Will the 2021 Oscars have a record number of Black nominees for acting?

The most recent Emmys set a record by nominating the most Black actors in its 72-year history: 35 of the 102 performances cited. The upcoming Oscars could also see a new benchmark established, with seven Black actors nominated according to our exclusive odds. This would eclipse the record set in 2017 when Denzel Washington and Viola Davis contended for “Fences”; Mahershala Ali and Naomie Harris were up for “Moonlight”; and both Ruth Negga (“Loving”) and Octavia Spencer (“Hidden Figures”) were singled out for their films. Davis and Ali won the two supporting acting Academy Awards.

We are predicting that the following seven Black performers will reap Oscar bids across three of the four categories (the exception is Supporting Actress). The class of 2017 was the first group of Black nominee to contend across all four categories.

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Best Actor
Chadwick Boseman (“Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom”)
Delroy Lindo (“Da 5 Bloods”)

Best Actress
Viola Davis (“Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom”)
Zendaya (Malcolm and Marie”)

Best Supporting Actor
Chadwick Boseman (“Da 5 Bloods”)
Daniel Kaluuya (“Judas and the Black Messiah”)
Leslie Odom, Jr. (“One Night in Miami”)

Our current odds are predicting a record three wins for Black performers: for Boseman in lead, Davis and Odom, Jr. Boseman would make Oscar history as the first posthumous double nominee. Should he prevail he’d be the third posthumous winner in the acting races, following a Best Actor win by Peter Finch for “Network” in 1977 and Heath Ledger in Supporting Actor for “The Dark Knight” in 2009. And Davis would be the eighth actress to win both acting Oscars.

The tally of Black nominees might turn out to be even bigger. Andra Day is coming on strong in Best Actress and is currently in sixth place for her searing portrayal of the doomed torch singer in “The United States vs. Billie Holiday.” Kingsley Ben-Adir sits in seventh place for Best Actor for his portrayal of civil rights activist Malcolm X in “One Night in Miami.” Dominique Fishback is also in seventh in Supporting Actress for her stand-out turn in “Judas and the Black Messiah.” And recent Emmy winner Yahya Abdul-Mateen II (“Watchmen”) is in eighth in Supporting Actor for his portrayal of Black Panther party founder Bobby Seale in “The Trial of the Chicago 7.”

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