Academy Nominates Record Number of Independent Films

A man leans out of the window of a truck to greet woman with long hair.
Frances McDormand and Director/Writer Chloé Zhao on the set of NOMADLAND. Photo by Joshua James Richards. © 2020 20th Century Studios All Rights Reserved

Women and Artists of Color in Independent Films Represent Significant Number of Oscar Nominations This Year

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences announced Oscar nominations on Monday. Independent films received recognition in several categories.  

Chloe Zhao became the first woman of color nominated for Best Director for her film Nomadland. Zhao also picked up Best Adapted Screenplay and Best Picture nominations. Nomadland star Frances McDormand earned a nomination for Best Actress in a Lead Role. Joshua James Richards received a nomination for Best Cinematography. 

Independent films that featured underrepresented characters and stories garnered significant recognition this year. 

The film Minari racked up six nominations. It appeared in the categories of Best Picture, Best Director, and Best Original Screenplay. Steven Yeung, nominated for Best Actor in a Lead Role, became the first Asian-American male in the history of Oscar in this category. 73-year-old actress Youn Yuh-jung, who played the feisty grandmother named Soonja, was nominated for Best Supporting Actress. 

Judas and the Black Messiah also snagged six nominations. The film collected nominations for Best Picture, Best Original Screenplay, Best Cinematography, and Best Original Song. Stars Lakeith Stanfield and Daniel Kaluuya both earned nominations for Best Actor in a Supporting Role. 

Sound of Metal, another indie film favorite, also amassed a half-dozen nominations. Its star, Riz Ahmed, became the first Muslim to be nominated for Best Actor. His co-star Paul Raci grabbed a nomination for Best Supporting Actor. Sound of Metal was also nominated for Best Picture, Best Original Screenplay, Achievement in Sound, and Film Editing. 

Finally, first-time director Emerald Fennell received a nomination for Best Director for Promising Young Woman. Her film also drew nominations for Best Picture, Best Original Screenplay, and Film Editing. The film’s star Carey Mulligan fetched her second nomination for Best Actress in a Lead Role. 

Perhaps 2021 will become known as the year independent film found a wider audience with the growing popularity of new streaming services. The Academy’s recognition of these films may direct some much-deserved attention to the independent film industry moving forward. 

About :

Kim Costigan is a writer and editor for The Independent.  When she’s not watching independent films and developing stories for the magazine, she can be found working 9 to 5 at a local university as an administrator supporting Philosophy Ph.D. candidates and faculty.  Kim is a Creative Writing MFA candidate at Emerson College.