2021 Academy Awards: ‘Nomadland’ is the top winner

April 25, 2021

by Carla Hay

“Nomadland” producers Peter Spears, Frances McDormand, Chloé Zhao, Mollye Asher and Dan Janvey at the 93rd annual Academy Awards in Los Angeles on Sunday, April 25, 2021. (Photo courtesy of ABC)

With three prizes, including Best Picture, “Nomadland” was the top winner for the 93rd Annual Academy Awards, which took place place at Union Station and at the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles on April 25, 2021. There was no host for the ceremony, which was telecast in the U.S. on ABC. Searchlight Pictures’ “Nomadland” also won the awards for Best Director (for Chloé Zhao) and Best Actress (for Frances McDormand). In the movie, McDormand portrays a widow who lives out of her van and travels across different states in U.S. to find work.

With 10 nods, the Netflix drama “Mank” was the top nominee and ended up with two Academy Awards. Movies that won two Oscars each included:

  • “Judas and the Black Messiah” (Warner Bros. Pictures): Best Supporting Actor (for Daniel Kaluuya), Best Original Song (“Fight for You”)
  • “Mank” (Netflix): Best Production Design, Best Cinematography
  • “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom” (Netflix): Best Makeup and Hairstyling, Best Costume Design
  • “Sound of Metal” (Amazon Studios): Best Film Editing, Best Sound
  • “Soul” (Pixar Studios): Best Animated Feature, Best Original Score

The awards are voted for by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. For the 2021 ceremony, eligible movies were those released in the U.S. in 2020 and (due to the coronavirus pandemic) the eligibility period was extended to movies released in January and February 2021. Because of the pandemic, movies that were planned for a theatrical release but were released directly to home video or on streaming services were also eligible. Beginning with the 2022 Academy Awards ceremony, there will be a required 10 movies nominated for Best Picture. From 2009 to 2021, the rule was that there could be five to 10 movies per year nominated for Best Picture.

Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, there were less people invited to the Oscar ceremony in 2021. The presenters included Riz Ahmed, Angela Bassett, Halle Berry, Don Cheadle, Bryan Cranston, Viola Davis, Laura Dern, Harrison Ford, Bong Joon Ho, Regina King, Marlee Matlin, Rita Moreno, Joaquin Phoenix, Brad Pitt, Reese Witherspoon, Steven Yeun, Renée Zellweger and Zendaya.

The 2021 Oscar ceremony also marked big changes to the show in other ways. Performances of the year’s Oscar-nominated songs usually take place during the ceremony. Instead, the performances of the five nominated songs were pre-recorded and televised during the 90-minute pre-show telecast “Oscars: Into the Spotlight,” which included live interviews from the Oscar red carpet. This pre-show telecast was hosted by actors Ariana DeBose and Lil Rel Howery.

Howery acted as an unofficial emcee during parts of the Oscar telecast, which included a segment where Howery played a trivia game where people in the audience had to guess if a song was an Oscar winner, an Oscar nominee or wasn’t nominated for an Oscar at all. The segment started out flat and awkward. Andra Day got her answer correct that Prince’s “Purple Rain” song wasn’t even nominated. (However, the “Purple Rain” soundtrack score did an Oscar.)Kaluuya incorrectly guessed that Donna Summer’s “Last Dance” didn’t win an Oscar. (It did.)

But the segment end up being saved by Glenn Close, who correctly guessed that E.U.’s “Da Butt” (from Spike Lee’s 1988 movie “School Daze”) wasn’t nominated for an Oscar, and she proceeded to show her knowledge of ’80s hip-hop by getting up and doing “Da Butt” dance. This moment got a lot of laughs and cheers and will be sure to be remembered as the most unexpected comedic moment at the 2021 Academy Awards. This moment with Close could have been pre-planned and rehearsed since she seemed a little too prepared with an answer, but it didn’t take away from it being one of the show’s highlights that didn’t involve an acceptance speech.

Steven Soderbergh, Stacey Sher and Jesse Collins were the producers of the Academy Awards show. They also made some changes to the show’s format. Instead of presenting the prizes for Best Picture last, the awards for Best Actor and Best Actress were presented last. The award for Best Picture was the third-to-last award presented. The prize for Best Director was handed out in the middle of the ceremony, instead of following the tradition of being the second-to-last award handed out during the ceremony.

Another big change was that winners were not limited to a 90-second acceptance speech. Some acceptance speeches lasted longer than three minutes. In addition, there was no live orchestra at the ceremony. Instead, musician Questlove was a DJ at the award show. Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, many of the nominees were shown via satellite in various parts of the world, such as London, Paris and Sydney.

The Oscar ceremony made history in some diversity issues, as Zhao (a Chinese-born filmmaker) became the first woman of color to win Best Director. She is also the second woman in Oscar history to win this Best Director prize. (Kathryn Bigelow, director of the 2009 war film “The Hurt Locker,” was the first woman to win the Best Director award in 2010.) Zhao’s victory had been widely predicted, since Zhao won all of the year’s major Best Director awards for “Nomadland” prior to winning the Oscar.

Mia Neal and Jamika Wilson of “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom” made Oscar history by being the first black people to be nominated for and to win the prize for Best Makeup and Hairstyling. This breakthrough was acknowledged during their acceptance speech for the award, which they share with Sergio Lopez-Rivera. Neal said in her acceptance speech: “I want to say thank you to our ancestors who put the work in, who were denied, but never gave up. I also stand here—as Jamika and I break this glass ceiling—with so much excitement for the future.”

Meanwhile, South Korean actress Yuh-jung Youn of “Minari” became the first Asian-born woman to win in the Best Supporting Actress category. In 1958, Japanese American actress Miyoshi Umeki of the 1957 movie “Sayonara” became the first Asian woman overall to win in the Best Supporting Actress category.

Although the late Chadwick Boseman was widely predicted to win the Best Actor award for “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom,” which was his last film role, the prize went to Anthony Hopkins for “The Father.” (Hopkins did not attend the Oscar ceremony and was not available by video.) At 83 years old, Hopkins became the oldest person to win an Oscar in an actor/actress category, surpassing the record set by “Beginners” co-star Christopher Plummer, who won the Best Supporting Actor award in 2012, at the age of 82.

Boseman won several Best Actor prizes (including a Golden Globe Award and a Screen Actors Guild Award) for “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom” leading up to Oscar ceremony. However, there was a foreshadowing that Boseman might not win the Oscar when he was nominated for but didn’t win the prizes for Best Actor at the BAFTA Awards and Film Independent Spirit Awards, which were the two major award shows that took place closest to the Oscars. Boseman died of colon cancer in August 2020.

The Motion Picture & Television Fund (MPTF) received the Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award, with MPTF officials Bob Beitcher, Norma Carranza and Jennifer Jorge acceping the prize on stage. Tyler Perry received the Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award, a non-competitive prize. In his speech, he urged people to “stand up to hate” and to be more giving and compassionate with each other.

Here is the complete list of winners and nominations for the 2021 Academy Awards:

*=winner

Best Picture

“The Father” (Sony Pictures Classics) 

“Judas and the Black Messiah” (Warner Bros.) 

“Mank” (Netflix) 

“Minari” (A24) 

“Nomadland” (Searchlight Pictures)*

“Promising Young Woman” (Focus Features) 

“Sound of Metal” (Amazon Studios) 

“The Trial of the Chicago 7” (Netflix) 

Best Director

Thomas Vinterberg (“Another Round”)

David Fincher (“Mank”) 

Lee Isaac Chung (“Minari”) 

Chloé Zhao (“Nomadland”)*

Emerald Fennell (“Promising Young Woman”) 

Best Actor in a Leading Role

Riz Ahmed (“Sound of Metal”) 

Chadwick Boseman (“Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom”) 

Anthony Hopkins (“The Father”)*

Gary Oldman (“Mank”) 

Steven Yeun (“Minari”) 

Best Actress in a Leading Role

Viola Davis (“Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom”) 

Andra Day (“The United States v. Billie Holiday”) 

Vanessa Kirby (“Pieces of a Woman”) 

Frances McDormand (“Nomadland”)*

Carey Mulligan (“Promising Young Woman”) 

Best Actor in a Supporting Role

Sacha Baron Cohen (“The Trial of the Chicago 7”) 

Daniel Kaluuya (“Judas and the Black Messiah”)*

Leslie Odom Jr. (“One Night in Miami”) 

Paul Raci (“Sound of Metal”) 

LaKeith Stanfield (“Judas and the Black Messiah”)

Best Actress in a Supporting Role

Maria Bakalova (“Borat Subsequent Moviefilm”) 

Glenn Close (“Hillbilly Elegy”) 

Olivia Colman (“The Father”) 

Amanda Seyfried (“Mank”) 

Yuh-jung Youn (“Minari”)*

Best Adapted Screenplay

“Borat Subsequent Moviefilm.” Screenplay by Sacha Baron Cohen, Anthony Hines, Dan Swimer, Peter Baynham, Erica Rivinoja, Dan Mazer, Jena Friedman and Lee Kern; Story by Sacha Baron Cohen, Anthony Hines, Dan Swimer and Nina Pedrad

“The Father,” Christopher Hampton and Florian Zeller*

“Nomadland,” Chloé Zhao 

“One Night in Miami,” Kemp Powers 

“The White Tiger,” Ramin Bahrani 

Best Original Screenplay

“Judas and the Black Messiah.” Screenplay by Will Berson, Shaka King; Story by Will Berson, Shaka King, Kenny Lucas and Keith Lucas

“Minari,” Lee Isaac Chung 

“Promising Young Woman,” Emerald Fennell*

“Sound of Metal.” Screenplay by Darius Marder and Abraham Marder; Story by Darius Marder, Derek Cianfrance

“The Trial of the Chicago 7,” Aaron Sorkin 

Best Cinematography

“Judas and the Black Messiah,” Sean Bobbitt 

“Mank,” Erik Messerschmidt*

“News of the World,” Dariusz Wolski 

“Nomadland,” Joshua James Richards 

“The Trial of the Chicago 7,” Phedon Papamichael 

Best Film Editing

“The Father,” Yorgos Lamprinos

“Nomadland,” Chloé Zhao 

“Promising Young Woman,” Frédéric Thoraval 

“Sound of Metal,” Mikkel E.G. Nielsen*

“The Trial of the Chicago 7,” Alan Baumgarten 

Best Sound

“Greyhound,” Warren Shaw, Michael Minkler, Beau Borders and David Wyman

“Mank,” Ren Klyce, Jeremy Molod, David Parker, Nathan Nance and Drew Kunin

“News of the World,” Oliver Tarney, Mike Prestwood Smith, William Miller and John Pritchett

“Soul,” Ren Klyce, Coya Elliott and David Parker

“Sound of Metal,” Nicolas Becker, Jaime Baksht, Michelle Couttolenc, Carlos Cortés and Phillip Bladh*

Best Original Score

“Da 5 Bloods,” Terence Blanchard 

“Mank,” Trent Reznor, Atticus Ross 

“Minari,” Emile Mosseri 

“News of the World,” James Newton Howard 

“Soul,” Trent Reznor, Atticus Ross, Jon Batiste*

Best Original Song

“Fight for You,” (“Judas and the Black Messiah”). Music by H.E.R. and Dernst Emile II; Lyric by H.E.R. and Tiara Thomas*

“Hear My Voice,” (“The Trial of the Chicago 7”). Music by Daniel Pemberton; Lyric by Daniel Pemberton and Celeste Waite

“Húsavík,” (“Eurovision Song Contest”). Music and Lyric by Savan Kotecha, Fat Max Gsus and Rickard Göransson

“Io Si (Seen),” (“The Life Ahead”). Music by Diane Warren; Lyric by Diane Warren and Laura Pausini

“Speak Now,” (“One Night in Miami”). Music and Lyric by Leslie Odom, Jr. and Sam Ashworth

Best Animated Feature Film

“Onward” (Pixar) 

“Over the Moon” (Netflix) 

“A Shaun the Sheep Movie: Farmageddon” (Netflix) 

“Soul” (Pixar)*

“Wolfwalkers” (Apple TV+/GKIDS) 

Best International Feature Film

“Another Round” (Denmark)*

“Better Days” (Hong Kong)

“Collective” (Romania) 

“The Man Who Sold His Skin” (Tunisia)

