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‘Nomadland’ wins Best Picture, and other highlights from the 2021 Academy Awards

Catch up on the winners from this year’s socially distant Oscars.
In this video image provided by ABC, Chloe Zhao accepts the award for best director for "Nomadland" at the Oscars on Sunday, April 25, 2021.
In this video image provided by ABC, Chloe Zhao accepts the award for best director for "Nomadland" at the Oscars on Sunday, April 25, 2021. [ AP ]
Published Apr. 25
Updated Apr. 26

The 93rd Academy Awards, the most ambitious award show held during the pandemic, rolled out a red carpet and restored some glamour to a movie institution, but with a radically transformed — and in some ways downsized — telecast.

The ceremony — fashioned as a movie of its own — kicked off with opening credits and a slinky Regina King entrance, as the camera followed the actress and One Night in Miami director in one take as she strode with an Oscar in hand into Los Angeles’ Union Station and onto the stage. Inside the transit hub, nominees sat at cozy, lamp-lit tables around an intimate amphitheater.

“It has been quite a year and we are still smack dab in the middle of it,” said King.

King explained how Sunday’s Oscars were even possible — testing, vaccinations, social distancing and more testing. The safety protocols, she said, echoed those of film shoots during the pandemic.

Related: Red carpet looks from the 2021 Oscars

Winners

Best Picture: Nomadland

Best Director: Chloé Zhao, Nomadland

Best Actor: Anthony Hopkins, The Father

Best Actress: Frances McDormand, Nomadland

Best Supporting Actor: Daniel Kaluuya, Judas and the Black Messiah

Best Supporting Actress: Yuh-Jung Youn, Minari

Original Screenplay: Emerald Fennell, Promising Young Woman

Adapted Screenplay: Christopher Hampton and Florian Zeller, The Father

Animated Feature: Soul

Production Design: Mank

Costume Design: Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom

Makeup and Hairstyling: Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom

Cinematography: Erik Messerschmidt, Mank

Song: Fight for You (Judas and the Black Messiah)

Score: Trent Reznor, Atticus Ross and Jon Batiste, Soul

Sound: Sound of Metal

Visual Effects: Tenet

Documentary Feature: My Octopus Teacher

International Feature: Another Round, Denmark

Live-Action Short: Two Distant Strangers

Animated Short: If Anything Happens I Love You

Documentary Short: Colette

Anthony Hopkins takes the top acting trophy

Anthony Hopkins has won his first Oscar since he was victorious for playing Hannibal Lecter.

Despite his pedigree, Hopkins was a surprise as the winner of the Academy Award for best actor for his work on The Father.

The late Chadwick Boseman was expected to win the award, which, in a very rare move from the academy, was the last to be handed out this year instead of best picture.

It was also an anti-climax on a show where Hopkins wasn’t present to accept the trophy. Joaquin Phoenix’s reading of his name was the last dramatic moment of a most unusual ceremony.

The second Oscar for Hopkins comes nearly 30 years after his first in 1992, for playing Hannibal Lecter in The Silence of the Lambs. He’s been nominated four times since without a win.

The 80-year-old Hopkins won the Oscar for his role as a man who battles with dementia opposite Olivia Colman in the film directed by Florian Zeller.

Frances McDormand wins her second Oscar

Frances McDormand has won the Oscar for best actress, and Nomadland triumphed in three of the top categories, including best picture and best director.

It’s the second Oscar for McDormand, who also won best actress in 2018 for Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri. That Oscar was stolen at the post-show Governors Ball, though it was recovered before the night was over.

McDormand plays a woman who leaves her small town to wander the American West in director Chloé Zhao’s film Nomadland.

She beat out fellow nominees Viola Davis, Carey Mulligan, Vanessa Kirby and Andra Day.

‘Nomadland’ drifts away with best picture

Nomadland has wandered straight into the Academy Award for best picture.

It’s an unprecedented triumph in the awards show’s most prestigious category for a film with a woman as both director and lead.

