The Academy on Monday nominated a record 70 women with a total of 76 Oscar nominations, the highest total ever and the biggest step toward gender parity.
Based on TheWrap’s count, 76 of the 235 individual nominees across all 23 competitive categories from this year’s crop of films are women, or approximately 32.3%. Percentage wise, that’s just ahead of the 31.1% achieved in 2020’s nominations, when women received 65 of the 209 individual nominations across 24 competitive categories (this year Best Sound Mixing and Sound Editing were combined into one category). It’s also up from past years when 62 of 225 nominees in 2019 (27.5%) were women, as were 57 of 213 individual nominees in 2018 (26.8%) and 48 of 211 in 2017 (22.7%).
In TheWrap’s analysis, individuals nominated in multiple categories, like Chloé Zhao and Emerald Fennell, were counted for each of their nominations. The count also does not include nominees in Best International Film, which officially goes to the country of origin.
Beyond the numbers alone, this was a year of exciting firsts; Zhao and Fennell together became the sixth and seventh women to be nominated in the Best Director field, the first time two women have ever been nominated for Best Director. But Zhao also set a record as the first woman to ever receive four nominations in a single year, scoring nominations in Best Director, Best Film Editing, Best Adapted Screenplay and Best Picture as a producer. Fennell also became the third woman to land three nominations in a single year, joining the ranks of Sofia Coppola and Fran Walsh, who both last accomplished that feat in 2003.
And this year, a record nine of the acting nominees were nonwhite — a landmark jump from 2007 and 2017, when seven of the 20 acting nominees were people of color. That’s thanks to first-time nominees such as Andra Day (The United States vs. Billie Holiday”) and Yuh-Jung Youn (“Minari”).
“The nominations today are a step in the right direction and reflect progress toward greater inclusion. There is still room for growth if people like Regina King have not been nominated, and while we celebrate the ‘firsts’ this year, we hope these are not the ‘only,'” USC Annenberg Inclusion Initiative’s Dr. Stacy Smith told TheWrap. “Often there is a ‘one and done’ mentality when it comes to inclusion, so it is imperative to see sustained effort in the future to ensure continued recognition of talent from all backgrounds.”
This year, seven of 23 of the nominated producers were women, which is down from last year when nine of 24 were nominated. Still, Christine Oh scored her first nomination for “Minari,” and Frances McDormand is one of only three women (and 20 people) to be nominated for both Best Actress and Best Picture in the same year, not necessarily for the same film.
While women were well represented in the Best Song category, other below-the-line fields were still absent any female nominees, including Original Score, which last year achieved a landmark when “Joker” composer Hildur Guonadottir was the ninth woman nominated in the category (and the third to win).
This year, women directed a record 27% of the eligible films for Best Picture, which also demonstrated growth from past years when looking at the industry as a whole.
The 93rd annual Oscars take place on April 25.
Check out the full list of nominees for 2021 here.