Oscar 2021 Snubs and Surprises: Chloé Zhao, Emerald Fennell, and Steven Yeun Make History

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Movie theaters across the globe shut down this year in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic, but the show must go on. And to that end, the Oscar nominations for the 2021 Oscars were announced this morning, read by actor Priyanka Chopra Jonas and her husband, Nick Jonas.

This year, in an effort to account for the coronavirus delays, the Academy shifted its rules: Any movie released in 2020, or in the first two months of 2021, will be eligible for the 2021 Oscars. Furthermore, any film that was supposed to open in theaters but instead released on a streaming service or via video-on-demand, due the COVID-19 pandemic, is eligible for the 2021 Oscars—which means it’s all but guaranteed to be a big year for the streamers at the Oscars.

Nomadland, Minari, The Trial of the Chicago 7, Promising Young Woman, and Mank were all expected to nab five of the 10 available Best Picture nominations, and so they did, alongside The Father, Judas and the Black Messiah, and The Sound of Metal.

The good news? The Academy finally, finally nominated more than one woman for Best Director, for the first time in the award show’s 93-year history. Furthermore, one of those nominees, Chloé Zhao, made history as the first-ever women of color nominated in the category.

Read on for a breakdown of the 2021 Oscar snubs and surprises, and find the list of 2021 Oscar nominations here.

OSCAR 2021 SNUBS:

Delroy Lindo for Da 5 Bloods: Decider’s Meghan O’Keefe said it best when she called Delroy Lindo’s searing monologue in Spike Lee’s Da 5 Bloods “one for the ages.” Lindo’s raw, unhinged, and heart-wrenching performance has been consistently overlooked this awards season, and that’s a damn shame.

Da 5 Bloods in general: We were hoping for a Best Picture nod for Da 5 Bloods, but sadly, that didn’t happen.

Mank for Best Original Screenplay: Netflix no doubt expected to score big at the Oscars with Mank, David Fincher’s black-and-white biopic about the Citizen Kane screenwriter, Herman Mankiewicz. But the film was snubbed on its very subject: Screenwriting. (It did land Best Picture, Actor, and Director nominations, though.)

Aaron Sorkin for Best Director: While The Trial of the Chicago 7 nabbed plenty of nominations, many expected West Wing creator Aaron Sorkin to come away with a Best Director nod. But no dice.

One Night in Miami for Best Picture: Many had hoped that Regina King’s film about the historic meeting between Malcolm X, Muhammad Ali, Sam Cooke, and Jim Brown would nab a Best Picture nod, but the Academy sadly overlooked it.

First Cow for anything: It was a long shot to hope that the Academy would acknowledge Kelly Reichardt’s wonderful film about survival and friendship, but I had hoped for at least a Best Adapted Screenplay nod.

The Assistant for anything: Ditto for Kitty Green’s indie about abuse in the workplace, The Assistant. It was unlikely to get recognition from the Academy, but deserved it nonetheless!

OSCAR 2021 SURPRISES:

Steven Yeun for MinariThe most welcome surprise of the night was Steven Yeun’s Best Actor nomination for Minari—incredibly well deserved, but it wasn’t a guarantee. Sometimes the Academy gets things right! This makes Yeun the first-ever Asian-American nominated in the category.

Chloé Zhao and Emerald Fennell for Best Director: Neither of these nominations is too surprising on their own, given how great Nomadland and Promising Young Woman both are. But the Academy made history by nominating two women in the Director category for the first time ever.

Borat 2 for Best Adapted Screenplay: Sacha Baron Cohen made out big at the Oscars this year, with nominations both for his comedy prank film, and for his role in The Trial of the Chicago 7.

Lakeith Stanfield and Daniel Kaluuya for Judas and the Black Messiah: Both Kaluuya and Stanfield were nominated in the supporting actor category, and while both absolutely deserve the nod, most were expecting only Kaluuya to get it.

My Octopus Teacher for Best Documentary Feature: This Netflix documentary about a man who befriends an octopus was a buzzy word-of-mouth watch earlier this year, but most didn’t expect it to get recognized by the Oscars.

The White Tiger for Best Adapted Screenplay: It was fun to see Chopra Jones (who is in The White Tiger) express her genuine surprise and delight while reading off this nomination.

Where to watch Minari

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