Oscars Criticized for Leaving 'One Night in Miami,' 'Ma Rainey' Out of Best Picture Race

The 2021 Oscar nominations were announced on Monday, and this year's class includes the most diverse range of acting nominees in the award show's history. But there are still some people upset that the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences didn't give more recognition to critically acclaimed Black-led films.

Directed by Shaka King, Judas and the Black Messiah is one of the major contenders at the upcoming ceremony, after picking up nominations for Best Supporting Actor, Best Original Screenplay, Best Cinematography, Best Original Song and Best Picture. While many were thrilled to see the film honored with so many nods, some folks online were genuinely confused to see both Daniel Kaluuya and LaKeith Stanfield in the Best Supporting Actor category.

2021 Oscars Features the Most Diverse Lineup
The 22 Oscars won by the Lord of The Rings sit on a table in front of the 3000 assembled fans that turned out to see director Peter Jackson and the Return of The King winners during Wellington city's Oscar celebration at the Queens Wharf Event Centre, Wellington 18 March 2004. DEAN TREML/AFP via Getty Images)

Generally, actors and film campaigns choose which categories to run in, but apparently voters in the Academy's acting branch felt that Stanfield gave more of a supporting performance, despite the movie studio's "For Your Consideration" materials promoting him as the lead performer. Regardless of how exactly the nomination votes shook out, fans of Judas and the Black Messiah are still puzzled as to who would be considered the lead performer in the film, which tells the story of the death of Black Panther figure Fred Hampton.

"Curious if both Daniel & Lakeith were supporting for Black Messiah.....then who was the lead actor in that film?" Questlove wrote on Twitter on Monday.

Curious if both Daniel & Lakeith were supporting for Black Messiah.....then who was the lead actor in that film? https://t.co/geWcuZys8V

— B.R.O.theR. ?uestion (@questlove) March 15, 2021

Another read: "Wait...then who was the lead actor in Judas and the Black Messiah?"

wait...then who was the lead actor in Judas and the Black Messiah? https://t.co/wJfcnQ2ieo

— Wesley (@WesleyLowery) March 15, 2021

There were some folks who were happy to see Stanfield recognized with a nomination, though, regardless of any apparent category issues.

"ACADEMY AWARD NOMINEE LAKEITH STANFIELD YOU HEARD THAT RIGHT!!! #OscarNoms," one person tweeted.

ACADEMY AWARD NOMINEE LAKEITH STANFIELD YOU HEARD THAT RIGHT!!! #OscarNoms pic.twitter.com/D8OO83zDxD

— Wendell Chalamet #StopAsianHate (@RhodeToLove) March 15, 2021

Several other actors of color were nominated as well, and many people seem happy to see the Academy make progress when it comes to diversity. As pointed out by Variety, with nine actors of color earning nominations this year, the Oscars have set a record for diversity in the acting fields. Steven Yeun and Riz Ahmed made history, as the first Asian-American nominated for Best Actor, and the first actor of Pakistani descent to be nominated, respectively.

"HISTORIC DOUBLE FLEX RIZ AHMED AND STEVEN YEUN. FOR THE FIRST TIME TWO ASIANS NOMINATED FOR BEST LEAD ACTOR," comedian and writer Jenny Yang tweeted.

HISTORIC DOUBLE FLEX
RIZ AHMED AND STEVEN YEUN

FOR THE FIRST TIME TWO ASIANS NOMINATED FOR BEST LEAD ACTOR @rizwanahmed @steveyeun #OscarNoms @MinariMovie #SoundOfMetal pic.twitter.com/byG2e6bsSA

— Jenny Yang (@jennyyangtv) March 15, 2021

Despite those milestones, some social media users are frustrated that more Black-led films weren't nominated in the Best Picture category. Although Viola Davis and the late Chadwick Boseman scored nominations for their respective roles in the Netflix feature Ma Rainey's Black Bottom, some were surprised to see the film get overlooked in the top category, as it was generally expected to compete in that field.

Regina King's directorial debut, One Night in Miami, was also left out of the Best Picture race, despite landing nominations in the Best Adapted Screenplay and Best Supporting Actor (for Leslie Odom Jr.'s portrayal of the late, great Sam Cooke) categories. King was also not recognized in the Best Director field, which, for the first time, features two women in the same year: Nomadland filmmaker Chloé Zhao and Promising Young Woman director Emerald Fennell. It's worth noting, however, that Zhao is the first woman of color to ever be nominated for a Best Director Oscar.

"Ma Rainey's Black Bottom and One Night in Miami snubbed in Best Picture," one tweet reads.

Ma Rainey's Black Bottom and One Night in Miami snubbed in Best Picture #Oscars #OscarNoms

— Erik Anderson (@awards_watch) March 15, 2021

Another goes: "Biggest #OscarsNom snub, in my opinion, is Regina King missing Best Director and ONE NIGHT IN MIAMI not being nominated for Best Picture. Great film, deserved more love, imo."

Biggest #OscarNoms snub, in my opinion, is Regina King missing Best Director and ONE NIGHT IN MIAMI not being nominated for Best Picture. Great film, deserved more love, imo. pic.twitter.com/NKGJnHBKcn

— Erik Davis (@ErikDavis) March 15, 2021

FYI - Ma Rainey's Black Bottom is the 3rd Feature Film to have African-American nominees for both Best Actor and Best Actress after What's Love Got to Do with It & Sounder. Only Sounder got a Best Picture nod and lost. pic.twitter.com/4uFhpKLw4S

— Wilson - BFTV (@WMorales_BFTV) March 15, 2021

After an incredible year for Black storytelling, another incredibly disappointing element of the Oscars passing over ONE NIGHT IN MIAMI, DA 5 BLOODS, and MA RAINEY'S BLACK BOTTOM for Best Picture is that they only nominated eight films out of a potential 10.

— Isaac Feldberg (@isaacfeldberg) March 15, 2021

In a very very Black year, for only one to get Best Picture and zero Best Director nods is optically really bad.

— Robert Daniels (@812filmreviews) March 15, 2021

I hate that they never use all 10 "Best Picture" slots. If they had, ONE NIGHT IN MIAMI and MA RAINEY'S BLACK BOTTOM would've probably made it. That's the biggest disappointment for me in this entire thing. #OscarNoms

— Shaurya Chawla (@_ShauryaChawla) March 15, 2021

So One Night in Miami and Ma Rainey both missed Picture nominations

— Will Mavity (@mavericksmovies) March 15, 2021

In addition to Judas and the Black Messiah, the Best Picture category includes nominations for The Father, Mank, Sound of Metal, The Trial of the Chicago 7, Nomadland, Promising Young Woman and Minari—the latter of which did generate some excitement from fans on social media.

"#Minari makes history as first Asian American produced, directed and cast film to be nominated for Best Picture. I am in tears. #OscarNoms," one tweet reads.

#Minari makes history as first Asian American produced, directed and cast film to be nominated for Best Picture. I am in tears. #OscarNoms pic.twitter.com/J66xZGVj6R

— Nancy Wang Yuen (@nancywyuen) March 15, 2021

Updated 3/15/2021, 12:11 p.m. ET: This post was updated to include further context about the nominating process behind LaKeith Stanfield ending up in the Best Supporting Actor category.