“Quo Vadis, Aida?”(Bosnia and Herzegovina) 

Best Documentary Feature

“Collective” (Magnolia Pictures and Participant) 

“Crip Camp” (Netflix) 

“The Mole Agent” (Gravitas Ventures) 

“My Octopus Teacher” (Netflix)*

“Time” (Amazon Studios) 

Best Makeup and Hairstyling

“Emma,” Marese Langan, Laura Allen, Claudia Stolze

“Hillbilly Elegy,” Eryn Krueger Mekash, Patricia Dehaney, Matthew Mungle 

“Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom,” Sergio Lopez-Rivera, Mia Neal, Jamika Wilson*

“Mank,” Kimberley Spiteri, Gigi Williams, Colleen LaBaff

“Pinocchio,” Mark Coulier, Dalia Colli, Francesco Pegoretti

Best Costume Design

“Emma,” Alexandra Byrne 

“Mank,” Trish Summerville 

“Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom,” Ann Roth*

“Mulan,” Bina Daigeler 

“Pinocchio,” Massimo Cantini Parrini

Best Production Design

“The Father.” Production Design: Peter Francis; Set Decoration: Cathy Featherstone

“Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom.” Production Design: Mark Ricker; Set Decoration: Karen O’Hara and Diana Stoughton

“Mank.” Production Design: Donald Graham Burt; Set Decoration: Jan Pascale*

“News of the World.” Production Design: David Crank; Set Decoration: Elizabeth Keenan

“Tenet.” Production Design: Nathan Crowley; Set Decoration: Kathy Lucas

Best Visual Effects

“Love and Monsters,” Matt Sloan, Genevieve Camilleri, Matt Everitt and Brian Cox 

“The Midnight Sky,” Matthew Kasmir, Christopher Lawrence, Max Solomon and David Watkins

“Mulan,” Sean Faden, Anders Langlands, Seth Maury and Steve Ingram

“The One and Only Ivan,” Nick Davis, Greg Fisher, Ben Jones and Santiago Colomo Martinez

“Tenet,” Andrew Jackson, David Lee, Andrew Lockley and Scott Fisher*

Best Documentary Short Subject

“Colette” (Time Travel Unlimited)*

“A Concerto Is a Conversation” (Breakwater Studios) 

“Do Not Split” (Field of Vision) 

“Hunger Ward” (MTV Documentary Films)

“A Love Song for Latasha” (Netflix) 

Best Animated Short Film

“Burrow” (Disney Plus/Pixar)

“Genius Loci” (Kazak Productions) 

“If Anything Happens I Love You” (Netflix)*

“Opera” (Beasts and Natives Alike) 

“Yes-People” (CAOZ hf. Hólamói) 

Best Live-Action Short Film

“Feeling Through” 

“The Letter Room” 

“The Present” 

“Two Distant Strangers”*

“White Eye” 

2021 NAACP Image Awards: ‘Black-ish’ is the top nominee

February 2, 2021

With 11 nods, the ABC comedy series “Black-ish” has the most 2021 NAACP Image Awards nominations. Following closely behind with 10 nominations is the Netflix musical movie “Jingle Jangle: Christmas Journey.” The Netflix dramatic film “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom” and the Pixar Animation Studios film “Soul” received nine nominations each. Also getting several nominations are Beyoncé (eight nominations) and the HBO comedy series “Insecure” (seven nominations). Beyoncé’s nominations total includes her nods for her Disney+ “Black Is King” music film (which she starred in and co-directed) and for being a featured performer on Megan Thee Stallion’s “Savage (Remix).”

The following is a press release from the NAACP and BET:

Today, the full-list of nominees for the 52nd NAACP Image Awards were announced today in a special virtual event on NAACP Image Awards’ Instagram channel hosted by Tony-award winning actress and singer Anika Noni-Rose, actress and singer Chloe Bailey, actress Erika Alexander, actor, dancer, and choreographer Nicco Annan, and actor and singer TC Carson. NAACP Image award-winning and Emmy-nominated talk show “The Real”, kicked-off the announcement revealing nominees in 15 categories ahead of the virtual event. The winners will be revealed during the two-hour LIVE TV special airing on BET and will be simulcast across ViacomCBS Networks including CBS, BET Her, VH1, MTV, MTV2, and LOGO on Saturday, March 27, 2021 at 8/7c.

With the rise in usage of streaming services this year, Netflix leads the nominations across the motion picture and television categories with 48 total nominations followed by HBO who received a total of 25 nominations. Beyoncé received the most nominations of any artist in the music recording categories with six, and RCA Records leads with the most nominations across record labels with 12 nominations. For the literary categories HarperCollins Publishers lead with nine nominations.

NAACP additionally announced the nominees for the Special Awards categories which include Entertainer of the Year and Social Justice Impact. Nominees for the Entertainer of the Year award include D-Nice, Regina King, Trevor Noah, Tyler Perry and Viola Davis. Nominees for the Social Justice Impact award include April Ryan, Debbie Allen, LeBron James, Stacey Abrams and Tamika Mallory.

“We are excited to recognize and celebrate this year’s nominees, who at times throughout this unprecedented year have provided moments of levity, brought our communities together, and lifted our spirits through culture when we needed it the most,” said NAACP President and CEO Derrick Johnson. 

“BET shares the NAACP’s commitment to engage and empower our community, and we are proud to serve as partners on the 52nd Annual Image Awards,” said BET President Scott Mills. “The NAACP Image Awards uniquely honors our culture and community, recognizing those who help tell our stories through music, TV, movies, and literature. It is a distinct privilege for us to amplify the incredible work of the NAACP—and the best and brightest creative minds in the entertainment industry—across our ViacomCBS properties.

The NAACP Image Awards honors the accomplishments of people of color in the fields of television, music, literature, and film and also recognizes individuals or groups who promote social justice through creative endeavors.

One of the most iconic annual celebrations of Black excellence, the NAACP Image Awards draws a crowd of the biggest and brightest stars in Hollywood. Previous years’ attendees include Rihanna, Lizzo, Beyoncé, Jay-Z, Michael B. Jordan, Oprah Winfrey, Jamie Foxx, Will Smith, Taraji P. Henson, Marsai Martin, Viola Davis, Gabrielle Union, Kerry Washington, Anthony Anderson, Sterling K. Brown, Loni Love, Sheryl Underwood, Mandy Moore, Halle Berry, Common, Dwayne Johnson, Audra Day, John Legend, Lena Waithe, Tracee Ellis Ross, David Oyelowo, Laverne Cox, Octavia Spencer, Issa Rae, Trevor Noah, Yara Shahidi, Danai Gurira, Jacob Latimore, Jill Scott, H.E.R., Jay Pharoah, Jemele Hill, Josh Gad, Loretta Devine, Sylvester Stallone, Meta Golding, Michael Smith, Tyler James Williams, Ava DuVernay, Chadwick Boseman, and many more.

Voting is now open to the public to determine the winners of the 52nd NAACP Image Awards by visiting www.naacpimageawards.net – Voting close on Friday, March 5, 2021. Winners will be revealed during the 52nd NAACP Image Awards telecast. Non-televised award categories will be announced virtually March 22-26, 2021. For all information and the latest news, please follow NAACP Image Awards on Instagram @NAACPImageAwards

Following is the complete list of categories and nominees for the 52nd NAACP Image Awards:

SPECIAL AWARD CATEGORIES

Entertainer of the Year

  • D-Nice
  • Regina King
  • Trevor Noah
  • Tyler Perry
  • Viola Davis

Social Justice Impact

  • April Ryan
  • Debbie Allen
  • LeBron James
  • Stacey Abrams
  • Tamika Mallory

TELEVISION + STREAMING CATEGORIES

Outstanding Comedy Series

  • #blackAF (Netflix)
  • Black-ish (ABC)
  • grown-ish (Freeform)
  • Insecure (HBO)
  • The Last O.G. (TBS)

Outstanding Actor in a Comedy Series

  • Anthony Anderson – Black-ish (ABC)
  • Cedric The Entertainer – The Neighborhood (CBS)
  • Don Cheadle – Black Monday (Showtime)
  • Idris Elba – In the Long Run (Starz)
  • Tracy Morgan – The Last O.G. (TBS)

Outstanding Actress in a Comedy Series

  • Issa Rae – Insecure (HBO)
  • Folake Olowofoyeku – Bob Hearts Abishola (CBS)
  • Regina Hall – Black Monday (Showtime)
  • Tracee Ellis Ross – Black-ish (ABC)
  • Yara Shahidi – Grown-ish (Freeform)

Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series

  • Andre Braugher – Brooklyn Nine-Nine (NBC)
  • Deon Cole – Black-ish (ABC)
  • Jay Ellis – Insecure (HBO)
  • Kenan Thompson – Saturday Night Live (NBC)
  • Laurence Fishburne – Black-ish (ABC)

Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series

  • Jenifer Lewis – Black-ish (ABC)
  • Marsai Martin – Black-ish (ABC)
  • Natasha Rothwell – Insecure (HBO)
  • Tichina Arnold – The Neighborhood (CBS)
  • Yvonne Orji – Insecure (HBO)

Outstanding Drama Series

  • All Rise (CBS)
  • Bridgerton (Netflix)
  • Lovecraft Country (HBO)
  • Power Book II: Ghost (Starz)
  • This Is Us (NBC)

Outstanding Actor in a Drama Series

  • Jonathan Majors – Lovecraft Country (HBO)
  • Keith David – Greenleaf (OWN: Oprah Winfrey Network)
  • Nicco Annan – P-Valley (Starz)
  • Regé-Jean Page – Bridgerton (Netflix)
  • Sterling K. Brown – This Is Us (NBC)

Outstanding Actress in a Drama Series

  • Angela Bassett – 9-1-1 (FOX)
  • Brandee Evans – P-Valley (Starz)
  • Jurnee Smollett – Lovecraft Country (HBO)
  • Simone Missick – All Rise (CBS)
  • Viola Davis – How To Get Away With Murder (ABC)

Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Drama Series

  • Clifford “Method Man” Smith – Power Book II: Ghost (Starz)
  • Delroy Lindo – The Good Fight (CBS All Access)
  • J. Alphonse Nicholson – P-Valley (Starz)
  • Jeffrey Wright – Westworld (HBO)
  • Michael Kenneth Williams – Lovecraft Country (HBO)

Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama Series

  • Adjoa Andoh – Bridgerton (Netflix)
  • Aunjanue Ellis – Lovecraft Country (HBO)
  • Lynn Whitfield – Greenleaf (OWN: Oprah Winfrey Network)
  • Mary J. Blige – Power Book II: Ghost (Starz)
  • Susan Kelechi Watson – This Is Us (NBC)

Outstanding Television Movie, Limited–Series or Dramatic Special

  • Hamilton (Disney+)
  • Little Fires Everywhere (Hulu)
  • Self Made: Inspired by the Life of Madam C.J. Walker (Netflix)
  • Sylvie’s Love (Amazon Studios)
  • The Clark Sisters: First Ladies of Gospel (Lifetime)

Outstanding Actor in a Television Movie, Limited–Series or Dramatic Special

  • Blair Underwood – Self Made: Inspired by the Life of Madam C.J. Walker (Netflix)
  • Chris Rock – Fargo (FX)
  • Daveed Diggs – Hamilton (Disney+)
  • Leslie Odom, Jr. – Hamilton (Disney+)
  • Nnamdi Asomugha – Sylvie’s Love (Amazon Studios)

Outstanding Actress in a Television Movie, Limited–Series or Dramatic Special

  • Aunjanue Ellis – The Clark Sisters: First Ladies of Gospel (Lifetime)
  • Kerry Washington – Little Fires Everywhere (Hulu)
  • Michaela Coel – I May Destroy You (HBO)
  • Octavia Spencer – Self Made: Inspired by the Life of Madam C.J. Walker (Netflix)
  • Tessa Thompson – Sylvie’s Love (Amazon Studios)

Outstanding News/Information (Series or Special)

  • AM Joy: Remembering John Lewis Special (MSNBC)
  • Desus & Mero: The Obama Interview (Showtime)
  • The Color of Covid (CNN)
  • The New York Times Presents “The Killing of Breonna Taylor” (FX)
  • The Reidout (NBC)

