'Mank' leads 2021 Oscar noms, women directors make history


By AGENCY
  • Movies
  • Monday, 15 Mar 2021

'Mank', an ode to Hollywood's golden age that was produced and released by Netflix, one of the companies reshaping the movie business, led the nominations for the 93rd Academy Awards. Photo: AFP

Mank, an ode to Hollywood's golden age that was produced and released by Netflix, one of the companies reshaping the movie business, led the nominations for the 93 Academy Awards. The behind-the-scenes drama about the making of Citizen Kane scored 10 nominations, including nods for best picture, as well as for its stars Gary Oldman and Amanda Seyfried and its director David Fincher.

Six films scored six nominations – a group that includes The Father, Judas And The Black Messiah, Minari, Nomadland, Sound Of Metal, and The Trial Of The Chicago 7. All of these films were nominated for best picture along with Promising Young Woman, a feminist revenge movie that scored five nominations.

It was a history making list of nominees – for the first time two women, Emerald Fennell (Promising Young Woman) and Chloe Zhao (Nomadland), are up for best director. They become only the sixth and seventh women ever nominated for the prize. Zhao is also the first woman to receive four nominations in a single year, while Fennell becomes only the third woman with three nominations in a single year, joining Sofia Coppola and Fran Walsh, who both accomplished that feat in 2003.

'Nomadland' director Chloe Zhao (left) and 'Promising Young Woman' director Emerald Fennell are only the sixth and seventh women ever nominated for the best director Oscar. Photo: AFP'Nomadland' director Chloe Zhao (left) and 'Promising Young Woman' director Emerald Fennell are only the sixth and seventh women ever nominated for the best director Oscar. Photo: AFP

It's also the most diverse group of acting nominees in the Academy's nearly a century long history.

Chadwick Boseman, who is widely expected to pick up the best actor statue for his work as a brilliant jazz musician in Ma Rainey's Black Bottom, is the seventh performer to receive a posthumous nomination. The Black Panther star died in August at the age of 43. The best actor race will between Boseman, Oldman, Anthony Hopkins (The Father), Riz Ahmed (Sound Of Metal), and Steven Yeun (Minari), who became the first Asian-American to be nominated in the category.

Best actress nominees included Carey Mulligan (Promising Young Woman), Viola Davis (Ma Rainey's Black Bottom), Andra Day (The United States v. Billie Holiday), Vanessa Kirby (Pieces Of A Woman) and Frances McDormand (Nomadland).

(From left) Michael Potts, Chadwick Boseman and Colman Domingo in 'Ma Rainey's Black Bottom'. Photo: Netflix(From left) Michael Potts, Chadwick Boseman and Colman Domingo in 'Ma Rainey's Black Bottom'. Photo: Netflix

This year's Oscar race will be unlike any of the previous ones, unfolding as it does in the middle of a global pandemic. Movie theatres were shuttered for months due to coronavirus and have been slowly reopening. Campaigning, a fixture of past awards seasons, has moved in a virtual direction with Zoom interviews and panels replacing lunches and cocktail parties. And streaming services such as Netflix, Hulu and Amazon have largely dominated the early awards. Even some films from traditional studios such as Searchlight's Nomadland, which is currently airing on Hulu, have a streaming component.

There were a number of snubs and surprises. Lakeith Stanfield nabbed a supporting actor nomination for his performance as an FBI informant in Judas And The Black Messiah despite being largely ignored by other awards bodies like SAG and the Golden Globes. At the same time, The Trial Of The Chicago 7's Aaron Sorkin was shut out from the best director race and Regina King's One Night At Miami failed to score best picture or director nods. Instead, Danish director Thomas Vinterberg was a surprise director nominee for the comedy Another Round. Jodie Foster, who recently scored a Globe for The Mauritanian, came up short in the best supporting actress race.

Amanda Seyfried (left) and Gary Oldman appear in a scene from 'Mank'. Photo: NetflixAmanda Seyfried (left) and Gary Oldman appear in a scene from 'Mank'. Photo: Netflix

The virus required the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, the group behind the awards, to push back their date from February to April. By this point in 2020 Parasite had already swept the Oscars and awards season was in the rear view mirror.

The diminished theatrical exhibition landscape also means that this year's crop of contenders may be more admired than seen. There's no blockbuster like Joker or Black Panther to be found among the best picture contenders, something that could be a drag on ratings.

The Academy has yet to reveal its full plans for how this year's broadcast will unfold. Many awards shows, such as the Emmys and Golden Globes, have largely unspooled virtually with only a limited in-person component. This year's Oscar show will take place at L.A.'s Union Station and at the Dolby Theater.

The 2021 Oscars will take place on April 25. Priyanka Chopra Jonas and Nick Jonas announced this year's nominees. – Reuters

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