Though the ratings have been on a steady decline over the past couple years, there’s still excitement in the air when the Oscar nominations are finally announced. The year 2021 was a massive year for movies, especially as most of them were originally intended for 2020. The 2021 Oscars ceremony was easily one of the most competitive contests. While the most nominated movie doesn’t always guarantee the biggest winner, it does help give an indication of what this year’s heavy hitters will be.
Leading this year’s lists is Netflix’s “The Power of the Dog” with 10 nominations: Best Picture, Best Director (Jane Campion), Best Actor (Benedict Cumberbatch), Best Supporting Actress (Kristen Dunst) and two Best Supporting Actor nominees (Jesse Plemons and Kodi Smit-McPhee). It’s clear all eyes are on this acclaimed new western.
Denis Villeneuve’s sci-fi epic, “Dune,” also dominated with nine nominations, mainly in the visual and sound categories. Although Villeneuve was not able to secure a Best Director nomination, “Dune” still stands as one of the ten films up for Best Picture.
The other Best Picture nominees include “Belfast,” “CODA,” “Don’t Look Up,” “Drive My Car,” “King Richard,” “Licorice Pizza,” “Nightmare Alley” and Steven Spielberg’s “West Side Story.”
Speaking of Spielberg, the acclaimed director made Oscars history, as the first director to have a Best Director nomination in every decade since 1978. “West Side Story” will mark his eighth nomination, and the film also serves as frontrunner Ariana DeBose’s first nomination for Best Supporting Actress. Another history making nomination was Denzel Washington who is the most nominated Black actor of all time. For his leading role in “The Tragedy of Macbeth,” Washington has received his tenth nomination.
Some of the other standout nominees include divisive picks like Adam McKay’s “Don’t Look Up” and Paul Thomas Anderson’s “Licorice Pizza” for Original Screenplay. Will Smith (“King Richard”) and Andrew Garfield (“Tick…Tick…BOOM!”) are the frontrunners for the Best Actor category. Disney is hitting heavy in the Best Animated Feature category with three films (“Encanto”, “Luca” and “Raya and the Last Dragon”).
“Encanto” also will face Beyoncé’s “Be Alive” (first time nominee) for Best Original Song. Lin-Manuel Miranda will need “Encanto” to win in order to win the EGOT (where a person collects an Emmy, a Grammy, an Oscar and a Tony award) since “Tick…Tick…BOOM!” missed out on a Best Director and Best Picture nomination.
Of course, with every Oscar nomination list, there’s bound to be some major snubs. Many were shocked by no nominations for Lady Gaga and Jared Leto’s acting in “House of Gucci.” Rachel Zegler (“West Side Story”) and Jennifer Hudson (“Respect”) were also shut out of the Best Actress categories as well.
Leonardo DiCaprio and Jennifer Lawerence were one of the consistently praised aspects of “Don’t Look Up,” yet you won’t find either on this year’s list.
With such steep competition in just about every category, many wonder if this will be enough to draw in more viewers than they have in the past. Either way, the 94th Academy Awards will be airing live on ABC beginning at 8 p.m. on Sunday, Mar. 27.