Outstanding Talk Series

  • Red Table Talk (Facebook Watch)
  • Tamron Hall (Syndicated )
  • The Daily Show with Trevor Noah (Comedy Central)
  • The Oprah Conversation (Apple TV+)
  • The Shop: Uninterrupted (HBO)

Outstanding Reality Program, Reality Competition or Game Show (Series)

  • Celebrity Family Feud (ABC)
  • Iyanla: Fix My Life (OWN: Oprah Winfrey Network)
  • Shark Tank (ABC)
  • United Shades of America with W. Kamau Bell (CNN)
  • Voices of Fire (Netflix)

Outstanding Variety Show (Series or Special)

  • 8:46 (Netflix)
  • Black Is King (Disney+)
  • The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air Reunion (HBO Max)
  • VERZUZ (APPLE TV)
  • Yvonne Orji: Momma I Made It! (HBO)

Outstanding Children’s Program

  • Bookmarks: Celebrating Black Voices (Netflix)
  • Craig of the Creek (Cartoon Network)
  • Family Reunion (Netflix)
  • Raven’s Home (Disney Channel)
  • We Are the Dream: The Kids of the Oakland MLK Oratorical (HBO)

Outstanding Performance by a Youth (Series, Special, Television Movie or Limited–Series)

  • Alex R. Hibbert – The Chi (Showtime)
  • Lexi Underwood – Little Fires Everywhere (Hulu)
  • Lyric Ross – This Is Us (NBC)
  • Marsai Martin – Black-ish (ABC)
  • Miles Brown – Black-ish (ABC)

Outstanding Host in a Talk or News/Information (Series or Special) – Individual or Ensemble

  • Don Lemon – CNN Tonight with Don Lemon (CNN)
  • Jada Pinkett Smith – Red Table Talk (Facebook Watch)
  • Joy Reid – The Reidout (NBC)
  • LeBron James – The Shop: Uninterrupted (HBO)
  • Trevor Noah – The Daily Show with Trevor Noah (Comedy Central)

Outstanding Host in a Reality/Reality Competition, Game Show or Variety (Series or Special) – Individual or Ensemble

  • Alfonso Ribeiro – America’s Funniest Home Videos (ABC)
  • Iyanla Vanzant – Iyanla: Fix My Life (OWN: Oprah Winfrey Network)
  • Steve Harvey – Celebrity Family Feud (ABC)
  • W. Kamau Bell – United Shades of America with W. Kamau Bell (CNN)
  • RuPaul – RuPaul’s Drag Race (VH1)

Outstanding Guest Performance – Comedy or Drama Series

  • Chris Rock – Saturday Night Live (NBC)
  • Courtney B. Vance – Lovecraft Country (HBO)
  • Dave Chappelle – Saturday Night Live (NBC)
  • Issa Rae – Saturday Night Live (NBC)
  • Loretta Devine – P-Valley (Starz)

Outstanding Animated Series

  • Big Mouth (Netflix)
  • Central Park (Apple TV+)
  • Doc McStuffins (Disney Junior)
  • She-Ra and the Princesses of Power (Netflix)
  • Star Trek: Lower Decks (CBS All Access)

Outstanding Character Voice-Over Performance (Television)

  • Aisha Tyler – Archer (FX)
  • Courtney B. Vance – Hollywood’s Architect: The Paul R. Williams Story (PBS)
  • Dawnn Lewis – Star Trek: Lower Decks (CBS All Access)
  • Deon Cole – Kipo and the Age of Wonderbeasts (Netflix)
  • Laya DeLeon Hayes – Doc McStuffins (Disney Junior)

Outstanding Short Form Series – Comedy or Drama

  • #FreeRayshawn (Quibi)
  • CripTales (BBC America)
  • Lazor Wulf (Adult Swim)
  • Mapleworth Murders (Quibi)
  • Sincerely, Camille (OWN: Oprah Winfrey Network)

Outstanding Performance in a Short Form Series

  • Giancarlo Esposito – The Broken and the Bad (AMC.com )
  • J.B. Smoove – Mapleworth Murders (Quibi)
  • Jasmine Cephas Jones – #FreeRayshawn (Quibi)
  • Laurence Fishburne – #FreeRayshawn (Quibi)
  • Stephan James – #FreeRayshawn (Quibi)

Outstanding Short Form Series – Reality/Nonfiction

  • American Masters – Unladylike2020 (PBS)
  • Benedict Men (Quibi)
  • Between The Scenes – The Daily Show (Comedy Central)
  • In The Making (PBS)
  • Inspire Change Series (NFL Network)

Outstanding Breakthrough Creative (Television)

  • Katori Hall – P-Valley (Starz)
  • Keith Knight – Woke (Hulu)
  • Ramy Youssef – Ramy (Hulu)
  • Raynelle Swilling – Cherish the Day (OWN: Oprah Winfrey Network)
  • Teri Schaffer – Cherish the Day (OWN: Oprah Winfrey Network)

RECORDING CATEGORIES

Outstanding New Artist

  • Chika – High Rises (Warner Records)
  • Doja Cat – Say So (RCA Records/Kemosabe )
  • D Smoke – Black Habits (WoodWorks Records / EMPIRE)
  • Giveon – When It’s All Said And Done (Epic Records)
  • Skip Marley – Higher Place (Island Records/ Tuff Gong Records)

Outstanding Male Artist

  • Big Sean – Detroit 2 (Def Jam Recordings/G.O.O.D Music)
  • Black Thought – Streams of Thought, Vol. 3: Cane & Able (Republic Records)
  • Charlie Wilson – All of My Love (P Music Group/BMG)
  • Drake – Laugh Now, Cry Later (Republic Records)
  • John Legend – Bigger Love (Columbia Records)

Outstanding Female Artist

  • Beyoncé – Black Parade (Columbia Record/ Parkwood)
  • H.E.R. – I Can’t Breathe (RCA Records/MBK Entertainment)
  • Jazmine Sullivan – Lost One (RCA Records)
  • Ledisi – Anything For You (Listen Back Entertainment/BMG)
  • Alicia Keys – Alicia (RCA Records)

Outstanding Music Video/Visual Album

  • I Can’t Breathe – H.E.R. (RCA Records/MBK Entertainment)
  • Anything For You – Ledisi (Listen Back Entertainment/BMG)
  • Black is King – Beyoncé (Columbia Record/ Parkwood)
  • Brown Skin Girl – Beyoncé feat. WizKid, SAINt JHN, Blu Ivy Carter (Columbia Record/ Parkwood)
  • Do It – Chloe x Halle (Columbia Record/ Parkwood)

Outstanding Album

  • Alicia – Alicia Keys (RCA Records)
  • b7 – Brandy (Brand Nu/eOne)
  • Bigger Love – John Legend (Columbia Records)
  • Chilombo – Jhené Aiko (Def Jam Recordings)
  • The Wild Card – LEDISI (Listen Back Entertainment/BMG)

Outstanding Soundtrack/Compilation Album

  • Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom (Music from the Netflix Film) – Branford Marsalis (Milan)
  • Insecure: Music from the HBO Original Series – Various Artists (Atlantic Records)
  • Jingle Jangle: A Christmas Journey – Various Artists (Atlantic Records )
  • Soul Original Motion Picture Soundtrack – Trent Reznor, Atticus Ross, Jon Batiste and Tom MacDougall (Walt Disney Records)
  • The First Ladies of Gospel: The Clark Sisters Biopic Soundtrack – Donald Lawrence (Relevé Entertainment)

Outstanding Gospel/Christian Album

  • Chosen Vessel – Marvin Sapp (RCA Inspiration)
  • Gospel According to PJ – PJ Morton (Morton Inspiration / Tyscot Records)
  • I Am – Koryn Hawthorne (RCA Inspiration)
  • Kierra – Kierra Sheard (Karew/RCA Inspiration)
  • The Return – The Clark Sisters (Karew/Motown)

Outstanding Gospel/Christian Song

  • All in His Plan – PJ Morton (Morton Inspiration / Tyscot Records)
  • Never Lost – CeCe Winans (Pure Springs Gospel)
  • Something Has To Break – Kierra Sheard feat. Tasha Cobbs-Leonard (Karew/RCA Inspiration)
  • Strong God – Kirk Franklin (Fo Yo Soul/RCA Records)
  • Touch from You – Tamela Mann (TillyMann Inc.)

Outstanding Jazz Album – Instrumental

  • Be Water – Christian Sands (Mack Avenue Music Group)
  • Music From and Inspired By Soul – Jon Batiste (Walt Disney Records)
  • Omega – Immanuel Wilkins (Blue Note Records)
  • Reciprocity – George Burton (Inner Circle Music)
  • The Iconoclast – Barry Stephenson (Independent)

Outstanding Jazz Album – Vocal

  • Donny Duke and Wonder – Nathan Mitchell (ENM Music Group)
  • Holy Room – Live at Alte Oper – Somi (Salon Africana)
  • Pulling Off The Covers – Mike Phillips (Sono Recording Group)
  • Stronger – Jeff Bradshaw (Bone Deep Enterprises)
  • The Eddy (From The Netflix Original Series) – The Eddy (Arista Records)

Outstanding Soul/R&B Song

  • I Can’t Breathe – H.E.R. (RCA Records/MBK Entertainment)
  • Anything For You – LEDISI (Listen Back Entertainment/BMG)
  • B.S. feat. H.E.R – Jhené Aiko (Def Jam Recordings)
  • Black Parade – Beyoncé (Columbia Record/ Parkwood)
  • Do It – Chloe x Halle (Columbia Record/ Parkwood)

Outstanding Hip Hop/Rap Song

  • Deep Reverence feat. Nipsey Hussle – Big Sean (Brand Nu/eOne)
  • Savage Remix – Megan Thee Stallion feat. Beyoncé (300 Entertainment / 1501 Certified Ent. LLC)
  • Cool Off – Missy Elliott (Atlantic Records)
  • Laugh Now, Cry Later – Drake (Republic Records)
  • Life Is Good – Future & Drake (Epic Records)

Outstanding Duo, Group or Collaboration (Traditional)

  • Alicia Keys feat. Jill Scott – Jill Scott (RCA Records)
  • Chloe x Halle – Wonder What She Thinks Of Me (Columbia Record/ Parkwood)
  • Jimmy Jam & Terry Lewis feat. Babyface – He Don’t Know Nothin’ Bout It (BMG)
  • Kem feat. Toni Braxton – Live Out Your Love (Motown Records)
  • Ledisi and PJ Morton – Anything For You (Listen Back Entertainment/BMG)

Outstanding Duo, Group or Collaboration (Contemporary)

  • Alicia Keys feat. Khalid – So Done (RCA Records)
  • Big Sean feat. Nipsey Hussle – Deep Reverence (Def Jam Recordings/G.O.O.D Music)
  • Chloe x Halle – Do It (Columbia Record/ Parkwood)
  • Jhené Aiko feat. H.E.R. – B.S. (Def Jam Recordings)
  • Megan Thee Stallion feat. Beyoncé – Savage Remix (300 Entertainment / 1501 Certified Ent. LLC)

Outstanding International Song

  • Blessed – Buju Banton (Roc Nation Records)
  • Lockdown – Original Koffee (Promise Land Recordings)
  • Pressure (Remix) – Original Koffee feat. Buju Banton (Promise Land Recordings)
  • Tanana – Davido feat. Tiwa Savage (RCA Records/Sony Music U.K./Davido Worldwide Entertainment)
  • Temptation – Tiwa Savage (Motown Records)

Outstanding Producer of the Year

  • Donald Lawrence
  • Hit-Boy
  • Jathan Wilson
  • Sean Keys
  • TM88

MOTION PICTURE CATEGORIES

Outstanding Motion Picture

  • Bad Boys For Life (Columbia Pictures/Sony Pictures Entertainment)
  • Da 5 Bloods (Netflix)
  • Jingle Jangle: A Christmas Journey (Netflix)
  • Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom (Netflix)
  • One Night In Miami… (Amazon Studios)

Outstanding Actor in a Motion Picture

  • Anthony Mackie – The Banker (Apple)
  • Chadwick Boseman – Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom (Netflix)
  • Delroy Lindo – Da 5 Bloods (Netflix)
  • Forest Whitaker – Jingle Jangle: A Christmas Journey (Netflix)
  • Will Smith – Bad Boys For Life (Columbia Pictures/Sony Pictures Entertainment)

