In Focus

Oscars 2021: the big winners of the 93rd Academy Awards

Nine of the 20 acting nominations were awarded to people of colour at this historic but ‘sleepy’ ceremony

History was made during the early hours of this morning when Chloé Zhao became the first woman of colour and the first woman of Asian descent to be crowned best director at the Oscars. Zhao is only the second woman ever to be named best director after Kathryn Bigelow for The Hurt Locker more than a decade ago. 

Zhao’s Nomadland, which stars Frances McDormand as a widow on a road trip through the American west, won three Oscars in total. As critics had predicted, McDormand was crowned best actress for the third time. Only the late Katharine Hepburn won more Oscars, four, in this category.

Academy Award winners Yuh-Jung Youn, Daniel Kaluuya and Frances McDormand at the 2021 Oscars

Academy Award winners Yuh-Jung Youn, Daniel Kaluuya and Frances McDormand

Chris Pizzello-Pool/Getty Images

In other firsts, Mia Neal and Jamika Wilson became the first black women to win the best hair and make-up awards for their work on Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom. “I know that one day it won’t be unusual or groundbreaking,” Neal said about her win. “It will just be normal.” The Netflix film, which centres around a recording session in 1920s Chicago, also won in the best costume design category. 

Other notable winners included Daniel Kaluuya as best supporting actor for his role as the Black Panther leader Fred Hampton in Judas and the Black Messiah and Emerald Fennell for best original screenplay for her dark revenge comedy Promising Young Woman. Fennell became the first female filmmaker to win a screenwriting Oscar since Diablo Cody for Juno in 2008.

Breaking with tradition, the ceremony concluded with the prize for best actor, rather than best picture. Many had expected a posthumous win for Chadwick Boseman, who starred in Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom alongside Viola Davis.

However, 83-year-old Anthony Hopkins took home the gong for The Father, becoming the oldest actor - male or female - to win an Oscar. “I did not expect to get this award, I really didn’t,” he said from Wales. “I want to pay tribute to Chadwick Boseman who was taken from us far too early.”

The show’s producers had “obviously” hoped “to finish on a heartfelt tribute to Boseman after a rushed In Memoriam segment”, writes Helen O’Hara on the i news site. This meant that “the ceremony finished not with an emotional bang but a whimper of dissatisfaction” and “overshadowed both Hopkins’ extraordinary performance and Boseman’s loss”.

Hopkins’s “historic second win” felt more like an “awkward postscript to the night” rather than a moment to celebrate, agrees Robbie Collin in The Telegraph. “A Hollywood ending it was not”.

The event was “sleepy” until its “dramatic twist ending” when Hopkins beat out runaway favourite Boseman, says The New York Times. But despite the snooze-factor of the ceremony, the 93rd Academy Awards “amounted to a celebration of diversity” with nine of the 20 acting nominations awarded to people of colour. Women also took home 16 awards, a record 35.6% of the total number of winners.

93rd Academy Awards: the full list of winners
  • Best picture: Nomadland
  • Best actor: Sir Anthony Hopkins (The Father)
  • Best supporting actor: Daniel Kaluuya (Judas And The Black Messiah)
  • Best actress: Frances McDormand (Nomadland)
  • Best supporting actress: Yuh-Jung Youn (Minari)
  • Best director: Chloe Zhao (Nomadland)
  • Best animated feature film: Soul
  • Best cinematography: Erik Messerschmidt (Mank)
  • Best film editing: Mikkel EG Nielsen (Sound Of Metal)
  • Best costume design: Ann Roth (Ma Rainey's Black Bottom)
  • Best original score: Trent Reznor, Atticus Ross and Jon Batiste (Soul)
  • Best original song: Fight For You (Judas And The Black Messiah)
  • Adapted screenplay: The Father - Christopher Hampton and Florian Zeller
  • Original screenplay: Promising Young Woman - Emerald Fennell
  • Best production design: Mank
  • Best make-up and hairstyling: Ma Rainey's Black Bottom
  • Best sound: Sound Of Metal
  • Best live-action short film: Two Distant Strangers
  • Best visual effects: Tenet
  • Best documentary feature: My Octopus Teacher
  • Best international feature: Another Round 
  • Best animated short: If Anything Happens I Love You
  • Best documentary short: Colette

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