This year’s Oscars race was unprecedented in many ways—especially considering most of us haven’t actually gone to a theater for at least a year. Still, in the end, this morning’s nominations didn’t necessarily rock the boat against expectations. For those who keep track of such things, the batch of recognitions largely stayed true to the general predictions. The Academy loved Mank, a film about Hollywood history, showering 10 nominations upon it. The late Chadwick Boseman remains very much the front runner for Best Actor. And Nomadland is still the odds-on favorite to win both best Best Picture and Best Director for Chloé Zhao. Still, there were a few odd choices to be found. Here, the biggest snubs and surprises from this year’s 2021 Academy Award nominations.
Surprise: Going All In On The Father
The Father is one of the few films not available to watch for most people yet (it’s coming to VoD later this month), and while there was always some indication it would score a nomination for co-star Olivia Colman, it wasn’t a foregone conclusion it would do so well. Indeed, the Academy recognized it with six nominations including Best Picture and Best Actor for Anthony Hopkins.
Snub: One Night in Miami and Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom for Best Picture
Keeping two of the more celebrated films about Black American history out of the Best Picture race is bound to be a controversial move, even as both films received other nominations down the line. Though both films were generally warmly received, both were the recipient of observations that they felt more like filmed plays than your typical movie.
Surprise: Judas and the Black Messiah for Best Picture
Premiering only on February 1st at this year’s Sundance Film Festival, Judas and the Black Messiah was one of the latest entries into the Oscars race. There were questions about whether it would have enough time to break into the race, and in a normal year, it wouldn’t have even been eligible until next year. Still, it seems like Oscar voters liked what they saw, nominating it for Best Picture and several other awards.
Snub: Regina King for Best Director
King made history as one of the three women nominated for the equivalent award at the Golden Globes for her work on One Night in Miami, but the Academy chose to snub the actress turned first-time director.
Surprise: Thomas Vinterberg for Best Director
Vinterberg is well known among film enthusiasts. Along with the more controversial Lars Von Trier, he’s one of the key figures in Denmark’s Dogme 95 movement. His film Another Round, a comedy about men who decide they should always be a little bit drunk, was warmly received this year, but, still, his nomination comes as something of a surprise.
Snub: Chadwick Boseman for Best Supporting Actor
Let’s be very careful about this. Boseman is very much nominated for Best Actor for his work in Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom, but many also expected him to pick up a nomination for his supporting work in Spike Lee’s Da 5 Bloods as well. Though, that film only received a nomination for Best Score, which, in and of itself was a bit of a surprise.
Surprise: LaKeith Stanfield for Best Supporting Actor
This isn’t a surprise based on his performance. It’s very much deserving on those merits. It’s just that many expected Stanfield to compete in the Best Actor category for his role in Judas and the Black Messiah. He plays the titular “Judas,” after all.
Snub: Helena Zengel for Best Supporting Actress
Tom Hanks’s 12-year-old co-star in New of the World gave a truly standout performance that many felt could have snuck into the race. Alas, it didn’t come to be.
Surprise: The White Tiger for Best Adapted Screenplay
After awarding Parasite Best Picture last year, there are some indications that the Academy is taking more notice of international films for major categories in 2021. The somewhat surprising inclusion of this America-Indian film in the Best Adapted Screenplay category appears to be a step in that direction.
Snub: Mank for Best Original Screenplay
Mank is this year’s most-nominated film with 10 total. Though, the fact it didn’t get a widely expected nod in the screenplay category feels very odd.