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academy awards

Be honest: It’s likely you didn’t see a lot of the Academy Awards contenders when they first came out, but we did, COVID-19 or no COVID-19. Here’s what you need to know ahead of April 25′s ceremony

Scenes from the eight best-picture nominees: Minari and Mank, Sound of Metal and Judas and the Black Messiah, Nomadland and The Trial of the Chicago 7, The Father and Promising Young Woman.Studio handouts, The Associated Press

Key Oscar stats of 2021

Oscar nominations by streaming service

Chances are that, if you’ve seen any films this year, it’s been from safety of your home and not in theatres, which closed or had strict capacity limits through the COVID-19 pandemic. Streaming services are set to dominate this year’s Academy Awards: Netflix is leading with 35 nominations (10 of them for its David Fincher-directed prestige film Mank), Amazon Studios has 12 and Apple TV+ and Disney+ are in contention for the first time.

Oscar nominations by race

Five years ago, the #OscarsSoWhite campaign pressed the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, the body behind the awards, to give people of colour more recognition. This year, nine of the 20 acting nominees are racialized people, and the best-actor race includes the category’s first contenders who are Asian-American (Stephen Yeun) or Muslim (Riz Ahmed). The films with the most nominations overall include several focusing on Black experiences, such as Judas and the Black Messiah, which has an all-Black production team.

Oscar nominations by Globe review

In past years, our Oscars guides have measured which nominees got the highest and lowest star ratings from Globe and Mail critics. But we stopped using star ratings early this year, instead adopting a “Critic’s Pick” system so that reviews of film, music, books and other artistic works would be more consistent. Some movies got star ratings before the change (Trial of the Chicago 7 and Sound of Metal got 3.5 each) and others got a “Critic’s Pick” after (including Minari, Judas and the Black Messiah and The Father). By either measurement, there are no outright stinkers among the best picture nominees.

Read more: Who will win, and who should win an Oscar this fascinatingly strange year

Should the show go on this year? The Globe’s Film Fight Club weighs in

Which Oscar-nominated movies can I watch in Canada, and where?

Martin Meissner/The Associated Press

Oscar films on Netflix Canada

Mank, Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom, Pieces of a Woman, Trial of the Chicago 7

Oscar films on Amazon Prime Video Canada

Borat Subsequent Moviefilm, The Father, Judas and the Black Messiah, Minari, One Night in Miami ...

Oscar films on Disney+

Nomadland, Onward, Soul

Oscar films on Apple TV

Borat Subsequent Moviefilm, Judas and the Black Messiah, Minari, Promising Young Woman, Sound of Metal, United States vs. Billie Holiday

Oscar films on Google Play

Borat Subsequent Moviefilm, Judas and the Black Messiah, Minari, Promising Young Woman, Sound of Metal, United States vs. Billie Holiday

Oscar films on Cineplex store

Judas and the Black Messiah, Minari, Promising Young Woman, Soul, Sound of Metal, United States vs. Billie Holiday

Oscar films on TIFF Bell Lightbox

Another Round, The Father, Minari, Sound of Metal, Quo Vidas, Aida?, Better Days, short films (live-action), short films (animated), short films (documentary)

Best picture nominees

The Father

  • What it’s about: An elderly Londoner descends into paranoia and confusion as his dementia gets worse.
  • Who’s in it: Anthony Hopkins, Olivia Colman
  • What The Globe thought of it: Director Florian Zeller “has been uniquely inventive in the way he evokes the unreliability of memory and the subjectivity of experience in the senile – and the healthy,” Kate Taylor writes. “The audience never does learn the whole story in a film that is both mind-bending and heart-rending.”

Judas and the Black Messiah

  • What it’s about: In 1960s Chicago, an FBI informant infiltrates the Black Panther Party to get close to a charismatic young activist.
  • Who’s in it: Lakeith Stanfield, Daniel Kaluuya
  • What The Globe thought of it: “It’s hard to come across a movie that is so unflinchingly honest in its portrayal of institutional white supremacy,” wrote Sarah Hagi, who called the film “a historically accurate and mostly powerful portrayal of what could’ve been the greatest Black leader of our time.”