Outstanding Actress in a Motion Picture

  • Issa Rae – The Photograph (Universal Pictures)
  • Janelle Monáe – Antebellum (Lionsgate)
  • Madalen Mills – Jingle Jangle: A Christmas Journey (Netflix)
  • Tracee Ellis Ross – The High Note (Focus Features)
  • Viola Davis – Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom (Netflix)

Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Motion Picture

  • Aldis Hodge – One Night In Miami… (Amazon Studios)
  • Chadwick Boseman – Da 5 Bloods (Netflix)
  • Clarke Peters – Da 5 Bloods (Netflix)
  • Colman Domingo – Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom (Netflix)
  • Glynn Turman – Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom (Netflix)

Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Motion Picture

  • Anika Noni Rose – Jingle Jangle: A Christmas Journey (Netflix)
  • Gabourey Sidibe – Antebellum (Lionsgate)
  • Nia Long – The Banker (Apple)
  • Phylicia Rashad – Jingle Jangle: A Christmas Journey (Netflix)
  • Taylour Paige – Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom (Netflix)

Outstanding Independent Motion Picture

  • Emperor (Universal Home Video)
  • Farewell Amor (IFC Films)
  • Miss Juneteenth (Vertical Entertainment)
  • The 24th (Vertical Entertainment)
  • The Banker (Apple)

Outstanding International Motion Picture

  • Ainu Mosir (ARRAY)
  • His House (Netflix)
  • Night of the Kings (Neon)
  • The Last Tree (ArtMattan Productions)
  • The Life Ahead (La vita davanti a se) (Netflix)

Outstanding Breakthrough Performance in a Motion Picture

  • Dayo Okeniyi – Emperor (Universal Home Video)
  • Dominique Fishback – Project Power (Netflix)
  • Jahi Di’Allo Winston – Charm City Kings (HBO Max)
  • Jahzir Bruno – The Witches (Warner Bros. Pictures)
  • Madalen Mills – Jingle Jangle: A Christmas Journey (Netflix)

Outstanding Ensemble Cast in a Motion Picture

  • Da 5 Bloods (Netflix)
  • Jingle Jangle: A Christmas Journey (Netflix)
  • Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom (Netflix)
  • Soul (Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures)
  • The Banker (Apple)

Outstanding Animated Motion Picture

  • Onward (Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures)
  • Over the Moon (Netflix)
  • Scoob! (Warner Bros. Pictures)
  • Soul (Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures)
  • Trolls World Tour (Universal Pictures)

Outstanding Character Voice-Over Performance – Motion Picture

  • Ahmir-Khalib Thompson aka Questlove – Soul (Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures)
  • Angela Bassett – Soul (Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures)
  • Chris Rock – The Witches (Warner Bros. Pictures)
  • Jamie Foxx – Soul (Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures)
  • Phylicia Rashad – Soul (Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures)

Outstanding Short Form. (Live Action)

  • Baldwin Beauty (Powderkeg Media)
  • Black Boy Joy (Film Independent Project Involve )
  • Gets Good Light
  • Home
  • Mr. & Mrs. Ellis (AMB Productions)

Outstanding Short Form (Animated)

  • Canvas (Netflix)
  • Cops and Robbers (Netflix)
  • Loop (Pixar Animation Studios)
  • The Power of Hope (The Power Of Hope)
  • Windup (Unity Technologies)

Outstanding Breakthrough Creative (Motion Picture)

  • Loira Limbal – Through the Night (Third Shift Media, Inc.)
  • Melissa Haizlip – Mr. Soul! (Shoes In The Bed Productions)
  • Nadia Hallgren – Becoming (A Higher Ground Productions and Big Mouth Productions Film for Netflix)
  • Radha Blank – The Forty-Year-Old Version (Netflix)
  • Remi Weekes – His House (Netflix)

DOCUMENTARY CATEGORIES

Outstanding Documentary (Film)

  • All In: The Fight For Democracy (Amazon Studios)
  • Coded Bias (7th Empire Media)
  • John Lewis: Good Trouble (Magnolia Pictures/Participant)
  • Mr. Soul! (Shoes in the Bed Productions)
  • On the Record (HBO Max)

Outstanding Documentary (Television)

  • And She Could Be Next (PBS)
  • Black Love (OWN: Oprah Winfrey Network)
  • Enslaved: The Lost History of the Transatlantic Slave Trade (EPIX)
  • The Last Dance (ESPN / Netflix)
  • Unsung (TV One)

WRITING CATEGORIES

Outstanding Writing in a Comedy Series

  • Issa Rae – Insecure – “Lowkey Feelin’ Myself” (HBO)
  • Lee Eisenberg, Kumail Nanjiani, Emily V. Gordon – Little America – “The Rock” (Apple TV+)
  • Michaela Coel – I May Destroy You – “Ego Death” (HBO)
  • Mindy Kaling, Lang Fisher – Never Have I Ever “Pilot” (Netflix)
  • Rajiv Joseph – Little America – “The Manager” (Apple TV+)

Outstanding Writing in a Drama Series

  • Attica Locke – Little Fires Everywhere – “The Spider Web” (Hulu)
  • Erika L. Johnson, Mark Richard – The Good Lord Bird – “A Wicked Plot” (Showtime)
  • Jessica Lamour – Little Voice – “Love Hurts” (Apple TV+)
  • Katori Hall – P-Valley – “Perpetratin'” (Starz)
  • Tanya Barfield – Mrs. America – “Shirley” (FX)

Outstanding Writing in a Television Movie or Special

  • Diallo Riddle, Bashir Salahuddin, D. Rodney Carter, Emily Goldwyn, Rob Haze, Zuri Salahuddin, Bennett Webber, Evan Williams, Will Miles – Sherman’s Showcase Black History Month Spectacular (IFC)
  • Eugene Ashe – Sylvie’s Love (Amazon Studios)
  • Geri Cole – The Power of We: A Sesame Street Special (HBO Max)
  • Lin-Manuel Miranda – Hamilton (Disney+)
  • Sylvia L. Jones, Camille Tucker – The Clark Sisters: First Ladies of Gospel (Lifetime)

Outstanding Writing in a Motion Picture

  • David E. Talbert – Jingle Jangle: A Christmas Journey (Netflix)
  • Kemp Powers – One Night in Miami… (Amazon Studios)
  • Lee Isaac Chung – Minari (A24)
  • Pete Docter, Kemp Powers, Mike Jones – Soul (Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures)
  • Radha Blank – The Forty-Year-Old Version (Netflix)

Outstanding Writing in a Documentary (Television or Motion Picture)

  • Mary Mazzio – A Most Beautiful Thing (Peacock)
  • Melissa Haizlip – Mr. Soul! (Maysles Documentary Center)
  • Nile Cone – The Beat Don’t Stop (TV One)
  • Royal Kennedy Rodgers – Hollywood’s Architect: The Paul R. Williams Story (PBS)
  • Yoruba Richen, Elia Gasull Balada, Valerie Thomas – The Sit-In: Harry Belafonte Hosts the Tonight Show (Peacock)

DIRECTING CATEGORIES

Outstanding Directing in a Comedy Series

  • Anya Adams – Black-ish – “Hair Day” (ABC)
  • Aurora Guerrero – Little America – “The Jaguar” (Apple TV+)
  • Eric Dean Seaton – Black-ish – “Our Wedding Dre” (ABC)
  • Kabir Akhtar – Never Have I Ever – “… started a nuclear war” (Netflix)
  • Sam Miller, Michaela Coel – I May Destroy You – “Ego Death” (HBO)

Outstanding Directing in a Drama Series

  • Cheryl Dunye – Lovecraft Country – “Strange Case” (HBO)
  • Hanelle Culpepper – Star Trek: Picard – “Remembrance” (CBS All Access)
  • Misha Green – Lovecraft Country – “Jig-a-Bobo” (HBO)
  • Nzingha Stewart – Little Fires Everywhere – “The Uncanny” (Hulu)
  • Steve McQueen – Small Axe – “Mangrove” (Amazon Studios)

Outstanding Directing in a Television Movie or Special

  • Beyoncé Knowles Carter, Emmanuel Adeji, Blitz Bazawule, Kwasi Fordjour – Black Is King (Disney+)
  • Christine Swanson – The Clark Sisters: First Ladies of Gospel (Lifetime)
  • Chuck Vinson, Alan Muraoka – The Power of We: A Sesame Street Special (HBO Max)
  • Eugene Ashe – Sylvie’s Love (Amazon Studios)
  • Kamilah Forbes – Between The World And Me (HBO)

Outstanding Directing in a Motion Picture

  • David E. Talbert – Jingle Jangle: A Christmas Journey (Netflix)
  • George C. Wolfe – Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom (Netflix)
  • Gina Prince-Bythewood – The Old Guard (Netflix)
  • Radha Blank – The Forty-Year-Old Version (Netflix)
  • Regina King – One Night in Miami… (Amazon Studios)

Outstanding Directing in a Documentary (Television or Motion Picture)

  • Keith McQuirter – By Whatever Means Necessary: The Times of Godfather of Harlem (EPIX)
  • Muta’Ali – Yusuf Hawkins: Storm Over Brooklyn (HBO)
  • Sam Pollard, Maro Chermayeff – Atlanta’s Missing and Murdered: The Lost Children (Ep. 1 & 2) (HBO)
  • Simcha Jacobovici – Enslaved: The Lost History of the Transatlantic Slave Trade (EPIX)
  • Yoruba Richen – The Sit-In: Harry Belafonte Hosts the Tonight Show (Peacock)

LITERARY CATEGORIES

Outstanding Literary Work – Fiction 

  • Black Bottom Saints – Alice Randall (HarperCollins Publishers)
  • Lakewood – Megan Giddings (HarperCollins Publishers)
  • Riot Baby – Tochi Onyebuchi (TorDotCom Publishing, imprint of Tom Doherty Associates)
  • The Awkward Black Man – Walter Mosley (Grove Atlantic)
  • The Vanishing Half – Brit Bennett (Riverhead Books)

Outstanding Literary Work – Nonfiction

  • A Black Women’s History of the United States – Daina Berry (Beacon Press)
  • A Promised Land – Barack Obama (Crown)
  • Driving While Black – Gretchen Sorin (W. W. Norton & Company)
  • Long Time Coming: Reckoning with Race in America – Michael Eric Dyson (St. Martin’s Press)
  • We’re Better Than This – Elijah Cummings (HarperCollins Publishers)

Outstanding Literary Work – Debut Author 

  • A Knock at Midnight – Brittany Barnett (Penguin Random House)
  • Greyboy: Finding Blackness in a White World – Cole Brown (Skyhorse)
  • Lakewood – Megan Giddings (HarperCollins Publishers)
  • The Compton Cowboys – Walter Thompson-Hernandez (HarperCollins Publishers)
  • We’re Better Than This – Elijah Cummings (HarperCollins Publishers)

Outstanding Literary Work – Biography/Autobiography 

  • A Most Beautiful Thing: The True Story of America’s First All-Black High School Rowing Team – Arshay Cooper (Macmillan)
  • A Promised Land – Barack Obama (Crown)
  • Olympic Pride, American Prejudice – Deborah Draper (Simon & Schuster)
  • The Dead Are Arising – Les Payne, Tamara Payne (W. W. Norton & Company)
  • Willie: The Game-Changing Story of the NHL’s First Black Player – Willie O’Ree (Penguin Canada)

Outstanding Literary Work – Instructional

  • Do Right by Me: Learning to Raise Black Children in White Space – Valerie Harrison (Temple University Press)
  • Living Lively – Haile Thomas (HarperCollins Publishers)
  • The Black Foster Youth Handbook – Ángela Quijada-Banks (Soulful Liberation)
  • The Woman God Created You to Be: Finding Success Through Faith–Spiritually, Personally, and Professionally – Kimberla Lawson Roby (Lenox Press)
  • Vegetable Kingdom – Bryant Terry (Penguin Random House)

Outstanding Literary Work – Poetry 

  • Homie – Danez Smith (Graywolf Press)
  • Kontemporary Amerikan Poetry – John Murillo (Four Way Books)
  • Seeing the Body – Rachel Eliza Griffiths (W. W. Norton & Company)
  • The Age of Phillis – Honorée Jeffers (Wesleyan University Press)
  • Un-American – Hafizah Geter (Wesleyan University Press)

Outstanding Literary Work – Children

  • I Promise – LeBron James, Nina Mata (HarperCollins)
  • Just Like a Mama – Alice Faye Duncan, Charnelle Pinkney Barlow (Simon & Schuster)
  • Kamala Harris: Rooted in Justice – Nikki Grimes, Laura Freeman (Simon & Schuster)
  • She Was the First!: The Trailblazing Life of Shirley Chisholm – Katheryn Russell-Brown, Eric Velasquez (Lee & Low Books)
  • The Secret Garden of George Washington Carver – Gene Barretta, Frank Morrison (HarperCollins)

Outstanding Literary Work – Youth/Teens 

  • Before the Ever After – Jacqueline Woodson (Penguin Random House)
  • Black Brother, Black Brother – Jewell Parker Rhodes (Hachette Book Group)
  • Dear Justyce – Nic Stone (Crown Books for Young Readers)
  • Stamped: Racism, Antiracism, and You: A Remix of the National Book Award-winning Stamped from the Beginning – Jason Reynolds (Hachette Book Group)
  • This is Your Time – Ruby Bridges (Delacorte Books for Young Readers)

NAACP

Founded in 1909 in response to the ongoing violence against Black people around the country, the NAACP (National Association for the Advancement of Colored People) is the largest and most pre-eminent civil rights organization in the nation. We have over 2,200 units and branches across the nation, along with well over 2 million activists. Our mission is to secure the political, educational, social, and economic equality of rights in order to eliminate race-based discrimination and ensure the health and well-being of all persons. In media attributions, please refer to us as the NAACP. NOTE: The Legal Defense Fund – also referred to as the NAACP-LDF was founded in 1940 as a part of the NAACP but separated in 1957 to become a completely separate entity. It is recognized as the nation’s first civil and human rights law organization, and shares our commitment to equal rights. 

