AN ARKANSAS STORY: Steven Yeun and Yeri Han in “Minari.”  Courtesy A24

As anticipated, Lee Isaac Chung’s “Minari,” a Sundance darling and Golden Globe winner that’s set in rural Northwest Arkansas, is officially an Oscars favorite this year. The film, which follows a Korean-American family as they aspire to start up a vegetable farm in Washington County during the 1980s, racked up six Academy Award nominations: Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actor, Best Original Screenplay, Best Film Score and Best Supporting Actress. We interviewed Chung for the February issue of the Arkansas Times; find that conversation here.

And if you’ve yet to catch the film but aren’t ready to head to movie theaters to see it, film studio A24 has set up screenings all week, available for reservation here.

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The film, which Chung directed as a sort of swan song before leaving filmmaking for a more stable career, makes history with these nominations for a couple of reasons: first, because lead Steven Yeun (“The Walking Dead”) is nominated for Best Actor alongside Riz Ahmed (“Sound of Metal”), making 2021 the first year for two actors of Asian heritage to be nominated for the category. It’s been two decades since the category contained an actor of Asian heritage, and only two actors of Asian descent have been nominated in the category: Yul Brynner, who was born in Russia, for “The King and I,” and Ben Kingsley, whose father is of Gujarati Indian descent, for “Gandhi,” and “House of Sand and Fog.” For many, this year’s nominations mark a departure from the Academy’s history of ignoring excellence outside of a white American male paradigm, a dearth of diversity that spurred the #OscarsSoWhite outcry in 2015.

Oh, and in case it wasn’t obvious, Chung told Marketplace’s Kai Ryssdal last Wednesday that plans for departing filmmaking have changed a bit with the film’s rising acclaim. “I thought about quitting filmmaking because it was becoming so difficult for me,” Chung said. “I didn’t know if this script would ever get made. I just thought, ‘Well, I’ll have this script and if my daughter can get to see it one day, that’d be great.’ So this is all quite a surprise.” Asked by Ryssdal if he was stuck in this career now, Chung laughed and said: “I’m stuck, in a way, but I’ve kind of reframed my thinking where I don’t feel like filmmaking is what defines me anymore. I kinda feel like I’m defined by my family and other things in life that are much deeper to me.” And speaking of that family, don’t miss Chung’s daughter stealing the scene during Chung’s Golden Globe acceptance speech, or “Minari” star Alan Kim channeling his character in the film during his acceptance speech for Best Young Actor at the Critic’s Choice Awards. 

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From the New York Times this morning, here’s the full list of nominations for “Minari”:

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Best Picture

 

“The Father”
“Judas and the Black Messiah”
“Mank”
“Minari”
“Nomadland”
“Promising Young Woman”
“Sound of Metal”
“The Trial of the Chicago 7”

 

Best Director

 

Lee Isaac Chung, “Minari”
Emerald Fennell, “Promising Young Woman”
David Fincher, “Mank”
Chloé Zhao, “Nomadland”
Thomas Vinterberg, “Another Round”

 

Best Actor

 

Riz Ahmed, “Sound of Metal”
Chadwick Boseman, “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom”
Anthony Hopkins, “The Father”
Gary Oldman, “Mank”
Steven Yeun, “Minari”

 

Best Supporting Actress

 

Maria Bakalova, “Borat Subsequent Moviefilm”
Glenn Close, “Hillbilly Elegy”
Olivia Colman, “The Father”
Amanda Seyfried, “Mank”
Yuh-Jung Youn, “Minari”

 

Original Screenplay

 

“Judas and the Black Messiah”
“Minari”
“Promising Young Woman”
“Sound of Metal”
“The Trial of the Chicago 7”

 

Score

 

“Da 5 Bloods”
“Mank”
“Minari”
“News of the World”
“Soul”