Oscars 2021: the 8 incredible films nominated for Best Picture at the Academy Awards

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From Nomadland to Minari, these are the films that have been nominated for Best Picture at the 2021 Academy Awards

Finally, we know what to expect at the big event of this year’s awards season: the nominations for the Oscars have finally been unveiled.

Read out by husband and wife duo Priyanka Chopra Jonas and Nick Jonas during a live broadcast, the list had a few surprises on it for movie buffs – but, on the whole, things ran pretty much as expected.

However, we still have a wee while to go before the winners are unveiled at the 93rd annual Academy Awards take place on Sunday 25 April.

In the meantime, we can content ourselves with taking a closer look at who’s scored big on the awards circuit already and…

Well, and making a few educated guesses.

With that in mind, then, here are our thoughts on the Best Picture nominations for the 2021 Oscars. 

Nomadland 

Nomadland
Nomadland, starring Frances McDormand, has been touted as one of the best films of 2021.

Chloé Zhao was awarded the gong for Best Director at this year’s Golden Globes thanks to her stellar work on Nomadland – which was also awarded Best Picture at the same ceremony. 

The film, too, was the winner of the Golden Lion at the Venice Film Festival. And Frances McDormand is already a two-time Oscar winner – and critics have been positively raving about her performance in Nomadland.

Is it any wonder, then, that there’s so much Oscars buzz around this neo-Western drama?

“I bet, and hope, that Nomadland wins,” says Stylist’s entertainment director Helen Bownass of the revered Academy Award for Best Picture.

Based on a nonfiction book by journalist Jessica Bruder, Nomadland tells the story of newly-widowed Fern, who is forced to leave her longtime home in rural Nevada during the recession.

And, for all those who have yet to see it in all its glory, it’s due to become available for streaming in the UK this April via Star on Disney+

The Father

Boasting a 100% ‘fresh’ rating on Rotten Tomatoes, as well as brilliant performances from the likes of Sir Anthony Hopkins and Olivia Colman, The Father’s world premiere took place at the Sundance Film Festival in January 2020 and was met with significant critical acclaim.

It makes sense, then, that a lot of people have this one pipped for a Best Picture win at this year’s Oscars. 

As suggested by the title, it tells the story of a man who refuses all assistance from his daughter as he ages. As he tries to make sense of his changing circumstances, however, he begins to doubt his loved ones, his own mind and even the fabric of his reality.

Again, this deeply sad film has yet to be made available to UK viewers, but that’s likely due to change on 12 March (many have suggested that it will make its debut via one of the major streaming platforms, such as Amazon Prime Video or Star on Disney+).

Mank

Mank marks director David Fincher’s return to film after a six-year hiatus, and the Netflix film has won the hearts of the Academy.

This isn’t all that surprising, as it speaks to the power and importance of Hollywood imagery itself, which is usually a ticket to Oscars success (see The Artist and A Star Is Born).

The most nominated film at both the Golden Globes and Critics Choice Awards, Mank tells the story of screenwriter Herman J. Mankiewicz (Gary Oldman) attempting to finish the script for Orson Welles’ Citizen Kane in 1930s Hollywood. A drinker and gambler who regularly pursues affairs with women, Mankiewicz’s personal life has as much high drama as the movie world he works in.

Amanda Seyfried has won praise for her portrayal of real-life Hollywood star Marion Davies, while Lily Collins has dazzled as real-life secretary-turned-actor Rita Alexander. 

The film is still available to stream via Netflix now, if you’d like to find out what all the fuss is about.

Judas And The Black Messiah

Judas And The Black Messiah – or, more specifically, Daniel Kaluuya – has been cleaning up this awards season, with the talented actor scoring nods at the Golden Globe, Critics Choice and SAG Awards for his role as Black Panther Chairman Fred Hampton.  

Thanks to its timely tale about an America struggling with racism, beset by violence and riven by fear and hate, many critics have labelled it this year’s “movie of the moment”.

