Woman on red curtain standing in front of Academy Award Oscar statue: 2021 Oscars Best Picture nominees ranked
One year I accidentally booked a girls trip to Mexico over Oscar weekend. One of our favorite family traditions: An Oscar pool where we vote on who we think will win in each Academy Award category. Loser buys dinner. Fortunately, the resort we were staying at in Mexico threw an Oscar party where I could watch the Academy Awards ceremony and text my family in real-time.

2021 Oscars Best Picture nominees ranked: Every year I watch all the Academy Award-nominated films in the Best Picture category. And when time allows, I watch films in the other Oscar award categories such as Best Actor, Best Actress, Best Animated Feature and more.

2021 Academy Award-nominated Best Picture films ranked

2021 Oscars Best Picture nominees ranked

I finished my 2021 Oscar Best Pic Nominations marathon a little early this year and at home (Academy Awards are/were Sunday, April 25, 2021 – depending on when you read this). I found it a little weird this year not seeing any of the 2021 Oscar-nominated movies in the theater – although we love our home theater thanks to my visual- and audiophile husband. And we did support our local theater by purchasing concessions from them regularly.

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Beer and a bucket of popcorn at the movie theater: 2021 Oscars Best Picture nominee
Who else misses grabbing a beer and a bucket of popcorn at the movie theater? Fortunately, our local theater stayed open for take-out concessions for most of the pandemic. Concessions as in popcorn and candy; we did not purchase beer-to-go (photo taken in pre-pandemic times).

Here are my 2021 Oscar Best Picture rankings for the eight Academy Award nominees (not necessarily who I think will win). Movie quotes sourced directly from the film itself or from IMDb.

1. 2021 Oscar Best Picture nominee: The Father

Coming in at the top spot of the best of the best Oscar best picture nominees is The Father. Sir Anthony Hopkins should receive Best Actor – brilliant acting. And the writing! I may rewatch the Academy-Award nominated The Father again knowing what I know now. The Father offers a touching perspective on aging, empathy and compassion.

One-word movie review for the Oscar-nominated The Father: Heartrending

Where was The Father filmed?

The Oscar-nominated film, The Father, was filmed and set in London, England.

Best quote from The Father

The best quotes from the Father: “I feel as though I’m losing all my leaves.” And “I don’t need any help from anyone. And I’m not going to leave my flat. All I want is for everyone to f*** off. Having said that… it’s been a great pleasure. Au revoir. Toodle-oo.”

I feel as though I’m losing all my leaves…

The Father

2. 2021 Oscar-nominated Best Picture and winner: Nomadland

While I loved this well-deserved Oscar-nominated and winning best-picture film, Nomadland, I am no longer considering van camping as a lifestyle. And discovered and fell in love with a new composer: Ludovico Einaudi. My husband and I both asked Siri about the same song at the same time to find out who and what it was (the silver lining of watching movies from home). And just learned that his music is also featured in The Father.

One-word movie review for Nomadland: Moving (in more ways than one)

Where was 2021 Oscars Best Picture nominee Nomadland filmed?

The Academy Award-nominated movie Nomadland was filmed in Nevada, South Dakota, Nebraska, Arizona, California.

Best quote from Nomadland

Best quotes from Nomadland:  “Then he told me before he died, just don’t waste any time, girl. Don’t waste any time. So I retired as soon as I could. I didn’t want my sailboat to be in the driveway when I died.” And “One of the things I love most about this life is that there’s no final goodbye…I always just say, ‘I’ll see you down the road.”‘

Then he told me before he died, “just don’t waste any time, girl.” So I retired as soon as I could. I didn’t want my sailboat to be in the driveway when I died.


What book was Nomadland based on? The Oscar-nominated film, Nomadland, is a fictional story; however, the movie is based on the nonfiction book, Nomadland: Surviving America in the Twenty-first Century by Jessica Bruder.

3. 2021 Oscars Best Picture nominee: The Trial of the Chicago 7

I earned a minor in U.S. history and knew about the 1968 Democratic National Convention, but not at this level of detail. A lot of “I didn’t know that” as I watched this courtroom and civil rights drama. I didn’t realize Abbie Hoffman, Tom Hayden and Jerry Rubin were put on trial – well, didn’t know any of them had been. I’ll get to my favorite quote in this movie, but another great quote from The Trial of the Chicago 7 came from Hoffman, “…we’re not goin’ to jail because of what we did, we’re goin’ to jail because of who we are!” A quote from the 1960s that still rings true today unfortunately.

