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  • Emily Taing

Oscars 2021 Nominations: A Year of Firsts

Courtesy Photos

Last Monday, March 15th, the Academy Awards has made history by announcing its most diverse list of nominations ever. With nine acting nominees from ethnic minority backgrounds, two women for "best director," its first Asian American nominee for “best actor,” and many more, not only is the show already setting the record with many “firsts,” but it is also setting the stage for more diversity and inclusion in award shows and the industry.

The Oscars is one of Hollywood’s biggest nights, where people from around the country gather to see if their predictions for the awards match up with the Academy's. Although this highly-anticipated event is widely loved, many have critiqued it for one of Hollywood’s major problems: lack of representation.

The lack of representation in award shows has been so evidently prevalent with past nominations, such being the 2015 and 2016 Oscars with all-white acting nominees ("Oscars' Diversity Record"). The normalization and favoritism of white films and actors has struck a lot of conversation about the unfairness for opportunities in the industry. There is so much talent in the world, yet Hollywood remains selective of those they want to represent. The outcry against the lack of recognition for BIPOC individuals and other marginalized groups is loud and has been repeated throughout history, from the castings of films to victories in award shows. As this has been an ongoing issue, people such as Joaquin Phoenix and Issa Rae have used their platform on the award stage to speak on the need for change ("Why Are Awards Shows Still So Damn White and Male?").

After hearing their voices and many others, this year, we finally see progress.

The 2021 Oscars presents its most diverse list of nominees and makes history for introducing many “firsts” for underrepresented groups and people.

Here is the list of the Oscars’ “firsts”:

Chloé Zhao - “Nomadland”

  • First Woman of Color for Best Director

  • First Woman to Receive Four Nominations in One Year

    • Best Picture

    • Best Director

    • Best Film Editing

    • Best Adapted Screenplay

Mia Neal and Jamika Wilson - “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom”

  • First Black Women for Best Makeup and Hairstyling

Shaka King, Charlest D. King, and Ryan Coogler - “Judas and the Black Messiah”

  • First All-Black Producing Team for Best Picture

Steven Yuen - “Minari”

  • First Asian American for Best Actor in a Leading Role

Riz Ahmend - “Sound of Metal”

  • First Person From Pakistanian Descent for Best Actor in a Leading Role

  • First Muslim nominated for an Oscar

Yuh-jung Youn - “Minari”

  • First South Korean for Best Actress in a Supporting Role

  • First South Korean Nominated for an Acting Oscar

Chadwick Boseman - “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom”

  • First Actor of Color Nominated for a Posthumous Oscar

First Time More Than One Female Director for Best Director

  • Chloé Zhao - “Nomandland”

  • Emerald Fennell - “Promise Young Woman”

First Time the Category for Best Actor is Not Majority White

  • Riz Ahmed - “Sound of Metal”

  • Chadwick Boseman - “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom”

  • Anthony Hopkins - “The Father”

  • Gary Oldman - “Mank”

  • Steven Yeun - “Minari”

Viola Davis

  • The Most Nominated Black Actress in Oscar History (4 Nominations)

This year’s Oscar nominations has opened the floor to more inclusivity and diversity amongst their categories and in the industry as a whole. It readjusts the lenses of Hollywood and finally gives the opportunity for non-white films and actors to have a seat at the table. This year, we are seeing change. We are finally heading in the right direction, and although these nominations are great indications of progress, we are far from done.

Sources: Variety, BBC, Flare


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