Oscars 2021: ‘Nomadland’ Wins Best Picture

Chloe Zhao became the first woman of color to win for directing for “Nomadland.”,

LiveUpdated April 25, 2021, 11:43 p.m. ETApril 25, 2021, 11:43 p.m. ET

Chloe Zhao became the first woman of color to win for directing “Nomadland,” and Frances McDormand, the film’s star, won the best actress award.

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While accepting the best picture Oscar for “Nomadland,” Chloe Zhao thanked “all the people we met on the road.”Credit…ABC
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April 25, 2021, 11:43 p.m. ETApril 25, 2021, 11:43 p.m. ET
Angela Bassett introduced the “In Memoriam” segment by acknowledging the lives lost to racism.Credit…ABC

Regina King alluded to the Derek Chauvin verdict in her opening remarks. “Two Distant Strangers,” a live-action short about a white police officer killing a Black man, won the Oscar in its category. Tyler Perry delivered a moving speech in which he urged Americans to “refuse hate.”

And to introduce the ceremony’s “In Memoriam” segment, Angela Bassett insisted on acknowledging lives lost both to the coronavirus pandemic, and to the “violence of inequality, injustice, hatred, racism and poverty.”

In ways big and small, America’s continued reckoning with racial justice reverberated throughout Sunday’s Oscars.

“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,” King said to start the show.

But almost three hours later, performers and others given a chance to speak on broadcast viewed by millions of Americans had managed to get a message across anyway during an Oscars that featured one of the most diverse slate of contenders ever.

“In 2020, we were united by loss,” Bassett said in her remarks, which preceded the “In Memoriam” segment. “As of April 25, 2021, there were recorded over 3 million souls lost around the world to Covid alone.”

“Considering the enormity of our collective loss, and the often incomprehensible times we’re living through, we wish to also acknowledge those precious lives lost to the violence of inequality, injustice, hatred, racism and poverty,” she continued. “To all of those who left our lives too soon, we cherish the moments that we had the honor of having with you.”

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April 25, 2021, 11:23 p.m. ETApril 25, 2021, 11:23 p.m. ET

Dave Itzkoff

Culture Reporter

That was the “Game of Thrones” of Oscar endings.

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April 25, 2021, 11:23 p.m. ETApril 25, 2021, 11:23 p.m. ET

Dave Itzkoff

Culture Reporter

Like no matter what else happens, it will be hard for me to forget the way it concluded.

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April 25, 2021, 11:26 p.m. ETApril 25, 2021, 11:26 p.m. ET

Wesley Morris

Critic at Large

Same here. That’s it for us, and possibly award shows in train stations. Thanks for following along, everybody. Viva los movies!

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April 25, 2021, 11:19 p.m. ETApril 25, 2021, 11:19 p.m. ET

Wesley Morris

Critic at Large

To be fair, that WAS the best of those five performances.

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April 25, 2021, 11:19 p.m. ETApril 25, 2021, 11:19 p.m. ET

Wesley Morris

Critic at Large

But still. Whoa.

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April 25, 2021, 11:20 p.m. ETApril 25, 2021, 11:20 p.m. ET

Wesley Morris

Critic at Large

OK, everybody. This was … something. I’m gonna go ice my fingers.

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April 25, 2021, 11:18 p.m. ETApril 25, 2021, 11:18 p.m. ET

Margaret Lyons

Television Critic

Turns out it wasn’t the pandemic protocols that threw things off tonight!

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April 25, 2021, 11:17 p.m. ETApril 25, 2021, 11:17 p.m. ET

Dave Itzkoff

Culture Reporter

There’s a reason why they call it a Hollywood ending. This wasn’t one of those.

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April 25, 2021, 11:17 p.m. ETApril 25, 2021, 11:17 p.m. ET

Wesley Morris

Critic at Large

I’m actually laughing at the abruptness.

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April 25, 2021, 11:17 p.m. ETApril 25, 2021, 11:17 p.m. ET

Vanessa Friedman

Fashion Director and Chief Fashion Critic

It was like: See ya! We’re done.

