Nomadland has taken three of the top awards at the 2021 Oscars, at a ceremony delayed for two months by the pandemic.
As well as being named the Best Picture – for the first time, not the final competitive award to be announced – Chloé Zhao became only the second woman to win the Best Director award.
And in a year when it had looked like diversity would be the story of the night, Best Actress went to Nomadland’s Frances McDormand, beating fellow nominees including Andra Day, who won the equivalent Golden Globe, and Viola Davis. Highlighting a passion for the big screen, after a year in which most people have been reduced to watching films at home, McDormand urged everyone to see Nomadland on the biggest screen possible and to “take everyone you know into a theatre and watch every film that’s represented here tonight.”
In an anti-climax to a rather dry show that ran just over three hours, with almost no clips of the nominated films, ensuring that the Oscar winners were less diverse than in many previous years, Sir Anthony Hopkins, 83, was announced as the winner of the final award, Best Actor for The Father, making him the oldest ever acting Oscar winner. But being about 4.15am in the UK, he wasn’t at the BFI in London to accept it. The presenter, last year’s winner Joaquin Phoenix, accepted the award on his behalf and the credits began to roll.
The night had begun more predictably, with the British actor Daniel Kaluuya being named the Best Supporting Actor for his portrayal of the Black Panthers leader Fred Hampton in Judas and the Black Messiah. “What a man!” he said, as he accepted the award in Los Angeles. “How blessed we are that we lived in a lifetime when he existed.” He said the Black Panther movement had “showed me how to love myself” and stressed, “There’s so much work to do – for everyone in the room.” He ended by thanking his mother and father for having sex, or he wouldn’t have been there; a comment that had his mother drop her head into her hands.
South Korea’s Yuh-jung Youn continued her winning streak by taking the top honour of awards season in the supporting actress category for Minari and paving the way for what had been expected to be a clean-sweep of acting winners from ethnic minority communities.
The British actress Emerald Fennell won the Best Original Screenplay award for her debut film as director, Promising Young Woman. Best Adapted Screenplay went to Florian Zeller and Christopher Hampton for The Father. Accepting his statuette in Paris, Zeller said he’d written the script for Sir Anthony, whom he described as “the greatest living actor.”
Collecting his Best International Feature Oscar for Another Round, Thomas Vinterberg said it was beyond anything he could ever have imagined, before adding that it was something he’d always imagined. He said the film was a monument to his daughter, Ida, who was killed by a motorist on a mobile phone, just four days into filming.
In the behind-the-scenes categories, Mank – which started the night with the most nominations – took its only two awards of the night for production design and cinematography.
Ann Roth has become the oldest Oscar winner in history, winning the Costume category for Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom at the age of 89. The film also won for Make-Up and Hairstyling.
Christopher Nolan’s Tenet won the Visual Effects Oscar. Sound of Metal won the film editing award, as well as the new category of Best Sound, which combined the previous honours of sound effects and sound editing. That Oscar was presented by the film’s star, Riz Ahmed.
Pixar had two of the five nominees in the Best Animated Feature category, with Soul beating Onward to the prize. Soul also won the Oscar for Best Score. Best Original Song went to Judas and the Black Messiah.
The Best Live Action short film went to Two Distant Strangers, about a deadly confrontation between a black man and a police officer; one of the directors, Travon Free urged people to feel the pain of the black community, saying that a disproportionate number of about a thousand people killed every year by American police are black. If Anything Happens I Love You was named the best animated short; the directors dedicated the film to all victims of gun-crime.
Accepting the humanitarian award, the actor and producer Tyler Perry urged everyone to “refuse hate” and dedicated his honour to “to anyone who wants to stand in the middle – because that’s where conversation happens – and where change happens.”
While the acting awards were evenly divided between white and ethnic minority performers, there was increased diversity in the themes and subject matter of the films that were honoured, with two awards each going to Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom, Judas and the Black Messiah and Soul, all of which were based around black characters. The resulting speeches included references to racial tensions in the US but perhaps a more dominant theme of the night was the pandemic itself, with a desire to get films back into cinemas a recurring message.
And here is the full list of this year’s Oscar winners:
- Chloé Zhao – Nomadland
- Frances McDormand – Nomadland
- Anthony Hopkins – The Father
BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS
- Yuh-jung Youn – Minari
BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR
- Daniel Kaluuya – Judas & the Black Messiah
BEST ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY
- Promising Young Woman – Emerald Fennell
BEST ADAPTED SCREENPLAY
- The Father – Christopher Hampton, Florian Zeller
BEST VISUAL EFFECTS
BEST FILM EDITING
- Sound of Metal
BEST COSTUME DESIGN
- Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom
- Sound of Metal
BEST PRODUCTION DESIGN
BEST MAKE-UP AND HAIRSTYLING
- Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom
BEST INTERNATIONAL FEATURE
- Another Round
BEST ORIGINAL SONG
- Judas and the Black Messiah
BEST ORIGINAL SCORE
BEST ANIMATED FEATURE
BEST DOCUMENTARY FEATURE
- My Octopus Teacher
BEST LIVE ACTION SHORT
- Two Distant Strangers
BEST ANIMATED SHORT
- If Anything Happens I Love You
BEST DOCUMENTARY SHORT