Maria Bakalova, who stole scenes from Sacha Baron Cohen and exposed Rudy Giuliani in Borat Subsequent Moviefilm, has been nominated for an Oscar for Best Supporting Actress at the 2021 Academy Awards.
Bakalova’s satirical performance as Tutar Sagdiyev befuddled real-life shop workers, healthcare professionals, and the lovable babysitter Janise Jones. But even among people who never saw the movie, she’s known for enduring several minutes alone in a hotel room with Former President Trump’s personal lawyer. Giuliani was filmed telling Bakalova to “come here,” lying down on the bed, and reaching into his pants, before Cohen’s Borat character burst into the room. Giuliani later claimed he was only attempting to tuck in his shirt.
The clip dominated the news cycle for several days, even as the coronavirus pandemic raged and the 2020 presidential election entered its final sprint. In what turned out to be a close election, it’s fair to wonder if Bakalova’s daring performance helped tilt the scales away from Trump. That cultural impact may be one of the reasons that the Academy Awards, which historically lean towards dramas, has chosen to shortlist the comedic performance.
It is Bakalova’s first Oscar nomination, as well as the first-ever Oscar nomination for a Bulgarian actress. The 24-year-old will compete in the Supporting Actress category against Glenn Close (Hillbilly Elegy), Olivia Colman (The Father), Amanda Seyfried (Mank), and Yuh-Jung Youn (Minari). Previously, she was nominated for a Golden Globe for Best Actress in a Motion Picture — Musical or Comedy. That trophy ultimately went to Rosamund Pike.
Bakalova’s breakout role hasn’t gone unnoticed in Hollywood, and she recently joined the star-studded cast of Judd Apatow’s new comedy The Bubble.
See the full list of nominations for the 2021 Academy Awards here. Winners will be unveiled during a live gala at the Dolby Theatre in Hollywood, California on Sunday, April 25th, 2021, two months later than originally planned due to the COVID-19 pandemic.