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The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences managed not to embarrass itself this year

‘Judas and the Black Messiah,’ ‘Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom’ and ‘One Night in Miami’ all get multiple Oscar nominations

They’re not happening until April 25 this year — thanks, COVID-19 — but the Academy Awards have returned to some measure of homeostasis. They’re back to snubbing Spike Lee, but they’re not embarrassing themselves the way they did in the alabaster cringefest era of #OscarsSoWhite.

While industry paean Mank led the nominations with 10, Judas and the Black Messiah (6) and Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom (5) also received well-deserved plaudits, including a best actor nod for the late Chadwick Boseman, a best actress nomination for Viola Davis and supporting actor nominations for LaKeith Stanfield and Daniel Kaluuya. Judas also scored nods for best picture and best original screenplay, though, in a puzzling turn, its director, Shaka King, did not get a nomination for directing. Nomadland director Chloé Zhao became the first woman of color in the 93-year history of the Oscars to receive a nomination for best director.

Other bright spots: Leslie Odom Jr., the beating heart of One Night in Miami, was recognized for his work playing Sam Cooke. Garrett Bradley, director of Time and the first woman to win the U.S. documentary prize at Sundance, earned a nomination for her deep dive into one family’s yearslong experiences with mass incarceration. Playwright and screenwriter Kemp Powers scored a nomination for One Night in Miami, which was adapted from his play of the same name.

There was at least one major disappointment. Delroy Lindo’s magnificent performance as a tortured, MAGA hat-sporting Vietnam veteran losing himself and his grip on reality went unrecognized, as did most of the work that made Da 5 Bloods great. At least Terence Blanchard, Lee’s longtime collaborator, notched a nomination for his score for the film.

Netflix’s domination this year (the studio behind Mank, Ma Rainey and The Trial of the Chicago 7 racked up 35 nominations) still leaves something to be desired. Da 5 Bloods, which aired on Netflix, is one of Lee’s best films in a prolific career, yet neither he nor the film seemed to receive the level of studio support given to his contemporary and friend, Martin Scorsese and The Irishman. Last year, The Irishman racked up 10 Oscar nominations, including for best picture and best director. It was the streamer’s costliest film production ($175 million). Meanwhile, Lee got a fraction of that budget ($45 million) to make Da 5 Bloods, which sits alongside Do the Right Thing and Malcolm X as Lee’s best work. Nevertheless, Lee made magic — the recreated stone My Son temples where the film’s big gunfight takes place were constructed from wood and Styrofoam. And without the budget for de-aging technology that was afforded to Scorsese, Lee relied on changing aspect ratios and a corps of experienced actors to delineate between war-era and modern-day Saigon.

The result was an improvement over the distracting and gimmicky effects work of The Irishman, a way of merging the strengths of film and theater. (And while it does not fall into the category of traditional Oscar bait, I would have liked to see some appreciation for the romance, rigor and beauty of Radha Blank’s The Forty-Year-Old Version, another Netflix film about the frustrations and triumphs of the creative process.)

Here are the 2021 Oscar nominations:

Best Picture

The Father: Producers – David Parfitt, Jean-Louis Livi and Philippe Carcassonne

Judas and the Black Messiah: Producers – Shaka King, Charles D. King and Ryan Coogler

Mank: Producers– Ceán Chaffin, Eric Roth and Douglas Urbanski

Minari: Producer – Christina Oh

Nomadland: Producers – Frances McDormand, Peter Spears, Mollye Asher, Dan Janvey and Chloé Zhao

Promising Young Woman: Producers – Ben Browning, Ashley Fox, Emerald Fennell and Josey McNamara

Sound of Metal: Producers – Bert Hamelinck and Sacha Ben Harroche

The Trial of the Chicago 7: Producers – Marc Platt and Stuart Besser

Actor in a Leading Role

The late Chadwick Boseman was nominated for an Oscar for best actor in a leading role for Levee in Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom.

David Lee/Netflix

Riz Ahmed in Sound of Metal

Chadwick Boseman in Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom

Anthony Hopkins in The Father

Gary Oldman in Mank

Steven Yeun in Minari

Actor in a Supporting Role

Sacha Baron Cohen in The Trial of the Chicago 7

Daniel Kaluuya in Judas and the Black Messiah

Leslie Odom Jr. in One Night in Miami

Paul Raci in Sound of Metal

LaKeith Stanfield in Judas and the Black Messiah

Actress in a Leading Role

Andra Day (left) in a scene from The United States vs. Billie Holiday. Day is nominated for best actress in a leading role for her portrayal.

Viola Davis in Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom

Andra Day in The United States vs. Billie Holiday

Vanessa Kirby in Pieces of a Woman

Frances McDormand in Nomadland

Carey Mulligan in Promising Young Woman

Actress in a Supporting Role

Maria Bakalova in Borat Subsequent Moviefilm

Glenn Close in Hillbilly Elegy

Olivia Colman in The Father

Amanda Seyfried in Mank

Youn Yuh-jung in Minari

Animated Feature Film

Disney Pixar’s Soul was nominated for an Oscar for best animated feature film.


