Capping off the most unconventional film awards season in Hollywood’s history, the 93rd Academy Awards on April 25 crowned the industry’s best from inside Los Angeles’ Union Station, with Chloé Zhao and her Searchlight Pictures film “Nomadland” winning top honors.
Zhao, a Chinese-American screenwriter, director, editor, and producer renowned for her work in independent film, made Oscar history as the first woman of color to ever triumph in the directing category. She also doubled the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences’ amount of female director winners across 93 years, becoming the second after Kathryn Bigelow. Of its six nominations, “Nomadland” won three for directing, lead actress Frances McDormand, and picture, following victories at this year’s Venice and Toronto International Film Festivals, Golden Globes, BAFTA Film Awards, and more. With three acting victories and as a producer of “Nomadland,” McDormand is now a four-time Oscar winner; she is the first woman to be nominated and win for both acting and producing a film.
Accepting the directing prize, Zhao said, “This is for anyone who had the faith and the courage to hold onto the goodness in themselves...you inspire me to keep going.”
Lead actor went to Sir Anthony Hopkins for Sony Pictures Classics’ “The Father.” And continuing their awards season streaks were supporting stars Daniel Kaluuya as Fred Hampton in Warner Bros.’ “Judas and the Black Messiah” and Youn Yuh-Jung for A24’s “Minari,” the latter becoming the first Korean performer to win an Oscar.
Netflix’s “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom” earned statuettes for costume design and hair and makeup. The latter win, for both Mia Neal and Jamika Wilson, marked the first time a Black woman has won the hair and makeup category. “I can picture Black trans women standing up here,” said Neal in her speech. “And Asian sisters, and our Latina sisters, and indigenous women. And I know that one day it won’t be unusual or groundbreaking. It will just be normal.”
The original and adapted screenplay awards went to Emerald Fennell for Focus Features’ “Promising Young Woman” and Florian Zeller and Christopher Hampton for “The Father,” respectively. Denmark’s “Another Round” took the international feature film prize, and best animated feature went to Disney’s “Soul,” which also won for original score. Netflix’s “Mank” earned the accolades for production design and cinematography, while Amazon Studios’ “Sound of Metal” triumphed for sound and editing.
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