The biggest talking points from the Oscars 2021 nominations

This year's shortlists are a win for diversity and representation

If this year’s awards season has felt drawn out, it’s because it has been. Delayed from its usual spot at the end of February, the Oscars will take place on April 25 this year due to the pandemic, and today (March 15) the nominations were finally announced. The most shocking thing about them? How few shocks there are on the list. Here are the biggest talking points from the Oscars 2021 nominations.

Minari finally gets its dues

After an awards season that has seen indie drama Minari often shunted to the sidelines, the Oscars has namechecked the moving family portrait in six categorues. Not only is filmmaker Lee Isaac Chung up for Best Director and Best Original Screenplay, but the film is in the running for Best Picture too. Its cast is also making history with the first nominations for Korean stars in the acting categories. The legendary Youn Yuh-jung follows her BAFTAs nod with a spot in the Best Supporting Actress shortlist, while former star of The Walking Dead Steven Yeun is the first Asian-American to be nominated for lead actor. Here’s hoping those nominations turn into awards on the night.

More than one woman is nominated for Best Director for the first time

Much like the Golden Globes (and practically every awards ceremony on this patriarchy-loving earth), women have repeatedly been overlooked in non-gendered categories. In many years, it’s felt like a win when just one woman has been shortlisted for Best Director. Luckily, in 2021 there’s cause for celebration. Not one, but two women (Emerald Fennell for Promising Young Woman and Chloé Zhao for Nomadland) have made it onto the shortlist – the first time this has happened in the whole of the Oscars’ 93-year history. It’s about time.

Chadwick Boseman is still making history

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Ma Rainey's Black Bottom
Chadwick Boseman makes his final film appearance in the new Netflix musical drama. Credit: Netflix

Despite being one of the best actors in the business in recent years, Chadwick Boseman was never nominated for an Oscar during his lifetime. It’s bittersweet that he should get this recognition now – one of the highest honours for an actor – after his tragic death from cancer last year. With a Best Actor nod for his role in Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom, though, he’s also making history. Boseman is the first Black actor to receive a posthumous acting nomination at the awards. If he wins in April, his victory will be yet another feat in a spectacular career.

There are a lot of firsts – now the challenge is to make diversity commonplace

The Oscars 2021 nominations are arguably the most diverse in the awards show’s history. Not only is Steven Yeun the first Asian-American up for Best Actor, but he and Riz Ahmed’s nominations also mark the first time two actors of Asian descent are in the running for the award. Chloé Zhao is the first Asian director to be up for Best Director and also the first woman of colour to receive the nod. With Judas And The Black Messiah’s nomination, this year is the first time an all-Black production team has been shortlisted for Best Picture.

All great acheivements – a positive step in the right direction and a strong sign that the push for representation is working. It will be interesting to see if the nominations translate into a diverse and well-earned winners list next month. Beyond that, will many of the delayed big studio movies that release post-COVID mean a return to whitewashed shortlists in 2022?

People think Delroy Lindo was robbed

One person stood out in the Oscars nominations this year, not because they were shortlisted but because they weren’t. After the shortlists were announced, Twitter came alive with gripes about Delroy Lindo being snubbed, many seeing his performance in Spike Lee’s Da 5 Bloods as one that was impossible to overlook. And yet the Academy has done just that, proving that, despite all of the positive change that’s happened this year, they still get it wrong sometimes.

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