The Oscars

Oscars - 2020s

2021 Academy Awards®
Winners & History
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Academy Awards History (By Decade):
Introduction, 1927/8-39, 1940s, 1950s, 1960s, 1970s, 1980s, 1990s, 2000s, 2010s, 2020s
Academy Awards Summaries
Winners Charts:
"Best Picture" Oscar®, "Best Director" Oscar®, "Best Actor" Oscar®, "Best Supporting Actor" Oscar®,
"Best Actress" Oscar®, "Best Supporting Actress" Oscar®, "Best Screenplay/Writer" Oscar®


2021
The winner is listed first, in CAPITAL letters.

Filmsite's Greatest Films of 2021

Best Picture

CODA (2021)

Belfast (2021)

Don't Look Up (2021)

Drive My Car (2021)

Dune (2021)

King Richard (2021)

Licorice Pizza (2021)
Nightmare Alley (2021)

The Power of the Dog (2021)

West Side Story (2021)

Best Animated Feature Film

ENCANTO (2021)
Flee (2021)

Luca (2021)

The Mitchells vs the Machines (2021)

Raya and the Last Dragon (2021)

Actor:
WILL SMITH in "King Richard," Javier Bardem in "Being the Ricardos," Benedict Cumberbatch in "The Power of the Dog," Andrew Garfield in "tick, tick … BOOM!," Denzel Washington in "The Tragedy of Macbeth"
Actress:
JESSICA CHASTAIN in "The Eyes of Tammy Faye," Olivia Colman in "The Lost Daughter," Penélope Cruz in "Parallel Mothers," Nicole Kidman in "Being the Ricardos," Kristen Stewart in "Spencer"
Supporting Actor:
TROY KOTSUR in "CODA," Ciarán Hinds in "Belfast," Jesse Plemons in "The Power of the Dog," JK Simmons in "Being the Ricardos," Kodi Smit-McPhee in "The Power of the Dog"
Supporting Actress:
ARIANA DEBOSE in "West Side Story," Jessie Buckley in "The Lost Daughter," Judi Dench in "Belfast," Kirsten Dunst in "The Power of the Dog," Aunjanue Ellis in "King Richard"
Director:
JANE CAMPION for "The Power of the Dog," Kenneth Branagh for "Belfast," Ryûsuke Hamaguchi for "Drive My Car," Paul Thomas Anderson for "Licorice Pizza," Steven Spielberg for "West Side Story"


The Power of the Dog (2021)The 94th Academy Awards ceremony, presented by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (AMPAS), took place on March 27, 2022. This year's ceremony honored the best films released between March 1 and December 31, 2021. Due to the on-going COVID pandemic, actual theatre-moving-going was still on the decline, prompting the domineering streaming services (i.e., Netflix, Apple TV+, HBO Max and Amazon, etc.) to step in to fill the void.

This year, it marked the first time since 2010 that 10 films made the cut for Best Picture. The 10 films nominated for Best Picture represented a wide range of films from varying genres - a mix of box office hits and specialty fare. Four of the films were box-office failures (Belfast, West Side Story, Licorice Pizza, and Nightmare Alley), and the Japanese film Drive My Car was little seen.

When the nominees were announced in February, nine of the 10 had made less than $40 million in domestic box office. The only exception was Dune that had earned just over $100 million (domestic). All 10 of the Best Picture nominees earned barely 1/4th as much as Spider-Man: No Way Home (with only one nomination that it lost to Dune).

The winner of the Best Picture category was a come-from-behind victor, since The Power of the Dog was the front-runner for the majority of the awards season:

  • CODA (with 3 nominations and 3 wins), from Apple Original Films and writer/director Sian Heder; the title meant "Child of Deaf Adults" - the coming-of-age film was set in a New England fishing village, and two of the characters were portrayed by real-life deaf performers (off-screen couple Troy Kotsur and Marlee Matlin)
    [Note: It was a clean sweep, winning 3 for 3 - it was only the seventh Best Picture winner that won every award for which it was nominated. It was one of the very few Best Picture winning films without a nominated Best Director, although the director won the award for Best Adapted Screenplay. It was also the first film from a streaming company (Apple Original Films and Apple TV+) to win Best Picture, and the first movie to debut at Sundance that went on to win Best Picture. Troy Kotsur became the first deaf male actor to win an Oscar.]