It’s also worth noting that Judas And The Black Messiah has been named one of the 10 best films of the year by the American Film Institute, which means the historical drama is a likely hot contender to take home the golden statuette for this year’s Best Picture category at the Oscars.

Promising Young Woman

Back in 2009, Carey Mulligan won a Best Actress nomination at the Oscars thanks to her breakout role in Lone Scherfig’s An Education. Now, she’s generating awards buzz left, right, and centre as the star of Promising Young Woman, a powerful female-driven revenge thriller – and it’s paved the way to not just another Best Actress nod, but a Best Picture nomination, too!

However, and it’s a big however, if Promising Young Women does win big, it will join a very small pool of Best Picture-winning movies whose stories centre on women. Indeed, of the 92 past Best Picture winners, there are only 17 movies in which women characters take the spotlight, the most recent of which is 2018’s The Shape Of Water.

Could now prove a time for positive change? 

The Trial Of The Chicago 7

Our second Netflix contender on the list, The Trial Of The Chicago 7 takes us back in time to the 1968 Democratic National Convention, the eruption of violence between protestors and police, and the shockingly biased trial that resulted from the event. It’s a movie about protest, about the change that it can affect. 

And it boasts some standout performances, with four of its cast members – Sacha Baron Cohen, Frank Langella, Eddie Redmayne and Mark Rylance – making the Baftas longlist of 15 contenders for Best Supporting Actor. 

A production still from The Trial Of The Chicago 7
The Trial Of The Chicago 7 has been generating some serious buzz on the Oscars circuit.

It stands to reason, then, that this film has a very real chance of winning Best Picture at the Oscars, especially when you consider that it examines a moment in history that speaks to society today. And especially when you consider that, during the Covid-addled year of 2020, it was one of the few films to secure widespread release, both in cinemas and via streaming platforms.

Sound Of Metal

Damien Chazelle‘s 2014 film Whiplash, which spun a compelling story about an ambitious young jazz drummer, famously ended up earning five Oscar nominations, including Best Picture. 

It seems safe to predict, then, that Amazon Prime Video’s Sound Of Metal – also about a drummer – is likely to have a similar impact at this year’s Academy Awards. 

Boasting a career-defining performance from Riz Ahmed as Ruben, a drummer who suffers sudden hearing loss, the film currently boasts an enviable 96% ‘fresh’ rating on Rotten Tomatoes. And that’s largely due to its focus on character, emotion, and our flawed ideas around hard work and success.

Has it got what it takes to win big, though? Only time will tell…

Minari

The critically acclaimed Minari took home the award for Best Foreign Language Film at the Golden Globes on Sunday 28 February – a bittersweet moment which proved deeply controversial, as it meant that the film was thus rendered ineligible for the Best Picture category. 

It seems unlikely the Academy will make the same mistake, so it’s safe to assume (and hope) that this searing domestic drama will make the Best Picture nominees list for this year’s Oscars. 

Yet to air in the UK, Minari tells the story of a Korean American family who move to an Arkansas farm in search of their own American dream.

Or, to quote writer-director Lee Isaac Chung, “Minari is about a family. It’s a family trying to learn how to speak a language of its own. It goes deeper than any American language and any foreign language. 

“It’s a language of the heart, and I’m trying to learn it myself and to pass it on.” 

It’s all of this, as well as the wonderful performances from its ensemble cast, that has earned Minari rave reviews from critics. But, of course, we here in the UK are still waiting to clap eyes on it, as its release has been delayed due to our ongoing lockdown.

Fingers crossed that we get a chance to watch it before the Oscars, eh?

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Images: Getty/Lionsgate/Netflix

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Kayleigh Dray

Kayleigh Dray is Stylist’s digital editor-at-large. Her specialist topics include comic books, films, TV and feminism. On a weekend, you can usually find her drinking copious amounts of tea and playing boardgames with her friends.

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