This year’s Oscar nominations provides the possibility for some Asian and Asian American firsts, and does fairly well on diversity. Chloé Zhao’s “Nomadland” and Lee Isaac Chung’s “Minari” both had six nominations as did “Sound of Metal,” “Judas and the Black Messiah,” and “The Trial of the Chicago 7.” “Minari” and “Nomadland,” compete with “The Father, “Judas and the Black Messiah,” “Mank” and “Promising Young Woman,” “Sound of Metal” and “The Trial of the Chicago 7” for Best Picture. Netflix’s “Mank” led with 10 nominations.
For the first time in its history, there are two women nominated for Best Director: Emerald Fennel for “Promising Young Woman” and Chloe Zhao for “Nomadland.” The first woman nominated for Best Director was Lina Wertmüller for the Italian language film, “Seven Beauties” in 1977. Jane Campion of New Zealand was nominated for “The Piano” (1994) and Sofia Coppola was nominated for “Lost in Translation” (2004).The first winner was Kathyn Bigelow for “Hurt Locker.” More recently, Greta Gerwig was nominated for the 2018 “Lady Bird.” If Zhao wins she would be the first woman of color to win and the second woman.
No Asian American writer has won Best Original Screenplay (Indian American M. Night Shyamalan was nominated for the 1999 “The Sixth Sense,” Japanese American Iris Yamashita was nominated for the 2006 “Letters from Iwo Jima,” Filipino Ronnie del Carmen was nominated for the 2015 “Inside Out” and Pakistani-American Kumail Nanjiani was nominated for the 2017 “The Big Sick”), so a win by Lee Isaac Chung for his “Minari” would be a first. Black writers have been nominated four times with Jordan Peele winning for the 2017 “Get Out.”
A woman has already won Best Adapted Screenplay (Frances Marion for “The Big House” in 1929). The last woman to win was Diana Ossana (shared with Larry McMurtry) for “Brokeback Mountain.” The last woman to win by herself was Emma Thompson for the 1995 “Sense and Sensibility.” Last year, Maori Taika Waititi won for “Jojo Rabbit,” but Zhao would be the first Asian woman to win.
For Best Actor, if you don’t include Egypt (Rami Malek who won for his portrayal of Freddie Mercury in the 2019 “Bohemian Rhapsody”) or Syria (F. Murray Abraham who won for the 1984 portrayal of Antonio Salieri in “Amadeus”) as part of Asia, and don’t believe that Yul Brynner (for the 1957 “The King and I”) was part Mongolian, then Steven Yeun is the first Asian American actor to be nominated in this category. Ben Kingsley is British with Asian Indian ancestry and won for the 1982 “Gandhi.” Israeli actor Chaim Topol was nominated for the 1971 “Fiddler on the Roof.”
South Korean actress Youn Yuh-jung was nominated for Best Supporting Actress for “Minari” and if she wins she’d be the first South Korean actress to win. The first Asian woman to win was Miyoshi Umeki for the 1957 “Sayonara.” Iranian Shohreh Aghdashloo was nominated for the 2003 “House of Sand and Fog,” Israeli-born Natalie Portman was nominated for “Closer” (2004) and Japanese actress Rinko Kikuchi was nominated for “Babel” in 2006.
Don’t count Lee Isaac Chung out because “Minari” is in Korean. Twenty-nine directors have been nominated for non-English language films (34 times) but only two have won: Alfonso Cuarón for the Spanish-language film, “Roma,” for 2018 and Bong Joon-ho for “Parasite.”
Asian directors Hiroshi Teshigahara (“Woman in the Dunes”), Akira Kurosawa (“Ran”), M. Night Shyamalan (“The Sixth Sense”) and Ang Lee have been nominated previously. Lee has been nominated three times, winning for “Brokeback Mountain” (2005) and “Life of Pi” (2012), but losing for “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon” (2000). Last year, Bong Joon-ho won for
This year, Best Documentary film category includes two foreign language films, the Romanian-language “Collective” which is about botched healthcare and Spanish language “The Mole Agent” which is about care for the elderly.
Looking at the following categories (Best Picture, Best Documentary, Best Director, Best Actor, Best Actress, Best Supporting Actor, Best Supporting Actress, Best Original Score, Best Original Song, Best Adapted Screenplay, Best Original Screenplay, Best Animated Feature) with a total of 63 nominations, I looked for diversity in gender, women 50 and over, race/ethnicity, religion and disability. Each category had five nominations except for Best Picture which had eight.