One-word movie review for Oscar-nominated The Trial of the Chicago 7: Engrossing

Where was The Trial of the Chicago 7 filmed?

The Trial of the Chicago 7 was filmed in New Jersey and Chicago.

Best quote from The Trial of the Chicago 7

Best quote from the Oscar-nominated The Trial of the Chicago 7: “We carried certain ideas across state lines. Not machine guns or drugs or little girls. Ideas…And for that, we were gassed, beaten, arrested, and put on trial.”

“We’re not goin’ to jail because of what we did, we’re goin’ to jail because of who we are!”

The Trial of the Chicago 7

4. 2021 Oscar-nominated Best Picture: Judas and The Black Messiah

I found Judas and the Black Messiah (based-on-a-true-story film of the Black Panther Party) intriguing — great acting and must-know history. I watched it after I saw The Trial of the Chicago Seven (they are semi-related). I would recommend watching them in this order; however, they both would stand on their own. Either order, there will be spoilers if you don’t know the history behind The Trial of the Chicago 7 and Judas and the Black Messiah.

One-word movie review for Judas and the Black Messiah: Gripping

Where was Judas and the Black Messiah filmed?

The Academy-Award best-pic nominee Judas and the Black Messiah was filmed in Cleveland, Ohio (set in Chicago).

Best quote from 2021 Oscars Best Picture nominee Judas and the Black Messiah

Best quotes from Judas and the Black Messiah: “Politics is war without bloodshed while war is politics with bloodshed.” And “Anywhere there is people, there is power.”

Politics is war without bloodshed while war is politics with bloodshed.

Judas and the Black Messiah

5. 2021 Oscars Best Picture nominee: Sound of Metal

Surprised I liked Sound of Metal as much as I did. The last couple of poignant scenes stayed with me long after I watched this character-driven film. It’s not a gripping, action-packed film, but lots of subtle and life-defining moments as the main character struggles with accepting a new identity and way forward.

One-word movie review for Sound of Metal: Affecting

Where was the 2021 Oscars Best Picture nomiee Sound of Metal filmed?

The filming locations for Sound of Metal took place in the Boston area including Salem, Massachusetts (and the movie was set in Fenton, Missouri). Wait, what? For some reason, I thought this movie was set in Europe. Now I need to go back and see why I thought that.

Best quote from Sound of Metal

Best quote from Sound of Metal: “Serenity is no longer wishing you had a different past.”

Serenity is no longer wishing you had a different past.

Sound of Metal

6. 2021 Oscar-nominated Best Picture: Minari

Loved the grandmother and son relationship especially…such great acting. And the father in Minari also deserves his Oscar nomination. A slower movie, but did like the family dynamics of Korean immigrants doing their best to live the American dream.

One-word movie review for Minari: Endearing

Where was Minari filmed?

The filming location for the Oscar-nominated movie Minari is Oklahoma and the set in Arkansas.

Favorite quote from 2021 Oscars Best Picture nominee Minari

Favorite quotes from Minari: Mtn Dew is “water from the mountains” and “good for your health.” And “Things that hide are more scary and dangerous.”

Things that hide are more scary and dangerous.


7. 2021 Oscar-nominated Best Picture: Mank

Bet you thought I made a mistake and forgot to list Mank in my top-ranked 2021 Oscar-nominated best pic list. Nope. This film may have received the most nominations (10) this year and I thought I would love it, but I could not get into it. I’m sure that may be an unpopular opinion, but my opinions are always my own.

Watching Mank took several starts and stops before I finally finished it (kept falling asleep). I love the back-and-forth with different time periods. What I didn’t like: I couldn’t keep up with the rapid-fire (albeit clever) one-liners. I found myself rewinding to see what I missed in the dialogue. I typically like that type of film, but my mind couldn’t track this movie for whatever reason. I would have been completely lost had I seen Mank at the theater.

One-word movie review for Mank: Disappointing

Where was Mank filmed?

Mank, nominated for 10 Oscars, was filmed in Los Angeles and Kemper Campbell Ranch in California’

Best quote from 2021 Oscars Best Picture nominee Mank

One of my favorite quotes from the Oscar-nominated Mank:

“The Guild’s in its infancy. It needs you.”