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April 25, 2021, 11:17 p.m. ETApril 25, 2021, 11:17 p.m. ET
Chloe Zhao accepting the award for”Nomadland” winning Best Picture.Credit…ABC

With a howl from its lead actress, “Nomadland,” a drama about itinerant workers in the American West, was named best picture.

The story of widow, played by Frances McDormand, who hits the open road amid the recession in the American West, the movie had been sweeping up honors all awards season. In her speech accepting best picture, the star, who was also named best actress, gave a howl, but first urged audiences to “please watch our movie on the largest screen possible, and one day very, very soon, take everyone you know into a theater, shoulder to shoulder in that dark space, and watch every film that’s represented here tonight.”

The film was directed by the Chinese-born filmmaker Chloe Zhao, who earlier in the evening was named best director. It is only the second movie from a female director to take Hollywood’s top trophy (the first was Kathryn Bigelow’s “The Hurt Locker” in 2010). “Nomadland” is also the first best-picture winner directed by a woman of color.

Accepting the award, Zhao thanked “all the people we met on the road,” and added, “Thank you for teaching us the power of resilience and hope and for reminding us what true kindness looks like.”

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April 25, 2021, 11:16 p.m. ETApril 25, 2021, 11:16 p.m. ET

Dave Itzkoff

Culture Reporter

They certainly wrapped that up in a hurry.

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April 25, 2021, 11:16 p.m. ETApril 25, 2021, 11:16 p.m. ET
A scene from “The Father,” starring Hopkins as a patriarch with dementia.Credit…Sean Gleason/Sony Pictures Classics

We have an upset.

Anthony Hopkins, who won a best actor Oscar almost three decades ago, received another on Sunday, denying the late Chadwick Boseman a prize many thought would go to him posthumously. In a twist this year, the best actor award was the last one of the evening, resulting in an abrupt end to the ceremony, given that Hopkins was not in attendance.

Hopkins, 83, was rewarded for his towering performance as a London patriarch struggling with dementia in the drama “The Father,” which appeared to gain momentum with voters down the homestretch of awards season. He is now the oldest actor to ever win an Oscar.

“It was easy,” he told The New York Times about playing the role. “Just so easy.”

In a review for The New York Times, Jeannette Catsoulis wrote, “Hopkins has never been an especially physical actor — most of the magic happens above the neck — but here he pushes his capacity for small, telling gestures and stillness to distressing limits.” She added, “It’s an astonishing, devilish performance.”

Hopkins won the Oscar for best actor in 1992 for his performance in “The Silence of the Lambs”; he was nominated two more times in the category, in 1994 (“The Remains of the Day”) and 1996 (“Nixon”). He has also been nominated for best supporting actor twice, though has never won.

Boseman won the Golden Globe for best actor earlier this season for his performance in “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom,” one of dozens of awards he garnered for the Netflix adaptation. But Boseman never got to see the film; he died of colon cancer at age 43 three months before “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom” was released.

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April 25, 2021, 11:16 p.m. ETApril 25, 2021, 11:16 p.m. ET

Vanessa Friedman

Fashion Director and Chief Fashion Critic

That was a pretty abrupt ending of the whole thing after the biggest upset of the night.

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April 25, 2021, 11:16 p.m. ETApril 25, 2021, 11:16 p.m. ET

Wesley Morris

Critic at Large

And so now Hopkins pulls an upset over Chadwick Boseman and now we all go … to bed.

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April 25, 2021, 11:16 p.m. ETApril 25, 2021, 11:16 p.m. ET

Kyle Buchanan

The Projectionist

By leaving best actor for last, the show was clearly banking on an emotional Chadwick Boseman win. And then Anthony Hopkins took it and didn’t even show up.

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April 25, 2021, 11:16 p.m. ETApril 25, 2021, 11:16 p.m. ET

Margaret Lyons

Television Critic

Whelp! They shuffled the order and ended on best actor, which went to … Anthony Hopkins, who was not there.

Best Actor

Anthony Hopkins, “The Father”

Our Projectionist thought it would be Chadwick Boseman.

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April 25, 2021, 11:14 p.m. ETApril 25, 2021, 11:14 p.m. ET
Frances McDormand wins best actress.
Frances McDormand wins best actress.Credit…ABC

The academy named Frances McDormand best actress for her performance in “Nomadland,” playing a widow who leaves her failed town for van life and meets other Americans in similar straits.