  • What it’s about: Herman J. Mankiewicz writes the screenplay for Citizen Kane, battling with Orson Welles and 1930s Hollywood’s rich and powerful.
  • Who’s in it: Gary Oldman, Tom Burke
  • What The Globe thought of it: “Nothing about [director David] Fincher’s film is easy,” Barry Hertz wrote. “Indeed, for one film about how internal conflict almost tore another film apart, Mank is uneasily built on its very own base of destabilizing, contradictory anxieties. It is a credit-battle away from crumbling completely.” Hertz called the film a “half-masterpiece.”


  • What it’s about: A Korean-American family moves to rural Arkansas in the 1980s, where the struggle to start a farm sows tensions among them.
  • Who’s in it: Steven Yeun, Han Ye-ri
  • What The Globe thought of it: “While I don’t want to take away from its cultural specificity, Minari will likely be a moving experience for anyone,” Aparita Bandhari wrote. “The Yi family feels familiar. I’ve heard similar stories of struggle and survival from Punjabi farmers – whether they were situated in California’s Yuba County or British Columbia’s Lower Mainland. I’m sure the film will resonate with them.”


  • What it’s about: Recently widowed and laid off from her manufacturing job in Nevada, a woman begins living on the road in search of temporary work.
  • Who’s in it: Frances McDormand, David Strathairn
  • What The Globe thought of it: Barry Hertz gave Nomadland a critic’s pick, lauding writer-director Chloé Zhao for a “beautiful, heartbreaking, majestic, and not a little bit problematic new film.” Frances McDormand approached the itinerant main character “with a quiet, intense commitment, delivering a gut-punch of a performance that is as ferocious as it is controlled,” Hertz wrote.

Promising Young Woman

  • What it’s about: A former medical-school student plots revenge against the man who raped her friend and the people she blames for letting him go.
  • Who’s in it: Carey Mulligan
  • What The Globe thought of it: Sarah Hagi called it a “solid debut feature” from writer-director Emerald Fennell and praised Carey Mulligan for approaching the lead role “with the controlled determination of a woman who has nothing to lose, in a way that makes the film a fantasy in the darkest way possible.” Hagi also found the movie’s shifts in tone too severe: “Fennell builds a backward fantasy that feels ultimately cathartic in a very real way, but where its opening tone comes across as far too light for the palpable gravity of its ending.”

Sound of Metal

  • What it’s about: A heavy-metal drummer starts to lose his hearing.
  • Who’s in it: Riz Ahmed, Olivia Cooke
  • What The Globe thought of it: Barry Hertz recommended watching Sound of Metal at home with a good pair of headphones: “By largely limiting the film’s sound to whatever Ruben is able to hear – the pounding thud of his drums, then wavy murmurs of white noise, scratchy vocals, the imperceptible pings of everyday life, and ultimately nothing at all – director Darius Marder creates an immersive experience that is best served with as little distance between a screen’s speakers and your ears as possible.”

The Trial of the Chicago 7

  • What it’s about: Anti-war activists defend their rights in court after violence erupts at the 1968 Democratic Convention.
  • Who’s in it: Eddie Redmayne, Sacha Baron Cohen
  • What The Globe thought of it: Barry Hertz was a little off the mark when he called the cast “the 2021 Oscar lineup in one fell swoop”; aside from a best-supporting-actor nod for Sacha Baron Cohen, the nominations were not in acting categories but for writer-director Aaron Sorkin, or for music, film editing and cinematography. “The famously verbose and quick-witted” Sorkin “must battle his own worst instincts while dramatizing the Chicago 7′s legal battle,” Hertz wrote, but “between the performances, the resonant subject matter, and the just-right Sorkin-esqueness of the screenplay, The Trial of the Chicago 7 is the case of the year.”

