2021 Oscars Preview: Part 2

This is your guide to the major nominees of the 93rd Academy Awards ceremony. Part 2 reviews the Actor and Director nominations.

There’s always a lot of talk leading up to the big day about who will win what awards. We try to make our predictions based on trends from the past, but we can’t help to be swayed by our own personal opinions. Some movies truly strike a chord with us, while others aren’t interesting at all. Furthermore, Oscar films are usually heavy in the drama department and therefore they aren’t always the easiest or most entertaining movies to watch.

That’s why we’re here. We’ve compiled the following brief summaries, interesting facts, and critical reviews for all these films and people. The goal is to give you a solid background even if you haven’t been able to catch up with this year’s nominees. So read on, and then start planning your Oscar-related drinking game. The 93rd Academy Awards ceremony will take place Sunday, April 25th.

For Part 1 of our coverage, click here.


BEST ACTOR NOMINEES


Riz Ahmed as Rubin in Sound of Metal

Age: 38

Previously Best Known For: 

Nightcrawler

Venom

Previous Oscar Nominations/Wins:

None

Interesting Fact: Also known by his hip-hop alias Riz MC. He released his first hip-hop single in 2006, Post 9/11 Blues: a controversial satire that was temporarily banned from British airplay. It caught the attention of notorious satirist Christopher Morris, who cast him in his Bafta-winning movie Four Lions (2010).


Chadwick Boseman as Levee in Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom

Age: Deceased

Previously Best Known For: 

Black Panther

42

Previous Oscar Nominations/Wins:

None

Interesting Fact: Black Panther (2018) was the first movie in the Marvel Cinematic Universe to have an opening weekend domestic box office total which surpassed the production cost of that movie. Black Panther cost $200 million to make, and its Thursday night, Friday, Saturday, and Sunday opening weekend domestic box office came to $202 million.


Sir Anthony Hopkins – as Anthony in The Father 

HOLLYWOOD, CALIFORNIA – NOVEMBER 18: Anthony Hopkins attends “The Two Popes” premiere during AFI FEST 2019 presented by Audi at TCL Chinese Theatre on November 18, 2019 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Jon Kopaloff/Getty Images)

Age: 83

Previously Best Known For: 

Silence of the Lambs

The Remains of the Day

Previous Oscar Nominations/Wins:

1992 – Won, Best Actor in a Leading Role – as Dr. Hannibal Lecter in Silence of the Lambs

1994 – Nominated, Best Actor in a Leading Role – as Stevens in The Remains of the Day

1996 – Nominated, Best Actor in a Leading Role – as Richard Nixon in Nixon

1998 – Nominated, Best Actor in a Supporting Role – as John Quincy Adams in Amistad

2020 – Nominated, Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role – as Pope Benedict in The Two Popes

Interesting Fact: He was appointed a CBE (Commander of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire) in the 1987 Queen’s Birthday Honours List for services to drama.


Gary Oldman as Herman Mankiewicz in Mank

Age: 63

Previously Best Known For: 

The Professional

Dracula

Previous Oscar Nominations/Wins:

2012 – Nominated, Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role – as George Smiley in Tinker Taylor Soldier Spy

2018 – Won, Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role – as Winston Churchill in Darkest Hour

Interesting Fact: Performed a vocal duet with David Bowie for the song “You’ve Been Around” on the album “The Sacred Squall of Now” (1995) by longtime Bowie guitarist Reeves Gabrels. He is also featured on the song “Stamford Hill” on the same album.


Steven Yuen as Jacob in Minari

Mandatory Credit: Photo by Richard Shotwell/Invision/AP/Shutterstock (10095275i)
Steven Yeun attends the the 2019 Santa Barbara International Film Festival Virtuosos Tribute, in Santa Barbara, Calif
2019 International Film Festival – Virtuosos Award, Santa Barbara, USA – 05 Feb 2019

Age: 37

Previously Best Known For: 

The Walking Dead

Burning

Previous Oscar Nominations/Wins:

None

Interesting Fact: Yeun’s parents began calling him “Steven” after meeting a doctor by that name. 