In a radical departure from previous decades, the best picture Oscar was not the last handed out. Best actress and best actor have yet to be awarded.

Directed by Chloé Zhao, who won best director earlier Sunday night, and starring Frances McDormand, who is up for best actress, Nomadland follows a woman who leaves her small town to join a group of wanderers in the American West.

It’s just the second film directed by a woman to win a best picture Oscar. The first was the Kathryn Bigelow-directed The Hurt Locker in 2009.

It beat out fellow nominees Judas and the Black Messiah, Minari, Sound of Metal, The Father, The Trial of the Chicago 7, Mank and Promising Young Woman.

Director Chloe Zhao, left, appears with actress Frances McDormand on the set of "Nomadland."
Director Chloe Zhao, left, appears with actress Frances McDormand on the set of "Nomadland." [ AP ]

H.E.R. wins the best original song trophy

Fight for You from Judas and the Black Messiah has won the Academy Award for best original song.

The Oscar goes to songwriters Dernst Emile II and Tiara Thomas and H.E.R., who also performed it.

From the stage at Union Station in Los Angeles on Sunday night, H.E.R. thanked her father for playing her funk and soul from the late 60s, when the film about Black Panthers leader Fred Hampton was set.

“All those days of listening to Sly and the Family Stone, and Curtis Mayfield and Marvin Gaye really paid off,” she said.

Daniel Kaluuya also won best supporting actor Sunday for playing Hampton.

Earlier, Trent Reznor, Atticus Ross and Jon Batiste won best score for the music they composed for Soul, the Pixar film that also won best animated feature.

Yuh-Jung Youn makes history at Academy Awards

Yuh-Jung Youn has become the first Korean actor to win an Academy Award.

She claimed the Oscar for best supporting actress Sunday night for her performance in Minari as a grandmother who moves from South Korea to live with her daughter’s farming family in Arkansas.

It was the first Oscar nomination in a career that spans five decades for the 73-year-old Youn, long a star in South Korea.

She seemed starstruck herself by Brad Pitt, who presented the award.

“Mr. Brad Pitt, finally, nice to meet you!” she said.

She said many throughout the world have badly botched the pronunciation of her name, but “tonight you are all forgiven.”

Last year the South Korean film Parasite won best picture and best director, but none of its actors were nominated for Oscars.

Youn beat out fellow nominees Olivia Colman, Amanda Seyfried, Maria Bakalova and Glenn Close, who has now been nominated for eight Oscars without a win.

Her real life experiences as a South Korean immigrant occurred in St. Petersburg, where she lived from 1975-1984 in support of her then-husband’s dream of singing for American churches.

Related: Youn Yuh-jung of ‘Minari’ credits St. Pete experience for Oscar-nominated role

‘My Octopus Teacher’ wins documentary Oscar

My Octopus Teacher, the tale of an eight-limbed creature and her human companion, has won the Oscar for best documentary.

Ten years in the making, My Octopus Teacher began as a personal video project by South African filmmaker Craig Foster to rekindle his connection with nature by observing an inquisitive female mollusk while free-diving near Cape Town.

Foster said his relationship with the octopus taught him about life’s fragility and our connection with nature, and even helped him become a better father.

For the Oscar, My Octopus Teacher beat out Collective, Crip Camp, The Mole Agent and Time.

‘Soul’ has won the heart of Oscar voters.

The Pixar film won the Academy Award for best animated feature Sunday night, continuing the Disney division’s dominance in the category.

Directed by Pete Docter and featuring the voices of Jamie Foxx and Tina Fey, Soul follows a middle-school band teacher who dreams of being a jazz musician and tries to escape the afterlife to do it.

“This film started as a love letter to jazz, but we had no idea how much jazz would teach us about life,” Doctor said as he accepted the Oscar.

Pixar has now won the award 11 times in the 20 years since the category was established.

Chloé Zhao wins best director Oscar for ‘Nomadland’

Chloé Zhao has made history at the Academy Awards.

Zhao won the Oscar for best director for Nomadland, becoming just the second woman and the first woman of color to win the award.