This is her third Oscar: she won best actress in 1997 for her turn as a small-town police chief in “Fargo,” and again in 2018 for her performance as the mother seeking justice in “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri.” That win was especially notable for her acceptance speech calling on Hollywood to use inclusion riders, contract clauses ensuring diversity in front of and behind the camera.

With “Nomadland,” McDormand wasn’t initially focused on the role when she met with the director, Chloe Zhao. The actress told our columnist, Kyle Buchanan, that she was entering her 60s and “I was like, ‘Man, I just want to be relevant. Do you think I’m relevant?'”

She would end up putting a lot of herself in the role. Her sister in the film is played by one of her oldest friends. But when Zhao wanted to include McDormand’s husband (the director Joel Coen) and her son in the cast, the star drew the line.

The movie is based on Jessica Bruder’s nonfiction book of the same title and some of the people in the book appear in the movie. Our critic A.O. Scott praised McDormand, saying “A lot of what McDormand does is listen, giving moral and emotional support to the nonprofessional actors as they tell their stories.” He added: “Her skill and sensitivity help persuade you that what you are seeing isn’t just realistic, but true.”

[Read an interview with Frances McDormand.]

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April 25, 2021, 11:14 p.m. ETApril 25, 2021, 11:14 p.m. ET

Kyle Buchanan

The Projectionist

That’s Frances McDormand’s third best-actress Oscar! The only woman with more Oscars in that category is Katharine Hepburn, with four.

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April 25, 2021, 11:14 p.m. ETApril 25, 2021, 11:14 p.m. ET

Wesley Morris

Critic at Large

Wait, that was over so fast that I still recovering. Frances McDormand just won another Oscar and left the stage in, like, 60 seconds.

Best Actress

Frances McDormand, “Nomadland”

Our Projectionist thought it would be Viola Davis.

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April 25, 2021, 11:09 p.m. ETApril 25, 2021, 11:09 p.m. ET

Kyle Buchanan

The Projectionist

“Nomadland” now becomes the second best-picture winner directed by a woman. (“The Hurt Locker” was the first.)

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April 25, 2021, 11:08 p.m. ETApril 25, 2021, 11:08 p.m. ET

Dave Itzkoff

Culture Reporter

Okay, who had Frances McDormand in the “first wolf howl of the night” pool?

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April 25, 2021, 11:10 p.m. ETApril 25, 2021, 11:10 p.m. ET

Wesley Morris

Critic at Large

Or correcting Chloe Zhao who introduced Frances McDormand as Fern, her “Nomadland” character? “No,” she says. “I’m Fran.”

Best Picture

“Nomadland”

Our Projectionist predicted correctly!

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April 25, 2021, 11:04 p.m. ETApril 25, 2021, 11:04 p.m. ET

Wesley Morris

Critic at Large

LOL. The clip people just went with the spit scene from “Promising Young Woman.”

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April 25, 2021, 11:00 p.m. ETApril 25, 2021, 11:00 p.m. ET

Dave Itzkoff

Culture Reporter

Whatever else has happened or will happen tonight, they brought out Rita Moreno to the “Electric Company” theme song, and that made the show worthwhile.

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April 25, 2021, 11:00 p.m. ETApril 25, 2021, 11:00 p.m. ET

Kyle Buchanan

The Projectionist

Now here’s an upset … best picture isn’t the final award!

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April 25, 2021, 11:01 p.m. ETApril 25, 2021, 11:01 p.m. ET

Wesley Morris

Critic at Large

There are at least clips. It only took all night.

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April 25, 2021, 10:54 p.m. ETApril 25, 2021, 10:54 p.m. ET

Kyle Buchanan

The Projectionist

The cognitive dissonance of going from “Da Butt” to In Memoriam …

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April 25, 2021, 10:56 p.m. ETApril 25, 2021, 10:56 p.m. ET

Wesley Morris

Critic at Large

For starters.

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April 25, 2021, 10:59 p.m. ETApril 25, 2021, 10:59 p.m. ET

Wesley Morris

Critic at Large

Also the In Memoriam’s capper was Chadwick Boseman, who’s officially one of those tragically deceased stars who’ll grow more legendary in death. Like James Dean.

