The 2021 Oscar nominees could really use the bump

But the coveted box office boost might not even exist anymore

Benedict Cumberbatch.
(Image credit: Illustrated | Netflix, iStock)

Tuesday's Oscars announcement contained the usual mix of snubs and surprises we've come to expect whenever the Academy Award nominations are revealed. Most notably, Lady Gaga failed to nab a nom for her role in House of Gucci, despite being the only leading actress nominated in every major award ceremony leading up to the Oscars, while Judy Dench made history as the oldest person nominated for Best Supporting Actress, even though critics had expected Dench's Belfast co-star Caitriona Balfe to get the nod instead.

In the end, The Power of the Dog, the Western psychodrama released by Netflix, was the big winner of the nominations round, racking up 12 chances to win the statuette, including for director Jane Campion and the husband and wife co-stars Jesse Plemons and Kirsten Dunst. Dune, the epic sci-fi adventure, followed closely with 10 nominations, while Steven Spielberg's West Side Story and Kenneth Branagh's Belfast pulled in seven nominations each. All four films were also nominated for the coveted Best Picture award, but only Dune, which has raked in $400 million at the box office, may not need the financial boost that often comes from Oscars attention. Yet in an age of streaming services and with a pandemic still altering public activities, it's an open question whether the Oscar bounce even still exists today.

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Neil J. Young

Neil J. Young is a historian and the author of We Gather Together: The Religious Right and the Problem of Interfaith Politics. He writes frequently on American politics, culture, and religion for publications including The New York Times, The Atlantic, the Los Angeles Times, HuffPost, Vox, and Politico. He co-hosts the history podcast Past Present.