The Oscar nominations are in – this would normally be a very strange thing to say at the end of March, as by then, the awards themselves are usually done and dusted. And still, 2021 is certainly no ordinary year, and the Academy Awards ceremony will be held on 26 April. A few facts about the nominations:
1. Record for women nominations
This edition of the Academy Awards does come with a very positive record, as it set a record: 70 women have been nominated for a total of 76 awards, showing that there has been considerable progress when it comes to gender equality in the industry. Also, 2 out of 5 of this year’s Best Director prize are women, which is likewise a record – with both Chloé Zhao and Emerald Fennell in the running.
2. A continued lack of diversity – US/UK clean sweep
The 2021 edition has seen some praise for its diversity and inclusion, but to be honest, I fail to see it. Among the 8 Best Picture nominees, 6 are US films, and 2 are British. The Best Actor category sees 3 British and 2 American nominees, whereas the Best Actress category sees 3 American and 2 British nominees. The Best Director category does showcase more diversity, with 2 American, 1 British, 1 Chinese and 1 Danish nominees, but on the whole, the major awards still have an American/British clean sweep. Names that could have made this a much more diverse affair are missing, such as Another Round (Denmark) and Quo vadis, Aida? (Bosnia) in the Best Film category, Mads Mikkelsen (Denmark), Adarsh Gourav (India) and Tahar Rahim (France) in the Best Actor category, Wunmi Mosaku (Nigeria) in the Best Actress category and Jasmila Zbanic (Bosnia) in the Best Director category.
3. Netflix finally gains some favour
Although it received quite a number of nominations for The Irishman and Marriage Story last year, Netflix didn’t end up walking away with many of them at all. With 35 total nominations in 2021, it was close of approaching the record of United Artists in 1941, when The Philadelphia Story and The Great Dictator accrued 45 nominations together. Interestingly, in 2021 none of the major studios came through with Best Picture nominations – Netflix has two, whereas Amazon, A24, Sony Classics, Focus and Searchlight received one each.
4. Record age nominations
With his nomination for The Father, Antony Hopkins became the oldest Best Actor nominee ever, at the age of 83. The record had been held for two decades by Richard Farnsworth, who had appeared in David Lynch’s The Straight Story at 79. But Hopkins was not the only record-breaker: costume designer Ann Roth became the oldest Oscar nominee in general, at the age of 89.
5. Posthumous nomination for Chadwick Boseman
A posthumous nomination in the Leading Actor category has been offered to Chadwick Boseman, who died during the production of Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom. He thus became the 7th person to receive a posthumous nomination, joining a list which also includes James Dean, Massimo Troisi and Heath Ledger, among others. Until now, only Peter Finch actually won the respective award, for his role of Best Leading Actor in 1976’s The Network.