters the race!), the truly disappointing (we were rooting for you, Regina King!), and the delightful (Eurovision is officially an Oscar nominee).

And we’re certain there are many more than what we’ve captured below. Which is what our comments sections are for. Head down there and let us know your biggest shocks and surprises from this morning’s nominations as well as the milestones that you felt were the most noteworthy.

The 93rd Academy Awards air live April 25, 2021, 8pm EDT / 5pm PDT, on ABC.

SURPRISE: LaKeith Stanfield Joins Judas Co-Star Daniel Kaluuya In Best Supporting Actor Race

LaKeith Stanfield and Daniel Kaluuya in Judas and the Black Messiah

(Photo by © Warner Bros.)

Everyone knew that Daniel Kaluuya’s name was going to be read out on Monday morning – his portrayal of Black Panther Chicago Chapter chairman Fred Hampton in Judas and the Black Messiah is the hot favorite to take out Best Supporting Actor next month. But few pundits thought his co-star, LaKeith Stanfield, who plays police informant William O’Neal in the film, would also be nominated. The double nomination marks just the 11th time in Oscars history that two people from the same film have been nominated in the category.

SNUB: One Night In Miami Falls Short, Director Regina King Misses Out

One Night In Miami

(Photo by Patti Perret/Amazon Studios)

The One Night In Miami team had reason to celebrate Monday morning, with three nominations: Best Supporting Actor for Leslie Odom Jr., Best Adapted Screenplay, and Best Song. But many thought the Amazon Studios film was going to make a far deeper dent in the nominations. The movie – a multiple Golden Tomato Award winner, by the way – was expected to be in the Best Picture mix, and director Regina King (making her feature directing debut) was a favorite to join the Best Directors nominations. Alas, for King, a surprise nominee squeezed her out of contention…

SURPRISE: Thomas Vinterberg Enters the Best Director Race with Another Round

Another Round

(Photo by © Samuel Goldwyn Films /Courtesy Everett Collection)

To the surprise and delight of many, Danish director Thomas Vinterberg scored a Best Director nomination for his dark comedy, Another Round. (The one with that Mads Mikkelsen scene.) The film – hailed as an audacious and provocative look at masculinity and midlife angst – has been a favorite among critics for months, and a frontrunner for Best International Feature, but Vinterberg (perhaps best known for The Hunt, also starring Mikkelsen) was never considered a strong contender in the directing category. His nomination squeezed out hopefuls like Regina King, Aaron Sorkin, and Spike Lee.

MILESTONE: Two Women Nominated For Best Director For the First Time Ever – Plus More History Made


(Photo by Joshua James Richards/©Searchlight Pictures)

File this one under: “What? Really? The First Time?” While some were hopeful that nominations for Best Director for Chloé Zhao, Emerald Fennell, and Regina King would bring us a female-dominated list of nominees for the first time, King’s loss did not stop history being made. Zhao’s nomination for Nomadland and Fennell’s for Promising Young Woman marks the first time that two women have been nominated in the category in the same year. Want more history? Fennell’s nomination represents the first time a woman has been nominated for Best Director for her debut feature. Their nominations bring the total number of women ever nominated for Best Director to seven. Yes: seven. In 93 years.

MILESTONE: Landmark Day for Asian and Asian-American Directors and Actors


(Photo by David Bornfriend / © A24 / Courtesy Everett Collection)

Nominations morning also saw two milestones passed for Asian creatives: Lee Isaac Chung (Minari) and Chloé Zhao’s (Nomadland) nominations for Best Director marked the first time that two Asian filmmakers had been nominated in the category in the same year; meanwhile, Steven Yeun became the first Asian-American actor nominated for Best Actor, while Riz Ahmed became the first person of Pakistani descent and the first Muslim to be nominated in the category.

