After a year that saw the motion picture industry upended by both the COVID-19 pandemic and an already shifting entertainment landscape, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences pressed on with the 93rd Annual Oscars on April 25.
The ceremony was broadcast primarily from Union Station in Los Angeles and was held about two months later than normal this year. In light of the pandemic, the Academy extended the qualification deadline to this past February and allowed entries that were shown primarily on streaming services. Nominees and other participants, who'd all been in isolation for several days prior to the ceremony, were seated at café tables, and superfluous elements such as presenter-banter and musical numbers were largely eliminated, save for a trivia contest that culminated with eight-time nominee (and loser) Glenn Close performing the 1988 song "Da Butt."
The Oscars and other awards programs have long been criticized for overlooking marginalized communities; the April 25 presentation, by virtue of several of the nominated films this year, foregrounded several mentions of social justice and inequity.
Netflix's Mank led all movies in number the number of nominations, including Best Picture; its wins included awards for best cinematography and best production design. The Father, Judas and the Black Messiah, Minari, Nomadland, Promising Young Woman, Sound of Metal and The Trial of the Chicago 7 rounded out the Best Picture category. Nomadland ultimately took home the Best Picture award.
Chloe Zhao won Best Director for Nomadland, who, in a first, was one of two women nominated in that category. The other was Emerald Fennell for Promising Young Womanand she took home the Best Original Screenplay Oscar. Other Best Director Nominees included Thomas Vinterburg (Another Round), David Fincher (Mank) and Lee Isaac Chung (Minari). Director Regina King (One Night in Miami), who was not nominated in what industry insiders largely considered to be an oversight, introduced the evening's presentation.
Zhao is also the first Chinese-American and woman of color to win the Best Director Oscar.
Bisexual writer and comedian Travon Free, alongside collaborator Martin Desmond Roe, won the Best Live Action Short Oscar for Two Distant Strangers; Free decried police violence in his speech. Jan Pascale, Mank's set decorator, thanked her wife in a speech on behalf of that film's production design team.
Viola Davis, who played the lesbian singer Ma Rainey in May Rainey's Black Bottom and Andra Day, who played bisexual singer Billie Holiday in The United States Vs. Billie Holiday, lost to Frances McDormand (Nomadland) in the Best Actress category. Anthony Hopkins won Best Actor for The Father, upsetting presumed favorite Chadwick Boseman (Ma Rainey's Black Bottom), who had dominated the awards season; although he wasn't at the ceremony, Hopkins (now the oldest Oscar winner, at 83) later recorded a video in which he paid tribute to Boseman. The best supporting actor and actress winners were, respectively, Daniel Kaluuya (Judas and the Black Messiah) and Youn Yuh-jung (Minari)the latter being the first Korean thespian to win an Academy Award.
The Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award was presented to the Motion Picture Television Fund, which supports retired entertainment industry workers, the first time that award has gone to an organization. In the segment's introduction, presenters mentioned a gay make-up artist supported by the fund when benefits from his husband were not yet legally recognized. A Hersholt Award was also awarded to filmmaker Tyler Perry, who promoted the erasure of hate in his speech.