Like the Golden Globes, the under-representation is not of Black/African Americans or Asian Americans. The most under-represented minority was the largest, Hispanic/Latino which had only one nomination under Writing (Original Screenplay) for “Judas and the Black Messiah.” Of the four writers (Will Berson, Shaka King, Keith Lucas and Kenneth Lucas), King’s mother’s family is from Barbados and Panama, and his father’s family was from Panama.
In the past Latino directors and even a Spanish language film have won top honors. Five Latin American directors have been nominated with three directors winning:
Alfonso Cuarón for “Gravity” (2013) and “Roma” (2018), and Alejandro G. Iñárritu for “Birdman” (2014) and “The Revenant” (2015) and Guillermo del Toro for “The Shape of Water” (2017).
Of course to be nominated is one thing. Winning is another. Black directors have been nominated six times, but none have won.
In the non-gender specific categories, women were represented in two of eight in Best Picture (as lead characters in “Nomadland” and “Promising Young Woman”), two of five in Best Director, two female directors out of five in Best Documentary, zero out of five for Best Original Score, three out of five for Best Original Song, two out of five for Best Adapted Screenplay, one of out five for Best Original Screenplay, and two out of five in Best Animated Feature (as leading characters in “Over the Moon” and “Wolfwalkers”). That would be 32.5 percent. If the Best International Feature Film (writer-director Kaouther Ben Hania for “The Man Who Sold His Skin” (Tunisia) and writer/director Jasmila Žbanić. for “Quo Vadis, Aida?”(Bosnia and Herzegovina))was included with two out of five, that would only bring the percentage to 33 percent.
For women over 50, that would be one out of eight in Best Picture (for lead character in “Nomadland”), two out of five for Best Actress (Viola Davis is 55 and Frances McDormand is 63), and one out of five for Best Supporting Actress (Glenn Close is 73) for 22 percent.
For Black representations, two out of eight for Best Picture (“Judas and the Black Messiah” and “The Trial of the Chicago 7”), zero out of five for Best Director, one out of five for Best Actor, two out of five for Best Actress, three out of five for Best Supporting Actor, zero out of five for Best Supporting Actress, one out of five for Best Documentary Feature, two out of five for Best Original Score, three out of five for Best Original Song, one out of five for Best Adapted Screenplay, one out of five for Best Original Screenplay and one out of five for Best Animated Feature. That should be 27 percent.
Ethnic Asians were represented in one of eight in Best Picture, two of five for Best Director, two of five in Best Actor (Riz Ahmed (“Sound of Metal”) is British Pakistani and Steven Yeun (“Minari”) is Korean American), zero of five for Best Actress, zero of five for Best Supporting Actor, one of five for Best Supporting Actress (Youn Yuh-jung) zero out of five in Best Documentary Feature, zero out of five for Best Original Score, one out of five for Best Original Song (H.E.R. is Filipina/Black), two out of five for Best Adapted Screenplay (“Nomadland,” Chloé Zhao and “The White Tiger,” Ramin Bahrani), one out of five for Best Original Screenplay, and one out of five for Best Animated Feature for 17 percent.
The directors of two of the films that were nominated in the Golden Globe Awards’ Foreign Language Film category were nominated for Best Director (Thomas Vinterberg for the Danish “Another Round” and Lee Isaac Chung for “Minari.” The Academy Awards formerly had a Foreign Language Film category, but unlike the Golden Globes, it was limited to films from non-English speaking countries and each recognized country could nominate only one film. US productions were not eligible for this category (with the exception of Puerto Rico for a brief period) which was renamed last year as Best International Feature Film with “Parasite” as the first winner as well as the first non-English film to win Best Picture.
Every film in the Best Picture category represented diversity:
from disability (Alzheimer’s Disease in “The Father” and hearing loss in “Sound of Metal”), ethnic minorities (“Judas and the Black Messiah,” and “Minari”), women (“Nomadland” and “Promising Young Woman”), religious minorities ( “Mank”), Black and Jewish counterculture heroes (“The Trial of the Chicago 7″). For Best Documentary Feature, two had female directors (Nicole Newnham is co-director of “Crip Camp” (Netflix) and Maite Alberdi for “The Mole Agent” (Gravitas Ventures)), one was focused on a Black woman’s attempts to get her husband out of prison (“Time” from Amazon Studios). The film about disabled people, “Crip Camp,” was co-directed by a disabled person, James LeBrecht was born in New York with spina bifida.
