Academy Awards 2021: All the First-Time Nominees at This Year’s Show

The Academy Awards‘ 2021 nominations were officially unveiled today, March 15. As reported by outlets including Deadline, the nominees were named in a video hosted by power couple Nick Jonas and Priyanka Chopra-Jonas.

Ever since the #OscarsSoWhite controversy of 2014, the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences has made moves behind the scenes to improve the diversity of its voting base. This has resulted now, in 2021, in a pool of nominees as diverse as they’ve ever been, which is in stark contrast to the controversial recent Golden Globes field.

With that increased diversity comes a major influx of first-time Oscar nods. Here’s a breakdown of the newly-minted Academy Award nominees in the four acting categories.

Best Supporting Actor at the Academy Awards 2021

The 'Oscar' award, one of the 2021 award shows happening this year
Oscar statuettes for the Academy Awards. | Andrew H. Walker/Getty Images

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The Best Supporting Actor category had the most first-time acting nominees, and also a bit of categorization kerfuffle. Lakeith Stanfield scored a much-deserved first nomination for Judas and the Black Messiah, but in a confusing turn of events, so did co-star Daniel Kaluuya (previously nominated for Get Out).

Considering that Stanfield and Kaluuya are indisputably the primary characters, why wasn’t one of them up for Best Actor? As pointed out by Vanity Fair, the supporting categories tend to be less heated races with fewer big movie stars hogging the spotlight. As such, smaller names who are unquestionably the protagonists in certain films are often entered into supporting categories to give them better odds at success. It seems that gaming the Oscars might have caused Judas and the Black Messiah to step on the proverbial rake this year.

The other first-time nominees in the category are Leslie Odom Jr. for One Night in Miami, Sacha Baron Cohen for The Trial of the Chicago 7, and Paul Raci for The Sound Metal. Odom Jr. is also nominated for Best Original Song. Cohen was previously nominated for Best Adapted Screenplay for the original Borat, and is once again nominated this year for the same award for Borat Subsequent Moviefilm.

Best Supporting Actress at the Academy Awards 2021

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The highlight of the new nominees for Best Supporting Actress is Maria Bakalova. The Bulgarian actress was an unexpected highlight for many in the surprise sequel, Borat Subsequent Moviefilm, and quickly built up a wave of support heading into awards season and leading up to the Academy Awards. In the film, she plays the fictitious journalist’s teenage daughter, Tutar.

She is joined by other first-time nominees Amanda Seyfried, for playing Marion Davies in Mank, and Yuh-Jung Youn, the veteran South Korean performer who broke out with western audiences as Soonja in Minari.

Best Actor first-time nominees

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Chadwick Boseman scored a much-expected first-time nomination for Best Actor for Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom. With the nod, he also became the eighth actor to be nominated for an Academy Award posthumously.

Elsewhere in the category, Steven Yuen and Riz Ahmed received their first Academy Award nominations for Minari and The Sound of Metal, respectively. They are also the first-ever Asian-American and Muslim nominees for Best Actor.

First-timers for Best Actress

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Best Actress is the acting category with the least amount of first-time nominees. Andra Day was nominated for the title role in Hulu’s The United States vs. Billie Holiday, for which she also won big at the Golden Globes. Finally, The Crown‘s Vanessa Kirby was nominated for Netflix’s Pieces of a Woman.