The other Best Picture-nominated films (in descending order of wins) were:

  • Dune (with 10 nominations and six wins), directed by un-nominated Denis Villeneuve, from Warner Bros. and released by HBO Max, Part One - an adaptation of the first half of Frank Herbert's adaptation of the legendary and popular sci-fi novel about the Atreides family ruling of the desert planet Arrakis; it was devoid of nominations in acting categories, but won many technical awards, including Best Original Score, Best Cinematography, Best Editing, Best Production Design, Best Sound, and Best Visual Effects
  • The Power of the Dog (with 12 nominations and only one win), directed by Oscar-winning New Zealander Jane Campion, and shot mostly on location in New Zealand; it was a revisionist psychological western based on Thomas Savage's 1967 novel, and set in 1920s Montana amongst the members of the wealthy ranch-owning Burbank family; it was the first female-directed film to receive more than 10 nominations; its many nominations included Best Picture, Best Director for Jane Campion, and 4 acting nominations for star Benedict Cumberbatch and supporting players Kirsten Dunst, Jesse Plemons and Kodi Smit-McPhee
    [Note: It was the first film since American Hustle (2013) to receive four acting noms, and was the 16th film in all of Academy history to achieve this feat. It became the first film since The Graduate (1967) to win Best Director as its only Oscar.]
  • West Side Story (with 7 nominations and only one win), from Disney, the remake of the 1961 classic musical film (from the 1957 Broadway musical) by producer/director Steven Spielberg, about teenaged gang rivalry in NYC between the Puerto-Rican Sharks and the Jets (a white-youth gang) over control of San Juan Hill on Manhattan's West Side; star-crossed lovers Tony (Ansel Elgort) and Maria (Rachel Zegler) from the different opposing groups were caught in the middle of the conflict; its sole Oscar win was for the character of Anita (Ariana DeBose) - played by Rita Moreno in the original film
    [Note: Director Spielberg's nomination as producer was record-setting. Spielberg has now produced 11 films nominated for Best Picture. West Side Story was also the first remake of a Best Picture Oscar-winning film that was also nominated for Best Picture.]
  • Belfast (with 7 nominations and only one win), from Focus Features and Oscar-winning writer/director Kenneth Branagh, a semi-autobiographical, coming-of-age drama set in working-class Belfast in the late 1960s, mostly centering on 9 year-old Buddy's (Jude Hill) struggles in the neighborhood
  • King Richard (with 6 nominations and only one win), a sports-themed biopic about the determined father Richard (Oscar-winning Will Smith) of the famed Williams' family of tennis stars (Venus and Serena), from Warner Bros., but also released by HBO Max; it was the only Best Picture nominee made by a black director (Reinaldo Marcus Green)
  • Drive My Car (Jp.) (aka Doraibu mai kâ), (with 4 nominations and one win), directed by Ryusuke Hamaguchi; a contemplative, three-hour drama (at a record-setting length of 179 minutes) about grief - and the first Japanese film to earn a Best Picture nomination; its tale was about of a young female car-driver chauffeuring Yûsuke Kafuku (Hidetoshi Nishijima) - a widowed, reknowned theater actor-director to Hiroshima for rehearsals for a production of Uncle Vanya after his screenwriter wife Oto Kafuku (Reika Kirishima) had died two years earlier; its four nominations included Best Picture, Best Director, Best International Feature (win), and Best Adapted Screenplay