About BET

BET, a subsidiary of ViacomCBS Inc. (NASDAQ: VIACA, VIAC), is the nation’s leading provider of quality entertainment, music, news and public affairs television programming for the African-American audience. The primary BET channel is in 90 million households and can be seen in the United States, Canada, the Caribbean, the United Kingdom, sub-Saharan Africa and France. BET is the dominant African-American consumer brand with a diverse group of business extensions including BET.com, a leading Internet destination for Black entertainment, music, culture, and news; BET HER, a 24-hour entertainment network targeting the African-American Woman; BET Music Networks – BET Jams, BET Soul and BET Gospel; BET Home Entertainment; BET Live, BET’s growing festival business; BET Mobile, which provides ringtones, games and video content for wireless devices; and BET International, which operates BET around the globe.

2021 Critics Choice Super Awards: ‘The Boys’ series is the top winner

Karl Urban, Jack Quaid, Karen Fukuhara, Tomer Capon and Laz Alonso in “The Boys” (Photo courtesy of Amazon Prime Video)

The following is a press release from The CW:

Tonight, the Critics Choice Association (CCA) announced the winners of the inaugural Critics Choice Super Awards during a special presentation broadcast on The CW. Produced remotely following COVID safety protocols, the ceremony was hosted by writer/director/podcaster Kevin Smith and actress/writer Dani Fernandez, and honored the most popular, fan-obsessed genres across both television and movies, including Superhero/Comic Book, Science Fiction/Fantasy, Horror, Action and Animation. (Superhero categories also include comic-book and video-game-inspired movies.) The full show will be available to stream for free on The CW App and cwtv.com starting January 11, 2021.

Hulu and Neon’s “Palm Springs” and Disney+’s “Soul” led the film winners, each earning three trophies. “Palm Springs” was recognized for Best Science Fiction/Fantasy Movie, Best Actor in a Science Fiction/Fantasy Movie (Andy Samberg), and Best Actress in a Science Fiction/Fantasy Movie (Cristin Milioti). “Soul” earned Best Animated Movie, as well as Best Voice Actor in an Animated Movie (Jamie Foxx) and Best Voice Actress in an Animated Movie (Tina Fey).

In the series categories, Amazon’s “The Boys” took home the most awards, earning a total of four including Best Superhero Series, Best Actor in a Superhero Series (Antony Starr), Best Actress in a Superhero Series (Aya Cash), and Best Villain in a Series (Antony Starr). Starr was the only actor to take home multiple awards for his work.

With wins in both the film and series categories, Netflix led the studio/network count with a total of five.

The Critics Choice Association also presented the Legacy Award to the “Star Trek” franchise, recognizing the cultural impact it has had across multiple decades while continuing to appeal to and grow its loyal fanbase with new stories and characters. “Star Trek” icon Patrick Stewart, and “Star Trek: Discovery” trailblazer Sonequa Martin-Green were on-hand to accept this special honor, which came as the franchise celebrates its 55th anniversary.

The inaugural Critics Choice Super Awards show was produced by Bob Bain Productions.  The CCA is represented by Dan Black of Greenberg Traurig.

Follow the Critics Choice Super Awards on Twitter and Instagram @CriticsChoice and on Facebook/CriticsChoiceAwards. Join the conversation using #CriticsChoice and #SuperAwards.

About the Critics Choice Association (CCA)

The Critics Choice Association is the largest critics organization in the United States and Canada, representing more than 400 television, radio and online critics and entertainment reporters. It was established in 2019 with the formal merger of the Broadcast Film Critics Association and the Broadcast Television Journalists Association, recognizing the blurring of the distinctions between film, television, and streaming content. For more information, visit: www.CriticsChoice.com.

About The CW

THE CW TELEVISION NETWORK, a joint venture between Warner Bros. and CBS, launched in 2006. The CW is a multiplatform network that broadcasts a six-night 12-hour primetime lineup, Sunday through Friday and streams its ad-supported content, free, without login or authentication on CWTV.com and The CW app which is available on every major OTT platform. In daytime, The CW broadcasts a Monday through Friday afternoon block, and a three-hour Saturday morning kids block. The CW’s digital network, CW Seed, launched in 2013, and offers beloved limited-run series, as well as past seasons of recent fan-favorite television shows. 

The following is the complete list of winners and nominees for the 2021 Critics Choice Super Awards:

*=winner

FILM CATEGORIES

BEST ACTION MOVIE
Bad Boys for Life (Sony)
Da 5 Bloods (Netflix)*
Extraction (Netflix)
Greyhound (Apple TV+)
The Hunt (Universal)
Mulan (Disney+)
The Outpost (Screen Media)
Tenet (Warner Bros.)

BEST ACTOR IN AN ACTION MOVIE
Tom Hanks – Greyhound (Apple TV+)
Chris Hemsworth – Extraction (Netflix)
Caleb Landry Jones – The Outpost (Screen Media)
Delroy Lindo – Da 5 Bloods (Netflix)*
Will Smith – Bad Boys for Life (Sony)
John David Washington – Tenet (Warner Bros)

BEST ACTRESS IN AN ACTION MOVIE
Betty Gilpin – The Hunt (Universal)*
Yifei Liu – Mulan (Disney+)
Blake Lively – The Rhythm Section (Paramount)
Iliza Shlesinger – Spenser Confidential (Netflix)
Hilary Swank – The Hunt (Universal)

BEST ANIMATED MOVIE
Onward (Disney/Pixar)
Over the Moon (Netflix)
A Shaun the Sheep Movie: Farmageddon (Netflix)
Soul (Disney+)*
The Willoughbys (Netflix)
Wolfwalkers (Apple/GKIDS)

BEST VOICE ACTOR IN AN ANIMATED MOVIE
Jamie Foxx – Soul (Disney+)*
Will Forte – The Willoughbys (Netflix)
Tom Holland – Onward (Disney/Pixar)
John Krasinski – Animal Crackers (Netflix)
Chris Pratt – Onward (Disney/Pixar)
Sam Rockwell – The One and Only Ivan (Disney+)

BEST VOICE ACTRESS IN AN ANIMATED MOVIE
Tina Fey – Soul (Disney+)*
Honor Kneafsey – Wolfwalkers (Apple / GKIDS)
Maya Rudolph – The Willoughbys (Netflix)
Phillipa Soo – Over the Moon (Netflix)
Octavia Spencer – Onward (Disney/Pixar)
Eva Whittaker – Wolfwalkers (Apple / GKIDS)

BEST SUPERHERO MOVIE*
Birds of Prey (Warner Bros.)
The Old Guard (Netflix)*
Secret Society of Second-Born Royals (Disney+)
Sonic the Hedgehog (Paramount)
Superman: Man of Tomorrow (Warner Bros. Animation)

BEST ACTOR IN A SUPERHERO MOVIE*
Skylar Astin – Secret Society of Second-Born Royals (Disney+)
Jim Carrey – Sonic the Hedgehog (Paramount)
Chiwetel Ejiofor – The Old Guard (Netflix)
Ewan McGregor – Birds of Prey (Warner Bros.)*
Ben Schwartz – Sonic the Hedgehog (Paramount)

BEST ACTRESS IN A SUPERHERO MOVIE*
Kiki Layne – The Old Guard (Netflix)
Peyton Elizabeth Lee – Secret Society of Second-Born Royals (Disney+)
Margot Robbie – Birds of Prey (Warner Bros)*
Jurnee Smollett – Birds of Prey (Warner Bros)
Charlize Theron – The Old Guard (Netflix)

BEST HORROR MOVIE
Freaky (Universal)
The Invisible Man (Universal)*
Relic (IFC Films)
The Rental (IFC Films)
Sputnik (IFC Films)

BEST ACTOR IN A HORROR MOVIE
Ṣọpẹ Dìrísù – His House (Netflix)
Pyotr Fyodorov – Sputnik (IFC Films)
Michiel Huisman – The Other Lamb (IFC Films)
Dan Stevens – The Rental (IFC Films)
Vince Vaughn – Freaky (Universal)*

BEST ACTRESS IN A HORROR MOVIE
Haley Bennett – Swallow (IFC Films)
Angela Bettis – 12 Hour Shift (Magnet Releasing)
Elisabeth Moss – The Invisible Man (Universal)*
Kathryn Newton – Freaky (Universal)
Sheila Vand – The Rental (IFC Films)

BEST SCIENCE FICTION/FANTASY MOVIE
Love and Monsters (Paramount)
Palm Springs (Hulu and Neon)*
Possessor (Neon)
Synchronic (Well Go USA)
The Vast of Night (Amazon Studios)

BEST ACTOR IN A SCIENCE FICTION/FANTASY MOVIE
Christopher Abbott – Possessor (Neon)
Jake Horowitz – The Vast of Night (Amazon Studios)
Anthony Mackie – Synchronic (Well Go USA)
Andy Samberg – Palm Springs (Hulu and Neon)*
J.K. Simmons – Palm Springs (Hulu and Neon)

BEST ACTRESS IN A SCIENCE FICTION/FANTASY MOVIE
Ally Ioannides – Synchronic (Well Go USA)
Katherine Langford – Spontaneous (Paramount)
Sierra McCormick – The Vast of Night (Amazon Studios)
Cristin Milioti – Palm Springs (Hulu and Neon)*
Andrea Riseborough – Possessor (Neon)

BEST VILLAIN IN A MOVIE
Jim Carrey – Sonic the Hedgehog (Paramount)*
Kathryn Newton – Freaky (Universal)
Martin Short and Jane Krakowski – The Willoughbys (Netflix)
J.K. Simmons – Palm Springs (Hulu and Neon)
Hilary Swank – The Hunt (Universal)

SERIES CATEGORIES

BEST ACTION MOVIE
9-1-1 (Fox)
Hanna (Amazon)
Hunters (Amazon)
S.W.A.T. (CBS)
Vikings (History)*
Warrior (Cinemax)

BEST ACTOR IN AN ACTION SERIES
Daveed Diggs – Snowpiercer (TNT)*
Andrew Koji – Warrior (Cinemax)
Logan Lerman – Hunters (Amazon)
Alexander Ludwig – Vikings (History)
Shemar Moore – S.W.A.T. (CBS)
Al Pacino – Hunters (Amazon)

BEST ACTRESS IN AN ACTION SERIES
Angela Bassett – 9-1-1 (Fox)*
Jennifer Connelly – Snowpiercer (TNT)
Esme Creed-Miles – Hanna (Amazon)
Mireille Enos – Hanna (Amazon)
Katheryn Winnick – Vikings (History)
Alison Wright – Snowpiercer (TNT)

