Oscars: Mank leads nominations that include two female directors

The film industry’s biggest awards have been delayed by the pandemic in a year when most cinemas were closed.

Chloe Zhao is one of the two female directors nominated, the first time in Oscar history [File: Mario Anzuoni/Reuters]

David Fincher’s Mank led nominations for the 93rd Academy Awards with 10 nods on Monday, and for the first time, two women — Chloé Zhao and Emerald Fennell — were tipped for best director.

Eight films were nominated for best picture. Mank was joined by Fennell’s Promising Young Woman, Zhao’s Nomadland, Judas and the Black Messiah, Sound of Metal, Minari, The Father and The Trial of the Chicago 7.

History was made in the best director category. Only five women have ever been nominated in the category before. Zhao is the first woman of Asian descent to get a nod — and the most nominated woman in a single year in Oscar history. She also got nominations for the film’s adapted screenplay, editing and, as a producer in the best picture category.

The other directing nominees were Lee Isaac Chung for Minari, Fincher for Mank and Thomas Vinterberg for Another Round.

For performers, it is the most diverse slate of nominees ever — and a far cry from the all-white acting nominees that spawned the #OscarsSoWhite hashtag five years ago. Nine of the 20 acting nominees are people of colour, including a posthumous best-actor nomination for Chadwick Boseman (Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom), and nods for Riz Ahmed (Sound of Metal), Steven Yeun (Minari), Daniel Kaluuya and Lakeith Stanfield (Judas and the Black Messiah), Leslie Odom Jr (One Night in Miami), Viola Davis (Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom), Andra Day (The People vs Billie Holiday) and Yuh-Jung Youn (Minari).

The coronavirus pandemic closed most movies theatres and delayed the opening of many films [File: Jeenah Moon/Reuters]

Davis, who won for her performance in 2016’s Fences, landed her fourth Oscar nomination, making Davis the most nominated Black actress ever. Yeun is the first Asian American ever nominated for best actor.

The other nominees for best actress are – Carey Mulligan (Promising Young Woman); Frances McDormand (Nomadland); Vanessa Kirby (Pieces of a Woman).

The remaining nominees for best actor are – Anthony Hopkins (The Father); Gary Oldman (Mank).

Nominations in other categories here.

After a pandemic year that shuttered most movie theatres, the best-picture nominees had hardly any box office to speak of. The Oscars will not just lack blockbusters, it is going forward with many movies that have barely played on the big screen at all. That leaves streaming services set to dominate Hollywood’s biggest and most sought-after awards.

Netflix, as expected, led the pack with 35 nominations. The service is still gunning for its first best-picture winner, and this year has two shots in Mank and The Trial of the Chicago 7 — a movie Paramount Pictures sold off during the pandemic. Netflix led last year, too, with 24 nominations, but came away with just two wins.

Other streamers were in the mix. Amazon, in particular, was well represented with Sound of Metal, Borat Subsequent Moviefilm and One Night in Miami.

Vehicles arrive at the drive-in premiere of the Netflix film The Trial of the Chicago 7, October 13, 2020, at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, California, US[File: Chris Pizzello/AP Photo]

The nominations were announced from London by presenters Nick Jonas and Priyanka Chopra Jonas. The Academy Awards would typically have happened by now, but were postponed by two months due to the pandemic. They will instead be telecast on April 25.

The film academy confirmed on Monday that the show will be held at its usual home in the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles and the city’s railway hub, Union Station.

In addition to Youn, the nominees for best supporting actress are – Maria Bakalova (Borat Subsequent Moviefilm); Glenn Close (Hillbilly Elegy); Olivia Colman (The Father); Amanda Seyfried (Mank).

In addition to Odom Jr, Kaluuya and Stanfield, the nominees for best supporting actor are – Sacha Baron Cohen (The Trial of the Chicago 7); Paul Raci (Sound of Metal).

The film academy and ABC will hope that the nominees can drum up more excitement than they have elsewhere. Interest in little golden statuettes has nosedived during the pandemic. Ratings for a largely virtual Golden Globes plunged to 6.9 million viewers — a 64 percent drop from 2020 — last month. Though on Sunday the Grammys managed to break through the Zoom trap that has bedevilled other award shows.

With the notable exception of fuelling streaming subscriber growth, the pandemic has been punishing for the movie industry. Production slowed to a crawl, blockbusters were postponed or detoured to streaming and thousands have been laid off or furloughed.

But the outlook for Hollywood has recently brightened as coronavirus cases have slid and vaccines have ramped up. Movie theatres are reopening in the US’s two largest markets, New York and Los Angeles. And several big movies — including the Walt Disney Co’s Black Widow (May 7) — are scheduled for May and beyond.

Source: AP