Although it is not readily apparent, Herman J. Mankiewicz was the son of German Jewish immigrants so “Mank” represents the Jewish American experience. (That Mank may have only won one Oscar, but Joseph L. Mankiewicz, brother of Herman, won Oscars for Best Director and Best Adapted Screenplay for “A Letter to Three Wives” (1949) and for “All About Eve” (1950).) Further, “The Trial of the Chicago 7” includes Abbie Hoffman who was one of the Chicago 7 and the director/writer, Aaron Sorkin is of a Jewish background as is the actor, Sacha Baron Cohen, who plays Hoffman. Across eight categories (43 nominations), there were only 4 nominations (9 percent).
The 93rd Academy Award Ceremony will take place in-person at Los Angeles’ Union Station and the Dolby Theatre on April 25 and will be broadcast by ABC starting at 5 p.m. PT. In addition to airing on TV, the Oscars will be available to live-stream on ABC.com and the ABC app, which can be accessed by signing in with a participating TV provider.
“The Father” (David Parfitt, Jean-Louis Livi and Philippe Carcassonne, producers)
“Judas and the Black Messiah” (Shaka King, Charles D. King and Ryan Coogler, producers)
“Mank” (Ceán Chaffin, Eric Roth and Douglas Urbanski, producers)
“Minari” (Christina Oh, producer)
“Nomadland” (Frances McDormand, Peter Spears, Mollye Asher, Dan Janvey and Chloé Zhao, producers)
“Promising Young Woman” (Ben Browning, Ashley Fox, Emerald Fennell and Josey McNamara, producers)
“Sound of Metal” (Bert Hamelinck and Sacha Ben Harroche, producers)
“The Trial of the Chicago 7” (Marc Platt and Stuart Besser, producers)
Thomas Vinterberg (“Another Round”)
David Fincher (“Mank”)
Lee Isaac Chung (“Minari”)
Chloé Zhao (“Nomadland”)
Emerald Fennell (“Promising Young Woman”)
Best Actor in a Leading Role
Riz Ahmed (“Sound of Metal”)
Chadwick Boseman (“Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom”)
Anthony Hopkins (“The Father”)
Gary Oldman (“Mank”)
Steven Yeun (“Minari”)
Best Actress in a Leading Role
Viola Davis (“Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom”)
Andra Day (“The United States v. Billie Holiday”)
Vanessa Kirby (“Pieces of a Woman”)
Frances McDormand (“Nomadland”)
Carey Mulligan (“Promising Young Woman”)
Best Actor in a Supporting Role
Sacha Baron Cohen (“The Trial of the Chicago 7”)
Daniel Kaluuya (“Judas and the Black Messiah”)
Leslie Odom Jr. (“One Night in Miami”)
Paul Raci (“Sound of Metal”)
Lakeith Stanfield (“Judas and the Black Messiah”)
Best Actress in a Supporting Role
Maria Bakalova (‘Borat Subsequent Moviefilm”)
Glenn Close (“Hillbilly Elegy”)
Olivia Colman (“The Father”)
Amanda Seyfried (“Mank”)
Yuh-jung Youn (“Minari”)
Best Animated Feature Film
“Over the Moon” (Netflix)
“A Shaun the Sheep Movie: Farmageddon” (Netflix)
“Wolfwalkers” (Apple TV Plus/GKIDS)
Best Adapted Screenplay
“Borat Subsequent Moviefilm.” Screenplay by Sacha Baron Cohen, Anthony Hines, Dan Swimer, Peter Baynham, Erica Rivinoja, Dan Mazer, Jena Friedman, Lee Kern; Story by Sacha Baron Cohen, Anthony Hines, Dan Swimer, Nina Pedrad
“The Father,” Christopher Hampton and Florian Zeller
“Nomadland,” Chloé Zhao
“One Night in Miami,” Kemp Powers
“The White Tiger,” Ramin Bahrani
Best Original Screenplay
“Judas and the Black Messiah.” Screenplay by Will Berson, Shaka King; Story by Will Berson, Shaka King, Kenny Lucas, Keith Lucas
