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Chloé Zhao backstage during the 93rd Academy Awards ceremony in Los Angeles. Image: Matt Petit / A.M.P.A.S. via Getty Images

Another Historic Year for the Oscars

The 93rd Academy Awards were off to a historic start last weekend. Not only was it the most diverse year ever for the Oscars, but it was also a look back at the profound impact that the COVID-19 pandemic had on the movie industry. Is that why it’s so surprising that a two-month delay and a scaled-back ceremony with no host led to a milder, more subdued event?

Variety’s Owen Gleiberman said it best:

There are two ways to view this year’s Academy Awards telecast…

Version #1: This year’s Oscar night, by bending over backwards to ‘reinvent’ itself, wound up as a weird kind of dull fizzle… There was no snarky, let’s-bait-the-stars opening monologue — which seemed, in theory, an enlightened way to go following a year of unending casualty and turmoil. But after not too long, you began to crave the oxygen of a few jokes, anything to lighten the samey-same mood of social-political reverence and speeches that droned on without end…

Version #2: This year’s Oscars added up to a canny balancing act, dancing between the restrictions required by COVID-19 (no oversize auditorium) and the promise of a post-lockdown world (in-person ceremony with no masks!). The camera bobbed and flowed like a voyeur on a movie set, and Questlove laid down a groove that tantalized our sonic cinematic memory banks. And by cutting down on the snark, the ceremony showcased the nominated films with an enraptured pride, presenting Hollywood’s image-making mythology as the vanguard of a moral revolution (which, in fact, it often has been)…

Despite the general ambivalence of critics, landmark wins are plenty cause for celebration, and shine a light on social themes that don’t often receive the blockbuster treatment.

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The Most Diverse Oscars in History

We’ve come a long way since the #OscarsSoWhite fiasco, and I’m not just saying that. According to UCLA’s annual Hollywood Diversity Report, women and people of color advanced in every job category it tracks: writers, directors, lead actors, and total cast. This increased diversity was certainly reflected last weekend.

You might be interested in: How to Diversify On-Screen Talent for TV and Film

Chloé Zhou became the first woman of color to win Best Director, and the second female winner in that category; Nomadland became the first Best Picture winner with three female producers; Yuh-Jung Yun became the first Korean actor to win an Oscar; and Riz Ahmed was the first Muslim to be nominated for Best Actor for his work in Sound of Metal. And that doesn’t even cover everything worth mentioning.

If that isn’t progress, I don’t know what is.

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Stories to Learn From

By leaning into hot-button issues, the Academy Awards was able to raise the profile of stories that tackle sensitive issues. The winner for Best Animated Short Film went to If Anything Happens I Love You, a tragic story about two parents as they mourn the loss of a child in a school shooting. Meanwhile, the winner for Best Live action Short Film, Two Distant Strangers, explores the dynamic between a young Black graphic designer trying to get home to his dog, and a white NYPD officer. Stories like these capture hearts and minds, and in doing so, advance our societal dialogue around issues like gun violence and police brutality.

And the Oscar Goes to…

In case you missed it, here’s every nominee and winner from the 93rd Academy Awards:

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

Best Actress in a Leading Role
  • Viola Davis, Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom
  • Andra Day, The United States v. Billie Holiday
  • Vanessa Kirby, Pieces of a Woman
  • Frances McDormand, Nomadland (WINNER)
  • Carey Mulligan, Promising Young Woman

Best Picture
  • The Father, produced by David Parfitt, Jean-Louis Livi and Philippe Carcassonne
  • Judas and the Black Messiah, produced by Shaka King, Charles D. King and Ryan Coogler
  • Mank, produced by Ceán Chaffin, Eric Roth and Douglas Urbanski
  • Minari, produced by Christina Oh
  • Nomadland, produced by Frances McDormand, Peter Spears, Mollye Asher, Dan Janvey and Chloé Zhao (WINNER)
  • Promising Young Woman, produced by Ben Browning, Ashley Fox, Emerald Fennell and Josey McNamara
  • Sound of Metal, produced by Bert Hamelinck and Sacha Ben Harroche
  • The Trial of the Chicago 7, produced by Marc Platt and Stuart Besser