BEST ANIMATED SERIES
Archer (FXX)
BoJack Horseman (Netflix)*
Big Mouth (Netflix)
Central Park (Apple TV+)
Harley Quinn (HBO Max)
Rick and Morty (Adult Swim)
Star Trek: Lower Decks (CBS All Access)

BEST VOICE ACTOR IN AN ANIMATED SERIES
Will Arnett – BoJack Horseman (Netflix)*
H. Jon Benjamin – Archer (FXX)
Nick Kroll – Big Mouth (Netflix)
John Mulaney – Big Mouth (Netflix)
Jack Quaid – Star Trek: Lower Decks (CBS All Access)
Justin Roiland – Rick and Morty (Adult Swim)
J.B. Smoove – Harley Quinn (HBO Max)

BEST VOICE ACTRESS IN AN ANIMATED SERIES
Kaley Cuoco – Harley Quinn (HBO Max)*
Tawny Newsome – Star Trek: Lower Decks (CBS All Access)
Maya Rudolph – Big Mouth (Netflix)
Amy Sedaris – BoJack Horseman (Netflix)
Aisha Tyler – Archer (FXX)
Jessica Walter – Archer (FXX)

BEST SUPERHERO SERIES
The Boys (Amazon)*
DC’s Legends of Tomorrow (The CW)
Doom Patrol (DC Universe and HBO Max)
The Flash (The CW)
Lucifer (Netflix)
The Umbrella Academy (Netflix)

BEST ACTOR IN A SUPERHERO SERIES
Jon Cryer – Supergirl (The CW)
Tom Ellis – Lucifer (Netflix)
Grant Gustin – The Flash (The CW)
Antony Starr – The Boys (Amazon)*
Karl Urban – The Boys (Amazon)
Cress Williams – Black Lightning (The CW)

BEST ACTRESS IN A SUPERHERO SERIES
Melissa Benoist – Supergirl (The CW)
Aya Cash – The Boys (Amazon)*
Diane Guerrero – Doom Patrol (DC Universe and HBO Max)
Elizabeth Marvel – Helstrom (Hulu)
Lili Reinhart – Riverdale (The CW)
Cobie Smulders – Stumptown (ABC)

BEST HORROR SERIES
Evil (CBS)
The Haunting of Bly Manor (Netflix)
Lovecraft Country (HBO)*
The Outsider (HBO and MRC Television)
Supernatural (The CW)
The Walking Dead (AMC)

BEST ACTOR IN A HORROR SERIES
Jensen Ackles – Supernatural (The CW)*
Mike Colter – Evil (CBS)
Michael Emerson – Evil (CBS)
Jonathan Majors – Lovecraft Country (HBO)
Ben Mendelsohn – The Outsider (HBO and MRC Television)
Jared Padalecki – Supernatural (The CW)
Michael K. Williams – Lovecraft Country (HBO)

BEST ACTRESS IN A HORROR SERIES
Natalie Dormer – Penny Dreadful: City of Angels (Showtime)
Cynthia Erivo – The Outsider (HBO and MRC Television)
Katja Herbers – Evil (CBS)
T’Nia Miller – The Haunting of Bly Manor (Netflix)
Wunmi Mosaku – Lovecraft Country (HBO)
Victoria Pedretti – The Haunting of Bly Manor (Netflix)
Jurnee Smollett – Lovecraft Country (HBO)*

BEST SCIENCE FICTION/FANTASY SERIES
The Mandalorian (Disney+)*
Outlander (Starz)
Raised by Wolves (HBO Max)
Star Trek: Discovery (CBS All Access)
Star Trek: Picard (CBS All Access)
Upload (Amazon)
What We Do in the Shadows (FX)

BEST ACTOR IN A SCIENCE FICTION/FANTASY SERIES
Robbie Amell – Upload (Amazon)
Travis Fimmel – Raised by Wolves (HBO Max)
Sam Heughan – Outlander (Starz)
Kayvan Novak – What We Do in the Shadows (FX)
Pedro Pascal – The Mandalorian (Disney+)
Nick Offerman – Devs (FX on Hulu)
Patrick Stewart – Star Trek: Picard (CBS All Access)*

BEST ACTRESS IN A SCIENCE FICTION/FANTASY SERIES
Caitriona Balfe – Outlander (Starz)
Amanda Collin – Raised by Wolves (HBO Max)
Natasia Demetriou – What We Do in the Shadows (FX)*
Sonequa Martin-Green – Star Trek: Discovery (CBS All Access)
Thandie Newton – Westworld (HBO)
Hilary Swank – Away (Netflix)
Jodie Whittaker – Doctor Who (BBC America)

BEST VILLAIN IN A SERIES
Tom Ellis – Lucifer (Netflix)
Abbey Lee – Lovecraft Country (HBO)
Samantha Morton – The Walking Dead (AMC)
Sarah Paulson – Ratched (Netflix)
Antony Starr – The Boys (Amazon)*
Finn Wittrock – Ratched (Netflix)

WINNERS BY FILM FOR THE INAUGURAL CRITICS CHOICE SUPER AWARDS

Birds of Prey (Warner Bros.) – 2

Best Actor in a Superhero Movie – Ewan McGregor

Best Actress in a Superhero Movie – Margot Robbie

Da 5 Bloods (Netflix) – 2

Best Action Movie

Best Actor in an Action Movie – Delroy Lindo

Freaky (Universal) – 1

Best Actor in a Horror Movie – Vince Vaughn

Palm Springs (Hulu and NEON) – 3

Best Science Fiction/Fantasy Movie

Best Actor in a Science Fiction/Fantasy Movie – Andy Samberg

Best Actress in a Science Fiction/Fantasy Movie – Cristin Milioti

Sonic The Hedgehog (Paramount) – 1

Best Villain in a Movie – Jim Carrey

Soul (Disney+) – 3

Best Voice Actor in an Animated Movie – Jamie Foxx

Best Voice Actress in an Animated Movie – Tina Fey

Best Animated Movie

The Hunt (Universal) – 1

Best Actress in an Action Movie – Betty Gilpin

The Invisible Man (Universal) – 2

Best Horror Movie

Best Actress in a Horror Movie – Elisabeth Moss

The Old Guard (Netflix) – 1

Best Superhero Movie

WINNERS BY SERIES FOR THE INAUGURAL CRITICS CHOICE SUPER AWARDS

9-1-1 (Fox) – 1

Best Actress in an Action Series – Angela Bassett

BoJack Horseman (Netflix) – 2

Best Animated Series

Best Voice Actor in an Animated Series – Will Arnett

Harley Quinn (HBO Max) – 1

Best Voice Actress in an Animated Series – Kaley Cuoco

Lovecraft Country (HBO) – 2

Best Horror Series

Best Actress in a Horror Series – Jurnee Smollett

Snowpiercer (TNT) – 1

Best Actor in an Action Series – Daveed Diggs

Star Trek: Picard (CBS All Access) – 1

Best Actor in a Science Fiction/Fantasy Series – Patrick Stewart

Supernatural (The CW) – 1

Best Actor in a Horror Series – Jensen Ackles

The Boys (Amazon) – 4

Best Superhero Series

Best Actor in a Superhero Series – Antony Starr

Best Actress in a Superhero Series – Aya Cash

Best Villain in a Series – Antony Starr

The Mandalorian (Disney+) – 1

Best Science Fiction/Fantasy Series

Vikings (History) – 1

Best Action Series

What We Do in the Shadows (FX) – 1

Best Actress in a Science Fiction/Fantasy Series – Natasia Demetriou

WINNERS BY NETWORK/STUDIO FOR THE INAUGURAL CRITICS CHOICE SUPER AWARDS

Netflix – 5

Amazon – 4

Disney+ – 4

Universal – 4

HBO / HBO Max – 3

Hulu – 3

NEON – 3

Warner Bros. – 2

CBS All Access – 1

Fox – 1

FX – 1

History – 1

Paramount – 1

The CW – 1

TNT – 1

Review: ‘Soul,’ starring the voices of Jamie Foxx and Tina Fey

December 26, 2020

by Carla Hay

Joe Gardner (voiced by Jamie Foxx) in “Soul” (Image courtesy of Disney/Pixar Animation Studios)

“Soul”

Directed by Pete Docter; co-directed by Kemp Powers

Culture Representation: The animated film “Soul” features a racially diverse cast of characters (African American and white, with a few Latinos and Asians) representing the middle-class.

Culture Clash: An aspiring jazz musician has a purgatory-like experience where he fights to save his life while encountering a cynical soul that doesn’t want to be born in any body.

Culture Audience: “Soul” will appeal primarily to people who are interested in philosophical stories about the meaning of life that are wrapped in a bright and shiny package of a Disney/Pixar animated movie.

Counselor Jerry (voiced by Richard Ayoade), Counselor Jerry (voiced by Alice Braga), 22 (voiced by Tina Fey), Joe Gardner (voiced by Jamie Foxx), Terry (voiced by Rachel House) and Counselor Jerry (voiced by Fortune Feimster) in “Soul” (Image courtesy of Disney/Pixar Animation Studios)

Pixar Animation Studios has long been the gold standard for groundbreaking and crowd-pleasing movie animation, with several Oscars and blockbuster films to prove it. Pixar launched in 1986, and was acquired by the Walt Disney Company in 2006. But it wasn’t until 2020 that Pixar released its first movie with an African American as the lead character. That movie is “Soul,” which does what Pixar does best: blend stunning visuals with sentimental, family-friendly messages. However, the movie isn’t quite the innovative cultural breakthrough that it’s hyped up to be.

“Soul” (directed by Pete Docter and co-directed by Kemp Powers) follows a lot of the same thematic tropes that are in a lot of Pixar movies: Someone has to cope with death and/or find a way back home. In order to reach that goal, the protagonist encounters someone who usually has an opposite personality. For any variety of reasons, the two opposite personalities are stuck together on a journey. And they spend most of the story bickering and/or trying to learn how to work together.

In “Soul,” the main protagonist is Joe Gardner (voiced by Jamie Foxx), a middle-aged, aspiring jazz pianist in New York City who hasn’t been able to fulfil his dream of becoming a professional musician. Instead, to pay his bills, Joe has become a teacher of band music at a public middle school called M.S. 70, where almost all of the students in his class are less-than-talented at playing music. Joe isn’t particularly happy with how his life has turned out, but he hasn’t lost his passion for playing jazz. It’s a passion that almost no one else shares in his life.

Joe tells his students about the life-changing experience he had as a boy when his father took him to a nightclub to see jazz performed live for the first time. It was the first time that Joe understood the joy of turning a passion into something that can be shared with others. Joe describes to his students how he felt when he saw the jazz musicians expressing themselves in their performance: “I wanted to learn how to talk like that. That’s when I knew I was born to play.”

Joe then says to a student, “Connie knows what I mean. Right, Connie?” Connie (voiced by Cora Champommier) deadpans in response: “I’m 12.” This won’t be the last time Connie will be in the movie, since she represents whether or not Joe has made an impact on any of his students.

Joe, who is an only child, is somewhat of a disappointment to his widowed mother Libba (voiced by Phylicia Rashad), who owns a custom tailor shop. Libba has grown tired of seeing Joe in a series of dead-end, part-time jobs that don’t pay very well. Joe’s father was also an aspiring musician, but he gave up his music dreams because of the financial obligations of raising a family. Joe is a bachelor with no children, so it’s been easier for him to not feel as much pressure to get a full-time job that pays well.

One day, M.S. 70’s Principal Arroyo (voiced by Jeannie Tirado) tells Joe that the school would like to offer him a full-time job as the band teacher. However, Joe isn’t all that excited about the offer, because it means that he’ll have less time to pursue what he really wants to be: a professional musician playing in a real band. Privately, he thinks about whether or not he should accept the offer.

When Joe tells Libba about this job offer, she thinks he’s crazy not to take the offer right away. Libba reminds Joe that a full-time job comes with insurance benefits and a retirement plan, which are things that she thinks Joe needs to have now that he’s reached a certain age. Joe reluctantly agrees to take the school’s full-time job offer.

But then, something unexpected happens that changes his life when he gets a chance to become a professional musician. A former student of his named Lamont “Curley” Baker (voiced by Ahmir-Khalib Thompson, also known as Questlove) calls Joe and tells him that he’s now a drummer for the Dorothea Williams Quartet, a famous group that is in the city for a tour performance. Curley thanks Joe for his mentorship and excitedly mentions to Joe that the band’s regular pianist suddenly “skipped town” and can’t be found.

