Oscars 2021: New Nominees Share Their Stunned, Speechless Reactions

“I can’t believe it’s me!” Yuh-Jung Youn said on being the first Korean actress to earn a nomination

Last Updated: March 17, 2021 @ 11:07 AM

With two female directors nominated and a record nine nonwhite actors earning nods, this year’s Oscar nominations have given Hollywood plenty of reasons to smile.

This year, Chloe Zhao and Emerald Fennell have become only the sixth and seventh women to earn nods in the Best Director category, while the late Chadwick Boseman leads an acting field that includes Black actors like Daniel Kaluuya and LaKeith Stanfield for “Judas and the Black Messiah” as well as Korean actors like Steven Yeun and Yuh-Jung Youn for “Minari.”

“Never in my dreams did I ever think a Korean actress would be nominated for an Oscar, and I can’t believe it’s me!” Youn said in a statement on Monday. “I am incredibly humbled by the honor. Thank you so much AMPAS, A24, Plan B, my ‘Minari’ family and our entire cast and crew. We made this film with love, and I thank you for loving us back. And thank you, Isaac. This is all because of you!”

One of the bigger surprises came from Danish director Thomas Vinterberg, who scored a Best Director nomination along with one for Best International Film for “Another Round,” which stars “Hannibal” alum Mads Mikkelsen as a bored teacher who thinks a little bit of booze could spice up his life…and then descends into alcoholism.

“This is wonderful news. Thank you very much to the Academy, and congratulations to my fellow nominees. I’m honored to be in your company. I’ve made some films over the years, but none of them have meant so much to me as this one,” Vinterberg said.

“During a long journey like this, it matters most to be surrounded by great collaborators who are also great friends,” he continued. “My actors, Mads, my co-writer Tobias, Sturla my DOP, my producers from Zentropa and the amazing behind the scenes talent were all on this journey with me and gave all they had. Thank you from Denmark.”

Check out more reactions from this year’s nominees below:

Riz Ahmed, “Sound of Metal”

“Wow! I’m honoured to be nominated by my fellow actors alongside such inspiring performances, and am grateful to the Academy for their support and encouragement. I’m equally thrilled for our visionary writer-director Darius Marder and the brilliant Paul Raci, as well as our editor Mikkel, sound designer Nicolas, and co-writer Abe Marder. These nominations represents the time, generosity and talents of so many — all of our incredible cast, crew, producers, and in particular I’d like to thank my mentors in the drumming, addiction recovery, and D/deaf communities. Sound of Metal is about how a health crisis can cut you off from your life and loved ones, and force you to grow in unexpected ways. In a challenging year for so many, I hope this story can inspire us to forge new and deeper connections with ourselves and others.”

Carey Mulligan, “Promising Young Woman”

“I’m absolutely elated this morning, and I am so honoured to be in such esteemed company across all categories. Thank you to the Academy for embracing this story which means so much to me. It’s all thanks to my dear friend – the fearless, hilarious, bold writer and director Emerald Fennell and the incredible cast and crew she assembled. We all signed on because we believed wholeheartedly in her vision, and I’m so grateful to her for inviting me to be a part of it.”

Daniel Kaluuya, “Judas and the Black Messiah”

“Chairman Fred Hampton was a light, a beacon of a being who would illuminate all he touched with his incredible message. With the ability to command any stage and robbed of his opportunity to captivate a global audience. He created strategies that supported and uplifted the black community but also unified other communities with his laugh, his mind, his passion and his love.

“Today, I am humbled to be nominated for portraying a man whose principles I deeply respect and for guiding me to walk in his footsteps. With the blessing of Chairman Fred Hampton’s family, and the unwavering support from Ryan Coogler, Shaka King and Charles King, and the cast led by LaKeith Stanfield and Dominique Fishback, I became a vessel for Chairman Fred’s spirit at a time when we need his rally cry for equality and justice more than ever. I commend my fellow nominees for their impressive work. To be seen and celebrated by my peers in the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences is beautifully humbling and I am deeply grateful. Thank you.”

Viola Davis, “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom”

Gary Oldman, “Mank”

“After such a stressed pandemic year, there is a kind of comfort and reassurance in knowing that we soldier on in many ways with important traditions. In our industry there is nothing more traditional than the Academy Awards, which hopefully sends a sign of hope that we¬†will¬†get out of this. The Oscars are such a sign that normalcy still exists. In my case today marks my third Academy Award Nomination. Not to trivialize the current state of the world, it is a source of great pride and an honor to be recognized alongside these other tremendous, wonderful artists.”

