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Kidman's nod for best actress Oscar; Campion breaks new ground

Culture

Nicole Kidman has scored a Best Actress nomination for this year’s Oscars, and New Zealand director Jane Campion has been nominated for Best Director for a second time.

 

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Kidman’s nomination was for her turn as Lucille Ball in Being The Ricardos, while Campion’s was for her gothic western The Power of the Dog. The film was also nominated for Best Picture.

After a pandemic year that hobbled movie theatres and saw streaming services make new inroads into Hollywood, the Academy Awards has put its strongest support behind two films made with big-screen grandeur that were also streamed into homes: The Power of the Dog and Denis Villeneuve’s science fiction epic Dune.

Netflix’s The Power Of The Dog led nominations to the 94th Academy Awards with 12 nods, including Best Picture, Best Director and recognition for all of its top actors: Benedict Cumberbatch, Kirsten Dunst, Jesse Plemons and Kodi Smit-McPhee.

Campion, a nominee for 1993’s The Piano, became the first woman to ever be nominated twice for best director. Last year, Chloe Zhao became just the second woman to ever win the award.

Campion’s director of photography, Ari Wegner, also became the second woman ever nominated for best cinematography. The only previous woman to do so was Rachel Morrison for Mudbound in 2018.

Dune followed closely behind with 10 nominations spread out largely in the technical categories that rewarded the craft of Villeneuve’s adaptation of Frank Herbert’s 1965 novel. The Warner Bros. release debuted simultaneously in theatres and on HBO Max.

The nominees for Best Picture were: Belfast; CODA; Don’t Look Up; Drive My Car; Dune; Licorice Pizza; King Richard; Nightmare Alley; The Power of the Dog and West Side Story.

No streaming service has ever won Best Picture, but the odds may be better this year with half of the 10 nominees came from streaming services.

Lady Gaga, star of House of Gucci, was overlooked in the uber-competitive Best Actress category. Nominated instead were Jessica Chastain, The Eyes of Tammy Faye; Olivia Colman, The Lost Daughter; Penélope Cruz, Parallel Mothers; Nicole Kidman, Being the Ricardos; and Kristen Stewart for Spencer – whose hopes for her first Oscar nomination had seemed dashed after she was snubbed by the Screen Actors Guild.

Drive My Car, Ryusuke Hamaguchi’s masterful three-hour Japanese drama, scored major nominations including Best Picture, Best Director and Best Adapted Screenplay.

Steven Spielberg, whose West Side Story landed seven nominations, became the first filmmaker nominated for Best Director in six different decades. His 11 Best Picture nominations are the most ever.

Will Smith, who plays the father of Venus and Serena Williams in King Richard, notched his third Oscar nomination. Also up for Best Actor are Cumberbatch, Andrew Garfield (Tick, Tick … Boom!) Javier Bardem (Being The Ricardos) and Denzel Washington, who was nominated in the category for his seventh time for his performance in The Tragedy Of Macbeth. Washington remains the most-nominated black man ever.

Dunst and Plemons, who have two children together, both landed their first nominations for The Power Of The Dog. The other couple celebrating dual nominations was Bardem and Cruz.

Along with Dunst, the nominees for Best Supporting Actress were a trio of first-timers — Jessie Buckley (The Lost Daughter), Ariana DeBose (West Side Story) and Aunjanue Ellis (King Richard) — and one veteran: Judi Dench, who earned her eighth Oscar nod for her performance in black-and-white family drama Belfast by fellow nominee Kenneth Branagh.

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