BEST ACTRESS NOMINEES


Viola Davis as Ma Rainey in Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom

Age: 55

Previously Best Known For: 

The Help

How to Get Away With Murder

Previous Oscar Nominations/Wins:

2009 – Nominated, Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role – as Mrs. Miller in Doubt

2012 – Nominated, Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role – as Aibileen Clark in The Help

2017 – Won, Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role – as Rose Maxson in Fences

Interesting Fact: Is one of five actresses to receive an Oscar nomination for a performance with less than 10 minutes of screen time.


Andra Day as Billie Holiday in The United States vs. Billie Holiday

Age: 36

Previously Best Known For: 

Her career as a singer/songwriter 

Previous Oscar Nominations/Wins:

None

Interesting Fact: Is the second actress to receive a Best Actress Oscar nomination for her portrayal of Billie Holiday; the other being Diana Ross.


Venessa Kirby as Martha in Pieces of a Woman

Age: 33

Previously Best Known For: 

The Crown

Mission: Impossible – Fallout 

Previous Oscar Nominations/Wins:

None

Interesting Fact: [on her role in Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw (2019)] “I’m so not an action-movie type. I’m a theater nerd from London! But you want a lot of different experiences as an actor. As many as possible.”


Frances McDormand as Fern in Nomadland

Age: 63

Previously Best Known For: 

Fargo

Almost Famous

Previous Oscar Nominations/Wins:

1989 – Nominated, Best Actress in a Supporting Role – as Mrs. Pell in Mississippi Burning

1997 – Won, Best Actress in a Leading Role – as Marge Gunderson in Fargo

2001 – Nominated, Best Actress in a Supporting Role – as Elaine Miller in Almost Famous

2006 – Nominated, Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role – as Glory in North Country

2018 – Won, Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role – as Mildred in Three Billboards Outside of Ebbing, Missouri

2021 – (Also Nominated) as Producer for Best Picture – Nomadland

Interesting Fact: Is the 1st actress to have won 2 Screen Actors Guild Awards for Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Leading Role. She won for her work on the films Fargo (1996) and Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri (2017).


Cary Mulligan as Cassie in Promising Young Woman

Age: 35

Previously Best Known For: 

The Great Gatsby

Drive

Previous Oscar Nominations/Wins:

2010 – Nominated, Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role – as Jenny Mellor in An Education

Interesting Fact: Did not learn to drive until she was age 23, and only learned to do so for the film Never Let Me Go (2010).


BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR NOMINEES


Sacha Baron Cohen as Abbie Hoffman in The Trial of the Chicago 7

Sacha Baron Cohen arrives at the 77th annual Golden Globe Awards at the Beverly Hilton Hotel on Sunday, Jan. 5, 2020, in Beverly Hills, Calif. (Photo by Jordan Strauss/Invision/AP)

Age: 49

Previously Best Known For: 

Borat

Les Miserables

Previous Oscar Nominations/Wins:

2007 – Nominated, Best Adapted Screenplay for Borat

2021 – (Also Nominated) for Best Adapted Screenplay for Borat Subsequent Moviefilm

Interesting Fact: He has been a lifelong fan of professional wrestling, and he is good friends with professional wrestler John Cena.


Daniel Kaluuya as Fred Hampton in Judas and the Black Messiah

Age: 32

Previously Best Known For: 

Get Out

Black Panther

Previous Oscar Nominations/Wins:

2018 – Nominated, Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role- as Chris Washington in Get Out

Interesting Fact: Kaluuya was particularly praised for his leading performance in Sucker Punch at the Royal Court Theatre in London and he won both the Evening Standard Award and Critics’ Circle Theatre Award for Outstanding Newcomer.


Leslie Odom Jr. as Sam Cooke in One Night in Miami

Age: 39

Previously Best Known For: 

Hamilton

Murder on the Orient Express

Previous Oscar Nominations/Wins:

2021 – (Also Nominated) for Best Achievement in Music Written for Motion Pictures, Best Song – for “Speak Now” featured in One Night in Miami

Interesting Fact: Won the 2012 Astaire Award for Outstanding Male Dancer on Broadway and was nominated for a Drama League Award for his work in the short lived Broadway flop “Leap of Faith”


Paul Raci as Joe in Sound of Metal

SOUND OF METAL, Paul Raci, 2019. © Amazon / Courtesy Everett Collection

Age: 73

Previously Best Known For: 

Goliath

Fighting Tommy Riley

Previous Oscar Nominations/Wins:

None

Interesting Fact: Paul is a Legally Certified Sign Language Interpreter and has worked in the Los Angeles Superior Court System for over 25 years. He is the hearing son of deaf parents, and is fluent in ASL.


