For best actress, besides Mulligan and McDormand, the other nominees are Viola Davis (Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom), Andra Day (The United States v. Billie Holliday) and Vanessa Kirby (Pieces of a Woman.) This category might be the tightest of all the major races. Day won the Golden Globe last month, but was snubbed by the Screen Actors Guild, which instead nominated Amy Adams (Hillbilly Elegy). McDormand and Mulligan have split most of the critics’ awards.
Davis made history with her fourth career Oscar nomination, the most of any Black woman, having won once for best supporting actress for Fences, another film adaption of an August Wilson play. But in an interview with Variety last month, in anticipation of this morning’s announcement, Davis downplayed her achievement. As she explained, “For me, it’s a reflection of the lack of opportunities and access to opportunities people of color have had in this business. If me, going back to the Oscars four times in 2021, makes me the most nominated Black actress in history, that’s a testament to the sheer lack of material there has been out there for artists of color.”
In the best actor race, Chadwick Boseman continues his strong run this awards season, receiving a bid for Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom. After wins at the Golden Globes and the Critics Choice Awards, Boseman, who died last year at the age of 43, seems likely to become the third actor to receive a posthumous Oscar. He is up against his fellow SAG nominees Riz Ahmed (Sound of Metal), Anthony Hopkins (The Father), Gary Oldman (Mank), and Steven Yeun (Minari).
But Boseman did not get what many had predicted would be a second nomination this year, for supporting actor in Da Five Bloods—nor did Golden Globes and Screen Actors Guild nominee and previous Oscar-winner Jared Leto (The Little Things). Instead, Paul Raci (Sound of Metal) and Lakeith Stanfield (Judas and the Black Messiah) finally broke through to make the final five in that category, along with Sacha Baron Cohen (The Trial of the Chicago 7), Daniel Kaluuya (Judas and the Black Messiah), and Leslie Odom, Jr. (One Night in Miami).
The Oscar ceremony, delayed by the pandemic, will be held on Sunday, April 25. So far, the producers of the show (Jesse Collins, Stacey Sher, and Steven Soderbergh) have not announced any details, including whether or not there will be a host, but it’s expected that the ceremony will be a mix of an in-person and virtual event, broadcast from both the Dolby Theater and the cavernous Union Station in downtown Los Angeles.
If nothing else, let’s hope that the show’s organizers learned from the disastrous Golden Globes how not to hold a virtual ceremony. That awkward, glitch-filled and badly scripted show delivered the lowest ratings in the Globes’ history, an experience the Oscar producers definitely don’t want to repeat next month.