Maria Bakalova, “Borat Subsequent Moviefilm”

“Wow Wa We Waa! Thank you to the Academy for this honour! I really can’t believe this – to hear my name in the company of these remarkable women and their breath-taking performances is a dream come true! I am so grateful to Sacha Baron Cohen and my Borat family and congratulations to them for their Adapted Screenplay nomination.”

Amanda Seyfried, “Mank”

“Working with David Fincher on Mank has been the highlight of my career, and being recognized by the Academy for an experience that brought me this much joy and fulfillment feels surreal. I won’t be able to thank David enough for trusting me with this role and for the honor of reintroducing the world to the Marion Davies that I’ve come to know. To get to study this brilliant, humble woman and help restore her legacy has been a true privilege. Congratulations to David, Gary, and the whole cast and crew of Mank today – your brilliance has not gone unnoticed and I am humbled to share this recognition with you.”

Tomm Moore and Ross Stewart, “Wolfwalkers”

“On behalf of our whole amazing talented wolfpack in Kilkenny, Paris, Luxembourg and beyond, we are hugely grateful and happy to be nominated for this year’s Oscars. What an honor for us all and a huge thanks to our friends in Apple, GKids, and all our financing and distribution partners worldwide who allowed us to make this film and bring it to the world. Our film is a love letter to hand drawn animation and its timeless potential, to nature and our shared biosphere and to our home here in Ireland, its history and culture, its folklore and its people.”

Alexander Nanau, “Collective”

“This is a win for independent investigative journalists and whistleblowers, guardians of our societies, who can hold corrupt authorities accountable. Most of all, Collective is a cinematic tribute to the victims and survivors who had the courage to let us into their most private moments.”

Paul Raci, “Sound of Metal”

“Thank you to the Academy for this honor. During my 40-something-year acting career, I have always been about the work. I’ve continued to work in small theater houses, like Deaf West Theatre, doing what I was trained to do from my Chicago Theater years, but to be validated in this way is gratifying on a level that I can only describe as heavenly. I’m so grateful to Darius Marder for directing and writing a script and a character seemingly for me without even knowing me that changed my life, and to Amazon for the love and support they have provided me. My heart is full, and as always, I look forward to the work and am grateful for the stillness.”

Glenn Close, “Hillbilly Elegy”

“Congratulations to all my fellow nominees. I’m beyond thrilled and deeply grateful for Netflix’s brilliant support of their artists.¬†I owe so much to Ron Howard, Amy Adams , Owen Asztalos and my genius hair and makeup team.¬†This wouldn’t have happened without them. I dedicate this honor to all the grandmothers in the world who fight to give their children a better life. “

Darius Marder, “Sound of Metal”

“‘Sound of Metal’ was made by a group of artists who poured their hearts into this entire process. To have our cast and crew’s intentions reflected in six first-time nominations has been overwhelming to say the least, especially on the back of something that everyone involved in the film did out of pure artistic passion. Thank you to Amazon Studios and the Academy for this extraordinary morning.”

Garrett Bradley, “Time”

“I speak for our entire film team in expressing how honored we are to be seen alongside so many great films and in equal partnership to the issues each of them raises. Awards at their best are, in my mind, a mirror to the cultural consciousness of our times and I am grateful to Fox and Rob and to the universe for bringing us together and for the opportunity to share their story. We thank The Academy for seeing us and offering the space to honor both everyday resistance and the power of universal love.

Chloe Zhao, “Nomadland”

“I’m so thrilled for our nominations! Thank you to the Academy. I’m grateful to have gone on this journey with our talented team of filmmakers and to have met so many wonderful people who generously shared their stories with us. Thank you so much to my academy peers for recognizing this film that is very close to my heart.”