  • Don't Look Up (with 4 nominations and no wins), a star-powered satirical comedy from Netflix and co-writer/director Adam McKay, about the approach of a life-destroying comet approaching toward Earth in about six months' time - announced by two astronomers, grad student Kate Dibiasky (Jennifer Lawrence) and her professor Dr. Randall Mindy (Leonardo DiCaprio), who found that people were mostly apathetic
  • Nightmare Alley (with 4 nominations and no wins), a stylistic noir picture (based upon the 1947 original film starring Tyrone Power) from Searchlight and directed by Guillermo del Toro; with three additional nominations for Best Production Design, Best Costume Design and Best Cinematography; in the plot, ambitious Stan Carlisle (actor/producer Bradley Cooper) joined a traveling carnival and then reinvented himself as a high-society psychic, but his plans went awry when he attempted to con equally-dangerous female psychiatrist Dr. Lilith Ritter (Cate Blanchett)
  • Licorice Pizza (with 3 nominations and no wins), a nostalgic, coming of age story of first love set in the early 1970s in the San Fernando Valley, between 15 year-old ex-child actor Gary Valentine (Cooper Hoffman) and twenty-something photographer's assistant Alana Kane (Alana Haim), directed and written by Paul Thomas Anderson, from MGM/UAR

In regards to the distribution of nominations:

  • Netflix accounted for 27 of the almost 40 Oscar nominations, including Best Picture nominees The Power of the Dog (12) and Don't Look Up (4), and others including The Lost Daughter (3) and tick, tick… BOOM! (2). For the third year in a row, Netflix received the top number of nominations
  • Warner Bros. scored a total of 16 nominations, with Dune (10) and King Richard (6)
  • Apple Original Film's 6 nominations came from CODA (3) and The Tragedy of Macbeth (3)
  • Amazon Prime Video's main nominee was Being the Ricardos (3) - with two lead nominations and one supporting acting nomination
  • Disney+ was successful with 9 nominations overall; it represented three of the five Best Animated Feature Film nominees (Encanto (3), Luca (1), and Raya and the Last Dragon (1)) - combining for a total of 5 nominations); other Disney nominees included Cruella (2), Shang-Chi and The Legend of the Ten Rings (1), and Spider-Man: No Way Home (1)

    [Note: With Encanto's Best Animated Feature Film Oscar win, it became the 4th non-Pixar Disney film to win in this category, following Frozen (2013), Big Hero 6 (2014), and Zootopia (2016).]

The winner of Best Director was:

  • 67 year-old New Zealander Jane Campion (with her second nomination as Best Director, and first Oscar win), for The Power of the Dog
    [Note: Campion's nomination made her the first woman to be nominated more than once for Best Director. She was previously nominated in the Best Director category for The Piano (1993) (and coincidentally lost to her present contender Steven Spielberg's film Schindler's List (1993) but won the Oscar for its Best Original Screenplay). Only seven women have ever been nominated for Best Director, and only two have won, including last year's victor Chloé Zhao for Nomadland (2020). Campion became the third woman to win Best Director, and also was the oldest woman ever nominated in this category at age 67.]

The other nominees included:

