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By Lauren Huff
Updated March 15, 2021 at 10:42 AM EDT
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The longest awards season ever is finally beginning its last stretch. After a long COVID-induced wait, Oscar nominations are finally here.

Priyanka Chopra Jonas and Nick Jonas announced this year's crop of nominees on Monday, and in a year full of them, it should come as no surprise that there were plenty of twists and turns. Here, EW breaks down some of the biggest snubs and surprises of this year's Oscar nominations list.

Judas and the Black Messiah
Credit: Glen Wilson/Warner Bros.

SURPRISE: Best Supporting Actor — LaKeith Stanfield (Judas and the Black Messiah)

The surprise here is two-fold: One, that LaKeith Stanfield was nominated after missing out on nods from the BAFTAs, SAG Awards, and Golden Globes, and two, that he was nominated here in Supporting Actor, when he's been campaigned as the lead actor all awards season. The Oscars put nominees where they get the most votes, though, so clearly the Academy feels this was a supporting performance. The Academy is gonna do what the Academy is gonna do!

Ma Rainey's Black Bottom
Viola Davis in 'Ma Rainey's Black Bottom'
| Credit: David Lee/Netflix

SNUB: Best Picture — Ma Rainey's Black Bottom and One Night in Miami...

Two of the year's best, both of which have received key nominations from major precursors such as the Golden Globes, BAFTAs, and SAG Awards, missed out on the top award at the Oscars. Overall, Ma Rainey received five total nods (Best Actor, Best Actress, Costume Design, Production Design, and Makeup and Hairstyling) and Miami three (Best Supporting Actor, Best Adapted Screenplay, Best Original Song), but they missed out in the top category. There are only eight nominees in this category when there could be up to 10, so the omissions are particularly head-scratching.

Da 5 Bloods
Chadwick Boseman in 'Da 5 Bloods'
| Credit: Netflix

SNUB: Da 5 Bloods just about anywhere

Aside from a lone Best Original Score nomination, Da 5 Bloods completely blanked at the Oscars. The film, which received rave reviews from critics over the summer, similarly underperformed at some major precursors, but there was always the chance the Academy might show the Spike Lee joint some more love. Not even the late Chadwick Boseman got in for Best Supporting Actor, despite key nods at the Critics' Choice Awards and SAG Awards. And this is where we throw in #JusticeForDelroyLindo, who gave one of the year's most emotional performances and got passed over most of the season.

Borat Subsequent Moviefilm
Sacha Baron Cohen in 'Borat Subsequent Moviefilm'
| Credit: Amazon Studios

SURPRISE: Best Adapted Screenplay — Borat Subsequent Moviefilm

While it was pretty widely expected that star Maria Bakalova would get a nom for Best Supporting Actress, a Best Adapted Screenplay nod was less certain. Given that it was nominated in the same category at the Writers Guild of America Awards, and that the film's 2006 predecessor, Borat, received an Oscar nomination as well, perhaps it shouldn't have been. Still, being able to say "two-time Oscar nominee Borat Subsequent Moviefilm" is quite the interesting twist to 2021. Watching Chopra Jonas say the film's entire name (one more time for posterity — Borat Subsequent Moviefilm: Delivery of Prodigious Bribe to American Regime for Make Benefit Once Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan) was also an unexpected delightful surprise.

Chloe Zhao; Emerald Fennell
Chloe Zhao; Emerald Fennell
| Credit: Amanda Edwards/Getty Images; Merie Weismiller Wallace / Focus Features

SURPRISE: History-making number of women for Best Director

Given how many accolades Nomadland helmer Chloé Zhao and Promising Young Woman's Emerald Fennell have racked up so far, it's not a surprise to see them nominated here per se. However, history has taught us that just because there are tons of deserving female directors each year, doesn't mean they'll necessarily land an Oscar nom (case in point: up until today, only five women had ever been nominated in this category, and only one — The Hurt Locker's Kathryn Bigelow — had even won the award). So, we're calling this one a surprise — and a very pleasant one at that.

THE TRIAL OF THE CHICAGO 7
Aaron Sorkin with the cast of 'The Trial of the Chicago 7'
| Credit: Niko Tavernise/NETFLIX

SNUB: Best Director — Aaron Sorkin (The Trial of the Chicago 7)

The Academy seemed to like this starry courtroom drama, giving it key nominations in Best Picture, Best Original Screenplay, Best Supporting Actor, and more. But when it came to Best Director, they pulled an Argo, and gave it everything except that honor. Sorkin did pick up a nod for his writing (the Academy is a sucker for that trademark rapid-fire dialogue of his), so he wasn't completely left out in the cold. Sorkin's in good company with his miss though — Regina King, Shaka King, Darius Marder, and Florian Zeller were all snubbed here as well despite their films appearing elsewhere. Surprise nominee Thomas Vinterberg (Another Round) was chosen instead.

Dick Johnson is Dead
Dick Johnson in 'Dick Johnson is Dead'
| Credit: Netflix

SNUB: Best Documentary — multiple films

This category is always a bit fickle, and this year is no different. Though several of the nominees were expected (Time, Crip Camp), several high-profile docs missed out. Among them are Stacey Abrams' All In, Amanda McBaine and Jesse Moss' Boys State, Kirsten Johnson's Dick Johnson Is Dead, Gregory Kershaw and Michael Dweck's The Truffle Hunters, and more.

SOUND OF METAL
Credit: Amazon Studios

SURPRISE: Best Supporting Actor — Paul Raci (Sound of Metal)

Raci's quietly beautiful turn as a Vietnam veteran who leads a deaf community for recovering addicts was a favorite with critics groups all season, but his snubs at major precursors like the SAG Awards and the Golden Globe Awards put him on some shaky ground going into Oscars nominations. Thankfully, the Academy didn't disappoint, and with six nominations across the board, Sound of Metal overall had a very good day indeed.

The winners will be announced at the Oscars ceremony on Sunday, April 25. It will be televised live on ABC at 8 p.m. ET/5 p.m. PT.

Check out more from EW's The Awardist, featuring exclusive interviews, analysis, and our podcast diving into all the highlights from the year's best films.

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