Oscar nominations were announced this morning with Korean American film Minari receiving six nominations overall, including best picture and the first nomination in history for an Asian American lead actor for Steven Yeun. Also nominated for excellence in acting was Youn Yuh-jung, who became the first Korean performer to be nominated for best supporting actress for her portrayal of the family’s grandmother. Writer-director Lee Isaac Chung, who loosely based Minari on his own childhood, earned a nomination for best director and best original screenplay. Rounding out the nominations was a nod for best original score.
Youn Yuh-jung has been a top film and television actress in Korea for over five decades, but Minari is her first foray into Hollywood. “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 Yuh-jung said. “I am incredibly humbled by the honor.”
Chung’s powerful semi-autobiographical drama tells a story of the American dream not often seen in mainstream movies: Minari stars Steven Yeun as the patriarch of a Korean immigrant family who relocates in the 1980s from Los Angeles to rural Arkansas to start a farm. He, his wife Monica (Yeri Han), their two spirited children – Anne (Noel Kate Cho) and David (Alan Kim) – and his feisty mother-in-law Soonja (Young Yuh-jung) struggle to build a better life for their family amidst difficult circumstances.
Minari has been steadily winning over moviegoers and earning acclaim over the past year, starting with earning both the Grand Jury Prize and the Audience Award in the U.S. Dramatic Competition at the 2020 Sundance Film Festival. Minari is already a Golden Globe and Critics’ Choice Award winner this season, with the BAFTAs, Independent Spirit Screen Actors Guild Awards and more still to come.
Of course, the biggest awards show of them all is the Oscars, and the 93rd Academy Awards will be broadcast live on ABC April 25.