Oscar nominations were announced this morning, with David Fincher’s Mank leading the pack at ten mentions. For the first time in Oscar history, two women, Chloé Zhao and Emerald Fennell, were honored in the Best Director category. There’s plenty to celebrate about the list, which can be found here, but at the same time, there are many who came close to a nomination but ultimately weren’t included. Here are ten snubs that, before today, felt like they might have been realistic choices:
Best Director: Regina King (One Night in Miami)
King made her directorial debut with the story of a legendary meeting between four Black icons of the 1960s. Unlike many actors-turned-directors, she doesn’t appear in the film, but the way that she crafted this stirring and engaging film was extraordinarily impressive. Her film managed just three nominations, for supporting actor Leslie Odom Jr., the song “Speak Now,” and its adapted screenplay by Kemp Powers.
Best Director: Aaron Sorkin (The Trial of the Chicago 7)
Every year, there’s someone who hits all the major precursors and then ends up snubbed on Oscar nominations morning. Sorkin is hardly a newcomer to the industry, and the past Oscar winner for The Social Network is even still a nominee this year – in the original screenplay category. Directing one of the year’s most popular and acclaimed films, which earned six bids, could have been the pathway to recognition for a different craft than the one he’s already mastered.
Best Actor: Delroy Lindo (Da 5 Bloods)
It wasn’t too surprising to see Lindo’s name left off after he missed out on mentions from the Golden Globes and SAG, but he was one of the earliest actors to have buzz when his film, which earned just one nomination, for composer Terence Blanchard’s score, premiered on Netflix back in June. It’s possible that staying in the supporting category might have helped, but this was expected to be a recognition of Lindo’s staggering performance and a long and productive career.
Best Original Screenplay: Mank
It may have been the nominations leader, but Mank still missed in a few places, notably for its film editing and its visual effects. The one that stings most is the lack of recognition for the late Jack Fincher, the father of the film’s director, who died in 2003 but wrote the formidable script for this film before then. The dialogue and story, not to mention those big, memorable speeches, are integral to the film’s overall feel.
Best Adapted Screenplay: Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom
Though it merited five nominations, Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom missed out here and in the Best Picture race. August Wilson’s 1982 play is the basis for this film’s script, which crafts a deeply compelling story set mostly in two rooms. Nominees Chadwick Boseman and Viola Davis deliver great performances, but so much of what they do is tied to the excellence of the writing by Ruben Santiago-Hudson.
Best Production Design: The Personal History of David Copperfield
In theory, this was always a longshot, since this film, which earned star Dev Patel a Golden Globe nomination and won big at the 2019 British Independent Film Awards, was mostly under-the-radar. But for those who saw it, it’s hard to forget the wonderfully imaginative set pieces that make the title character’s journey feel even more marvelous and magical.
Best Costume Design: Promising Young Woman
Contemporary films that aren’t musicals rarely score in this category, but Promising Young Woman, which scored five nominations including Best Picture, had a leg up because of its prominence and all of the acclaim around it. Its eye-popping costumes added greatly to its intoxicating vibe and the overall effectiveness of the film.
Best Original Score: Tenet
The film that was supposed to save movie theaters arrived to mixed reviews, but most agreed that the technical elements of Christopher Nolan’s latest mind-bending, time-traveling epic were praiseworthy. The film managed just two nominations, for production designer and visual effects. The music that drove its headache-inducing narrative definitely should have joined those accolades – even if it’s impossible to figure out what’s going on, the score was a grounding and gripping force.
Best Documentary: Boys State
The nonfiction field, which was winnowed down to fifteen finalists back in February, was impossibly crowded, and so a number of deserving films were sure to be left out. Among those, the most prominent omission is that of this look at a government simulation leadership program for teenagers in Texas that speaks to the troubling values that dominate much of American society today.
Best Visual Effects: Welcome to Chechnya
Also left off the Best Documentary list, where it was a finalist, this important chronicle of the extraordinary efforts being undertaken by LGBTQ activists in Chechnya was most impressive for the technology utilized to mask the identities of its subjects, transforming their faces and voices using AI and machine learning. Anyone who sees it will surely be blown away and unable to distinguish reality from what they are seeing.
The 93rd Oscars will be held on Sunday, April 25th, 2021 and televised on ABC at 8pm ET/5pm PT.