the gold rush

The 2021 Oscars Ballot by the Numbers

Photo: Netflix

The arrival of a brand-new set of Oscars nominees means a once-in-a-lifetime thrill for the nominees themselves, a cause for celebration for everyone involved with the nominated films, and a chance for fans of the movies to cheer or despair, depending on whom they’re rooting for. It also means Oscars nerds are in absolute heaven with the chance to dig deep into the ballot and find the first-time or not-since bits of trivia that will have them absolutely tormenting their less obsessed friends for weeks to come.

The 2021 Oscars slate already represents a highly strange year, so as you may expect, there are some weird and wild stats to be found up and down the ballot.


That’s the total number of career nominations for Glenn Close, a Best Supporting Actress nominee for Hillbilly Elegy, who has never won an Oscar, or haven’t you heard?


That’s the number of women nominated for Best Director this year: Chloé Zhao for Nomadland and Emerald Fennell for Promising Young Woman. They’re the sixth and seventh women to be nominated for Best Director ever, and this is the first time two women have been nominated in the category in the same year.


That’s the gulf in nomination tallies between Mank, which leads this year’s field with ten nominations, and the sextet of films with six nominations each (The Father, Judas and the Black Messiah, Minari, Nomadland, Sound of Metal, and The Trial of the Chicago 7). The spread between first and second place in the nomination count has been that wide (or larger) only four other times this century, and in three out of those four years, the nomination leader (2001’s The Fellowship of the Ring, 2004’s The Aviator, and 2016’s La La Land) lost Best Picture. Only 2017’s The Shape of Water led the nomination tally by four-plus and went on to win the year’s top prize.


That’s the number of Best Picture nominees this year, marking only the fourth time the tally has settled at eight since the Academy changed the Best Picture rules in 2009 so anywhere from five to ten films could be nominated.


That’s the number of times since the Best Picture category expanded that a Best Director nominee hasn’t had their film nominated for Best Picture, as is the case with Thomas Vinterberg’s Another Round this year. Previously, Pawel Pawlikowski’s Cold War and Bennett Miller’s Foxcatcher were the only films with that distinction.


That’s the total number of career Oscar nominations for Diane Warren, who is recognized this year in the Best Original Song category for “Io Sì (Seen)” from The Life Ahead. The writer of such Oscar-nominated classics as “Nothing’s Gonna Stop Us Now,” “Because You Loved Me,” and “I Don’t Wanna Miss a Thing” has never won an Oscar, and yes, this is pretty much the exact same thing we said last year when Warren got her 11th nomination.


That’s the last year a composer was nominated twice in the Best Original Score category. That year, it was Alexandre Desplat, who was recognized for his scores for The Grand Budapest Hotel and The Imitation Game (he won for the former). This year, former winners Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross are doubly nominated for their scores for Soul (shared with Jon Batiste) and Mank.


That’s the number of nominated screenwriters for Best Adapted Screenplay nominee Borat: Subsequent Moviefilm. The script is credited to star Sacha Baron Cohen and Anthony Hines, Dan Swimer, Peter Baynham, Erica Rivinoja, Dan Mazer, Jena Friedman, and Lee Kern, with a “story by” credit for Baron Cohen, Hines, Swimer, and Nina Pedrad. It’s the highest number of nominated screenwriters for a single film ever, besting the mark set by Original Screenplay nominee Toy Story in 1996 and its seven screenwriters, a group that included (sigh) John Lasseter and Joss Whedon.


That’s the number of performers who have been nominated for starring in David Fincher films, after both Gary Oldman and Amanda Seyfried were recognized this year for their work in Mank. They join Brad Pitt and Taraji P. Henson (The Curious Case of Benjamin Button), Jesse Eisenberg (The Social Network), Rooney Mara (The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo), and Rosamund Pike (Gone Girl).


That’s the number of actresses who have been nominated at least twice in Best Actress and at least twice in Best Supporting Actress. That group now included Viola Davis, whose Best Actress nomination for Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom put her in the company of Jane Alexander, Cate Blanchett, Glenn Close, Judi Dench, Holly Hunter, Frances McDormand, Helen Mirren, Julianne Moore, Geraldine Page, Vanessa Redgrave, Julia Roberts, Maggie Smith, Meryl Streep, Michelle Williams, and Kate Winslet.


That’s the number of performers who have been nominated for starring in Ron Howard films, after Glenn Close was recognized for her work this year in Hillbilly Elegy. She joins Don Ameche (Cocoon), Dianne Wiest (Parenthood), Ed Harris and Kathleen Quinlan (Apollo 13), Russell Crowe and Jennifer Connelly (A Beautiful Mind), Paul Giamatti (Cinderella Man), and Frank Langella (Frost/Nixon).


That’s the number of Giacchino brothers who will have Oscars if Anthony Giacchino and Alice Doyard’s film Colette wins Best Documentary Short this year. Anthony’s big brother, the composer Michael Giacchino, won the Oscar for Best Original Score for Up in 2010.


That’s the number of animated sequels that have been nominated for Best Animated Feature since the category was created in 2001, a number that now includes A Shaun the Sheep Movie: Farmageddon, the British stop-motion-animated film and the sequel to 2015’s Shaun the Sheep Movie.


That number is the last year Hong Kong scored a nomination for Best International Feature. It was called Best Foreign Language Film then, and Hong Kong scored two nominations in three years for 1991’s Raise the Red Lantern and 1993’s Farewell My Concubine. This year, Hong Kong is back with Better Days, Derek Tsang’s teen-romance crime drama that was a big hit in China in 2019.


That’s the number of cast members from Avengers: Endgame who are now Oscar-nominated actors or actresses. The late Chadwick Boseman, the once and forever Black Panther, became the 20th after receiving a posthumous Best Actor nomination for Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom. The other 19 Endgame performers with acting nominations? [Deep breath] Robert Downey Jr., Mark Ruffalo, Scarlett Johansson, Jeremy Renner, Don Cheadle, Benedict Cumberbatch, Brie Larson, Bradley Cooper, Josh Brolin, Gwyneth Paltrow, Tilda Swinton, Natalie Portman, Robert Redford, Angela Bassett, Marisa Tomei, Michael Douglas, Michelle Pfeiffer, William Hurt, and Samuel L. Jackson. (Taika Waititi, who voices Korg, is also an Oscar nominee and winner but not as an actor.)


That’s the number of years out of the past 25 when an acting nominee has been a repeat nominee from the year before. That hot streak continued this year with Anthony Hopkins, nominated in Best Actor for The Father one year after being nominated in Best Supporting Actor for The Two Popes.


That’s the number of films this year with nominations in Best Picture, Best Director, at least one acting category, and one of the screenplay categories. Whether that makes Minari, Nomadland, or Promising Young Woman your Oscars front-runner is anyone’s guess, but it’s a feather in each film’s hat for sure.


That was the last year before 2021 that every Best Picture nominee got at least one acting nomination. This is the first time that has happened since Best Picture was expanded in 2009.


That’s the total number of career Oscar nominations for James Newton Howard, who is nominated in Best Original Score for News of the World. The composer and songwriter was previously nominated for his work on The Fugitive, Michael Clayton, and My Best Friend’s Wedding, but he has never won.


That’s the total population of the town of Húsavík, Iceland, the namesake for the nominated Best Original Song from Eurovision Song Contest: The Story of Fire Saga, all of whom are furious that “Ja Ja Ding Dong” was not also nominated.

The 2021 Oscars Ballot by the Numbers