Nomadland emerged as the biggest winner at the 93rd Academy Award ceremony held in person on April 25, 2021, at the historic Union Station in Los Angeles and simultaneously at the traditional Dolby Theatre home in Hollywood. The film bagged three of the big five awards including Best Film. It was nominated in six categories.
This year’s show was produced by Steven Soderbergh, Stacey Sher and Jesse Collins and had no host. Actress Regina King started the ceremony with an introduction and announcing winners in Original Screenplay and Adapted Screenplay. The long list of presenters included Brad Pitt, Halle Berry, Bong Joon Ho, Joaquin Phoenix and Zendaya among several others.
This year’s selection of nominees has been hailed as the most diverse ever with multiple nominations to civil rights films, persons of colour, and women. This year witnessed a record 70 women getting nominated in 76 categories.
Opening the show, One Night in Miami director Regina King, dressed in a custom-made gown by Louis Vuitton, reflected on the Derek Chauvin verdict. “As a mother of a Black son I know the fear that so many live with — and no amount of fame or fortune chases that,” King said.
Due to the pandemic, the Red Carpet was extended around the world. Actress Olivia Colman and Lakeith Stanfield, who was nominated in the Best Supporting Actor category, posed for photos in London. Sacha Baron Cohen and Isla Fisher attended a screening of the event in Sydney. And, many others were in Los Angeles dressed in couture. Among them was Reese Witherspoon in Christian Dior, Zendaya in Valentino Haute Couture, Angela Bassett in Alberta Ferretti, H.E.R. in Dundas, Andra Day in Vera Wang, Margot Robbie in Chanel and Carey Mulligan in Valentino.
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Viola Davis, who was nominated in the Best Actress category for Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom, paid tribute to actor Chadwick Boseman who died in August last year of cancer and was nominated for Best Actor for Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom. During the Live from E!: Oscars pre-show, she said, “It’s like I said before, he was authenticity on steroids. Sometimes people honour people who actually were not really nice, or the persona did not match the real person. This, it matches the person. I’m telling you: This person, this human being, this artist did not mistake his presence for the event. He absolutely honoured the work.”
The first award of the night went to Emerald Fennell for Best Original Screenplay for Promising Young Woman making her the first woman to win solo in the category since Diablo Cody’s win for Juno in 2008.
Mia Neal and Jamika Wilson, two of the three who won for hairstyling and make-up for Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom, who had already made history by becoming the first Black women to receive a nomination in the category, became the first to win it too.
The big five, too, were history-making.
Chloé Zhao, who went home with the Best Director award for Nomadland, became the first woman of colour and first Asian woman to win in this category. She won the BAFTA, Golden Globe and Directors Guild of America honours in the same category as well. Zhao is only the second woman ever to win the award for direction. Her win comes 11 years after Katheryn Bigelow was honoured for Hurt Locker. Besides Zhao, Emerald Fennell was nominated for Best Director for Promising Young Woman making it the first time that two women were nominated in this category the same year.
Frances McDormand won the award for Best Actress for Nomadland. This is her third Oscar win in the category, only behind Katharine Hepburn’s record of four.
British acting great Anthony Hopkins was awarded the Best Actor for The Father. The 83-year-old is the oldest ever winner of an Academy Award in acting beating the record set by Christopher Plummer, who won for Beginners in 2011 at the age of 82. This is Hopkins’ second acting Oscar; he previously won for his unforgettable role of Hannibal Lecter in The Silence of the Lambs in 1994.
This year, the Best Actor category had for the first time two actors of Asian descent — Pakistani-origin Riz Ahmed, also the first Muslim to earn the nod, for his performance in Sound of Metal and Korean-American Steven Yeun for Minari.
South Korean actress Yuh-Jung Youn won the Best Supporting Actress award for Minari. She is the second Asian woman to win this acting honour after Japanese actress Miyoshi Umeki, who won in the same category in 1958 for her role in Sayonara.
For his outstanding performance in Judas and the Black Messiah, Daniel Kaluuya earned the award for Best Actor in a Supporting Role. The actor looked dapper in a double-breasted black Bottega Veneta suit.
The Academy also paid tribute to the artists, including Sean Connery, Kim Ki-Duk, Irrfan Khan, Kelly Preston and Chadwick Boseman among others, the world lost in the past year. The In Memoriam segment was introduced by actress Angela Bassett and set to Stevie Wonder’s “As.”
In other honours, Tyler Perry won the Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award for his “generosity toward those often overlooked and his steadfast commitment to social justice.”
One of the lighter highlights of the show includes multiple-time Oscar nominee Glenn Close dancing on “Da Butt” — a song from School Daze — after she correctly guessed the name of the song from the music during a ‘guess it’ game.
It was also a fabulous night for Netflix. The streaming platform won in seven of its total 36 nominations, including for films Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom and Mank.
Due to COVID-19, the organisation had changed the eligibility criteria to allow films that made their debut on streaming services instead of theatres.
See the full list of winners and nominees here.
(Featured image: ‘Nomadland’)