Best Original Song
  • Fight for You, Judas and the Black Messiah; Music by H.E.R. and Dernst Emile II; Lyric by H.E.R. and Tiara Thomas (WINNER)
  • Hear My Voice, The Trial of the Chicago 7; Music by Daniel Pemberton; Lyric by Daniel Pemberton and Celeste Waite
  • Húsavík, Eurovision Song Contest; Music and Lyric by Savan Kotecha, Fat Max Gsus and Rickard Göransson
  • Io Si (Seen), The Life Ahead; Music by Diane Warren; Lyric by Diane Warren and Laura Pausini
  • Speak Now, One Night in Miami; Music and Lyric by Leslie Odom, Jr. and Sam Ashworth

Best Original Score
  • Da 5 Bloods, Terence Blanchard
  • Mank, Trent Reznor, Atticus Ross
  • Minari, Emile Mosseri
  • News of the World, James Newton Howard
  • Soul, Trent Reznor, Atticus Ross, Jon Batiste (WINNER)

Best Film Editing
  • The Father, Yorgos Lamprinos
  • Nomadland, Chloé Zhao
  • Promising Young Woman, Frédéric Thoraval
  • Sound of Metal, Mikkel E.G. Nielsen (WINNER)
  • The Trial of the Chicago 7, Alan Baumgarten

Best Cinematography
  • Judas and the Black Messiah, Sean Bobbitt
  • Mank, Erik Messerschmidt (WINNER)
  • News of the World, Dariusz Wolski
  • Nomadland, Joshua James Richards
  • The Trial of the Chicago 7, Phedon Papamichael

Best Production Design
  • The Father; Production Design: Peter Francis; Set Decoration: Cathy Featherstone
  • Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom; Production Design: Mark Ricker; Set Decoration: Karen O’Hara and Diana Stoughton
  • Mank; Production Design: Donald Graham Burt; Set Decoration: Jan Pascale (WINNER)
  • News of the World; Production Design: David Crank; Set Decoration: Elizabeth Keenan
  • Tenet; Production Design: Nathan Crowley; Set Decoration: Kathy Lucas

Best Actress in a Supporting Role
  • Maria Bakalova, Borat Subsequent Moviefilm
  • Glenn Close, Hillbilly Elegy
  • Olivia Colman, The Father
  • Amanda Seyfried, Mank
  • Yuh-Jung Youn, Minari (WINNER)

Best Visual Effects
  • Love and Monsters, Matt Sloan, Genevieve Camilleri, Matt Everitt and Brian Cox
  • The Midnight Sky, Matthew Kasmir, Christopher Lawrence, Max Solomon and David Watkins
  • Mulan, Sean Faden, Anders Langlands, Seth Maury and Steve Ingram
  • The One and Only Ivan, Nick Davis, Greg Fisher, Ben Jones and Santiago Colomo Martinez
  • Tenet, Andrew Jackson, David Lee, Andrew Lockley and Scott Fisher (WINNER)

Best Documentary Feature
  • Collective, Alexander Nanau and Bianca Oana
  • Crip Camp, Nicole Newnham, Jim LeBrecht and Sara Bolder
  • The Mole Agent, Maite Alberdi and Marcela Santibáñez
  • My Octopus Teacher, Pippa Ehrlich, James Reed and Craig Foster (WINNER)
  • Time, Garrett Bradley, Lauren Domino and Kellen Quinn

Best Documentary Short Subject
  • Colette, Anthony Giacchino and Alice Doyard (WINNER)
  • A Concerto Is a Conversation, Ben Proudfoot and Kris Bowers
  • Do Not Split, Anders Hammer and Charlotte Cook
  • Hunger Ward, Skye Fitzgerald and Michael Scheuerman
  • A Love Song for Latasha, Sophia Nahli Allison and Janice Duncan