SNUB: Golden Globe Winner Jodie Foster Misses Out on Supporting Nom (Glenn Close Swoops In)

When Jodie Foster took out the Best Supporting Actress award at this month’s Golden Globe Awards for The Mauritanian, many thought the veteran and two-time Oscar winner would ride that momentum to an Academy Award nomination in the category. But it was not to be. Instead, two other nominees squeezed her out. First up, Glenn Close, whose work in Hillbilly Elegy earned, shall we say, mixed reviews, was not exactly a shock – but many just refused to believe the Academy would go there. (Believe it… she might even win.) Secondly, the maker of our next milestone…

MILESTONE: Minari Star Youn Yuh-jung Becomes First Korean Actor Nominated for An Oscar


(Photo by © A24 / Courtesy Everett Collection)

Many were hopeful and even betting that Youn Yuh-jung, who plays an eccentric grandmother in Lee Isaac Chung’s moving family drama, Minari, would earn a nomination for Best Supporting Actress. But leading into Monday morning’s nominations announcement, it began to look more like a “maybe” than a shoo-in with Foster and others gaining momentum. When the actress was named among the five nominees for Best Supporting Actress, it made her just the first ever Korean actor to be nominated for an Academy Award. (And yes, we also think it’s crazy that none of the Parasite cast was nominated last year.)

SURPRISE: Sound Of Metal Makes Noise With Noms for Riz Ahmed, Paul Raci, and Best Picture

Sound of Metal

(Photo by © Amazon Studios)

Sound of Metal, about a metal musician struggling to adjust to a new reality when his hearing is severely impaired, has been a critical darling since it premiered – back in 2019! – at the Toronto Film Festival. And while many were hopeful for a smattering of nominations Monday morning – Paul Raci looked like the movie’s best chance at the big awards, for Best Supporting Actor – few expected the film to earn a total of six noms, equaling the likes of Nomadland and Promising Young Woman. Raci did get his nomination, along with Riz Ahmed for Best Actor; the movie was also nominated for Best Picture, Best Original Screenplay, Best Film Editing, and Best Sound.

MILESTONE: Judas and the Black Messiah Is First Best Picture Nominee with an All-Black Producing Team

Judas and the Black Messiah

(Photo by Glen Wilson /© Warner Bros.)

The Oscar for Best Picture goes to the producers of the winning film, and the nomination of Judas and the Black Messiah for Best Picture made history this morning thanks to the makeup of its producing team. It is the first Best Picture nominee in the awards’ 93-year history with an all-Black team of producers: Shaka King (also the film’s director), Ryan Coogler, and Charles D. King.

SNUB: Da 5 Bloods Misses Out on Nominations for Chadwick Boseman and Delroy Lindo

Delroy Lindo - Da 5 Bloods - LEAD

The late Chadwick Boseman was poised to potentially make history Monday morning, with two posthumous nominations: one for lead actor for his work in Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom, one for supporting for Da 5 Bloods. However, Bloods only managed one nomination – for Best Score. Boseman wasn’t the only big snub for the Certified Fresh picture about a group of Black veterans returning to Vietnam in their older age: director Spike Lee missed out on a nomination, as did Delroy Lindo, who had been seen as a likely contender for Best Actor earlier in the year but who had lost some momentum in recent months.

(DELIGHTFUL) SURPRISE: Eurovision Song Contest: The Story of Fire Saga Is An Oscar Nominee

Just like Lars and Sigrit’s journey to the Eurovision concert stage, the film Eurovision‘s journey to the Oscars stage was an unlikely one. But there was always a contingent of vocal fans who were telling the world all along that the film’s songs were… ahem, fire, and that “Husavik” deserved a nomination for Best Song. As the movie preaches, dreams sometimes do come true, with “Husavik” beating out the likes of “Never Break” (from Giving Voice) and “Make It Work” (Jingle Jangle) for an Oscar nomination – and the stage set for a (potential) performance from an in-character Will Ferrell and Rachel McAdams come Oscars night. (Remember: Dreams can come true.)

The 93rd Academy Awards air live April 25, 2021, 8pm EDT / 5pm PDT, on ABC.

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