“My entire Nomadland company, what a crazy, once-in-a-lifetime journey we’ve all been on together,” Zhao said.

Kathryn Bigelow was the first woman to win, for The Hurt Locker, in 2009.

This was the only year in Oscar history with two female nominees, Zhao and Promising Young Woman director Emerald Fennell. Only seven women have ever been nominated.

It was the first Oscar for the 39-year-old Zhao, who was born in Beijing and went to college and film school in the United States. Nomadland was her third feature.

The other nominees were Lee Isaac Chung for Minari, Thomas Vinterberg for Another Round, and David Fincher for Mank.

Daniel Kaluuya wins best supporting actor for role as Chicago Blank Panther leader Fred Hampton

Daniel Kaluuya used a lead role to win a best supporting actor Oscar. He’ll take it.

Kaluuya won his first Academy Award on Sunday night for playing one of the two title roles in Judas and the Black Messiah.

“I’d like to thank my mom,” Kaluuya said, as his mother teared up while watching. “You gave me everything. You gave me your factory settings. So I could stand at my fullest height.”

Kaluuya played Chicago Blank Panther leader Fred Hampton, who was killed in an FBI raid in 1969.

In an odd quirk of the nominating process, LaKeith Stanfield, who played the “Judas” of the title, an FBI informant who got close to Hampton, was also nominated for best supporting actor.

It was Kaluuya’s second nomination. The first came for his breakout role in Get Out in 2018.

The other nominees were Paul Raci, Leslie Odom Jr. and Sacha Baron Cohen.

Daniel Kaluuya, winner of the award for best actor in a supporting role for "Judas and the Black Messiah," poses in the press room at the Oscars on Sunday, April 25, 2021, at Union Station in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Chris Pizzello, Pool)
Daniel Kaluuya, winner of the award for best actor in a supporting role for "Judas and the Black Messiah," poses in the press room at the Oscars on Sunday, April 25, 2021, at Union Station in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Chris Pizzello, Pool) [ CHRIS PIZZELLO | AP ]

Regina King reacts to Chauvin verdict in Oscars opening

Actor and director Regina King acknowledged the hardships of the past year during an opening straight out of the movies for the 2021 Oscars.

“It has been quite a year and we are still smack dab in the middle of it,” King said. “We are mourning the loss of so many, and I have to be honest, if things had gone differently this past week in Minneapolis, I might have traded in my heels for marching boots.”

In addition to her reaction to the guilty verdict at Derek Chauvin’s trial in the killing of George Floyd, King noted that the personal impact recent news cycles have had on her.

“Now, I know that a lot of you people at home want to reach for your remote when you feel like Hollywood is preaching to you. But as a mother of a black son, I know the fear that so many live with and no amount of fame or fortune changes that,” she said.

King was featured at the start of the 2021 Oscars in an opening produced by director Steven Soderberg.

Producers and directors promised that this year’s ceremony would be closer to a movie than a television show.

Pre-show happenings

Show producers were hoping to return some of the traditional glamour to the Oscars, even in a pandemic year.

The red carpet was back, though not the throngs; only a handful of media outlets were allowed on site. Casual wear was a no-no.

Related: Red carpet looks from the 2021 Oscars

Pulling the musical interludes (though not the in memoriam segment) from the three-hour broadcast — and drastically cutting down the time it will take winners to reach the podium — freed up a lot of time in the ceremony. And producers, led by filmmaker Steven Soderbergh, promised a reinvented telecast.

The Oscars would look more like a movie, Soderbergh has said. The show would appear more widescreen and the presenters — including Brad Pitt, Halle Berry, Reese Witherspoon, Harrison Ford, Rita Moreno and Zendaya — were considered “cast members.” The telecast’s first 90 seconds, Soderbergh has claimed, will “announce our intention immediately.”