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


Judas and the Black Messiah: Sean Bobbitt

Mank: Erik Messerschmidt

News of the World: Dariusz Wolski

Nomadland: Joshua James Richards

The Trial of the Chicago 7: Phedon Papamichael

Costume Design

Emma: Alexandra Byrne

Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom: Ann Roth

Mank: Trish Summerville

Mulan: Bina Daigeler

Pinocchio: Massimo Cantini Parrini


Chloé Zhao attends the drive-in premiere of Nomadland on Sept. 11 2020, in Pasadena, California. Zhao became the first woman of color in the 93-year history of the Oscars to receive a nomination for best director.

Amy Sussman/Getty Images

Another Round: Thomas Vinterberg

Mank: David Fincher

Minari: Lee Isaac Chung

Nomadland: Chloé Zhao

Promising Young Woman: Emerald Fennell

Documentary (Feature)

Collective: Alexander Nanau and Bianca Oana

Crip Camp: Nicole Newnham, James 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

Documentary (Short Subject)

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

Film Editing

The Father: Yorgos Lamprinos

Nomadland: Chloé Zhao

Promising Young Woman: Frédéric Thoraval

Sound of Metal: Mikkel E.G. Nielsen

The Trial of the Chicago 7: Alan Baumgarten

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

Makeup and Hairstyling

Emma: Marese Langan, Laura Allen and Claudia Stolze

Hillbilly Elegy: Eryn Krueger Mekash, Matthew Mungle and Patricia Dehaney

Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom: Sergio Lopez-Rivera, Mia Neal and Jamika Wilson

Mank: Gigi Williams, Kimberley Spiteri and Colleen LaBaff

Pinocchio: Mark Coulier, Dalia Colli and Francesco Pegoretti

Music (Original Score)

Da 5 Bloods: Terence Blanchard

Mank: Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross

Minari: Emile Mosseri

News of the World: James Newton Howard

Soul: Trent Reznor, Atticus Ross and Jon Batiste

Music (Original Song)

“Fight For You” from Judas and the Black Messiah

Music by H.E.R. and Dernst Emile II; Lyric by H.E.R. and Tiara Thomas

“Hear My Voice” from The Trial of the Chicago 7

Music by Daniel Pemberton; Lyric by Daniel Pemberton and Celeste Waite

“Husavik” from Eurovision Song Contest: The Story of Fire Saga

Music and Lyric by Savan Kotecha, Fat Max Gsus and Rickard Göransson

“Io Sì (Seen)” from The Life Ahead (La Vita Davanti A Se)

Music by Diane Warren; Lyric by Diane Warren and Laura Pausini

“Speak Now” from One Night In Miami

Music and Lyric by Leslie Odom Jr. and Sam Ashworth

Production Design

The Father: Production Design: Peter Francis; Set Decoration: Cathy Featherstone

Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom: Production Design: Mark Ricker; Set Decoration: Karen O’Hara and Diana Stoughton

Mank: Production Design: Donald Graham Burt; Set Decoration: Jan Pascale

News of the World: Production Design: David Crank; Set Decoration: Elizabeth Keenan

Tenet: Production Design: Nathan Crowley; Set Decoration: Kathy Lucas

Short Film (Animated)

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

Short Film (Live Action)

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


Greyhound: Warren Shaw, Michael Minkler, Beau Borders and David Wyman

Mank: Ren Klyce, Jeremy Molod, David Parker, Nathan Nance and Drew Kunin

News of the World: Oliver Tarney, Mike Prestwood Smith, William Miller and John Pritchett

Soul: Ren Klyce, Coya Elliott and David Parker

Sound of Metal: Nicolas Becker, Jaime Baksht, Michelle Couttolenc, Carlos Cortés Navarrete and Phillip Bladh

Visual Effects

Love and Monsters: Matt Sloan, Genevieve Camilleri, Matt Everitt and Brian Cox

The Midnight Sky: Matthew Kasmir, Christopher Lawrence, Max Solomon and David Watkins

Mulan: Sean Faden, Anders Langlands, Seth Maury and Steve Ingram

The One and Only Ivan: Nick Davis, Greg Fisher, Ben Jones and Santiago Colomo

Tenet: Andrew Jackson, David Lee, Andrew Lockley and Scott Fisher

Writing (Adapted Screenplay)

Borat Subsequent Moviefilm: Screenplay by Sacha Baron Cohen, Anthony Hines, Dan Swimer, Peter Baynham, Erica Rivinoja, Dan Mazer, Jena Friedman and Lee Kern; Story by Sacha Baron Cohen, Anthony Hines, Dan Swimer and Nina Pedrad

The Father: Screenplay by Christopher Hampton and Florian Zeller

Nomadland: Written for the screen by Chloé Zhao

One Night In Miami: Screenplay by Kemp Powers

The White Tiger: Written for the screen by Ramin Bahrani

Writing (Original Screenplay)

Judas and the Black Messiah: Screenplay by Will Berson and Shaka King; Story by Will Berson, Shaka King, Kenny and Keith Lucas

Minari: Written by Lee Isaac Chung

Promising Young Woman: Written by Emerald Fennell

Sound of Metal: Screenplay by Darius and Abraham Marder; Story by Darius Marder and Derek Cianfrance

The Trial of the Chicago 7: Written by Aaron Sorkin

Soraya Nadia McDonald is the senior culture critic for Andscape. She writes about pop culture, fashion, the arts and literature. She is the 2020 winner of the George Jean Nathan prize for dramatic criticism, a 2020 finalist for the Pulitzer Prize in criticism and the runner-up for the 2019 Vernon Jarrett Medal for outstanding reporting on Black life.