Nine of the nominees for acting categories at this year's Academy Awards are of Black, East Asian or South Asian descent.Studio handouts, The Associated Press

All other Oscar nominations by category

Best actress

  • Viola Davis, Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom
  • Andra Day, The United States vs. Billie Holiday
  • Vanessa Kirby, Pieces of a Woman
  • Frances McDormand, Nomadland
  • Carey Mulligan, Promising Young Woman

Best actor

  • Riz Ahmed, Sound of Metal
  • Chadwick Boseman, Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom
  • Anthony Hopkins, The Father
  • Gary Oldman, Mank
  • Steven Yeun, Minari

Supporting actress

  • Maria Bakalova, Borat Subsequent Moviefilm
  • Glenn Close, Hillbilly Elegy
  • Olivia Colman, The Father
  • Amanda Seyfried, Mank
  • Yuh-jung Youn, Minari

Supporting actor

  • 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

Writer-director-editor-producer Chloé Zhao works with Frances McDormand on the set of Nomadland.Joshua James Richards © 2020 20th Century Studios

Best director

  • Lee Isaac Chung, Minari
  • Emerald Fennell, Promising Young Woman
  • David Fincher, Mank
  • Thomas Vinterberg, Another Round
  • Chloé Zhao, Nomadland

Best original screenplay

  • Judas and the Black Messiah
  • Minari
  • Promising Young Woman
  • Sound of Metal
  • The Trial of the Chicago 7

Best adapted screenplay

  • Borat Subsequent Moviefilm
  • The Father
  • Nomadland
  • One Night in Miami
  • The White Tiger

Robyn Goodfellowe (voiced by Honor Kneafsey) in Wolfwalkers.Apple TV+

Animated feature

  • Onward
  • Over the Moon
  • Shaun the Sheep Movie: Farmageddon
  • Soul
  • Wolfwalkers

Animated short

  • Burrow
  • Genius Loci
  • If Anything Happens I Love You
  • Opera
  • Yes-People

Live-action short

  • Feeling Through
  • The Letter Room
  • The Present
  • Two Distant Strangers
  • White Eye

Mads Mikkelsen stars as high-school teacher Martin in Another Round.Zentropa Entertainments

International feature

  • Another Round (Denmark)
  • Better Days (Hong Kong)
  • Collective (Romania)
  • The Man Who Sold His Skin (Tunisia)
  • Quo Vadis, Aida? (Bosnia and Herzegovina)

Documentary feature

  • Collective
  • Crip Camp
  • The Mole Agent
  • My Octopus Teacher
  • Time

Documentary short

  • Colette
  • A Concerto is a Conversation
  • Do Not Split
  • Hunger Ward
  • A Love Song for Latasha

Gary Oldman portrays Herman Mankiewicz in a scene from Mank.Nikolai Loveikis/Netflix via AP


  • Judas and the Black Messiah
  • Mank
  • News of the World
  • Nomadland
  • The Trial of the Chicago 7

Film editing

  • The Father
  • Promising Young Woman
  • Nomadland
  • Sound of Metal
  • The Trial of the Chicago 7

Visual effects

  • Love and Monsters
  • The Midnight Sky
  • Mulan
  • The One and Only Ivan
  • Tenet

Anya Taylor-Joy plays the title role in Emma.Focus Features

Costume design

  • Emma
  • Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom
  • Mank
  • Mulan
  • Pinocchio

Production design

  • The Father
  • Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom
  • Mank
  • News of the World
  • Tenet

Glenn Close in a scene from Hillbilly Elegy.Lacey Terrell/Netflix via AP

Makeup and hairstyling

  • Emma
  • Hilbilly Elegy
  • Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom
  • Mank
  • Pinocchio


  • Greyhound
  • Mank
  • News of the World
  • Soul
  • Sound of Metal

Music (original score)

  • Da 5 Bloods
  • Mank
  • Minari
  • News of the World
  • Soul

Music (original song)

Husavik (My Hometown), Eurovision Song Contest

Fight for You, Judas and the Black Messiah

Hear My Voice, The Trial of the Chicago 7

Io Si (Seen), The Life Ahead

Speak Now, One Night in Miami

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