Jesse Collins, from left, Stacey Sher, and Steven Soderbergh arrive at the Oscars on Sunday, April 25, 2021, at Union Station in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Chris Pizzello, Pool)
Jesse Collins, from left, Stacey Sher, and Steven Soderbergh arrive at the Oscars on Sunday, April 25, 2021, at Union Station in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Chris Pizzello, Pool) [ CHRIS PIZZELLO | AP ]

Paul Raci, up for best supporting actor Sunday, and Diane Warren, up for best original song, were among the early arriving nominees.

Raci, a 73-year-old first-time nominee for Sound of Metal, and Warren, a 12-time nominee who has never won, walked a red carpet that was heavily scaled back for the pandemic outside Union Station in downtown Los Angeles, where the ceremony is being held for the first time.

Colman Domingo arrives at the Oscars on Sunday, April 25, 2021, at Union Station in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Chris Pizzello, Pool)
Colman Domingo arrives at the Oscars on Sunday, April 25, 2021, at Union Station in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Chris Pizzello, Pool) [ CHRIS PIZZELLO | AP ]

Actor Colman Domingo of multiple-nominee Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom made the day’s first big fashion splash with a shockingly pink tuxedo.

Mank had the most nominations and Nomadland was the favorite in several top categories at the 93rd Academy Awards starting at 5 p.m. PT/8 p.m. ET.

Leslie Odom Jr. arrives at the Oscars on Sunday, April 25, 2021, at Union Station in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Chris Pizzello, Pool)
Leslie Odom Jr. arrives at the Oscars on Sunday, April 25, 2021, at Union Station in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Chris Pizzello, Pool) [ CHRIS PIZZELLO | AP ]

Leslie Odom Jr. arrived at the Academy Awards decked out in gold from head to toe. He had two chances Sunday night to get a matching Oscar.

Wearing the sparkling double-breasted suit with a matching gold shirt underneath, Odom walked the scaled-back red carpet outside Union Station in Los Angeles with his wife, actor Nicollette Robinson, who was in a simple black dress.

Odom told KABC-TV from the carpet that it feels great to be “walking in healthy, walking in at all.”

Odom, nominated for best supporting actor and best original song for One Night in Miami, could have gotten one or two Oscar statuettes to go with the Tony and Grammy he won for playing Aaron Burr in the original Broadway cast of Hamilton.

He praised this year’s diverse nominees, including his own film, Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom and Judas and the Black Messiah, calling it a “special moment” for films about black lives.

FILE - Laura Pausini performs "Lado Derecho del Corazon" at the 17th annual Latin Grammy Awards in Las Vegas on Nov. 17, 2016. Pausini will perform the Oscar nominated song "Io Si," (Seen) which she co-wrote with Diane Warren for the film "The Life Ahead." The Oscars will be broadcast on Sunday.
FILE - Laura Pausini performs "Lado Derecho del Corazon" at the 17th annual Latin Grammy Awards in Las Vegas on Nov. 17, 2016. Pausini will perform the Oscar nominated song "Io Si," (Seen) which she co-wrote with Diane Warren for the film "The Life Ahead." The Oscars will be broadcast on Sunday. [ CHRIS PIZZELLO | Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP ]

Performances of the Oscar nominees for best original song came from locations as varied as Los Angeles and Iceland, even if the ceremony hasn’t.

In one of many twists in this year’s ceremony, the five songs were presented in a pre-show before the main event begins at Union Station in Los Angeles at 8 p.m. ET Sunday.

Laura Pausini performed a pre-taped Io Si (Seen) from The Life Ahead high above Los Angeles on the roof of the new Academy Museum of Motion Pictures that opens in September. She was joined by writer and 12-time nominee Diane Warren playing a red grand piano, and an orchestra decked out in red.

Swedish singer Molly Sandén performed Húsavík from Eurovision Song Contest: The Story of Fire Saga on a cold boat dock in Iceland, joined by a sweater-sporting children’s choir from the town the song is named for, which has adopted the song as a de facto anthem.

There were also performances of Fight for You from Judas and the Black Messiah, Speak Now from One Night in Miami and Hear My Voice from The Trial of the Chicago 7.