  • 75 year-old Steven Spielberg (with his 8th nomination as Best Director, and record-breaking 11th nomination as a Producer), for West Side Story
    [Note: Spielberg became the first person to be nominated as Best Director in six different decades. His previous Best Director nominations included two wins: for Schindler's List (1993) and Saving Private Ryan (1998), and five nominations for Close Encounters of the Third Kind (1977), Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981), E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial (1982), Munich (2005), and Lincoln (2012). Spielberg's nominated Best Picture film was his 12th Best Picture nominee, an Academy record. His streak began 46 years ago with Jaws (1975). Only Spielberg and William Wyler (with 13) have ever directed double-digit Best Picture nominees. The closest living contender under Spielberg was Martin Scorsese with eight Best Picture nominees. With nominations for Best Picture and Best Director this year, Spielberg now has a total of 19 Oscar nominations.]
  • 51 year-old Paul Thomas Anderson (with his 3rd nomination as Best Director, and no wins), for Licorice Pizza
    [Note: Anderson was previously nominated in the category for There Will Be Blood (2007) and Phantom Thread (2017).]
  • 61 year-old Britisher Kenneth Branagh (with his 2nd nomination as Best Director), for Belfast
    [Note: Branagh also received two other nominations for Belfast: Best Picture Producer, and Best Original Screenplay. With these nominations, Branagh became the first person to earn 7 Oscar nominations in seven different categories (Picture, Directing, Original Screenplay, Adapted Screenplay, Live-Action Short, Lead Actor, and Supporting Actor), with no wins to date, except for this year, when Branagh won Best Original Screenplay. He was previously nominated as Best Director for Henry V (1989).]
  • 43 year-old Japanese Ryûsuke Hamaguchi (with his first nomination as Best Director), for Drive My Car
    [Note: Ryûsuke Hamaguchi was the third Japanese director to be Oscar-nominated for Best Director, following Hiroshi Teshigahara (Woman in the Dunes (1964), with a win for Best Foreign Language Film) and Akira Kurosawa (Ran (1985)). Hamaguchi also received a Best Adapted Screenplay nomination for the film.]

[Note: For the first time, two real-life (off-screen) couples received performance nominations covering all four acting categories. See details below.]

The winner in the Best Actor category was:

  • 53 year-old Will Smith (with his 3rd Best Actor nomination and first Oscar win), for his role as Richard Williams, the father of tennis stars Venus and Serena Williams, in King Richard
    [Note: Smith was previously nominated as Best Actor for Ali (2001) and The Pursuit of Happyness (2006). His supporting co-star Aunjanue Ellis portrayed his wife Oracene 'Brandy' Williams.]

The other nominees included:

  • 67 year-old Denzel Washington (with his 10th Oscar nomination overall, and 9th acting nomination, including two previous Oscar wins), for his role as the titular character - aspiring Scottish king Macbeth in the Shakespeare adaptation, The Tragedy of Macbeth
    [Note: Washington became the most-nominated black actor in Oscar history with his nomination. He had two Best Supporting Actor nominations, and seven Best Actor nominations, plus a producer nomination for Fences (2016). He previously won Best Actor for Training Day (2001), and Best Supporting Actor for Glory (1989).]
  • 52 year-old Spanish actor Javier Bardem (with his 4th Oscar nominations, with one win), for his role as Lucille Ball's husband Desi Arnaz, in Being the Ricardos
    [Note: Javier Bardem won Best Supporting Actor for No Country For Old Men (2007), and was nominated two other times for Best Actor: Before Night Falls (2000) and Biutiful (2010). Bardem and Penélope Cruz became the 6th married couple to be nominated for acting in the same year.]
  • 38 year-old Andrew Garfield (with his 2nd Best Actor nomination), for his role as gifted, 1990s composer/lyricist Jonathan Larson, in Tick, Tick … Boom!, directed by Lin-Manuel Miranda (in his directorial debut); Larson was noted for his Tony Award-winning 'Rent'; the title of the film was based on the name of Larson's own autobiographical musical
    [Note: Garfield was previously nominated as Best Actor for the WWII drama Hacksaw Ridge (2016).]
  • 45 year-old British actor Benedict Cumberbatch (with his 2nd Best Actor nomination), for his role as mid-1920s wealthy Montana ranch owner Phil Burbank, in The Power of the Dog
    [Note: Cumberbatch was previously nominated for Best Actor for The Imitation Game (2014).]

The Best Actress category nominees produced a strange anomaly. It featured an all-white performer line-up with two previous Best Actress Oscar winners, and only one first-timer. However, all five Best Actress nominees were not in the top 10 of Best Picture-contending films! The last time this happened was 16 years ago amongst 2005 films, when the main category was still limited to five nominees.

[Note: Kristen Stewart and Afro-Latina Ariana De Bose made Oscar history this year for being the first two openly LGBT+ female performers who were nominated in acting categories. The first gay actor who received an Oscar nomination was Ian McKellen for The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring (2001).]

