Random Thoughts: On the 2021 Oscar Nominations


I think it’s safe to say 2020 was a year none of us will forget. Like everything else, the craziness of the year was reflected in the movie industry. So many movies were postponed, pushed to streaming, or halted altogether. But 2020 still gave us some great flicks and Oscar time is here to celebrate them. Quite a bit later than normal but hey, it has been a crazy time. This morning the Academy announced this year’s batch of nominations. One thing that hasn’t changed, they have given us things to applaud, things to gripe about, and some things that leave us scratching our heads. Here are a few random thoughts.

  • “Mank” led the way this morning with 10 nominations yet it kinda feels like it could be one of those “The Color Purple” scenarios. I loved “Mank” and hope it wins some statues. But the stars don’t feel aligned.
  • On the other hand “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom” didn’t fair quite as well. It did grab major awards for Viola Davis and Chadwick Boseman. But nothing for Best Picture. I’m not upset. “Ma Rainey” is a good movie but not a great one.
  • Speaking of Boseman, he’s a shoo-in to win Best Actor. He’s good in “Ma Rainey” and gets a couple of huge attention-getting scenes. And of course there is the sad factor of his passing. I so wish Anthony Hopkins would win. He gives not only the best performance of 2020, but one of the best of the decade.
  • The Best Picture category is pretty solid. I could do without “Judas and the Black Messiah” and “The Trial of the Chicago 7”, but happy for everything else.
  • Let me go ahead and get this out of the way. “Borat Subsequent Moviefilm”? Really? It getting a screenplay nomination is baffling. It’s a considerably lesser movie than its predecessor. So is the Academy awarding Sasha Baron Cohen’s outspoken political takes instead?
  • And Maria Bakalova. Very good in “Borat”, but an Oscar nominee? Is this simply a sentimental favorite or another sign that 2020 was one surreal and wacky year?
  • As for that Supporting Actress category, lots of gnashing of teeth over Glenn Close’s nomination for “Hillbilly Elegy”. Look I agree, the movie wasn’t great but Close was. And she’s also nominated for a Razzie? Sure, okay.
  • I was happy for Youn Yuh-jung and Amanda Seyfried. Both deserve to be there.
  • No Supporting Actor nod for Bill Murray. Not enough people seem to appreciate Sofia Coppola’s delightful “On the Rocks”. What a shame.
  • Yet both Daniel Kaluuya and Lakeith Stanfield get Supporting Actor nominations for “Judas and the Black Messiah”, a decent but uneven movie. And shouldn’t Stanfield be in the Lead Actor category?
  • Only Visual Effects and Production Design for “Tenet”? I mean I wasn’t expecting Best Picture (even though it belongs there) but not even Best Original Song for “The Plan”?
  • No “Dick Johnson is Dead” in the documentary category? Really? It had won numerous awards coming in but gets the cold shoulder from the Academy.
  • It was a pretty quiet morning for “Da 5 Bloods”. It makes sense. Pretty good movie but far from Spike Lee’s best work.
  • No Mads Mikkelsen for Best Actor. I knew it was a longshot but I was hoping the Academy would do the right thing. But no one else has so I’m not surprised.
  • But speaking of “Another Round”, it does get nominated for Best International Film. And with “Minari” competing as an American movie maybe this Danish gem will get a much deserved win.
  • And Thomas Vinterberg for Best Director? I love it! But couldn’t they have slipped “Another Round” into the Best Picture race. After all there were only eight nominees.
  • I am assuming Vinterberg took Aaron Sorkin’s spot? If so, Bravo! “The Trial of the Chicago 7” was a good movie but hardly great. Or did he take Regina King’s spot? I really liked King’s work but I still prefer Vinterberg.
  • Steven Yeun becomes the first Asian American to be nominated for Best Actor. That’s a sad, hard to believe fact. But if anyone deserves it Yeun does. What a great performance in a truly great film (“Minari”).
  • Speaking of “Minari”, I love that film so much and hats off to the Academy for handing it six nominations including Best Picture. Well deserved.
  • Isn’t it great that “Minari” was nominated for Best Original Score? I was starting to worry it would go largely unnoticed this awards season. It’s soooo good. Well done Academy voters.
  • Wonderful to see “The Father” with six nominations. It truly was one of the very best films of 2020. Not only was Hopkins nominated but also the wonderful Olivia Coleman for Supporting Actress. I would love to hear her name announced on Awards night.
  • Another big year for Netflix. This morning they broke their own record getting a total of 35 nominations.
  • Nothing for Dick Poop?
  • Happy to see “The Midnight Sky” nominated for Best Visual Effects. One of the more underrated movies of 2020.
  • “Nomadland” is still considered the Best Picture and for good reason. Nominations also for Chloe Zhao for directing and Adapted Screenplay and Frances McDormand for Best Actress.
  • As for Best Actress, that’s a pretty stacked category. I actually think McDormand should win but I would smile big for either Mulligan or Kirby.
  • Also happy for “Sound of Metal” and its six nominations including Best Picture, Original Screenplay, Best Actor (Riz Ahmed), and Best Supporting Actor (Paul Raci). What a journey it has been for this moving indie.
  • What a ride it has been for Emerald Fennell. Her feature film debut “Promising Young Woman” grabs five nominations including Best Picture. She herself is nominated for Best Director and Best Original Screenplay. Gotta be happy for her.
  • Quite a showing for “News of the World”. I’d be surprised if it wins anything but it’s a very good movie and worth a few mentions.
  • And what a morning for Leslie Odom, Jr. He becomes the third person to be nominated for both acting and songwriting (“One Night in Miami…”). Well done sir.
  • About Best Original Song, laugh at me but I’m rooting for “Husavik (My Hometown)”.

