SA doccie 'My Octopus Teacher' scoops an Oscar nod

Craig Foster swims with the octopus that taught him, among other things, that we can survive great trauma. Describing the mollusc’s death in his film, he has to choke back tears of grief.
Craig Foster swims with the octopus that taught him, among other things, that we can survive great trauma. Describing the mollusc’s death in his film, he has to choke back tears of grief.
Image: Ross Frylinck

SA documentary My Octopus Teacher continues to fly SA's flag high as it scooped an Oscar nomination in the Best Documentary Feature category.

According to Netflix.com, the film is centred on filmmaker Craig Foster who forged an unusual friendship with an octopus living in the icy waters of a South African kelp forest, learning to survive great trauma by learning from the octopus.

The film was produced by Foster and directed by Pippa Ehrlich and James Reed.

 The announcement was made during a live-streamed announcement of the Oscar nominations on Monday afternoon.

Netflix's 1930s Hollywood drama Mank led the Oscar nominations with 10 nods, including best picture, director and for actors Gary Oldman and Amanda Seyfried.

Other best picture nods went to dementia drama The Father, Black Panther story Judas and the Black Messiah, Korean-language drama Minari, Nomadland, #MeToo revenge tale Promising Young Woman, deaf drama Sound of Metal, and 1960s Vietnam War courtroom drama The Trial of the Chicago 7 — all of which got six nods in total.

Netflix led all studios with 35 nods after a year in which the coronavirus pandemic saw movie studios delay scores of new releases or send them to streaming platforms.

The Oscars, the highest honours in the movie industry, will be handed out at a ceremony on April 25 that will take place at both the Dolby Theatre in Hollywood, and, for the first time, at Union Station in Downtown Los Angeles, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences announced on Monday. The form of the ceremony has not yet been announced.

Director Chloe Zhao, who was born in China, nabbed one of the five best director nods for Nomadland, the Searchlight Pictures release about modern van dwellers in the US. British director Emerald Fennell was also nominated for Promising Young Woman.

Only one woman, Kathryn Bigelow, has ever won a best director Oscar.

A record 76 nominations went to women this year, the academy said.

Lead actors picking up nominations included a first Oscar nod for the late Chadwick Boseman for his last film, Ma Rainey's Black Bottom, previous winners Frances McDormand and Viola Davis and Britons Carey Mulligan, Vanessa Kirby, Riz Ahmed and Anthony Hopkins.

South Korean actress Yuh-Jung Youn, who plays a supporting role as a cantankerous grandmother in Minari, became the first Korean actress to get an Oscar nod. Fellow cast member Steven Yeun and director Lee Isaac Chung also got nods for the moving story of an immigrant Korean family trying to make a living in the US in the 1980s.

“Never in my dreams did I ever think a Korean actress would be nominated for an Oscar, and I can’t believe it’s me!” Youn said.

One notable omission from the top Oscar races was director Spike Lee's Vietnam War drama Da 5 Bloods.

The nominations, however, were diverse, with several going to stories featuring non-white actors or about black culture, including One Night in Miami which got three nods, and Ma Rainey's Black Bottom.

— Reuters

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