The winner in the Best Actress category was:

  • 44 year-old Jessica Chastain (with her 3rd Oscar nomination and first Oscar win), for her role in the biographical drama about two controversial televangelists Tammy Faye and Jim Bakker in the 1970s and 1980s, in The Eyes of Tammy Faye
    [Note: Chastain's two previous nominations were Best Supporting Actress for The Help (2011), and Best Actress for Zero Dark Thirty (2012).]

The other nominees in the category included:

  • 54 year-old American-born Australian actress Nicole Kidman (with her 5th Oscar nomination, and one previous Best Actress win), for her role as TV-film star Lucille Ball, in Being the Ricardos
    [Note: Kidman was previously nominated as Best Actress for Moulin Rouge! (2001), The Hours (2002) (win), and Rabbit Hole (2010), and as Best Supporting Actress for Lion (2016). Being the Ricardos received only three acting nominations and nothing else.]
  • 47 year-old Spanish actress Penélope Cruz (with her 4th Oscar nomination, her second Best Actress nomination, and with one previous win), for her role as Janis Martínez Moreno, in director Pedro Almodóvar's drama Parallel Mothers (Sp.) (aka Madres Paralelas)
    [Note: Cruz's three previous nominations were Best Actress for Volver (2006), and Best Supporting Actress for Vicky Cristina Barcelona (2008) (win) and Nine (2009).]
  • 48 year-old English actress Olivia Colman (with her 3rd Oscar nomination, and one previous Best Actress win), for her role as the older Leda Caruso, in co-writer/director Maggie Gyllenhaal's directorial debut film - the psychological drama The Lost Daughter
    [Note: Colman was previously nominated for Best Actress (win) for The Favourite (2018), and for Best Supporting Actress for The Father (2020).]
  • 31 year-old Kristen Stewart (with her first Oscar nomination), for her role as Princess Diana, in director Pablo Larraín's British biopic Spencer (with only one nomination)

The winner in the Best Supporting Actor category (four out of five nominees were first-timers) was:

  • 53 year-old Troy Kotsur (with his first nomination), for his role as Frank Rossi, a gruff and deaf Gloucester, MA fisherman struggling within his mostly-deaf family with the aid of 17 year-old teenaged daughter Ruby (Emilia Jones) - the only non-deaf family member, who was about to embark on an independent life of her own, in CODA
    [Note: Deaf actor Kotsur became the first male deaf actor to receive an Oscar nomination and to win the Oscar. With his co-star Marlee Matlin, the two became the only two deaf actors ever recognized by the Academy. Matlin was the first deaf performer to be Oscar-nominated - and she won the Oscar for Children of a Lesser God (1986). He was only the second deaf person to win, after his CODA co-star Marlee Matlin won Best Actress for her role in Children of a Lesser God (1986).]

The other nominees included:

  • 67 year-old JK Simmons (with his 2nd nomination in the category), for his role as I Love Lucy star William Frawley, in Being the Ricardos
    [Note: Simmons was previously nominated (and won) as Best Supporting Actor in Whiplash (2014).]
  • 68 year-old Irish actor Ciarán Hinds (with his first Oscar nomination), for the role of "Pop", in writer/director Kenneth Branagh's Belfast
  • 33 year-old Jesse Plemons (with his first nomination), for his role as dapper and mild-mannered George Burbank, a wealthy mid-1920s Montana ranch owner - the husband of Rose Gordon (his co-star and real-life wife Kirsten Dunst), in Jane Campion's The Power of the Dog
  • 26 year-old Australian actor Kodi Smit-McPhee (with his first Oscar nomination), for his role as lisping Peter Gordon, the son of widow and inn owner Rose Gordon, in The Power of the Dog

The winner in the Best Supporting Actress category (with four first-time nominees and one previous winner, and two performers of color) was:

