By Terrance Turner
April 25, 2021
Tonight’s Academy Awards were unlike any other — a socially distanced ceremony where only the nominees and presenters were invited. Instead of the historic Dolby Theatre, the ceremony was held in L.A.’s Union Station. Instead of a red carpet dotted with photographers and blinding flashbulbs, the red carpet this year was scaled-back due to the pandemic. But that was just one of many changes made to the Oscars.
The first award of the night went to French director Florian Zeller for Best Adapted Screenplay (The Father). He thanked Anthony Hopkins (“I think he’s the greatest living actor”), adding that “working with him was like a dream”.
Best International Feature Film went to Denmark’s “Another Round”. Director Thomas Vinterberg accepted the award. The director dedicated his win (and the film) to his late daughter Ida, who died in a car accident just four days before filming began. “We miss her, and we love her,” he said. “We ended up making this movie for her; it’s her monument.”
Daniel Kaluuya won the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor for playing Fred Hampton in “Judas and the Black Messiah”. In his speech, Kaluuya thanked his mother and sister before thanking Fred Hampton. “He was in this earth 21 years. He found a way to feed kids, educate kids, and provide free medical care,” Kaluuya said. “What a man.”
Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom won the prizes for both Best Costume Design and Best Makeup & Hairstyling. Another historic moment followed when Chloe Zhao become the first woman of color to win the Academy Award for Best Director (for Nomadland). Zhao is the first Chinese woman and only the second woman ever to win Best Director.
In accepting the award, Zhao recalled a game she’d played with her father and a phrase she had learned as a child, that she said translated to “people at birth are inherently good.”
“I have always found goodness in the people I met, everywhere I went in the world,” she said. “So this is for anyone who has the faith and the courage to hold on to the goodness in themselves. And to hold on to the goodness in each other, no matter how difficult it is to do that.” She urged listeners to not give up.
Actress Yuh-Jung Youn won the Academy award for Best Supporting Actress (for Minari). She said she didn’t believe in competition; she felt she was just luckier than her fellow nominees. She thanked her two boys. “I’d like to thank my two boys, for making mom go out and work…This is the result because Mommy works so hard.”
Tyler Perry received the Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award for his charity work during the pandemic and through his Tyler Perry Foundation. He remembered his mother: “My mother taught me to refuse hate. To refuse blanket judgement. I would hope that we each teach our children to refuse hate.”
Nomadland, which follows a woman who travels across the country in an RV, won Best Picture. Frances McDormand won Best Actress (for Nomadland); Anthony Hopkins won Best Actor (The Father).
AUTHOR’S NOTE: The Academy sent out non-fungible tokens with Chadwick Boseman’s face on them and put them in gift bags for the event. Then it moved the Best Actor category to the end of the ceremony (Best Picture is usually presented last). Then, instead of selecting Boseman as Best Actor, the award went to Anthony Hopkins — who wasn’t even there. (Hopkins asked if he could accept the award via Zoom; the Academy said no.)