Chloe Zhao and Emerald Fennell Have Made Oscar History For Women Directors in the 2021 Nominations

The Oscar nominations dropped on Monday morning, interrupting our pandemic winter with a brief splash of movie stars telling each other how great they are. Nah, we kid, but there are some good movies in the mix this year and as ever, the Oscars do help give a little boost to some excellent films that would otherwise go unwatched. Unfortunately, those excellent movies tend to skew very male and very white, as the past few decades of notable snubs will confirm. However, this year, they skew a little less male and a little less white. For one major example, Chloe Zhao and Emerald Fennell were both nominated for Best Director, for Nomadland and Promising Young Woman respectively. It’s the first time more than one woman has ever been nominated, and Zhao is the first non-white woman to be nominated.

Only five women have ever been nominated for Best Director, and Kathryn Bigelow is the only woman to have ever won (in 2010, for The Hurt Locker). But that could very well change this year. Zhao already claimed the Golden Globe, so her odds are looking good. She received four Oscar nominations (film editing, adapted screen play and best picture, in addition to best director), the first woman to have ever done so. Fennell received three, the third woman to have done so. They’ll square off against Lee Isaac Chung for Minari, David Fincher for Mank and Thomas Vinterberg for Another Round.

In the other major categories, The Father, Judas and the Black Messiah, Mank, Minari, Nomadland, Promising Young Woman, Sound of Metal and Trial of the Chicago 7 were nominated for Best Picture.

Riz Ahmed (Sound of Metal), Steven Yeun (Minari), Anthony Hopkins (The Father) and Gary Oldman (Mank) will compete for Best Actor against the late Chadwick Boseman, who received a posthumous nomination for Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom. Yeun is the first Asian-American to be nominated for Best Actor and Ahmed is the first person of Pakistani descent to be nominated for an acting award in any category.

Meanwhile, Viola Davis (Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom), Andra Day (The United States VS. Billie Holiday), Vanessa Kirby (Pieces of a Woman), Frances McDormand (Nomadland) and Carey Mulligan (Promising Young Woman) will compete for Best Lead Actress.

Among supporting actors, Maria Bakalova (Borta Subsequent Moviefilm), Glenn Close (Hillbilly Elegy), Olivia Colman (The Father), Amanda Seyfried (Mank) and Yuh-jung Youn (Minari) will compete for best Female Actress in a Supporting role. Youn is the first Korean actor to be nominated in any acting category.

See Also

Meanwhile, Daniel Kaluuya and Lakeith Stanfield are both up for Best Supporting Actor for their work in Judas and the Black Messiah, along with Leslie Odom Jr. for One Night in Miami, Paul Raci for Sound of Metal and Sacha Baron Cohen for The Trial of the Chicago 7.

The awards will be handed out in April. If you want to hear more from some of the nominees, we can help you out there. Here’s our conversation with Chung about the writing of his intimate, gorgeous Minari. And Stanfield opens up about playing the bad guy in Judas and the Black Messiah here.
Here’s the full list of nominees. Finally, let’s give it up for “Husavik,” the Eurovision banger nominated for Best Song. Take it away, gang!

Scroll To Top