Oscar Nomination Reactions

The 2021 Oscar Nominations are here! Now that we know what will be competing for the biggest prize of the film year, let’s dig in to each of the main categories.

Best Picture

After all the shock and awe associated with every other category, Best Picture seemed almost anticlimactic in comparison. As expected, the top-line vote getters across the categories snagged nominations (Power of the Dog, Belfast, West Side Story, King Richard), while some underperformed and still got in with ease (CODA, Licorice Pizza, Dune). I truthfully thought the Academy would see past the foolishness of Don’t Look Up and Nightmare Alley, but I was mistaken. Don’t Look Up managed some big categories, but missed Best Director. Nightmare Alley did the same, but was only sited in technical categories. Drive My Car found it’s way into the top ten as well, probably with relative ease. Not much mystery to this lineup. Tick, Tick…BOOM! and Being the Ricardos were probably close behind.

My Predictions: 8/10 (Missed Don’t Look Up and Nightmare Alley)
My Year-in-Advance Predictions: 3/10 (Only got Dune, The Power of the Dog, and Soggy Bottom/Licorice Pizza)

Best Director

My theory on the regression of West Side Story was way off. Not only did it manage to get the third-highest nomination haul, Spielberg was firmly in the race. The one thing I wasn’t seeing was the snub of Dune‘s Denis Villeneuve. He received a bulk of the precursor attention outside of frontrunner Jane Campion, so that was quite the shock. Anderson and Hamaguchi weren’t foregone conclusions, but their films being in the Best Picture lineup were all but assured when their names were called. Just as I though about West Side Story, I thought Belfast was going to have an underwhelming morning. Though the film could have gotten a lot more, Branagh gets his second direction mention.

My Predictions: 4/5 (Missed Branagh)
My Year-in-Advance Predictions: 1/5 (Only got Campion)

Best Actor

Those top four actors were locked in tight, but that fifth slot was up in the air for the better part of two months. As it happens, Javier Bardem gets his fourth Oscar nomination, while Peter Dinklage and Simon Rex find themselves stuck at zero. Nicolas Cage has to settle for his 1995 Oscar. The reception for Being the Ricardos feels very off. Despite three citations for acting, the film missed everywhere else, including Screenplay, which felt like a shoe-in. Not sure what to make of that.

My Predictions: 4/5 (Missed Bardem)
My Year-in-Advance Predictions: 2/5 (Smith and Washington)

Best Actress

The biggest surprise of the night. Devoted Oscar nomination enthusiasts like myself make our longlists in alphabetical order, since that is how the Academy makes the announcements. Jessica Chastain was able to sustain her early success and grab her third nomination, while Olivia Colman was a foregone conclusion. When Penelope Cruz was announced, that meant thing had already gone wacky. Who was left? Lady Gaga, Alana Haim, Jennifer Hudson, Nicole Kidman, Kristen Stewart, and Rachel Zegler. As soon as (assumed frontrunner) Nicole Kidman was called, the reality that Lady Gaga was snubbed hit hard. And despite all the pessimism and backlash, Stewart got her first nomination for Spencer. Not only did it come as a shock, it also sent the category into a unknowable tailspin. Just like last year, there is no clear leader and I could see literally any of the five winning.

My Predictions: 4/5 (Missed Cruz)
My Year-in-Advance Predictions: 2/5 (Cruz and Stewart, though I did guess Kirsten Dunst in lead)

Best Supporting Actor

In my chat with Eric Blume last week, I said I only felt good about Kodi Smit-McPhee and Troy Kotsur, and I was right. I was wrong about how good I felt about Bradley Cooper in Licorice Pizza, but no one is perfect. The love for The Power of the Dog extended far and wide, and it took Jesse Plemons along for the ride. Ciaran Hinds ended up besting his Belfast co-star Jamie Dornan for the nod, while J.K. Simmons rode the recent precursor streak to his second nomination. Plenty of people were on the outside looking in, but luckily the Academy didn’t fall for the Jared Leto trick for the second year in a row.

My Predictions: 3/5 (Missed Plemons and Simmons)
My Year-in-Advance Predictions: 1/5 (Only got Plemons)

Best Supporting Actress

It all felt too easy, and it was. I tweeted the night before the nominations that everyone (including me) had the same predicted five nominees and it was bound to bite us all. Sure enough, Caitriona Balfe and Ruth Negga came up empty while Judi Dench and Jesse Buckley took their place. We continue to underestimate Dench, but this is her eighth nomination in just over 25 years! Meanwhile, the ladies of Netflix fought it out, but The Lost Daughter overpreformed a bit. This is probably the most wrapped-up category, with Ariana DeBose (at least for now) poised for the statue.

My Predictions: 3/5 (Missed Dench and Buckley)
My Year-in-Advance Predictions: 0/5

Best Original Screenplay

Since it’s my favorite film from 2021, I’m certainly not complaining The Worst Person in the World made its way into the lineup. Outside of Licorice Pizza, I Unfortunately don’t like any of the other nominees. I’m frankly shocked (though not disappointed) Being the Ricardos couldn’t find its way into the five, but I was also looking for the international fare with A Hero and Parallel Mothers. Meanwhile, Wes Anderson’s The French Dispatch was skunked across the board. I thought it might find its way in, but to no avail.

My Predictions: 3/5 (Missed Don’t Look Up and The Worst Person in the World)
My Year-in-Advance Predictions: 0/5

Best Adapted Screenplay

My personal favorite category. I was expecting Passing or West Side Story to make its way in, but I don’t mind the Dune inclusion. The Lost Daughter might not be my favorite watch, but the script was impeccable. CODA, Drive My Car, and The Power of the Dog all very much deserved these nominations.

My Predictions: 4/5 (Missed Dune)
My Year-in-Advance Predictions: 1/5 (Only got Power of the Dog)

Overall Predictions: 80/120
Overall Year-in-Advance: 25/95 (Didn’t predict shorts, documentary or International categories)

Lots more on the horizon when it comes to Oscar. Stay tuned in the next couple weeks!

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