“Minari,” Lee Isaac Chung
“Promising Young Woman,” Emerald Fennell
“Sound of Metal.” Screenplay by Darius Marder, Abraham Marder; Story by Darius Marder, Derek Cianfrance
“The Trial of the Chicago 7,” Aaron Sorkin
Best Original Song
“Fight for You,” (“Judas and the Black Messiah”). Music by H.E.R. and Dernst Emile II; Lyric by H.E.R. and Tiara Thomas
“Hear My Voice,” (“The Trial of the Chicago 7”). Music by Daniel Pemberton; Lyric by Daniel Pemberton and Celeste Waite
“Húsavík,” (“Eurovision Song Contest”). Music and Lyric by Savan Kotecha, Fat Max Gsus and Rickard Göransson
“Io Si (Seen),” (“The Life Ahead”). Music by Diane Warren; Lyric by Diane Warren and Laura Pausini
“Speak Now,” (“One Night in Miami”). Music and Lyric by Leslie Odom, Jr. and Sam Ashworth
Best Original Score
“Da 5 Bloods,” Terence Blanchard
“Mank,” Trent Reznor, Atticus Ross
“Minari,” Emile Mosseri
“News of the World,” James Newton Howard
“Soul,” Trent Reznor, Atticus Ross, Jon Batiste
“Greyhound,” Warren Shaw, Michael Minkler, Beau Borders and David Wyman
“Mank,” Ren Klyce, Jeremy Molod, David Parker, Nathan Nance and Drew Kunin
“News of the World,” Oliver Tarney, Mike Prestwood Smith, William Miller and John Pritchett
“Soul,” Ren Klyce, Coya Elliott and David Parker
“Sound of Metal,” Nicolas Becker, Jaime Baksht, Michelle Couttolenc, Carlos Cortés and Phillip Bladh
Best Costume Design
“Emma,” Alexandra Byrne
“Mank,” Trish Summerville
“Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom,” Ann Roth
“Mulan,” Bina Daigeler
“Pinocchio,” Massimo Cantini Parrini
Best Animated Short Film
“Burrow” (Disney Plus/Pixar)
“Genius Loci” (Kazak Productions)
“If Anything Happens I Love You” (Netflix)
“Opera” (Beasts and Natives Alike)
“Yes-People” (CAOZ hf. Hólamói)
Best Live-Action Short Film
“The Letter Room”
“Two Distant Strangers”
“Judas and the Black Messiah,” Sean Bobbitt
“Mank,” Erik Messerschmidt
“News of the World,” Dariusz Wolski
“Nomadland,” Joshua James Richards
“The Trial of the Chicago 7,” Phedon Papamichael
Best Documentary Feature
“Collective,” Alexander Nanau and Bianca Oana
“Crip Camp,” Nicole Newnham, Jim LeBrecht and Sara Bolder
“The Mole Agent,” Maite Alberdi and Marcela Santibáñez
“My Octopus Teacher,” Pippa Ehrlich, James Reed and Craig Foster
“Time,” Garrett Bradley, Lauren Domino and Kellen Quinn
Best Documentary Short Subject
“Colette,” Anthony Giacchino and Alice Doyard
“A Concerto Is a Conversation,” Ben Proudfoot and Kris Bowers
“Do Not Split,” Anders Hammer and Charlotte Cook
“Hunger Ward,” Skye Fitzgerald and Michael Scheuerman
“A Love Song for Latasha,” Sophia Nahli Allison and Janice Duncan
Best Film Editing
“The Father,” Yorgos Lamprinos
“Nomadland,” Chloé Zhao
“Promising Young Woman,” Frédéric Thoraval
“Sound of Metal,” Mikkel E.G. Nielsen
“The Trial of the Chicago 7,” Alan Baumgarten
Best International Feature Film
“Another Round” (Denmark)
“Better Days” (Hong Kong)
“The Man Who Sold His Skin” (Tunisia)
“Quo Vadis, Aida?”(Bosnia and Herzegovina)
Best Makeup and Hairstyling
“Emma,” Marese Langan, Laura Allen, Claudia Stolze
“Hillbilly Elegy,” Eryn Krueger Mekash, Patricia Dehaney, Matthew Mungle
“Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom,” Sergio Lopez-Rivera, Mia Neal, Jamika Wilson