'Minari' Sets Awards Season Limited Theatrical Release, Priming Steven Yeun to Be Potential First Asian-American Best Actor Nominee

A24 is batting for Minari as its next big Oscar contender. The indie distributor has set the release date for Lee Isaac Chung’s critically acclaimed Minari for an awards-qualifying run in New York and Los Angeles this December before a wider rollout beginning in February 2021. This makes Minari, which won the Audience and Grand Jury Prize at Sundance, a surefire Oscar contender and star Steven Yeun a potential Best Actor nominee — which would make him the first Asian-American actor to be nominated for the category in history.

Variety reports that the Minari release date has been set for December 11, 2020 in select theaters in New York and Los Angeles (whichever theaters are open, that is) before an expansion beginning on February 12, 2021. This limited theatrical awards season release means that A24 is throwing its full support behind Minari‘s chances at the 2021 Oscars, which are currently scheduled for March 15, 2021.

Written and directed by Lee Isaac Chung, Minari follows a Korean-American family in the 1980s as they relocate from California to a small Arkansas farm in hopes of making a new life for themselves. The family patriarch Jacob (Yeun) enthusiastically dives into farming the land, but finds himself out of his depth, as his wife and children struggle with their new rural home. Yeri Han, Alan Kim, Noel Kate Cho, and Yuh-Jung Youn also star in the film, which was met with rave reviews when it debuted at Sundance.

But the release date had been noticeably absent from the trailer that A24 debuted in September, putting into question whether the best-reviewed film of 2020 would even get to come out this year. This limited theatrical run in December means that most of us won’t be able to see it — theaters remain closed in New York and most fo Los Angeles — but the trade-off is that this could get Steven Yeun a historic Oscar nomination. Yeun has been receiving raves for his performance since the Sundance premiere, with the Burning actor named one of the frontrunners for the category. If nominated, he would be the first Asian-American actor nominated for lead actor, though other actors of Asian descent have earned the honor, such as Yul Brynner (The King and I) and Ben Kingsley (Gandhi and House of Sand and Fog). Variety notes that Yeri Han is also a dark horse for Best Actress, while Alan S. Kim, Will Patton and Yuh-Jung Youn have a fighting chance for the supporting categories.

Here is the synopsis for Minari, which opens in select theaters in New York and Los Angeles on December 11, 2020 before expanding on February 12, 2021.

A tender and sweeping story about what roots us, Minari follows a Korean-American family that moves to a tiny Arkansas farm in search of their own American Dream. The family home changes completely with the arrival of their sly, foul-mouthed, but incredibly loving grandmother. Amidst the instability and challenges of this new life in the rugged Ozarks, Minari shows the undeniable resilience of family and what really makes a home.

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