Emerald Fennell, “Promising Young Woman”

“I’m barely able to speak in coherent sentences after this unbelievable news. I am so incredibly grateful to every single wonderful person who worked on Promising Young Woman, the greatest most hardworking and talented cast and crew in the world. For their work to be honoured by the Academy means so much, and I am especially thrilled for Carey, whose extraordinary genius made this film what it is, and for Fred whose dedication made the impossible possible, for their individual nominations. To be part of this historic year for the Academy, alongside so many exceptionally gifted filmmakers means more than I can possibly describe, and I’m particularly proud to be nominated beside the amazing Chlo√© Zhao. There have been so many exceptional female filmmakers this year, making such beautiful, inspiring, challenging, varied work, that I am truly honoured and grateful to be among their number. Thank you to the Academy, Focus Features, FilmNation, LuckyChap, my whole immensely patient and wonderful team. I will stop crying eventually, but not yet.”

Ramin Bahrani, writer of “The White Tiger”

“Thank you to the Academy for recognizing ‘The White Tiger’ – it is an honor to be named among such brilliant writers. I want to thank Ted Sarandos, Scott Stuber and everyone at Netflix for their support; my producing partners Mukul Deora, Priyanka Chopra-Jonas and Ava Duvernay; my incredible cast, including Adarsh Gourav, Rajkummar Rao and Priyanka, for making the dialogue sing; my Indian crew for welcoming me with such warm hearts and tremendous talent; and my main collaborator of fifteen years, Bahareh Azimi. Most of all, I want to thank my college friend and author Aravind Adiga – this nomination is as much his as it is mine. Thank you all for helping me tell a story about an oppressed man who will do anything to be free.”

Dan Scanlon and Kori Rae, “Onward”

“Thank you to the Academy for honoring our film. We share this nomination with the entire cast and the crew at Pixar who were essential in bringing the magic and wonder of Ian and Barley’s journey to life. Onward was a very personal story, exploring the idea of what one would do if they had more time with a loved one they’d lost. It’s incredibly meaningful to see how this has resonated with audiences, and we couldn’t be more thankful to the Academy for their recognition.”

Lee Isaac Chung, “Minari”

“Thank you to the Academy for this honor. I couldn’t imagine this happening as we struggled on the journey to make this film, and now I understand why Oscar moments are filled with endless thank you’s. I feel incredibly grateful to the entire family of cast and crew behind Minari who persevered to make this film. I am especially thankful to my mom, dad, and sister, who filled that small trailer home in Arkansas where we started, and my wife and daughter who mean more to me than anything. I’m blessed that the minari my grandmother planted by the water continues to grow.”

Pippa Ehrlich and James Reed, “My Octopus Teacher”

“We are beyond thrilled to be nominated for an Oscar. To have our work seen by so many people around the planet is a dream in itself, but to be acknowledged by the Academy in this way is just surreal. There are so many incredible documentaries that were shortlisted – beautifully crafted and covering critical issues for our world – and we congratulate all these filmmakers who’ve doubtlessly put blood, sweat and tears into their work.¬†This ‘little’ South African film from the very tip of Africa has reached the world in ways we never imagined possible. Reimagining the way we think about nature and the importance of our relationship with it, is a systemic change that needs to happen urgently and we hope this Oscar nomination will help bring attention to this.¬†There were so many people who contributed to bringing this story into the world, from conservation experts, to supportive friends and family and of course our unbelievable octopus filmmaking team -we are deeply grateful to all of them.”

Marc Platt, Stuart Besser, Matt Jackson and Tyler Thompson,¬†producers of “The Trial of the Chicago 7”

“Thank you so much to the Academy for recognizing ‘The Trial Of the Chicago 7.’ We are indebted to our brilliant writer and director, Aaron Sorkin, the outstanding craftspeople and the incredible ensemble of actors. We are so proud of the film that is a stark and inspirational reminder that the fight for freedom is never finished and that democracy will always be worth raising our voices for.”

Nancy Utley and Steve Gilula, Chairmen of Searchlight Pictures

“‘Nomadland’ has been a genuine source of pride for everyone here at Searchlight. We are so proud of Chlo√©, Frances, and the entire ‘Nomadland’ company who put their heart and soul into this film. We are especially grateful to the film festivals, critics and guilds who came together in supporting ‘Nomadland’ and many other independent films in this challenging year for movies. We are looking forward to the next year as theaters reopen, and are thrilled that after many months ‘Nomadland’ is finally playing for audiences in theatres in New York and Los Angeles. And of course, we very much appreciate the support of our friends at Disney and Hulu.”

See the complete list of nominations here.

More to come…

Lawrence Yee and Diane Haithman contributed to this report