Is there something exceptional about Steven Yeun‘s performance in Lee Isaac Chung‘s Minari (A24)? Is he a potential Best Actor contender? Just wondering.

Okay, I’m not “just wondering.” I’ve been goaded by a 10.23 Clayton Davis Variety piece about how Yeun “could become the first Asian American Best Actor nominee.”

Apart than the name-checky Asian representation wokester angle that Davis is all hopped-up about, is there something fundamentally wowser about Yeun’s performance? He plays a struggling South Korean paterfamilias in this 1980s American heartland drama, which apparently won’t open until sometime in early ’21.

A week or two ago I had a chance to stream Minari via the Middleburg Film festival streaming site. But like an idiot, I forgot to watch it. The link has since expired.

Since Minari premiered at last January’s Sundance Film Festival, I’ve been hearing that Yeun’s performance is good and steady but…

Minari “is fine,” a friend told me earlier today. “[But] you won’t be doing somersaults over it. Critics are such suckers for immigrant stories these days.”

A trusted industry player who gets around and has seen Minari says that “not even in a year like this one is Minari anything but a Spirit Awards level thing.”

World of Reel‘s Jordan Ruimy: “Minari is too subdued for Academy tastes. It’s more of a memory thing than any kind of story. Clayton Davis lives in his own world. He likes to create his own Oscar-race narratives, purely based on his own tastes. That’s not how it works. Minari was not screened at TIFF or NYFF, nor was it part of Telluride’s lineup. It’s been mostly forgotten.”

Critic pally: “I haven’t seen the movie, so I have no opinion. But here’s what we know: The media world, the movie world, and especially the Oscar world is now woke, woke, woke, and (in case that’s not enough wokeness) 27 more helpings of woke. I hate it, you hate it, but that’s how it is. So they’re looking for this movie to be this year’s equivalent of The Farewell.

“I can’t say if Yeun is deserving or not, but for this era it kind of sounds like business as usual.”