“You’re telling me. What writer failed to notice the Screen Writers Guild needs an apostrophe?”

The Guild’s in its infancy. It needs you.

You’re telling me. What writer failed to notice the Screen Writers Guild needs an apostrophe?


Mank is based on the true story of the screenwriter, Harry Mankiewicz, who wrote the screenplay along with Orson Welles for the classic movie, Citizen Cane.

8. 2021 Oscar-nominated Best Picture: Promising Young Woman

The Oscar-nominated Promising Young Woman is suspenseful and worth watching, but surprised it’s nominated for Best Pic. It is a tough topic that should be addressed, but the story and acting fell short for me.

One-word movie review for Promising Young Woman: Suspenseful

Where was Promising Young Woman filmed?

Promising Young Woman was filmed in Los Angeles, California.

Best quote from Promising Young Woman

Best quote from Promising Young Woman: “It’s every man’s worst nightmare, getting accused of something like that….Can you guess what every woman’s worst nightmare is?”

It’s every man’s worst nightmare, getting accused of something like that.

Can you guess what every woman’s worst nightmare is?

Promising Young Woman

Other 2021 Oscar-nominated film categories ratings

In addition to the 2021 Oscar-nominated Best Picture films, I also watched several other movies in the other Academy Award categories. Here are the ratings for several of notable 2021 Oscar movies. You can see my one-word movie reviews for these Oscar-nominated movies as well as all other films I’ve watched since 2020.

  • Hillbilly Elegy: 5*
  • Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom: 4*
  • News of the World: 4*
  • One Night in Miami: 3*
  • Onward: 4*
  • Pieces of a Woman: 4*
  • Soul: 5*
  • The United States vs. Billie Holiday: 5*

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2021 Oscars Best Picture nominee

2021 Oscars Best Picture nominees ranked

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Twin Cities-based blogger sharing memorable emptynester, solo, family and girlfriend-getaway adventures, as well as my day hiking adventures (including all 66 Minnesota state parks), latest book reviews, and updates on my quest for the best adult mac and cheese. Also two WIPs: historical fiction and psychological thriller


  1. I think it’s not surprising (given the last year…) that I haven’t heard of many of these movies. I’m glad you made it a point to watch all of them. The one I really really want to see is Sound of Metal. Looking forward to seeing which movie wins this year!

    1. If not for our Oscar pool family tradition, I may not have heard of many of these Best Pic nominees this year. We streamed all the 2021 Oscar-nominated movies from our home theater. I was surprised by how much I enjoyed Sound of Metal…it’s one that really stayed with me.

  2. Nice thorough overview of each of these. I’ve only seen half so far. Think I might skip Mank. Really looking forward to The Father and Minari though. Nomadland still sticks with me….

    1. Thank you! Love Frances McDormand and Nomadland. The Father really resonated with me and Minari is also a good story. I can’t recommend Mank – really wanted to like it.

  3. I haven’t seen ANY of these, although I have heard so many great things about the Father. That is one I will definitely try to watch!

    1. Both my husband and I loved The Father. It was brilliantly written and fabulous acting. Highly recommend as the best Oscar best pic.

  4. It’s sad that Nomadland is the only one of these I’ve seen. I really miss going to the movie theater, I tend to get distracted when I watch at home. That’s so great your theater was doing take out concessions. My favorite local theater didn’t survive the pandemic. I’m so sad but also not surprised, it was never very busy before the pandemic which is what I loved about it, that and the heated seats!

    1. Heated seats?! We need those in Minnesota! That’s so sad the theatre didn’t make it. I’m happy ours remained opened to sell concessions.

    1. They’re the only two I’ve seen too – a LOT of catching up to do.

      Karen, definitely have to agree with Promising Young Woman – I had high hopes but it just didn’t do it for me!

      1. I typically do an Oscar marathon (or more like a spring) most years. I still have a few of the Best Actor and Best Actress movies to watch.

  5. Well I’ve missed so many of these. I was the same with Mank, kept having to rewind back. I wouldn’t watch it again. Of all of them I probably enjoyed Judas and the Black Messiah the most.

  6. Can I start by saying how beautiful you look Karen. I haven’t actually seen any of these movies but Nomadland is definitely at the top of my list to watch.

