Sacha Baron Cohen, Leslie Odom Jr. and Chloe Zhao Have a Shot at Multiple Oscar Noms This Season (Column)

Who Could Receive Multiple Oscar Nods in 2021
Davis Illustration by Denise Nestor; Odom Jr.: Patti Perret/Amazon Studios; Zhao: Taylor Jewell/Invision/AP; Cohen: Nico Tavernise/Netflix

One Oscar nomination isn’t cool. You know what’s cool? Multiple Oscar nominations.

A few filmmakers, performers and artists may hear their names called several times when the Academy announces its nominations March 15. These contenders hail from all categories, including acting, writing and technical pursuits.

For context, no one is in a position to break the record Walt Disney set in 1954, when the mogul nabbed six noms: “The Alaskan Eskimo” (best documentary short), “Ben and Me” (best short subject, two-reel), “Bear Country” (best short subject, two-reel) “The Living Desert” (best documentary feature), “Rugged Bear” (best short subject, cartoons) and “Toot Whistle Plunk and Boom” (best short subject, cartoons). Francis Ford Coppola is next in line with five nominations in 1974 spread between his films “The Conversation” and “The Godfather Part II.”

Here are the three most likely multi-nominees in contention this year.

Terence Blanchard

“Da 5 Bloods” (original score)
“One Night in Miami” (original score)

The veteran composer received his first nomination for 2018’s “BlacKkKlansman.” Teamed up with Spike Lee again for his Netflix war drama is another awards-worthy effort. Lee himself could land three nominations of his own in best picture, director and original screenplay, along with co-star Chadwick Boseman in the mix for a supporting actor and lead actor for “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom.” On the other side of the streaming river, Amazon Studios’ “One Night in Miami” from Regina King has a more subtle yet passionate musical arrangement which could be more up the music branch’s alley.

Sacha Baron Cohen

“Borat Subsequent Moviefilm” (picture, actor, adapted screenplay, original song)
“The Trial of the Chicago 7” (supporting actor)

Baron Cohen’s uncanny job capturing the gonzo spirit of activist Abbie Hoffman in Aaron Sorkin’s courtroom drama could be his easiest road to a nomination. He’s playing a historical figure, which goes a long way with Academy voters, who are suckers for a good channeling (see Daniel Day-Lewis in “Lincoln” or Renée Zellweger in “Judy”). The Oscars will have plenty of other opportunities to honor Baron Cohen’s work this year. He received his first nomination in adapted screenplay for writing the original “Borat” back in 2006. He could repeat the feat for this year’s hit follow-up, and add nods for his performance and for producing the movie. There’s also the chance that Cohen is honored for writing the outrageously offensive song “Wuhan Flu” (sample lyric: “Corona is a liberal hoax”). This was the same Academy that recognized “Blame Canada” from “South Park,” after all.

Vanessa Kirby

“Pieces of a Woman” (best actress)
“The World to Come” (supporting actress)

The Emmy-nominated actress is having a year most actresses could dream. In Netflix’s “Pieces of a Woman” she exposes her soul as a woman dealing with grief and trauma. She takes a distinct approach with Bleecker Street’s “The World to Come,” a smaller flick that hopes its buzz from Venice could come back around when released in February.

Leslie Odom Jr.

“One Night in Miami” (supporting actor, original song)

The Tony Award-winning star of “Hamilton” had his breakout year of sorts when the Disney Plus recording of the stage version dropped in July. Although that release is not eligible for the Oscars, the goodwill adds to his work as Sam Cooke in Regina King’s captivating “One Night in Miami.” Odom is a viable contender in supporting actor for his soft, powerful interpretation of the R&B legend, as well as his standout singing. He’s also one of the songwriters on “Speak Now” (with Sam Ashworth), which could make him the first male acting and songwriting nominee in Oscar history. Previously, Mary J. Blige (“Mudbound”) and Cynthia Erivo (“Harriet”) achieved this feat.

Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross

“Mank” (original score)
“Soul” (original score)

The composing team won their first Academy Award for 2010’s “The Social Network” from David Fincher. Collaborating once again for the old Hollywood tale “Mank” is dynamically orchestrated, which could be one of the leading frontrunners. With Pixar’s “Soul” from Pete Docter and Kem Powers, where music is the film’s core message, it could generate an easier check off for voters.

Chloé Zhao

“Nomadland” (picture, director, adapted screenplay, editing)

The filmmaker has been the talk of the season since her lyrical examination of the modern American West debuted at Venice. If Zhao manages all four of her possible nominations, she would break multiple records, including becoming the most nominated woman in a single ceremony (surpassing Fran Walsh for “The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King”). Her navigation of a woman’s experience and humanity during the Great Recession is both gracious and soulful. Her adaptation of Jessica Bruder’s acclaimed book is poetically orchestrated and no easy feat. The story of white America being told by an Asian woman is just what the Oscars’ diversity and inclusion standards presumably hope to recognize.

Visit THE AWARDS HUB to see the full list of contenders by category.

2021 Academy Awards Predictions