LaKeith Stanfield as Bill O’Neal in Judas and the Black Messiah

Age: 29

Previously Best Known For: 

Sorry to Bother You

Short Term 12

Previous Oscar Nominations/Wins:

None

Interesting Fact: Stanfield’s first role was in the short film Short Term 12 (2009), Destin Daniel Cretton’s thesis project at San Diego State University. A year later, he appeared in the short film Gimme Grace (2010) before giving up acting for several years. He went on to work a number of different jobs such as roofing and gardening, jobs at AT&T and a legal marijuana dispensary, before he was contacted by Cretton to reappear in a feature-length adaptation of Short Term 12.


BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS NOMINEES


Maria Bakalova as Tutar Sagdiyev in Borat Subsequent Moviefilm

Age: 24

Previously Best Known For: 

The Father (2019 Bulgarian Film)

Last Call

Previous Oscar Nominations/Wins:

None

Interesting Fact: Is the first Bulgarian actor or actress to be nominated for a Golden Globe award, a SAG award, a Critics Choice award, a BAFTA or an Academy Award.


Glenn Close as Mamaw in Hillbilly Elegy

Age: 74

Previously Best Known For: 

101 Dalmatians

Fatal Attraction

Previous Oscar Nominations/Wins:

1983 – Nomination, Best Actress in a Supporting Role – as Jenny Fields in The World According to Garth

1984 – Nomination, Best Actress in a Supporting Role – as Sarah in The Big Chill

1985 – Nomination, Best Actress in a Supporting Role – as Iris Gaines in The Natural

1988 – Nomination, Best Actress in a Leading Role – as Alex Forrest in Fatal Attraction

1989 – Nomination, Best Actress in a Leading Role – as Marquise de Merteuil Dangerous Liaisons

2012 – Nomination, Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role – as Albert Nobbs in Albert Nobbs

2019 – Nomination, Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role – as Joan Castleman in The Wife

Interesting Fact: In 1984, became the third actor to receive an Oscar, Emmy and Tony nomination in the same calendar year (for The Big Chill, Something About Amelia, and The Real Thing respectively).


Olivia Colman as Anne in The Father

Age: 47

Previously Best Known For: 

The Favourite

The Crown

Previous Oscar Nominations/Wins:

2019 – Won, Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role – as Queen Anne in The Favourite

Interesting Fact: Convinced director Susanne Bier to hire her for the role of Angela Burr on The Night Manager (2016) despite the fact she was heavily pregnant with her 3rd child by making reference to how well Frances McDormand’s pregnant character Marge Gunderson worked on the movie Fargo (1996). Coincidentally, it was McDormand who handed Olivia the Best Actress Oscar for her role in The Favourite (2018).


  • Amanda Seyfried as Marian Davies in Mank

Age: 35

Previously Best Known For: 

Mamma Mia! 

Mean Girls

Previous Oscar Nominations/Wins:

None

Interesting Fact: Trained in classical opera for two years and studied under a Broadway voice coach for almost five years.


Yuh-jung Youn as in Minari

Age: 73

Previously Best Known For: 

The Housemaid

A Good Lawyer’s Wife

Previous Oscar Nominations/Wins:

None

Interesting Fact: Youn Yuh-jung was born on June 19, 1947 in Kaesong, Gyeonggi Province, and grew up in Seoul. Her father died when she was young. She has two sisters. Her sister Youn Yeo-soon is a former executive at LG Group. She was a freshman at Hanyang University majoring in Korean Language and Literature, when she passed the open auditions held by TBC in 1966. She dropped out of college, and made her acting debut in the television drama Mister Gong in 1967.


BEST DIRECTOR NOMINEES


Thomas Vinterberg for Another Round

Age: 51

Previously Best Known For: 

The Hunt

Far From the Madding Crowd

Previous Oscar Nominations/Wins:

None

Interesting Fact: Was accepted at den Danske Filmskole (Danish Film Academy) as the youngest student ever, at 19 years of age.