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April 25, 2021, 10:54 p.m. ETApril 25, 2021, 10:54 p.m. ET

Margaret Lyons

Television Critic

Is this In Memoriam segment … very fast?

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April 25, 2021, 10:51 p.m. ETApril 25, 2021, 10:51 p.m. ET

Dave Itzkoff

Culture Reporter

A lot of controversy in my timeline right now as to whether that Glenn Close moment was spontaneous or scripted. Time to call for a full investigation.

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April 25, 2021, 10:55 p.m. ETApril 25, 2021, 10:55 p.m. ET

Wesley Morris

Critic at Large

She’s one of our great thespians, Dave. But not even Mamaw could save that mess.

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April 25, 2021, 10:47 p.m. ETApril 25, 2021, 10:47 p.m. ET

Margaret Lyons

Television Critic

I want to know more about the illustrations on all the screens in the background. I’m torn between liking them and expecting them to be on a direct-to-consumer website for boutique olive oil.

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April 25, 2021, 10:41 p.m. ETApril 25, 2021, 10:41 p.m. ET

Dave Itzkoff

Culture Reporter

How are we playing games with 20 minutes left in the run time of the show?

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April 25, 2021, 10:41 p.m. ETApril 25, 2021, 10:41 p.m. ET

Wesley Morris

Critic at Large

This is the real question right here.

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April 25, 2021, 10:41 p.m. ETApril 25, 2021, 10:41 p.m. ET

Vanessa Friedman

Fashion Director and Chief Fashion Critic

They are trying to make sure everyone is still awake.

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April 25, 2021, 10:43 p.m. ETApril 25, 2021, 10:43 p.m. ET

Margaret Lyons

Television Critic

Is this filler?

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April 25, 2021, 10:45 p.m. ETApril 25, 2021, 10:45 p.m. ET

Wesley Morris

Critic at Large

Andra Day just cursed up a storm presuming that “Purple Rain” was too brilliant and too Black to win the Oscar during this game. She was wrong, of course.

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April 25, 2021, 10:48 p.m. ETApril 25, 2021, 10:48 p.m. ET

Wesley Morris

Critic at Large

The whole game was a Madea movie. So really Tyler Perry wins.

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April 25, 2021, 10:48 p.m. ETApril 25, 2021, 10:48 p.m. ET

Wesley Morris

Critic at Large

Glenn Close just correctly ID’d “Da Butt” as Oscar-shunned, therefore winning this dumb and obviously rigged game.

“Fight for You,” “Judas and the Black Messiah”

Our Projectionist thought it would be “Speak Now,” “One Night in Miami.”

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April 25, 2021, 10:38 p.m. ETApril 25, 2021, 10:38 p.m. ET
Tyler Perry speaking on the telecast Sunday.
Tyler Perry speaking on the telecast Sunday. Credit…ABC

Special-achievement Oscars are seemingly straightforward. Film industry person gets gold-plated bronze dude for doing notable thing.

Beneath the surface, however, more is usually going on than meets the eye.

The academy sometimes uses them to right wrongs, as when Debbie Reynolds was awarded one in 2015. She was ostensibly recognized for founding a mental-health charity. But it was also a way for the academy to apologize for ignoring her pleas for help in preserving costumes from Hollywood’s golden age. She also never won a competitive Oscar despite appearing in films for seven decades.

Since the #OscarsSoWhite debacles of 2015 and 2016, honorary Oscars have gone to Spike Lee, Cicely Tyson, Jackie Chan, the Indigenous actor Wes Studi and other people of color. Geena Davis was recognized in 2019 for her continuing effort to correct gender inequality in Hollywood.

In selecting Tyler Perry to receive a special-achievement Oscar this year, the academy cited a “cultural influence extending far beyond his work as a filmmaker.” Some people saw the academy’s move as a corrective — a tacit apology for looking down its nose all those years at the lowbrow Madea and thus, Perry’s fan base.

No matter. Perry spoke movingly in his speech on Sunday night, saying, “When I set out to help someone, it is my intention to do just that. I’m not trying to do anything other than meet somebody at their humanity.”

