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An Historic win for Nomadland as first-ever woman of colour wins Oscar for Best Director

Historic Win for Nomadland's Director Chloé Zhao

The 2021 Oscars was far from the usual in format and award choices. The Corona Virus disrupted the usual awards ceremony and Chloé Zhao made history as the first woman of colour to win best director with her drama about van-dwellers. Sir Anthony Hopkins and Frances McDormand won top acting honours

During an unusual Oscars ceremony, on-the-road drama Nomadland triumphed with a win for best picture, best actress and a historic victory for Chloé Zhao, becoming the first woman of colour to be named best director and only the second woman ever.

Director Chloé Zhao accepting Oscar

The film, starring Frances McDormand as a woman living out of her van and interacting with real-life nomads, took home the top trophy near the end of a delayed night and a delayed season amid the pandemic. The ceremony played out in person but with safety precautions and a modest guest list.

Zhao became only the second woman ever, after Kathryn Bigelow, to be named best director. In her speech, she called making the film a “crazy once-in-a-lifetime journey” and spoke of a childhood game with her father that introduced her to the idea that “people at birth are inherently good”, something that has stuck with her since. “Even though sometimes it might seem like the opposite is true, I have always found goodness in the people I have met,” she said.

While many had expected Chadwick Boseman to posthumously win best actor for his performance in Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom, Anthony Hopkins caused an upset by winning for his role in The Father, a drama about dementia. He wasn’t available to give a speech. Christopher Hampton and Florian Zeller also won best adapted screenplay for the film.

Here are the Oscar nominees and winning results for all of the main categories:

Best original screenplay

Judas and the Black Messiah
Promising Young Woman – WINNER
Sound of Metal
The Trial of the Chicago 7

Best adapted screenplay

Borat Subsequent Moviefilm
The Father – WINNER
One Night in Miami
The White Tiger

Best international feature film

Another Round – WINNER
Better Days
The Man Who Sold His Skin
Quo Vadis, Aida?

Best actor in a supporting role

Sacha Baron Cohen, The Trial of the Chicago 7
Daniel Kaluuya, Judas and the Black Messiah – WINNER
Leslie Odom, Jr, One Night in Miami
Paul Raci, Sound of Metal
Lakeith Stanfield, Judas and the Black Messiah

Best makeup and hairstyling

Hillbilly Elegy
Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom – WINNER

Best costume design

Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom – WINNER

Jean Hersholt humanitarian award

MPTF (Motion Picture & Television Fund)

Best director

Thomas Vinterberg, Another Round
Emerald Fennell, Promising Young Woman
David Fincher, Mank
Lee Isaac Chung, Minari
Chloé Zhao, Nomadland – WINNER

Best sound

News of the World
Sound of Metal – WINNER

Best live-action short film

Feeling Through
The Letter Room
The Present
Two Distant Strangers – WINNER
White Eye

Best animated short film

Genius Loci
If Anything Happens I Love You – WINNER

Best animated feature film

Over the Moon
A Shaun the Sheep Movie: Farmageddon

Best documentary short

Colette – WINNER
A Concerto Is a Conversation
Do Not Split
Hunger Ward
A Love Song for Latasha

Best documentary

Crip Camp
The Mole Agent
My Octopus Teacher – WINNER

Best visual effects

Love and Monsters
The Midnight Sky
The One and Only Ivan
Tenet – WINNER

Best actress in a supporting role

Maria Bakalova, Borat Subsequent Moviefilm
Glenn Close, Hillbilly Elegy
Olivia Colman, The Father
Amanda Seyfried, Mank
Youn Yuh-Jung, Minari – WINNER

Best production design

The Father
Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom
News of the World

Best cinematography

Judas and the Black Messiah
News of the World
The Trial of the Chicago 7

Best film editing

The Father
Promising Young Woman
Sound of Metal – WINNER
The Trial of the Chicago 7

Jean Hersholt humanitarian award

Tyler Perry

Best original score

Da 5 Bloods
News of the World

Best original song

Husavik, Eurovision Song Contest: The Story of Fire Saga
Fight For You, Judas and the Black Messiah – WINNER
Io Sì (Seen), The Life Ahead
Speak Now, One Night in Miami
Hear My Voice, The Trial of the Chicago 7

Best picture

The Father
Judas and the Black Messiah
Nomadland – WINNER
Promising Young Woman
Sound of Metal
The Trial of the Chicago 7

Best actress in a leading role

Viola Davis, Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom
Andra Day, The United States vs Billie Holiday
Vanessa Kirby, Pieces of a Woman
Frances McDormand, Nomadland – WINNER
Carey Mulligan, Promising Young Woman

Best actor in a leading role

Riz Ahmed, Sound of Metal
Chadwick Boseman, Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom
Anthony Hopkins, The Father – WINNER
Gary Oldman, Mank
Steven Yeun, Minari

Hopkins takes Oscar win over Boseman

Chadwick Boseman gave a stunning performance in Ma Rainey's Black Bottom. Boseman tragically passed away shortly after making the film. Many felt that he was clearly a candidate for Best Actor.  It wasn't to be. The Oscar went to Sir Anthony Hopkins. While it's not uncommon of the Oscars to hear about those who were snubbed or robbed of the honour, many feel that Hopkins, too, gave a performance of a lifetime. Hopkins expressed surprize and paid tribute to his fellow nominee Chadwick Boseman from his home in Wales.

Click to view video of Hopkins acceptance comments and tribute to Chadwick Boseman


Stephen Colbert talks about the film in an interview with Sir Anthony Hopkins and (the best adapted screenplay winner) Florian Zeller prior to the Oscars.  (View below.)


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