Curley says that Joe would be the perfect replacement for this pianist for the band’s show that will take place that evening at the Half Note, a popular jazz nightclub. Curley invites Joe to go to the nightclub for an audition. Curley says that if Dorothea Williams likes what she hears from Joe, then Joe could become the permanent pianist for the Dorothea Williams Quartet. Needless to say, Joe is ecstatic but also nervous.

Dorothea (voiced by Angela Bassett) is a hard-to-please taskmaster. And she’s not impressed that Joe has been working as a school teacher, because she thinks it means he isn’t talented enough to be a professional musician. But once Dorothea hears Joe play, she changes her mind and says he can perform with the band that night. She keeps cool about it and doesn’t want to lavish too much praise on Joe.

Joe is so excited about this big break that he calls people on his phone to tell them the good news, while he’s walking down various streets. Joe is so distracted that he doesn’t notice several things that could get him injured. He narrowly misses getting hit by a car when he walks into traffic. He avoids getting hurt by construction work happening on a street where he walks.

But a misfortune that Joe literally falls into is a deep and open manhole that he doesn’t notice while he’s talking on the phone. Joe wakes up in a purgatory-like environment where he finds out that he “died” from this fall. His soul and other souls (which look like ghostly blue blobs) are headed to a place called the Great Beyond, which is implied to be heaven.

However, Joe doesn’t want to accept this fate, and he runs away and tries to hide. What he really wants to do is go back to Earth, have his soul reunited with his body, and recover from his injuries in time to make it to the Dorothea Williams Quartet performance. He believes that this performance is his only shot at fulfilling his dream of becoming a professional musician.

Joe tries to hide in the purgatory, but he’s quickly discovered by spirit-like entities called counselors that look like two-dimensional, bisected figures. Several of the counselors (with male and female voices) are named Counselor Jerry. Alice Braga and Richard Ayoade voice the two Counselor Jerry characters that have the most interaction with Joe. Braga’s Counselor Jerry character is empathetic and patient. Ayoade’s Counselor Jerry character is wisecracking and neurotic. Other actors who are the voices of Counselor Jerry characters include Fortune Feimster, Wes Studi and Zenobia Shroff.

Joe finds out that he hasn’t died yet, but his body is in a “holding pattern,” and he’s in a place called the Great Before, also known as the You Seminar. It’s a place where each soul is numbered and assigned a unique personality before being sent to Earth to inhabit a body. In addition to personality traits, each soul must have a “spark,” in order to be ready to be sent to Earth. In the You Seminar, each soul is assigned a mentor to inspire that spark. (The word “spark” in the movie is another way of saying a person’s biggest passion in life.)

Joe already knows what his spark is (playing music), but through a series of events, he ends up becoming the mentor for a soul whose name/number is 22 (voiced by Tina Fey), who is an especially difficult soul because she doesn’t want to be live in anybody on Earth and she wants to stay where she is. She’s very stubborn and likes to cause a lot of mischief. (Technically, 22 could be interpreted as having no gender, but since a woman was chosen to voice the character, 22 will be referred to as “she” and “her” in this review.)

Joe finds out that 22 has had several mentors who tried and failed to help 22 find her spark. The mentors include Mahatma Ghandi, Abraham Lincoln, Mother Teresa, Marie Antoinette, Nicolaus Copernicus and Muhammad Ali. There’s a brief montage sequence that shows how 22 aggravated and disappointed all of her famous mentors. And 22 is so insufferable, cynical and bratty that even Mother Teresa ran out of patience with her.

And so, the rest of the movie is about these two souls who have different agendas and have to find a way to work together. One soul desperately wants to go back to Earth to reunite with his body, while the other soul desperately does not want to go to Earth to avoid inhabiting any body. There’s also a running joke in the film about a very nitpicky, uptight spirit named Terry (voiced by Rachel House), who works as an accountant in the purgatory and notices that a soul (Joe) is missing from the expected Great Beyond population. Terry goes on the hunt to find this missing soul.

“Soul” has a lot of metaphors not just about life after death but also about life on Earth. There’s a subplot about “lost souls” on Earth. And during Joe and 22’s time together, they encounter a soul who’s an aging hippie type named Moonwind (played by Graham Norton), who is the captain of a ship of souls.

What works very well in “Soul,” as is the case of almost every Pixar film, is how the film looks overall. When Joe describes the elation he felt the first time he discovered his passion for music, the screen lights up with an engaging vibrancy of sights and sounds. There are also some almost-psychedelic representations of what the You Seminar looks like that give “Soul” an immersive quality. The human characters look very lifelike. And it all adds up to a very memorable animated film.

“Soul” is not without flaws, however. The movie has a few plot holes that aren’t really explained. For example, there’s a scene in the movie where 22 tells Joe that souls without a body do not have the use of human senses, which is why 22 doesn’t know what it’s like to smell, taste or touch. However, it’s never explained why 22 (and other souls without bodies) have the senses of sight and hearing. Why bother saying that souls in this story cannot have human senses, when the souls can obviously see and hear?

Docter won an Oscar for the 2015 Pixar film “Inside Out,” another existential movie with a plot revolving around the concept that people are unique because of personalities and interests. “Soul” has lot of philosophies about what makes someone human and what a human being’s purpose is in life. Both movies can be enjoyed by people of different generations. However, the storyline of “Soul” is riskier and potentially more alienating.

“Soul” is not a religious movie, but it’s literally a spiritual movie. Its plot and characters are based on spiritual beliefs that when people die, their souls go to another place that can’t be seen by living humans, or souls could be stuck on Earth as “ghosts.” Therefore, what happens in “Soul” won’t have as much of an emotional impact on atheists or other people who believe that death is final and who think that there is no such thing as a soul that can leave a body.

There’s a reincarnation subplot to the “Soul” that isn’t as funny as it could have been, mainly because one of the characters is reincarnated as a cat. There have already been plenty of movies that have over-used the gimmick of a non-human animal that can talk and think like a human. The world has more than enough “talking animals” movies.

As for “Soul” being touted as a racial breakthrough in Pixar animation, the movie falls short of many expectations that Joe’s life as an African American musician would be in the movie more than it actually is. This part of Joe’s identity is only shown as “bookends,” in service of a story that’s really about how Joe can help redeem 22, so that she will want to become a fully formed person with a “spark.”

In fact, Joe’s quest to go back to becoming a living, breathing human being often takes a back seat to 22 and her shenanigans. Joe doesn’t become completely sidelined, since he’s still the main character who’s in almost every scene of the movie. But there are many moments in “Soul” where it feels like the filmmakers deliberately made 22 the scene stealer, while Joe passively reacts to whatever 22 does or wants.

These creative decisions are a bit problematic when Disney and Pixar seem to have a self-congratulatory attitude in promoting “Soul” as the first Pixar movie to celebrate African American culture. Well, it’s not exactly a celebration. It’s more of a polite acknowledgement, because for most of the movie, Joe isn’t even in his own body.

It should be noted that “Soul” was written by Docter (who is white), Powers (who is African American) and Mike Jones (who is white). The vast majority of people on the “Soul” creative team are also white, including producer Dana Murray and chief composers Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross. Jonathan “Jon” Batiste,” who is African American, did the jazz compositions for “Soul,” but not the overall music score. The music of “Soul” is perfectly fine, but it just seems a bit “off” that the filmmakers couldn’t be bothered to hire any of the numerous qualified African Americans to be the chief composers for this movie about an African American musician. Make of that what you will, but that’s why people say that representation matters.

And it seems like such a waste for “Soul” to not feature the singing talents of Foxx, who plays a musician but not a singer in this movie. (Foxx is a piano player in real life too.) He does a very good job in the role, as do the other “Soul” cast members. However, Joe is at times written as a sidekick to 22, when 22 should be the sidekick throughout the entire time that Joe and 22 are together. It isn’t until the last 20 minutes of “Soul” that the Joe character reclaims the spot as the central focus of the story.

“Soul” certainly meets Pixar’s high standards of a visually compelling film that tackles heavy emotional issues in an entertaining way. The movie has a lot of musing about the meaning of life and positive messages about self-acceptance. These themes in “Soul” are, for the most part, handled well for a movie whose target audience includes a lot of kids who are too young to have deep, philosophical debates. Just don’t expect “Soul” to have major representation of African American culture in the way that Pixar’s “Coco” celebrated Mexican culture.

Disney+ premiered “Soul” on December 25, 2020. The movies was released in cinemas in countries where Disney+ is not available.

2019 D23 Expo: Walt Disney Studios, Lucasfilm, Marvel, Pixar and other Disney-owned movie studios announce updates

August 24, 2019

Walt Disney Studios co-chairman/chief creative officer Alan Horn at D23 Expo 2019 in Anaheim, California, on August 24, 2019.  (Photo courtesy of the Walt Disney Company/Image Group LA)

The following is a press release from Walt Disney Studios:

The Walt Disney Studios—including studio leaders and filmmakers from Lucasfilm, Marvel Studios, Disney live action, Pixar and Walt Disney Animation Studios—wowed an audience of nearly 7,000 this morning at D23 Expo 2019 at the Anaheim Convention Center in Anaheim, Calif. Alan Horn, cochairman and chief creative officer, The Walt Disney Studios—joined by Lucasfilm’s Kathleen Kennedy, Marvel Studios’ Kevin Feige, Disney live action’s Sean Bailey, Pixar’s Pete Docter and Disney Animation’s Jennifer Lee—offered guests a captivating look at Disney’s upcoming film slate, including never-before-seen footage and a host of stars, plus a spectacular performance from “Frozen 2” voice cast members Idina Menzel, Kristen Bell, Jonathan Groff and Josh Gad.

“You’re not just fans, you’re family,” said Horn to the packed room. “It’s because of you that we keep working so hard to make great movies, and we love D23 Expo because it’s where we can share them with you first.”

The presentation included the following highlights.

LUCASFILM

Lucasfilm president Kathleen Kennedy and  director/producer/screenwriter J.J. Abrams  at D23 Expo 2019 in Anaheim, California, on August 24, 2019.  (Photo courtesy of the Walt Disney Company/Image Group LA)

President of Lucasfilm Kathleen Kennedy and “Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker” director/writer/producer J.J. Abrams showcased the riveting conclusion to the Skywalker saga. Kennedy and Abrams revved up the audience, introducing nine stars from the film —many of whom marked this as their first D23 Expo appearance: Daisy Ridley, John Boyega, Oscar Isaac, Anthony Daniels, Naomi Ackie, Keri Russell, Joonas Suotamo, Kelly Marie Tran and Billy Dee Williams, plus special appearances from R2-D2, BB-8 and the new droid D-O. A brand-new poster was revealed—and gifted to the entire audience. And all were given a look back at the incredible legacy of Star Wars storytelling and treated to a sneak peek of “Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker,” which opens in U.S. theaters on Dec. 20, 2019.

Billy Dee Williams, R2-D2, Anthony Daniels, Keri Russell, Naomi Ackie, Joonas Suotamo, Kelly Marie Tran, Oscar Isaac, John Boyega, Daisy Ridley, Kathleen Kennedy and J.J. Abrams  at D23 Expo 2019 in Anaheim, California on August 24, 2019.  (Photo courtesy of the Walt Disney Company/Image Group LA)

MARVEL STUDIOS

Director/screenwriter Ryan Coogler and Marvel Studios president Kevin Feige  at D23 Expo 2019 in Anaheim, California, on August 24, 2019.  (Photo courtesy of the Walt Disney Company/Image Group LA)

Kevin Feige, president of Marvel Studios, kicked off his presentation with a surprise visit from “Black Panther” director and co-writer Ryan Coogler. Together, they revealed that “Black Panther 2” (working title) will hit U.S. theaters on May 6, 2022.