Those are a few random thoughts. What did you think of the Academy’s picks? Let me know in the comments section below. And in case you missed it, here is the full list of this year’s nominees.

Best Picture

“The Father”

“Judas and the Black Messiah”




“Promising Young Woman”

“Sound of Metal”

“The Trial of the Chicago 7”

Best Director

Thomas Vinterberg (“Another Round”)

David Fincher (“Mank”) 

Lee Isaac Chung (“Minari”) 

Emerald Fennell (“Promising Young Woman”) 

Chloé Zhao (“Nomadland”) 

Best Actor in a Leading Role

Riz Ahmed (“Sound of Metal”) 

Chadwick Boseman (“Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom”) 

Anthony Hopkins (“The Father”) 

Gary Oldman (“Mank”) 

Steven Yeun (“Minari”) 

Best Actress in a Leading Role

Viola Davis (“Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom”) 

Andra Day (“The United States v. Billie Holiday”) 

Vanessa Kirby (“Pieces of a Woman”) 

Frances McDormand (“Nomadland”) 

Carey Mulligan (“Promising Young Woman”) 

Best Actor in a Supporting Role

Sacha Baron Cohen (“The Trial of the Chicago 7”) 

Daniel Kaluuya (“Judas and the Black Messiah”) 

Leslie Odom Jr. (“One Night in Miami…”) 

Paul Raci (“Sound of Metal”) 

Lakeith Stanfield (“Judas and the Black Messiah”)

Best Actress in a Supporting Role

Maria Bakalova (“Borat Subsequent Moviefilm”) 

Glenn Close (“Hillbilly Elegy”) 

Olivia Colman (“The Father”) 

Amanda Seyfried (“Mank”) 

Yuh-jung Youn (“Minari”) 

Best Animated Feature Film


“Over the Moon” 

“A Shaun the Sheep Movie: Farmageddon



Best Adapted Screenplay

“Borat Subsequent Moviefilm” 

“The Father”


“One Night in Miami…”

“The White Tiger”

Best Original Screenplay

“Judas and the Black Messiah”


“Promising Young Woman”

“Sound of Metal”

“The Trial of the Chicago”

Best Original Song

“Fight for You” (“Judas and the Black Messiah”)

“Hear My Voice” (“The Trial of the Chicago 7”)

Húsavík” (“Eurovision Song Contest”)

“Io Si (Seen)” (“The Life Ahead”)