He continued:

“My mother taught me to refuse hate. She taught me to refuse blanket judgment. And in this time, and with all of the internet and social media and algorithms and everything that wants us to think a certain way, the 24-hour news cycle, it is my hope that all of us will teach our kids … just refuse hate. Don’t hate anybody.

“I refuse to hate someone because they are Mexican or because they are Black or white or LGBTQ. I refuse to hate someone because they are a police officer. I refuse to hate someone because they are Asian. I would hope that we would refuse hate.

“And I want to take this Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award and dedicate it to anyone who wants to stand in the middle, no matter what’s around the walls. Stand in the middle, because that’s where healing happens. That’s where conversation happens. That’s where change happens. It happens in the middle So anyone who wants to meet me in the middle, to refuse hate, to refuse blanket judgment, and to help lift someone’s feet off the ground, this one is for you, too.

“God bless you, and thank you, academy. I appreciate it, thank you.”

Perry started his entertainment career as a playwright. Since ending his popular “Madea” film series in 2019, Perry has focused on making television shows like “Bruh,” “Sistahs” and “The Oval” for BET. He owns a studio in Atlanta. He is also developing a “Madea” prequel for Showtime called “Mabel” that is set in the 1970s.

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April 25, 2021, 10:34 p.m. ETApril 25, 2021, 10:34 p.m. ET

Dave Itzkoff

Culture Reporter

So weird to see the best score nominees for “Mank” standing up and thinking, You didn’t win! (They were also two of the three nominees for “Soul.”)

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April 25, 2021, 10:37 p.m. ETApril 25, 2021, 10:37 p.m. ET

Wesley Morris

Critic at Large

How ’bout that. Jon Batiste, the third guy, has one of those “bottle me” personalities.

Trent Reznor, Atticus Ross and Jon Batiste, “Soul”

Our Projectionist predicted correctly!

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April 25, 2021, 10:30 p.m. ETApril 25, 2021, 10:30 p.m. ET

Wesley Morris

Critic at Large

Well, damn, Tyler Perry just said to America: Why don’t you meet me in the middle? “That’s where change happens.” (And great pop songs.)

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April 25, 2021, 10:24 p.m. ETApril 25, 2021, 10:24 p.m. ET

Wesley Morris

Critic at Large

Tyler Perry is getting an Oscar before Glenn Close and a tribute from Whoopi Goldberg and Viola Davis. Life is full of surprises.

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April 25, 2021, 10:19 p.m. ETApril 25, 2021, 10:19 p.m. ET

Wesley Morris

Critic at Large

Somebody is really gonna eat it climbing up the ramp to accept that Oscar.

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April 25, 2021, 10:22 p.m. ETApril 25, 2021, 10:22 p.m. ET

Wesley Morris

Critic at Large

There are steps. This show is happening at a train station. Get a conductor to show them where they are!

Editing

“Sound of Metal”

Our Projectionist predicted correctly!

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April 25, 2021, 10:15 p.m. ETApril 25, 2021, 10:15 p.m. ET

Wesley Morris

Critic at Large

Dear children, Harrison Ford, Halle Berry, Brad Pitt: They were called movie stars.

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April 25, 2021, 10:13 p.m. ETApril 25, 2021, 10:13 p.m. ET

Vanessa Friedman

Fashion Director and Chief Fashion Critic

When they do those quick Questlove cuts, they really ought to show his gold crocs.

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April 25, 2021, 10:07 p.m. ETApril 25, 2021, 10:07 p.m. ET

Wesley Morris

Critic at Large

“Mank,” the night’s biggest nominee (10), just won its first two Oscars, for production design and cinematography. (Sorry, Kyle.)

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April 25, 2021, 10:09 p.m. ETApril 25, 2021, 10:09 p.m. ET

Kyle Buchanan

The Projectionist

I had that “Mank” production-design win predicted, but I thought “Nomadland” would pull it out in cinematography.

Cinematography

Erik Messerschmidt, “Mank”

Our Projectionist thought it would be Joshua James Richards (“Nomadland”).

Production Design

“Mank”

Our Projectionist predicted correctly!

