Oscar Nominations 2021
The effects of the coronavirus pandemic continue to ripple across the entertainment industry. With movie releases delayed or indefinitely postponed due to Covid-19, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences extended the deadlines for qualifying films and pushed back the Academy Awards ceremony to April 25th. Given the diminished field of eligible films, more than ever a smaller number of movies are competing for the Oscars. Here are links to our reviews for the major contenders.
The Father sees the curmudgeonly Anthony (played by Sir Anthony Hopkins) fight a devastating battle with dementia while his daughter Anne (Olivia Coleman) struggles to get him the care he needs. As with every film on this list, this production is up for multiple awards, namely Best Picture, Actor in a Leading Role, Actress in a Supporting Role, Adapted Screenplay, Film Editing, and Production Design. Rated PG-13, Grade: B
In Judas and the Black Messiah,an incredible cast tells the story of the local leader of the Black Panthers as he is targeted by J. Edgar Hoover and the FBI, who claim he is a threat to national security. The FBI has a secret weapon: a young black man with a criminal record who has to choose between infiltrating and betraying the Panthers or going to prison. Judas and the Black Messiah has been nominated for Best Picture, two nominations for Best Actor in a Supporting Role, Cinematography, Original Screenplay, and Original Song. Rated R, Grade: C
Orson Welles’ 1941 masterpiece, Citizen Kane, had a somewhat fraught production, due in no small part to screenwriter Herman Mankiewicz - Mank to his friends. His heavy drinking and irresponsible social behavior are more than a match for Welles’ attempts to manage him. Filmed in black and white, the story of Mank’s career is nominated for Best Picture, Actor in a Leading Role, Actress in a Supporting Role, Director, Cinematography, Original Score, Sound Design, Makeup and Hairstyling, and Best Production Design. Rated R, Grade: B-
Minari follows a Korean couple who immigrate from Korea to California, and then move from California to Arkansas, all in search of a better life for themselves and their children. Although the task is difficult, the family might just be capable of making their dreams come true. Minari is nominated for Best Picture, Actor in a Leading Role, Actress in a Supporting Role, Director, Original Screenplay, and Best Original Score. Rated PG-13, Grade: A
Nomadland tells the story of Fern (Frances McDormand), a woman who has lost just about everything in after the factory at which she worked closed down. As she struggles in the aftermath of the 2008 financial crisis, Fern takes her van across the country, looking for work and a new lease on life. Nomadland is nominated for Best Picture, Actress in a Leading Role, Director, Cinematography, Adapted Screenplay, and Film Editing. Rated R, Grade: A-
In Promising Young Woman, Cassie (Carey Mulligan) decides that she’s had enough, and targets men who try to pick up vulnerable women for sex. Her plans seem to be working… but complications set in when she finds a man who seems different. And the complications don’t stop there. Promising Young Woman is nominated for Best Picture, Actress in a Leading Role, Directing, Original Screenplay, and Film Editing. Rated R, Grade: C
Riz Ahmed played Ruben Stone, a skilled drummer with an up-and-coming metal band in Sound of Metal. But although he enjoys the work and the schedule that comes with it, he soon finds it may be impossible to continue: he’s going deaf. Sound of Metal is nominated for Best Picture, Actor in a Leading Role, Actor in a Supporting Role, Original Screenplay, Film Editing, and Sound Design. Rated R, Grade: B
The Trial of the Chicago Seven features an all-star cast under the guidance of veteran director and screenwriter Aaron Sorkin, and explores the 1969 trial of eight (then seven) men accused of inciting violence in the course of their participation in the mass demonstrations outside the Democratic National Convention in Chicago the year prior. This film has been nominated for Best Picture, Actor in a Supporting Role, Cinematography, Original Screenplay, Film Editing, and Best Original Song. Rated R, Grade: B
There is also some stiff competition for the nominees in the Best Animated Feature Film category. Disney-Pixar hits like Onward (PG, Grade: A) and Soul (PG, Grade: A) will be hard to beat but they don’t have a lock on the Oscar. Our reviewer was particularly partial to Over the Moon (PG, Grade: A), a Chinese/American production which sees a young girl build a rocket to find the Moon Goddess Chang’e. Aardman Animations, known best for their Wallace and Gromit series and other Claymation films, is also in the running with A Shaun the Sheep Movie: Farmageddon (G, no review). The competition is rounded out with the highly artistic and stylized film Wolfwalkers (PG, Grade: A), which is set in 17th century Ireland and pits authoritarian English authorities against a group of magical locals with the ability to turn themselves into wolves.