Historic Oscar Nods for Yeun, Zhao

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The star of “Minari” scores the first-ever best actor nomination for an Asian American.

From left, Steven Yeun, Alan Kim, Yuh-Jung Youn, Ye-Ri Han and Noel Kate Cho in Lee Isaac Chung’s “Minari.” Yeun and Youn have received acting Oscar nominations, while Chung has a nod for directing.

Rafu Staff and Wire Reports

In a morning filled with firsts, the vintage Hollywood tale “Mank” scored a leading 10 nominations Monday for the 93rd Oscars, while “Nomadland” writer/director Chloe Zhao became the first woman to be nominated four times in a single year.

“Nomadland,” the life-affirming drama about grief and healing as seen through the eyes of van-dwelling wanderers, is already considered a front-runner in the best picture race, having already collected Golden Globe and Critics Choice awards, while Zhao was named best director at both of those ceremonies.

“Nomadland” and “Mank” – the black-and-white portrait of screen­writer Herman Mankiewicz as he struggles to complete the script for the Hollywood classic “Citizen Kane” – were both nominated for best picture, along with “The Father,” “Judas and the Black Messiah,” “Mi­nari,” “Promising Young Woman,” “Sound of Metal” and “The Trial of the Chicago 7.”

Zhao was nominated as a producer of “Nomadland,” as well as for di­recting, adapted screenplay and edit­ing to become the first woman with four nods in a single year. “Promising Young Woman” producer/director/ writer Emerald Fennell earned three nominations, joining Sofia Coppola and Fran Walsh as the only women to accomplish that feat.

Steven Yeun received a best actor nomination for his role in “Minari,” as a father who abruptly decides to move his family from California to farm in rural Arkasas. Yeun, who was born in South Korea and immigrated with his family to Canada and then the U.S., is best known for playing Glenn Rhee on “The Walking Dead.” His other credits include “Drunk History” and the new “Twilight Zone.”

The late Chadwick Boseman is the early front-runner to win the best actor prize for his work opposite Viola Da­vis in “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom.” Also nominated were Riz Ahmed for “Sound of Metal,” Anthony Hopkins for “The Father” and Gary Oldman for “Mank.”

The nomination makes Ahmed, who was born in London to a British Pakistani family, the first Muslim actor to ever land in the best actor category.

While Yeun’s nod is considered the first for an Asian American per­former, some have wondered if he was preceded by Oscar winners such as Yul Brynner and Ben Kingsley. A Monday article in The Los Ange­les Times noted that the Russian-born Brynner’s heritage is the subject of some confusion, and Kingsley is not an American.

A number of actors of Asian descent have been nominated in the supporting categories. The only winners have been Miyoshi Umeki for “Sayonara” (1957) and Haing S. Ngor for “The Killing Fields” (1984). Nominees include Sessue Hayakawa for “The Bridge on the River Kwai” (1957), Pat Morita for “The Karate Kid” (1984), Ken Watanabe for “The Last Samurai” (2004), Rinko Kikuchi for “Babel” (2006) and Dev Patel for “Lion” (2016).

Many pundits expected Boseman to also land a supporting-actor nomi­nation for his work in Spike Lee’s “Da 5 Bloods,” but he was left off the list. Nominations went to Sacha Baron Cohen for “The Trial of the Chicago 7,” Daniel Kaluuya for “Ju­das and the Black Messiah,” Leslie Odom Jr. for “One Night in Miami,” Paul Raci for “Sound of Metal” and Lakeith Stanfield for “Judas and the Black Messiah.”

Davis became the most-nominated Black actress in Oscar history, earning her fourth career nod for her leading turn in “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom.” She was previ­ously tied with Octavia Spencer at three. Both Davis and Spencer have won once.

Also nominated for best actress were Andra Day for “The United States vs. Billie Holiday,” Vanessa Kirby for “Pieces of a Woman,” Fran­ces McDormand for “Nomadland” and Carey Mulligan for “Promising Young Woman.”

For supporting actress, nomina­tions went to Maria Bakalova for “Borat Subsequent Movie Film,” Glenn Close for “Hillbilly Elegy,” Olivia Colman for “The Father,” Amanda Seyfried for “Mank” and Yuh-Jung Youn for “Minari.”

Youn, who has numerous screen credits in South Korea, is the first actor from that country to be nominated for an Oscar. She has already been recognized for playing the grandmother in “Minari” with awards and nominations from film critics’ groups across the U.S. Her other credits include the Netflix series “Sense8.”

Joining Zhao in the best-director category were Thomas Vinterberg for “Another Round,” David Fincher for “Mank,” Lee Isaac Chung for “Minari” and Fennell for “Promising Young Woman.” Fincher is the only repeat nominee in the category, having re­ceived previous career nods for “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button” and “The Social Network.”

Chung, whose other directing credits include the films “Lucky Life” and “Abigail Harm,” is working on a live-action adaptation of the 2016 anime film “Your Name.”

With Zhao and Fennell in the category, it marks the first time two women have ever been nominated for best director in the same year.

Zhao’s other directing credits include the films “Songs My Brothers Taught Me,” “The Rider” and the upcoming “Eternals.”

“Nomadland” star Frances McDormand and director Chloe Zhao.

A total of 76 nominations went to women, which the Academy of Mo­tion Picture Arts and Sciences said is a record for any given year.

Competing with Fennell for origi­nal screenplay will be Will Berson, Shaka King, Kenny Lucas and Keith Lucas for “Judas and the Black Mes­siah”; Chung for “Minari”; Darius Marder, Abraham Marder and Derek Cianfrance for “Sound of Metal”; and Aaron Sorkin for “The Trial of the Chicago 7.”

In the adapted screenplay cat­egory, Zhao will be challenged by Cohen, Anthony Hines, Dan Swimer, Peter Baynham, Erica Rivinoja, Dan Mazer, Jena Friedman, Lee Kern and Nina Pedrad for “Borat Subsequent Moviefilm”; Christopher Hampton and Florian Zeller for “The Father”; Kemp Powers for “One Night in Miami”; and Ramin Bahrani for “The White Tiger.”

Denmark’s “Another Round,” in addition to scoring a best-director nomination for Vinterberg, was also nominated for best international fea­ture, along with Hong Kong’s “Bet­ter Days,” Romania’s “Collective,” Tunisia’s “The Man Who Sold His Skin” and Bosnia and Herzegovina’s “Quo Vadis, Aida?” The nominations were the first for films from Romania and Tunisia.

Dis­ney/Pixar’s “Soul” leads the list of contenders for best animated feature, a category that also includes Disney’s “Onward,” Apple’s “Wolfwalkers” and Netflix’s “Over the Moon” and “A Shaun the Sheep Movie: Farma­geddon.”

The 93rd Academy Awards cer­emony will be held April 25, at two locations due to the COVID-19 pandemic – the Dolby Theatre in Hollywood and Union Station near downtown.

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