Beth’s Take: Oscars Shortlists 2021 (Pt. 1)

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SIFF Artistic Director Beth Barrett's take on this year's Documentary, International Feature, and short films Oscars shortlist, announced February 9, 2021. The nominations will be announced March 15, 2021, with the 93rd Academy Awards taking place on April 25, 2021.

Some of my favorite categories at the Oscars have announced their shortlists—Documentary, International Feature, and short films! Narrowing down to the 15 titles that will compete for the nominations (announced March 15) from record numbers of submissions is always interesting, with many great films not making this first cut. Missing from these lists are some of my favorites—like The Reason I Jump, Mayor, and My Little Sister—but there is just not room for every film.

While last year’s Parasite win seems like a decade ago now, the International Feature category has no clear frontrunner this year. The veteran filmmakers behind Another Round, Charlatan, and Night of the Kings have garnered a ton of festival attention, but don’t discount the more subtle titles of The Mole Agent, A Sun, and Hope. The double nomination for Collective elevates it into the top tier, joining Virtual SIFF Cinema titles Two Of Us and Dear Comrades!

Cinema Italian Style hit Notturno, the Italian submission for International Film, joined Collective on the Documentary shortlist, along with Virtual SIFF Cinema hits 76 Days and The Painter and the Thief. The Doc shortlist was highly competitive, with a record 238 films qualifying, including two of my personal favorites: Garrett Bradley’s Time and Seattle-raised Kirsten Johnson’s Dick Johnson Is Dead.

The shorts (like most years) cover a broad range, and in a year that many of the short films were not able to connect to their audiences, it will be anyone’s guess!

—Beth Barrett, SIFF Artistic Director
February 10, 2021

See the shortlists here.