Oscars 2021 Nominations: Judas and the Black Messiah Could Make Best Picture History

Judas and the Black Messiah (2021)
Judas and the Black Messiah (2021)
Photo: Warner Bros. Pictures

On the last month of 2020 (which seemingly lasted longer than a typical year, according to everyone), the Academy shook the awards season table when they announced that the 93rd Academy Awards would be taking place in April instead of the typical February/March schedule. It hasn’t been held that late in the year since it was first televised back in 1953.


In addition to the new date announcement, the Academy was determined to have the ceremony in person, instead of virtually.

Priyanka Chopra and Nick Jonas did the honors of announcing the early morning nominees on Monday and the results were quite interesting.

93rd Oscars Nominations / YouTube

Since you’re here at The Root, you know what time it is—it’s time to highlight the Black-ass nominees!

The Best Supporting Actor category was stacked, with Leslie Odom Jr. (One Night in Miami), Daniel Kaluuya (Judas and the Black Messiah) and...most of us were surprised to see him in this category since his character was the protagonist, Lakeith Stanfield (Judas and the Black Messiah).

As expected, the late Chadwick Boseman is nominated in the Best Actor category for his electrifying work in Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom. From our purview, this award is his to win.


As for the ladies, Viola Davis (Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom) and Andra Day (The United States vs. Billie Holiday)—the latter of whom has had quite the impressive awards season run so far for his first major role—will be competing for the Best Actress win.

Shaka King (along with Will Berson) scored a nom in the Original Screenplay category for Judas and the Black Messiah (shout-out to the Lucas Brothers, Kenny and Keith for their “Story By” credit). Kemp Powers grabbed a nomination in the Adapted Screenplay category for One Night in Miami.


Speaking of Powers, he has something else to celebrate as Soul, Pixar’s first film with a Black lead character, is nominated in the Best Animated Film category. Though Peter Docter (as director) and Dana Murray (as producer) are officially credited (per Academy rules, co-directors are not eligible in this category), Powers deserves some love here for co-directing the film.

H.E.R., Dernst Emile II and Tiara Thomas are having quite the start to the week because they’re picking up from their Grammy win on Sunday night with an Oscar nomination: Best Original Song for “Fight for You” (Judas and the Black Messiah). Other Black folks in that category include Celeste Waite (with Daniel Pemberton, for “Hear My Voice” in Trial of the Chicago 7) and Leslie Odom Jr. (with Sam Ashworth, for “Speak Now” in One Night in Miami).


Also, shoutout to the Blackness in both Documentary categories: the team behind Time (Garrett Bradley, Lauren Domino and Kellen Quinn) is nominated for feature and the team behind A Concerto Is a Conversation (Ben Proudfoot and Kris Bowers) as well as A Love Song for Latasha (Sophia Nahli Allison and Janice Duncan) are nominated for short.

We can congratulate Travon Free (along with Martin Desmond Roe) for grabbing a nom in the Live-Action Short Film category for the short, Two Distant Strangers.


The Best Original Score category has nominations for Terence Blanchard (Da 5 Bloods) and Jon Batiste (along with Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross for Soul).


Annnnnd now, for the biggest award of the night—Best Picture! Shaka King, Charles D. King and Ryan Coogler scored a nomination as the producing team behind Judas and the Black Messiah. Should Judas take home the Oscar statuette, the three men will make history as the first all-Black producing team to win in that category. Hell, they’re currently the first and only all-Black producing team to be nominated in the category.

According to Vanity Fair:

Quincy Jones’s work on 1985’s The Color Purple made him the first African American producer to receive a best-picture nomination, sharing the recognition with Kathleen Kennedy, Frank Marshall, and Steven Spielberg. Filmmaker Steve McQueen was the first Black producer to actually win best picture, for 2013’s 12 Years a Slave, sharing the victory with Brad Pitt, Dede Gardner, Jeremy Kleiner, and Anthony Katagas.


Unfortunately, we didn’t get to see a nom for Regina King in the Directing category for her debut, One Night in Miami. However, since it was such an impressive debut and King is an awards season darling in general, I’m expecting to see King’s name in that category one day.

Congrats to this year’s nominees!

Plus, for all of you Oscar history heads out there, The Undefeated’s Kelley Carter recently announced on Good Morning America that she would be co-hosting (along with Ginger Zee, Chris Connelly, Janai Norman, and Jason Nathanson) Academy Awards’ first-ever podcast called Inside the Oscars.


Also, shoutout to the Black visual artists who are among those that designed the 93rd Oscars campaign art: Temi Coker and Michelle Robinson!


The 93rd Academy Awards will air live on Sunday, April 25 at 5 p.m. PT/8 p.m. ET on ABC. The complete list of nominees for the 2021 Oscars can be viewed at oscars.org.


Update: 3/15/2021, 11:05 a.m. ET: Viola Davis has also made history with her Best Actress nomination for Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom, which now makes her most-nominated Black actress ever and the only Black woman with two Best Actress nominations, which Netflix’s Strong Black Lead posted on Instagram on Monday morning.

Additionally, the Academy has confirmed additional insight into Lakeith Stanfield’s Supporting Actor nomination: Per Warner Bros. Pictures’ FYC (For Your Consideration) site for Judas and the Black Messiah, Stanfield was submitted for Best Actor. To sum up Monday’s results, the category in which the Acting Branch votes for the most will be the one where said performance is nominated.


More info, per the 93rd Oscars official rules:

4. The leading role and supporting role categories will be tabulated simultaneously. If any performance should receive votes in both categories, the achievement shall be placed only on the ballot in that category in which, during the tabulation process, it first receives the required number of votes to be nominated. In the event that the performance receives the number of votes required to be nominated in both categories simultaneously, the achievement shall be placed only on the ballot in that category in which it receives the greater percentage of the total votes.

Staff Writer, Entertainment at The Root. Sugar, spice & everything rice. Equipped with the uncanny ability to make a Disney reference and a double entendre in the same sentence.


Brick HardMeat

FYI - 3 of the 5 actors nominated for Best Actor are PoC. 3 of the 5 actors nominated for Best Supporting Actor are PoC. 2 of the 5 actors nominated for Best Actress are PoC. 2 of the five directors nominated are PoC. Some key categories are still lacking diversity but this is pretty cool.