Feige segued to next year’s “The Eternals,” inviting cast members from the muchanticipated film to the stage: Richard Madden, who portrays the all-powerful Ikaris; Kumail Nanjiani, who plays cosmic-powered Kingo; Lauren Ridloff, who portrays the super-fast Makkari, the first deaf hero in the MCU; Brian Tyree Henry, who plays the intelligent inventor Phastos; Salma Hayek, who plays the wise and spiritual leader Ajak; Lia McHugh, who portrays the eternally young, old-soul Sprite; Don Lee, who plays the powerful Gilgamesh; and Angelina Jolie, who stars as the fierce warrior Thena. Feige revealed concept art images of each character, and announced three new cast members and their characters: Gemma Chan, who plays humankind-loving Sersi; Kit Harington, who was cast as non-Eternal Dane Whitman, and Barry Keoghan, who portrays aloof loner Druig, and was on hand for the event. Directed by Chloé Zhao, who helmed the critically acclaimed Sundance film “The Rider,” “The Eternals” opens in U.S. theaters on Nov. 6, 2020.

Kevin Feige, Richard Madden, Kumail Nanjiani, Lauren Ridloff, Brian Tyree Henry, Salma Hayek, Lia McHugh, Don Lee, Angelina Jolie and Barry Keoghan at D23 Expo 2019 in Anaheim, California, on August 24, 2019.  (Photo courtesy of the Walt Disney Company/Image Group LA)

Feige concluded with “Black Widow,” the Cate Shortland-directed first film in Phase Four of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, which hits U.S. theaters on May 1, 2020. Feige shared a pre-recorded greeting featuring stars Scarlett Johansson, who reprises her role of Natasha Romanoff/Black Widow; David Harbour, who was cast as Alexei the Red Guardian; and Florence Pugh, who plays Yelena. The audience was also treated to an exclusive look at the upcoming film.

DISNEY LIVE ACTION

Dwayne Johnson at D23 Expo 2019 in Anaheim, California, on August 24, 2019.  (Photo courtesy of the Walt Disney Company/Image Group LA)

Emily Blunt at D23 Expo 2019 in Anaheim, California, on August 24, 2019.  (Photo courtesy of the Walt Disney Company/Image Group LA)

Sean Bailey, president, Walt Disney Studios Motion Picture Production, took the audience through upcoming releases for the studio, including next summer’s “Jungle Cruise,” a rousing adventure inspired by the classic theme-park attraction. Star Dwayne Johnson, who plays riverboat captain Frank Wolff, entered Hall D23 aboard an original Jungle Cruise boat, introducing a “trailer” that showed off his character—so much so, that co-star Emily Blunt, who portrays Dr. Lily Houghton, arrived via classic car to share with fans her own “trailer,” offering a different perspective—Bailey laughingly informed Johnson and Blunt that neither trailer was official. Directed by Jaume ColletSerra, Disney’s “Jungle Cruise” hits U.S. theaters on July 24, 2020.

Angelina Jolie, Elle Fanning, Michelle Pfeiffer and Chiwetel Ejiofor at D23 Expo 2019 in Anaheim, California, on August 24, 2019.  (Photo courtesy of the Walt Disney Company/Image Group LA)

Bailey welcomed Angelina Jolie back to the stage to present exclusive footage and details about Disney’s “Maleficent: Mistress of Evil,” the exciting follow-up to the hit 2014 film. Maleficent, portrayed by Jolie, and her goddaughter Aurora, played by Elle Fanning, begin to question the complex family ties that bind them as they are pulled in different directions by impending nuptials, unexpected allies and new dark forces at play. Aurora’s imminent marriage to Prince Phillip is cause for celebration—however, Prince Phillip’s mother, Queen Ingrith, portrayed by Michelle Pfeiffer, challenges Maleficent’s role as Aurora’s mother figure. Chiwetel Ejiofor stars as Connal, one of the leaders of the dark fey who becomes Maleficent’s ally. Ejiofor, Pfeiffer and Fanning were all welcomed to the stage by an enthusiastic audience. Directed by Joachim Rønning, who co-helmed 2017’s “Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales,” “Maleficent: Mistress of Evil” arrives in U.S. theaters on Oct. 18, 2019.

Director/screenwriter Niki Caro and Walt Disney Studios Motion Picture Production president Sean Bailey at D23 Expo 2019 in Anaheim, California, on August 24, 2019.  (Photo courtesy of the Walt Disney Company/Image Group LA)

Bailey next introduced acclaimed filmmaker Niki Caro, director of “Mulan,” the upcoming live-action reimagining of the 1998 classic animated film. Caro expressed to fans her passion for the project, sharing several minutes of footage from the epic adventure inspired by one of China’s fiercest warriors. In Disney’s “Mulan,” which opens in U.S. theaters on March 27, 2020, the Emperor of China issues a decree that one man per family must serve in the Imperial Army to defend the country from Northern invaders. So, the eldest daughter of an honored but ailing warrior masquerades as a man, transforming into a heroic warrior to ultimately earn her the respect of a grateful nation and a proud father.

Emma Stone in “Cruella'” (Photo courtesy of Walt Disney Studios)

Next up, Bailey shared details about “Cruella,” an all-new feature film starring Emma Stone and Emma Thompson. Stone, who plays the iconic “Cruella,” sent D23 Expo fans a greeting from the London-based set with help from a spotted, four-legged co-star. Fans also got a glimpse of an image of Stone in full costume with Cruella’s signature black-and-white hair. Director Craig Gillespie, who helmed “I, Tonya” and “The Finest Hours,” brings “Cruella” to the big screen on May 28, 2021, with a fresh, 1970s, punkrock approach.

PIXAR ANIMATION STUDIOS

Mike Jones, Kemp Powers, Dana Murray and Pixar Animation Studios chief creative officer Pete Docter at D23 Expo 2019 in Anaheim, California, on August 24, 2019.  (Photo courtesy of the Walt Disney Company/Image Group LA)

Pixar Animation Studios’ Chief Creative Officer Pete Docter guided the audience through Pixar’s upcoming film slate of originals. Docter began with next summer’s release, “Soul,” which he directs. The film journeys from the streets of New York City to the never-before-seen cosmic realms and “The You Seminar,” the fantastical place where we all discover our unique personalities. Producer Dana Murray, co-director/ writer Kemp Powers and writer Mike Jones joined Docter on stage, and together they set up the film for the audience and shared a sneak peek.

Daveed Diggs, Phylicia Rashad and Questlove at D23 Expo 2019 in Anaheim, California, on August 24, 2019.  (Photo courtesy of the Walt Disney Company/Image Group LA)

The team revealed members of the voice cast who joined them on stage, including Ahmir “Questlove” Thompson, Phylicia Rashad, Daveed Diggs, Tina Fey and Jamie Foxx. Foxx lends his voice to Joe Gardner, a middle-school band teacher whose true passion is playing jazz. Fey plays 22, a soul-in-training who has an unexpected encounter with Joe when he accidentally finds his way to the “You Seminar.”

Tina Fey and Jamie Foxx at D23 Expo 2019 in Anaheim, California, on August 24, 2019.  (Photo courtesy of the Walt Disney Company/Image Group LA)

Together, the two are going to find a way to get Joe back to Earth, making him think again about what it truly means to have soul. Filmmakers also revealed that globally renowned musician Jon Batiste will be writing original jazz music for the film, and Oscar®-winners Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross (“The Social Network”), from Nine Inch Nails, will compose an original score that will drift between the real and soul worlds. Disney and Pixar’s “Soul” opens in U.S. theaters on June 19, 2020.

Julia Louis-Dreyfus, director Dan Scanlon, Tom Holland, Chris Pratt and producer Kori Rae at D23 Expo 2019 in Anaheim, California, on August 24, 2019. (Photo courtesy of the Walt Disney Company/Image Group LA)

Docter next introduced director Dan Scanlon and producer Kori Rae, who shared details and more than ten minutes of exclusive footage from Pixar’s upcoming feature film “Onward.” The movie, which opens in U.S. theaters on March 6, 2020, stars Tom Holland and Chris Pratt as two teenage elf brothers, Ian and Barley Lightfoot, who embark on an extraordinary quest to discover if there is still a little magic left in the world. Set in a modern fantasy world, Disney and Pixar’s “Onward” is inspired by Scanlon’s personal experiences with his brother. Holland, Pratt and Julia Louis-Dreyfus —who voices Mom in the movie—joined the filmmakers on stage—much to the delight of the audience, who all received an exclusive “Onward” poster.

WALT DISNEY ANIMATION STUDIOS

Dean Wellins, Osnat Shurer, Adele Lim and Paul Briggs at D23 Expo 2019 in Anaheim, California, on August 24, 2019.  (Photo courtesy of the Walt Disney Company/Image Group LA)

Walt Disney Animation Studios’ Chief Creative Officer Jennifer Lee presented an overview of the studio’s next two features, beginning with the Thanksgiving 2020 fantasy-action-adventure, “Raya and the Last Dragon.” Directors Paul Briggs and Dean Wellins (“Big Hero 6,” “Frozen”), producer Osnat Shurer (“Moana”) and writer Adele Lim (“Crazy Rich Asians”) joined Lee on stage to set up the film, which introduces Raya, a lone warrior from the fantasy kingdom of Kumandra who teams up with a crew of misfits in her quest to find the Last Dragon and bring light and unity back to their world.

Cassie Steele and Awkwafina at D23 Expo 2019 in Anaheim, California, on August 24, 2019. (Photo courtesy of the Walt Disney Company/Image Group LA)

The D23 Expo crowd was the first to get a look at the new film, viewing an exclusive three-minute piece. They also met two newly announced members of the voice cast: Awkwafina lends her voice to Sisu, the Last Dragon, who was left on Earth in case dark forces return to the world, and Cassie Steele voices the lead character, Raya. Exploring themes of community and hope, and inspired by the beautiful and diverse cultures of Southeast Asia, the fantasy-action-adventure “Raya and the Last Dragon” opens in U.S. theaters on Nov. 25, 2020.

Evan Rachel Wood and Sterling K. Brown at D23 Expo 2019 in Anaheim, California, on August 24, 2019.  (Photo courtesy of the Walt Disney Company/Image Group LA)

Lee, who directs “Frozen 2” with Chris Buck, and wrote the screenplay, invited Buck to join her on stage as the Oscar®-winning duo revealed new details about the upcoming film, which opens in U.S. theaters on Nov. 22. Lee and Buck introduced two new “Frozen 2” cast members: Sterling K. Brown, who voices Lieutenant Destin Mattias, and Evan Rachel Wood, who voices Queen Iduna, Anna and Elsa’s mother.

Josh Gad, Kristen Bell, Idina Menzel and Jonathan Groff at D23 Expo 2019 in Anaheim, California, on August 24, 2019.  (Photo courtesy of the Walt Disney Company/Image Group LA)

The crowd— who received an exclusive D23 Expo “Frozen 2” poster—saw never-before-seen footage of the new characters, including a scene that featured Wood as Iduna singing to young Elsa and Anna. The song, “All Is Found,” is one of seven all-new original songs by Oscar®-winning songwriters Kristen Anderson-Lopez and Robert Lopez. The audience also saw a sequence from the movie that showcased Elsa’s yearning for answers about the past, culminating in another song, “Into the Unknown.” And a climactic performance of the song “Some Things Never Change” by Menzel, Bell, Groff and Gad brought the audience to its feet, capping off the studio presentation in extraordinary style.

About The Walt Disney Studios
For more than 90 years, The Walt Disney Studios has been the foundation on which The Walt Disney Company was built. Today, the Studio brings quality movies, music, and stage plays to consumers throughout the world.

About D23 Expo 2019
D23 Expo—The Ultimate Disney Fan Event—brings together all the worlds of Disney under one roof for three packed days of presentations, pavilions, experiences, concerts, sneak peeks, shopping, and more. The event provides fans with unprecedented access to Disney films, television, games, theme parks, and celebrities. For the latest D23 Expo 2019 news, visit D23expo.com. Presentations, talent, and schedule subject to change. To join the D23 Expo conversation, be sure to follow DisneyD23 on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube, and use the hashtag #D23Expo.
About D23 The name “D23” pays homage to the exciting journey that began in 1923 when Walt Disney opened his first studio in Hollywood. D23 is the first official club for fans in Disney’s 90-plus-year history. It gives its members a greater connection to the entire world of Disney by placing them in the middle of the magic through its quarterly publication, Disney twenty-three; a rich website at D23.com with members-only content; member-exclusive discounts; and special events for D23 Members throughout the year.
Fans can join D23 at Gold Membership ($99.99), Gold Family Membership ($129.99), and General Membership (complimentary) levels at D23.com. To keep up with all the latest D23 news and events, follow DisneyD23 on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube.

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