Notable Oscar Nominees


Gage Skidmore (Creative Commons)

OSCAR-WORTHY: For his performance in “Minari,” Steven Yeun becomes the first Asian American to be nominated for a Best Actor award.

Ryan Wu and Helena Zhou

In previous years, many have criticized the Oscars for its lack of diverse representation and pushed for changes that would prevent the overlooking of talented directors, actors and other professionals who are people of color. Such a change was manifested in the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences’ 2020 inclusion rules, which required films to meet a certain diversity quota to be deemed eligible for the Oscars. Half a year after the implementation of such rules, the nominees for the 93rd Academy Awards are uniquely representative of the various demographics that make up Hollywood. Here are a few of the most notable nominations.

“Nomadland” (Best Picture) 

This drama film was written, directed, produced and edited by Chinese filmmaker Chloé Zhao, and follows a woman named Fern (Frances McDormand) traveling around the United States after her husband passes away. The story is based on journalist Jessica Bruder’s nonfiction book “Nomadland: Surviving America in the Twenty-First Century,” which details the difficult lives of Americans who have roamed the country in search of seasonal jobs ever since the Great Recession. “Nomadland” has received critical acclaim, winning the Golden Globe awards for Best Motion Picture – Drama and Best Director – Motion Picture. It is currently one of the favored films to take home the big prize at the ceremony. 

Steven Yeun (Best Actor)

Widely known for his role as Glenn Rhee in “The Walking Dead,” Yeun has since demonstrated that his talent for dramatic acting is comparable to the best in the business. Released in February 2021, Director Lee Isaac Chung’s movie “Minari” is about a South Korean immigrant family moving to Arkansas during the 1980s to start a new life. Rotten Tomatoes’ critic consensus describes Yeun’s role of the father as providing the “intimate and heart-wrenching portrait of family and assimilation in 1980s America.” Yeun is the first Asian American to ever be nominated for the Best Actor award. 

Riz Ahmed (Best Actor)

In director Darius Marder’s film “Sound of Metal,” Ahmed plays as Ruben Stone, a heavy metal drummer who must come to terms with his fading sense of hearing. By not romanticizing the loss of hearing, the film provides an expressive portrayal of the deaf community while showcasing Ahmed through his captivating emotional performance. He is the first Muslim lead actor ever to be nominated for the Best Actor award. 

Viola Davis (Best Actress) 

Making a name for herself as one of Hollywood’s most influential actresses, Davis broke new ground by becoming the most nominated African American actress ever with four nominations. She won her only Oscar thus far with her performance in the 2016 historical drama, “Fences.” This year, she has been nominated for “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom,” a musical drama which tells the story of blues singer Ma Rainey’s tumultuous recording session in Chicago during the 1920s. The movie was revered as a celebration of jazz and Black culture, with the performance of Davis and late actor Chadwick Boseman being held to wide acclaim for achieving historical accuracy and emotionally embodying their characters. Davis was also nominated but did not win the Golden Globe Award for Best Actress.