David Fincher for Mank

Age: 58

Previously Best Known For: 

Fight Club

The Social Network

Previous Oscar Nominations/Wins:

2009 – Nominated, Best Achievement in Direction – for The Curious Case of Benjamin Button

2011 – Nominated, Best Achievement in Direction – for The Social Network

Interesting Fact: He is the second director (following Steve Barron) to receive a MTV Video Music Award nomination for three different music videos within a single year. He first achieved this in 1989 (for Jody Watley’s “Real Love,” Steve Winwood’s Roll with It” & Madonna’s “Express Yourself”). He repeated the feat in 1990 with nominations for Madonna’s “Vogue,” Don Henley’s “The End of the Innocence,” and Aerosmith’s “Janie’s Got a Gun.”


Lee Isaac Chung for Minari

Age: 42

Previously Best Known For: 

Abigail Harm

Munyurangabo

Previous Oscar Nominations/Wins:

2021 – (Also Nominated), Best Original Screenplay for Minari

Interesting Fact: His debut feature Munyurangabo (2007) was an Official Selection at the 2007 Cannes Film Festival and the first narrative feature film in the Kinyarwanda language, a Rwandan dialect.


Chloe Zhao for Nomadland

Age: 39

Previously Best Known For: 

The Rider

Songs My Brother Taught Me

Previous Oscar Nominations/Wins:

2021 – (Also Nominated), Best Original Screenplay for Nomadland

2021 – (Also Nominated), Best Achievement in Film Editing for Nomadland

2021 – (Also Nominated), Best Picture for Nomadland

Interesting Fact: In 2015, Zhao directed her first feature film, Songs My Brothers Taught Me. Filmed on location at the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in South Dakota, the film depicts the relationship between a Lakota Sioux brother and his younger sister. In 2017, she directed The Rider, a contemporary western drama which follows a young cowboy’s journey to discover himself after a near-fatal accident ends his professional riding career. Similar to her first feature, Zhao utilised a cast of non-actors who lived on the ranch where the film was shot. 


Emerald Fennell for Promising Young Woman

Age: 35

Previously Best Known For: 

The Crown

Killing Eve

Previous Oscar Nominations/Wins:

2021 – (Also Nominated), Best Original Screenplay for Promising Young Woman

2021 – (Also Nominated), Best Picture for Promising Young Woman

Interesting Fact: When she was seven she told her parents when she grew up she wanted to write stories about murder and to live in America.


INTERNATIONAL FEATURE FILM NOMINEES (Interesting Facts)


  • ANOTHER ROUND – Denmark

Denmark has some of the highest rates of teenage drinking in the world; a World Health Organization report released earlier in 2020 found that Danish 15-year-olds consumed alcohol at nearly double the European average. Recent efforts to raise the minimum age for purchasing alcohol to 18 from 16 have met with resistance, in part because older adults recall their own youthful intoxications so fondly.

  • BETTER DAYS – Hong Kong

One of the most highly anticipated Chinese films in 2019 due to its lead stars Zhou Dongyu and Jackson Yee’s immense popularities, the film would become a pop culture phenomenon in China as well as a box office hit, grossing a total of US$230 million. A critical success, the film was chosen as the official entry for Hong Kong for Best International Feature Film at the 93rd Academy Awards; it became the third Hong Kong entry in history to achieve the nomination (27 years after Farewell My Concubine, the second), and was the first nominated entry directed by a Hong Kong native rather than by a Mainland Chinese director.

  • COLLECTIVE – Romania

The first Romanian film to be nominated for any Academy Award, and only the 2nd feature film to be nominated at the Academy Awards for both ‘Best Documentary Feature’ and ‘Best Foreign-Language Film’ / ‘Best International Feature Film’, after Honeyland (2019).

  • THE MAN WHO SOLD HIS SKIN – Tunisia

Its plot was inspired by Belgian contemporary artist Wim Delvoye’s living work Tim (2006). Between 2006 and 2008, Belgian artist Wim Delvoye inked the back of former Zurich tattoo parlour owner Tim Steiner, with the pair coming to an arrangement: multiple times a year, Steiner would sit in galleries around the globe as a living exhibition, allowing the public to view Delvoye’s colourful, elaborate piece.

  • QUO VADIS, AIDA? – Bosnia and Herzegovina

Aida is a fictional character, her experiences inspired by those of the former UN interpreter Hasan Nuhanovic, though some of the men around her are real. These include Major Franken (Raymond Thiry), Karremans, And  Mladic, the “Butcher of Bosnia”

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