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Oscar Nominations Recognize Streaming Services and Women Make History

Image courtesy of The New York Times

By Noelia Veras

During a year categorized as “the pandemic year,” creativity and entertainment were transformed, particularly in the film industry. On Monday, the Oscar nominations were announced. Not only were films from streaming services widely featured in categories like best picture and best screenplay, two women were nominated for best director, marking a groundbreaking moment for Hollywood.

Priyanka Chopra Jonas and Nick Jonas announced the nominations for the 93rd Oscars ceremony. This year’s Academy Awards are strikingly unique, breaking from historic and traditional roles that previously defined it. For one, the ceremony is dated for April 25, the latest it has ever been. Additionally, it will have a dual location, at both L.A.’s Union Station and the Dolby Theatre, a strategy for social distancing that has never been needed before.

Netflix’s Mank is leading with 10 nominations. This alone is notable, firstly, because the film is from a streaming service studio, but also because the film is fully black and white. A black and white film hasn’t won best picture since Schindler’s List in 1993.

Six nominations each went to The Trial of the Chicago 7, Sound of Metal, Nomadland, Minari, Judas and the Black Messiah, and The Father. All of these films  were nominated for best picture alongside Promising Young Woman.

Chloé Zhao, director of Nomadland, and Emerald Fennell, director of Promising Young Woman, made history as they were both nominated for best director. This is the first time the academy has nominated two women for best director. 

Nomadland is particularly unique as it features multiple nonactors that belong to the nomad community in the United States. According to USA Today, Zhao is also the first woman of color to be nominated for an Academy Award and is the most nominated woman in a single year.

“I’m grateful to have gone on this journey with our talented team of filmmakers and to have met so many wonderful people who generously shared their stories with us,” Zhao said. “Thank you so much to my academy peers for recognizing this film that is very close to my heart.

A24’s Minari, directed by Lee Isaac Chung and starring Steven Yeun, is a front runner for best picture. The film tells the story of a Korean American family and tackles the subject of immigration and coming of age as a Korean American. Seven-year-old Alan S. Kim has captured the hearts of viewers and helped build a following for the film. 

Streaming services were significantly represented in the nominations during a year when theaters struggled, as they were largely closed or at limited capacity. Netflix scored 10 nominations with Mank, 6 with The Trial of the Chicago 7, and five for Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom. The late Chadowick Boseman was nominated as lead actor in Ma Rainy’s Black Bottom. This nomination is significant for fans and admirers of Boseman because of his recent death at 43 years old due to colon cancer. According to the LA Times, Ma Rainy’s Black Bottom not being nominated for best picture is a notable snub. 

Amazon Studios scored 12 nominations in total. Notable movies nominated were Sound of Metal directed by Darius Marder and starring Riz Ahmed, One Night in Miami directed by Regina King starring Kingsley Ben-Adir, Eli Goree, Aldis Hodge, and Leslie Odom Jr., and Borat Subsequent Movie Film directed by Jason Woliner starring Sacha Baron Cohen.

Apple TV+ and Disney+ earned their first Oscar nominations for films like Wolfwalkers and The One and Only Ivan, respectively.

As the Academy Awards come up, it is important to note the extreme flexibility and hard work that people in the film industry have had in light of the coronavirus pandemic. Though the film industry had to adjust significantly, it was able to grow and become more accessible to viewers, opening up a space that has largely been gatekept by pretentiousness and class divide. Although films continue to be inaccessible to many communities, this year marks a new chapter where more and more people are able to watch highly renowned films from the comfort of their own homes. 

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