Best Animated Feature Film
  • Onward, Pixar
  • Over the Moon, Netflix
  • A Shaun the Sheep Movie: Farmageddon, Netflix
  • Soul, Pixar (WINNER)
  • Wolfwalkers, (Apple TV Plus/GKIDS)


You might be interested in: History, Environmentalism and Folklore in Wolfwalkers


Best Animated Short Film
  • Burrow, Disney Plus/Pixar
  • Genius Loci, Kazak Productions
  • If Anything Happens I Love You, Netflix (WINNER)
  • Opera, Beasts and Natives Alike
  • Yes-People, CAOZ hf. Hólamói

Best Live-Action Short Film
  • Feeling Through
  • The Letter Room
  • The Present
  • Two Distant Strangers (WINNER)
  • White Eye

Best Sound
  • Greyhound, Warren Shaw, Michael Minkler, Beau Borders and David Wyman
  • Mank, Ren Klyce, Jeremy Molod, David Parker, Nathan Nance and Drew Kunin
  • News of the World, Oliver Tarney, Mike Prestwood Smith, William Miller and John Pritchett
  • Soul, Ren Klyce, Coya Elliott and David Parker
  • Sound of Metal, Nicolas Becker, Jaime Baksht, Michelle Couttolenc, Carlos Cortés and Phillip Bladh (WINNER)

Best Director
  • Thomas Vinterberg, Another Round
  • David Fincher, Mank
  • Lee Isaac Chung, Minari
  • Chloé Zhao, Nomadland (WINNER)
  • Emerald Fennell, Promising Young Woman

Best Costume Design
  • Emma, Alexandra Byrne
  • Mank, Trish Summerville
  • Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom, Ann Roth (WINNER)
  • Mulan, Bina Daigeler
  • Pinocchio, Massimo Cantini Parrini

Best Makeup and Hairstyling
  • Emma, Marese Langan, Laura Allen, Claudia Stolze
  • Hillbilly Elegy, Eryn Krueger Mekash, Patricia Dehaney, Matthew Mungle
  • Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom, Sergio Lopez-Rivera, Mia Neal, Jamika Wilson (WINNER)
  • Mank, Kimberley Spiteri, Gigi Williams, Colleen LaBaff
  • Pinocchio, Mark Coulier, Dalia Colli, Francesco Pegoretti

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 International Feature Film
  • Another Round, Denmark (WINNER)
  • Better Days, Hong Kong
  • Collective, Romania
  • The Man Who Sold His Skin, Tunisia
  • Quo Vadis, Aida? Bosnia and Herzegovina


You might be interested in: Everything That Happened at the BFI London Film Festival


Best Adapted Screenplay
  • Borat Subsequent Moviefilm; Screenplay by Sacha Baron Cohen, Anthony Hines, Dan Swimer, Peter Baynham, Erica Rivinoja, Dan Mazer, Jena Friedman, Lee Kern; Story by Sacha Baron Cohen, Anthony Hines, Dan Swimer, Nina Pedrad
  • The Father, Christopher Hampton and Florian Zeller (WINNER)
  • Nomadland, Chloé Zhao
  • One Night in Miami, Kemp Powers
  • The White Tiger, Ramin Bahrani

Best Original Screenplay
  • Judas and the Black Messiah; Screenplay by Will Berson, Shaka King; Story by Will Berson, Shaka King, Kenny Lucas, Keith Lucas
  • Minari, Lee Isaac Chung
  • Promising Young Woman, Emerald Fennell (WINNER)
  • Sound of Metal; Screenplay by Darius Marder, Abraham Marder; Story by Darius Marder, Derek Cianfrance
  • The Trial of the Chicago 7, Aaron Sorkin

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