“Speak Now” (“One Night in Miami…”)

Best Original Score

“Da 5 Bloods” 



“News of the World”


Best Sound



“News of the World”


“Sound of Metal”

Best Costume Design



“Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom”



Best Animated Short Film


“Genius Loci” 

“If Anything Happens I Love You”



Best Live-Action Short Film

“Feeling Through” 

“The Letter Room” 

“The Present” 

“Two Distant Strangers” 

“White Eye” 

Best Cinematography

“Judas and the Black Messiah”


“News of the World”


“The Trial of the Chicago 7”

Best Documentary Feature


“Crip Camp”

“The Mole Agent”

“My Octopus Teacher”


Best Documentary Short Subject


“A Concerto Is a Conversation”

“Do Not Split”

“Hunger Ward”

“A Love Song for Latasha”

Best Film Editing

“The Father”


“Promising Young Woman”

“Sound of Metal”

“The Trial of the Chicago 7”

Best International Feature Film

“Another Round” (Denmark) 

“Better Days” (Hong Kong)

“Collective” (Romania) 

“The Man Who Sold His Skin” (Tunisia)

“Quo Vadis, Aida?”(Bosnia and Herzegovina) 

Best Makeup and Hairstyling


“Hillbilly Elegy”

“Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom”



Best Production Design

“The Father”

“Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom”


“News of the World” 


Best Visual Effects

“Love and Monsters 

“The Midnight Sky”


“The One and Only Ivan”


21 thoughts on “Random Thoughts: On the 2021 Oscar Nominations

  1. I’m afraid that for the first time ever, I can’t generate any enthusiasm for the Awards or the films. Everything feels like TV. I’m sure some of these nominees are wonderful, but I will literally be catching up with most of them rather than reliving them. And I will be doing that mostly out of a sense of obligation. Mank left me cold and it’s the leading film? This last year was just depressing for films.

  2. The only thing that I was really paying attention to this year was Best Song 😂 If ‘Husavik’ wins I will be one happy bunny.

    Now excuse me, I must pay a tribute to the elves…

  3. I agree with Mank going home empty handed (and poor Fincher will probably take a shot every time) but I will not stand for this Maria talk! I’m so glad she got this Oscar nomination lol. She legitimately made me laugh harder than just about anyone else this year and she got sexually harassed by a ghoul for the name of cinema.

    I’m bummed about Mads too, I was hoping he would be the surprise. Another Round deserves a straight up Best Picture nomination, IMO

    I can’t help but root for the Eurovision song too, it’s so great, but I do love Speak Now and the way Leslie performs it in the film.

    I wish The Father had a VOD release. It’s ridiculous it doesn’t. Hopefully my theater holds on to it long enough for me to get vaccinated.

    • The nonsense with The Father is baffling to me. Here we are mid-March and there are still people trying to see a movie that is strangely categorized as a 2020 movie! I dunno. Hopefully you can see it soon. It’s sooo good.

  4. Great recap Keith!

    I gotta say that I am not enthusiastic about ANY of the nominees in any category.

    The only film I haven’t yet seen is The Father which is killing me cause Ive heard that its so amazing. 😦

    I think that Chicago 7 is the best of this crop, but that still doesn’t even scratch the surface of helping to make this year a powerful one for film.

    For me the biggest shock was that Rosamund Pike was overlooked for her Globe winning performance in I Care A Lot.

    As I have for over 35 years, I’m gonna watch the Oscars this year, but I feel that I have very little invested in it since 2020 was really a so so year for films.

    • Thanks for sharing! I am a really big fan of Minari and just seeing it recognized with nominations warms my heart. Hopefully it will win some as well.

  5. This year’s Oscars is one of the biggest jokes I’ve seen or heard. I can’t be bothered to watch any, let alone review them, even if they PAID me. The most political they’re been too and the quality of films and nominations…Covid or not, there must be some level of sense. It’s pretty shocking and amazing that Konchalovsky’s Dear Comrades! was not nominated as Best Foreign Film. Politics probably, and can’t imagine the majority of the films selected better.

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