Montclair State University Students React to the 2021 Oscar Nominations

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Published April 4, 2021
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The Montclarion
Nick Jonas and Priyanka Chopra announce the 2021 Oscar nominations. Photo courtesy of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences

Nick Jonas and Priyanka Chopra recently announced the Academy Award (Oscar) nominees for the upcoming show set to take place on April 25, 2021.

This year’s nominations are considered groundbreaking, making it the first time two women directors are up for best director (Chloé Zhao for “Nomadland” and Emerald Fennell for “Promising Young Woman”), a Muslim actor is up for best actor (Riz Ahmed in “Sound of Metal”), and the first time an all-Black production team has been nominated for best picture (“Judas and the Black Messiah”).

Not to mention, most films came directly from streaming services such as Netflix, which has been nominated for over 30 awards, HBO Max and Prime Video, among other platforms, due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic halting cinematic premieres for the previous year.

Montclair State University students had many opinions on how they think the event will unfold.

José Rodriguez, a junior theater studies major, says the nominations are exactly what he would have expected. He predicts that best picture will either go to “Judas and the Black Messiah,” directed by Shaka King, or “The Trial of the Chicago 7,” which stars best supporting actor nominee Sacha Baron Cohen, whose “Borat Subsequent Moviefilm” costar, Maria Bakalova, is up for best supporting actress for her work on the sequel.

“I think ‘Judas and the Black Messiah’ is an excellent film with actors who carry [it] graciously,” Rodriguez said. “With ‘The Trial of the Chicago 7,’ I think the intensity of the performances along with the star-studded cast can help it take the win. Plus, Sacha [Baron Cohen] in a serious role will definitely grab attention in the voting process.”

José Rodriguez is a junior theater studies major. Photo courtesy of José Rodriguez

José Rodriguez is a junior theater studies major.
Photo courtesy of José Rodriguez

Rodriguez was most surprised that “Promising Young Woman” got the attention it deserved, with five nominations including best picture.

“I thought [‘Promising Young Woman’] sadly flew under the radar, but it garnered attention and now is an Oscar-nominated film,” Rodriguez said.

Holley Petrie, a sophomore English major, felt the nominations were very up with the times and diversified, noting the range from “Mank,” which was shot in black and white, to the Fred Hampton biopic “Judas and the Black Messiah.”

However, she is most excited about best documentary feature nominee, “Crip Camp,” which she says depicts the struggle and camaraderie of disabled people as they come together to fight for disabled needs justice and to feel normal as a community.

“It is important to realize that being disabled does not mean you aren’t human and don’t fall under human rights,” Petrie explained. “No matter disabled or not, we all have equal civic and human rights.”

Holley Petrie is a sophomore English major. Photo courtesy of Holley Petrie

Holley Petrie is a sophomore English major.
Photo courtesy of Holley Petrie

Petrie has many predictions for how the night might go, hoping that Chadwick Boseman, who passed away late last year, wins best actor for his role in “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom.”

“[Boseman] is a fantastic actor and will be dearly missed by the acting community,” Petrie said. “We were blessed to have seen him in such wonderful roles.”

Aside from her own hopes of seeing Amanda Seyfried win best supporting actress for her role in “Mank,” she is also anticipating the winner of best animated feature.

“Out of the two Pixar films in the category for animation, I hope ‘Soul’ wins because it has a fantastic message of life – to live and take it all in,” Petrie said.

Ross Stern, a senior film major, had a difficult time keeping up with this year’s nominations.

“I usually follow awards season like it’s the Super Bowl but 2020 has been such a weird year for movies that I’ve only actually seen two of best picture nominees, ‘Judas and the Black Messiah’ and ‘Mank,'” Stern said. “I’ve heard really good things about the rest of the films and I’m excited to watch all of them.”

Ross Stern is a senior film major. Photo courtesy of Ross Stern

Ross Stern is a senior film major.
Photo courtesy of Ross Stern

Although he has yet to watch all the films, he has many predictions on who is going to win. Stern agrees with Petrie on Boseman winning best actor and “Soul” winning best animated feature. He also agrees with Rodriguez on his predictions of “Judas and the Black Messiah” winning best picture, mainly due to the heightened prevalence of the Black Lives Matter movement.

As a second choice for best picture, Stern believes “The Father” has a chance as it stars Anthony Hopkins and Olivia Coleman, who he describes as the “perfect formula for an Oscar film.”

“I doubt ‘Minari’ is going to win best picture simply because they already gave the award to a Korean language movie last year and they don’t like to repeat themselves in that way,” Stern said. “[The same way] they didn’t give much to ‘Call Me by Your Name’ the year after ‘Moonlight’ and ‘Rocketman’ was totally snubbed the year after ‘Bohemian Rhapsody.'”

Despite the pandemic closing movie theaters and halting productions, 2020 surprisingly came out with an abundance of worthy films to take home an Oscar. The ceremony will air on ABC on April 25, and will also be available on certain streaming services.

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