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2021 Oscars: The Biggest Surprises and Snubs

Remember when we thought the only movies eligible for this year’s Oscars would be Sonic the Hedgehog and that one with Ben Affleck? Alas, in the end, the Academy wound up with plenty of films to choose from when deciding on their 2021 nominations, pandemic be damned.

In fact, with this year’s marathon Oscars race — lengthened by two additional months when the ceremony was postponed and the Academy’s eligibility window extended into 2021 — being the most unprecedented and, thus, unpredictable in memory, there was also more room than usual in Monday morning’s nominations for surprises and snubs. Below, we break down the biggest shockers and omissions for the 93rd Academy Awards.

SNUB: Da 5 Bloods‘ awards season run ends with a snubbing. Spike Lee’s WWII joint was once considered an Oscar frontrunner, with Delroy Lindo fingered as a favorite for Best Actor. When the film was snubbed at the Golden Globes, it was chalked up to a fluke. But as more and more voting bodies blanked Da 5 Bloods, its shoo-in nominations felt less shooed in. Now, the Oscars has followed suit, leaving Lee’s film out of the races for Best Picture, Best Actor and Best Supporting Actor. Da 5 Blood‘s only nomination came in Original Score. Which also means…

SNUB: The Academy only has one nomination for Chadwick Boseman. The late Chadwick Boseman’s Best Actor nomination for Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom was a sure thing; the only question was whether it would be accompanied by a Supporting Actor nomination for Da 5 Bloods. In the end, Academy voters only gave him the one. Had he gotten both, Boseman would have become only the 13th actor in Oscars history to be nominated for two acting prizes in a single year.

SNUB: An ode to the non-Best Picture nominees. Despite two nominations elsewhere, the stuffy old Academy couldn’t find it in their heart to nominate Borat Subsequent Moviefilm in Best Picture. (The film had, after all, landed a coveted Producers Guild nomination.) Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom and One Night in Miami also missed out in the end, as did longer shots like The Mauritanian and News of the World were left out in the cold.

SURPRISE: Amanda Seyfried and Maria Bakalova both make Supporting Actress. It started to seem like it might be one or the other, but both Amanda Seyfried and Maria Bakalova earned their spots in the Supporting Actress field. The latter campaigned her ass off, making up the ground she lost when she was snubbed at SAG, while the Bulgarian newcomer broke the comedy curse and pulled off a Melissa McCarthy-in-Bridesmaids feat with her role in Borat Subsequent Moviefilm.

SNUB: Alan S. Kim would have been the cutest Supporting Actor nominee. Don’t pop the Mountain Dew just yet: Even with all the love for Minari, 8-year-old star Alan S. Kim, sadly, is not making history as the youngest Oscar nominee ever. (He would have been tied with Kramer vs. Kramer star Justin Henry, who was also eight.) This means we won’t get another adorably emotional acceptance speech. Instead, the Academy gave the fifth spot in the Supporting Actor race to…

SURPRISE: Lakeith Stanfield is a Best Supporting Actor nominee. Which is no knock on Lakeith Stanfield, but if he and co-star Daniel Kaluuya are both Supporting Actor nominees, who is the lead of Judas and the Black Messiah? Stanfield’s inclusion also bumped Golden Globe and SAG Award nominee Jared Leto from the supporting actor race.

SURPRISE: Another Round scores a Best Directing nomination. I guess we know who wins Best International Feature. Danish dramedy Another Round was a lock in that category, but picked up a second nomination with Thomas Vinterberg up for Best Director alongside Fincher, Fennell, Chung and Zhao. Vinterberg’s inclusion bumped likelier seeming nominee Aaron Sorkin (The Trial of the Chicago 7) from the race.

SNUB: The Academy misses a chance to make history with Regina King. Mercifully, the Academy didn’t miss the chance to make history: Emerald Fennell and Chloé Zhao are the first women to have been nominated together for the Best Director Oscar, becoming only the sixth and seventh female directors ever nominated. (Zhao is also the first woman of color to be nominated.) Unfortunately, when the directing race settled, One Night in Miami’s Regina King went unrecognized. We can only assume her career will give the Academy many, many more opportunities to make up for it.

SURPRISE: Ann Roth makes history as the (new) oldest Oscar nominee. That distinction was previously held by Christopher Plummer, who was 88 years old when he was nominated for All the Money in the World. With her nomination for Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom‘s costume design, 89-year-old Anne Roth takes the title. (She’s previously won the category in 1997 for her work on The English Patient.)

SNUB: Palm Springs is still stuck in a non-Oscars time loop. We love when a not-so-traditional Oscar pick finds its special place somewhere amongst the nominations. This year, that could have been Andy Samberg and Cristin Milioti’s genre comedy following its Writers Guild nod with a Oscar nomination for Andy Siara’s Original Screenplay. (With a story by Siara and director Max Barbakow.) Alas, perhaps it’s an honor just to be almost nominated.

SURPRISE: Forget Eurovision, Lars and Sigrit are going to the Oscars. This is the one we were really pulling for: Even in a skimpier year for Original Songs, there were enough prestige contenders from the likes of Leslie Odom Jr. and Diane Warren that we weren’t sure a catchy albeit more out of the box pick like Eurovision Song Contest: The Story of Fire Saga‘s “Husavik (My Hometown)” would make it in. And while Molly Sandén’s solo version of the song is lovely, it’s absolutely imperative that Will Ferrell duets it with her in character for the Oscars performance.

The 2021 Oscars air live on Sunday, April 25 at 8 p.m. ET/5 p.m. PT on ABC. In the meantime, stay tuned to ETonline.com for complete Oscars coverage.

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