  • 31 year-old Afro-Latina Ariana DeBose (with her first nomination), for her role as star-crossed lover Anita, in Spielberg's remake West Side Story
    With her win, DeBose became the first openly LGBT+ female performer to win an acting Oscar, in addition to being the first female of color.
    [Note: Rita Moreno won the Best Supporting Actress Oscar for the same role in the original 1961 film, and also starred in a different role in the remake. In terms of Oscar history, DeBose and Moreno became the first actors of color and the first women to be nominated (and win) for the same character in different films. They were the 3rd pair of performers thus honored, following Marlon Brando and Robert De Niro as Vito Corleone (in The Godfather (1972) and The Godfather Part II (1974)) and Heath Ledger and Joaquin Phoenix as the Joker (in The Dark Knight (2008) and Joker (2019).].

The other nominees were:

  • 87 year-old English actress Judi Dench (with her 8th nomination, and only one previous win), for her role as Granny, in Belfast
    [Note: Dench's two previous Best Supporting Actress nominations included Shakespeare in Love (1998) (win) and Chocolat (2000); her many Best Actress nominations included Mrs Brown (1997), Iris (2001), Mrs. Henderson Presents (2005), Notes on a Scandal (2006), and Philomena (2013). At her age, Dench became the third oldest acting nominee of all time. She also became the most-nominated British actress of all time, surpassing Greer Garson (with 7 career nominations).]
  • 39 year-old Kirsten Dunst (with her first nomination), for her role as alcoholic mother Rose Gordon Burbank (co-starring with her real-life Oscar-nominated husband Jesse Plemons), in The Power of the Dog
  • 32 year-old Irish actress Jessie Buckley (with her first nomination), for her role as the younger version of Leda Caruso (Oscar-nominated Olivia Colman portrayed the older version), in The Lost Daughter
    [Note: It was a rare Oscar accomplishment - The Lost Daughter's two performers received Oscar nominations for playing the same character in the same film. This has only happened with two other films, involving Kate Winslet, Judi Dench, and Gloria Stuart. (1) In Titanic (1996), Winslet was nominated for Best Actress for her role as Rose DeWitt Bukater, while Stuart also received a Best Supporting Actress nomination for playing the older version of Rose in the same film. (2) In Iris (2001), Kate Winslet was nominated as Best Supporting Actress for playing Iris Murdoch, while Judi Dench earned a Best Actress nomination for playing the elder Iris.]

  • 53 year-old Aunjanue Ellis (with her first nomination), for her role as Oracene 'Brandy' Price/Williams, the mother of the super-star tennis Venus sisters, in King Richard
    [Note: Best Actor-winner Will Smith played the father Richard Williams, Brandy's husband.]

Snubs or Overlooked Films or Nominees:

  • two major omissions: Lady Gaga as outsider Italian female Patrizia Reggiani (a Best Actress role) who married into the Gucci family, and Jared Leto as unintelligent and untalented aspiring designer Paolo Gucci, both starring in House of Gucci
  • Jennifer Hudson as Best Actress for her role as singer Aretha Franklin, in Respect
  • Caitríona Balfe - overlooked for her sensitive portrayal of a working class mother ("Ma"), in Belfast
  • Spider-Man: No Way Home, the blockbuster superhero film, and the largest grossing-film (domestic) of the year - it received only one nomination: Best Visual Effects (it lost to Dune)
  • MGM/UAR's James Bond pic No Time to Die received three total nominations: Best Visual Effects, Best Sound and Best Original Song (Billie Eilish's "No Time to Die") (its sole win)
  • the sci-fi epic film Dune received 10 nominations, including a nod for Best Picture, but its director Denis Villeneuve was snubbed; it eventually led the awards night with six Oscar wins
  • Tick, Tick … Boom!, directed by Lin-Manuel Miranda, failed to be considered for Best Picture
  • in the Best Supporting category, Ruth Negga's portrayal of Clare Bellew (a mixed-raced black woman passing as white in Harlem), was passed over in director Rebecca Hall’s Passing - a B/W adaptation of Nella Larsen's 1929 novel

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