    1. Thank you so much, Wendy! You are too kind! Nomadland is a great movie…I’m a huge fan of Frances McDormand. This film was so insightful and raw at times…felt like a documentary of this nomadic lifestyle.

    1. I concur…such a strange year for the Oscars. I hadn’t heard of most of these movies until the Oscar nominations came out. I recommend several of them.

  7. Wow, Karen I think I could become a voting member of the guild after reading your blog. It’s great to have a passion like this and really enjoy talking/writing about it. THXS

  8. What a fun list for Oscar worthy best pictures. I have yet to see nomaland, but have heard it’s fantastic.

  9. Like others in these comments, I haven’t seen any of these. Nomadland looks the most interesting to me, and I think I would love the locations. I’ll keep my eyes out for a couple of the others, too. I like the location addition to this movie post!

    1. I hadn’t heard of most of these films either until the Oscar nominations came out. Normally I would because we go to the movie theater often. Nomadland was really good!

  10. Okay, I am definitely out of the movie loop – I haven’t heard of any of these! I’ll need to add them to my to-watch list.

  11. Haven’t seen any of these movies, Karen, but I enjoyed hearing what you thought of each one. Also, loved some of these quotes! My favorite is “Serenity is no longer wishing you had a different past.” So true!

    1. Thank you and my pleasure! One-word reviews for the Oscars best pictures and other films are sometimes more difficult to create than long-form movie reviews.

  12. I’m pretty rubbish when it comes to movies anyway but I’ve never even heard of any of these! I very rarely visit the cinema so only really see films when they have been out on DVD forever! Some of these sound intriguing though so I might just give them a go. Thanks for sharing this list!

    1. Thank you! I hadn’t heard of several of them either until the Oscar nominations were anounced. I hope you find a few gems from this list of the 2021 Oscars Best Pictures nominees.

    1. My pleasure and thank you! I was wondering how the movies would fare this year. Love that there are so many films that deserved the Oscar nominations.

  13. This is a cool and interesting post, especially for when people see these movies and want to visit! I, like many other commenters, hadn’t even heard of or seen any of these movies, so reading a little about them was a reminder and treat!

    1. Thank you so kindly! We love the movies, but definitely had to be intentional to find and watch all the 2021 Oscar best picture nominees online this year. And I love learning the filming locations and settings for all movies – especially those nominated for the Academy Awards.

  14. You’re right, it is so weird not seeing these in theaters over the last year. I love the Oscars, every year I watch and try to see all the movies in advance of the awards, but this year I basically forgot it was happening. I need to check out some of these movies though, especially The Father, because I just love Olivia Colman

    1. I had to be very intentional about watching the 2021 Oscar best pictures this year as we didn’t see any in a theater. I so miss the movie-going experience. I love Olivia Colman also…she was, of course, amazing in The Father.

  15. WOW! i haven’t seen anything on the entire list! I saved & pinned this post so I can catch back up with the outside world 🤣 Mank, The Father & Chicago 7 have caught my eye.

  16. Wooah I am impressed you managed to see so many of them!

    You know, it would make a pretty epic post-covid road trip to visit as many of these locations as you could in a trip!

  17. I do this every year too! And for the first time I’m not writing a post about the nominees. I agree with your top pick. I loved The Father. Excited to watch the Oscars tomorrow night!

    1. Thank you so much! The Father was so well done! I’m now watching all the movies of the Best Actress/Supporting Actress and Best Actor/Supporting Actor films (should be done before the 2021 Oscars air tonight).

  18. I have been wanting to watch nomadland. I love the quotes on these, and its so fun to find out where they are filmed.

    1. Thank you so much! I really liked Nomadland…and looking forward to reading the non-fiction book it was based on. Love sharing the filming locations of the Oscars and other movies.

  19. I always love knowing the filming locations of popular films! I often find that a lot of the castles I travel to have been used in period dramas which is amazing. This is a fantastic list you’ve put together with a lot of information too.

    1. Ha! We had to be very intentional to stay on top of the Oscars nominations and the Academy Awards as we didn’t see any of the movies in the theater.

  20. Love the photo of you! What a fun tradition to have every year. I haven’t watched a movie for over a year so I’m out of touch with movies these days. Lol. I’ve never heard of any of these except Nomadland so I’d like to start out seeing that one first!

    1. Thank you so much! I really enjoyed Nomadland and am happy it won three Oscar awards for best picture, best director and best actress. Well-deserved!

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