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April 25, 2021, 10:00 p.m. ETApril 25, 2021, 10:00 p.m. ET

Kyle Buchanan

The Projectionist

Glenn Close just made some unfortunate Oscar history: With her eighth loss, she ties Peter O’Toole’s record for the most acting nominations without a win.

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April 25, 2021, 10:01 p.m. ETApril 25, 2021, 10:01 p.m. ET

Wesley Morris

Critic at Large

Kyle, you’re killing me with this. But not more than Yuh-Jung Youn’s speech just did. Give her another Oscar.

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April 25, 2021, 9:56 p.m. ETApril 25, 2021, 9:56 p.m. ET
Yuh-Jung Youn wins for Best Supporting Actress.
Yuh-Jung Youn wins for Best Supporting Actress.Credit…ABC

After the Korean actress Yuh-Jung Youn’s delightfully hilarious BAFTA acceptance speech earlier this month, the Academy gave the 73-years-young “Minari” grandmother the chance to deliver another Sunday night when it selected her as its best supporting actress. It is the first time a Korean actress has ever won an acting Oscar.

“I don’t believe in competition, how can I win over Glenn Close?” Youn said in her acceptance speech. “Tonight, I have just a little bit luck, I think, maybe. I’m luckier than you. And also maybe it’s American hospitality for the Korean actor. I’m not sure. But anyway, thank you so much.”

Youn triumphed as the grandmother in Lee Isaac Chung’s film about a family from South Korea who takes up farming near the Ozarks. The film is named for the leafy green vegetable popular in Korean cooking. Our critic A.O. Scott called it “in its circumspect, gentle way, moving and downright revelatory.” Scott classed Youn as a sly scene-stealer but noted that is “also true of her character, who infuses her daughter’s home with mischief, folk wisdom and mostly unspoken memories of war, poverty and other hardship.”

She also thanked her two grown sons, who she said “make me go out and work. … This is the result, because mommy worked so hard.”

This was Youn’s first nomination, and, until recent weeks, an invite to speechify on the film industry’s biggest stage was far from a sure thing. One of her biggest foes might have been the 74-year-old Glenn Close, who’s now been nominated eight times without a single statuette (can we give her an honorary Oscar yet?). But after Youn’s SAG Award win and smile-inducing BAFTA speech earlier this month that thanked British voters — whom she labeled “very snobbish” people — for selecting her, the race was hers to lose.

She didn’t repeat her BAFTA roast, but she did offer a kindly zinger Sunday night.

“As you know, I’m from Korea, and my name is Yuh-Jung Youn — most of European people call me Yuh Youn and some call me Yuh-Jung,” she said. “But tonight, you are all forgiven.”

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April 25, 2021, 9:55 p.m. ETApril 25, 2021, 9:55 p.m. ET

Wesley Morris

Critic at Large

Wait, there was no one to help her mount that stage? It looked STEEP.

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April 25, 2021, 9:42 p.m. ETApril 25, 2021, 9:42 p.m. ET
“My Octopus Teacher” wins for Best Documentary.Credit…Netflix

“My Octopus Teacher,” a word-of-mouth hit on Netflix, is one of the most beloved documentaries to win the Oscar in recent years.

A simple description doesn’t make it sound like much: the tale of a diver and a cephalopod. But the way that diver, the documentarian Craig Foster, chronicles his growing obsession with an octopus in the waters off South Africa, has won over legions of fans, including stars like Jane Fonda and Amy Schumer, and critics.

That’s due in part to the gorgeous visuals, which may have felt especially welcome mid-pandemic. But it’s also because it doesn’t feel of a piece with other animal documentaries. “My Octopus Teacher” is part of a growing trend in nature films to “present animals as beings apart from us, not just objects of wonder or scientific study, and with qualities that are all their own, not shadows of human emotions,” as a New York Times article put it last year.

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April 25, 2021, 9:28 p.m. ETApril 25, 2021, 9:28 p.m. ET
Pete Docter and Dana Murray accepting the award for “Soul.”Credit…ABC

“Soul,” the Pixar story of an aspiring jazz musician hovering between life and death, was named best animated feature, a win that was expected even though “Wolfwalkers,” a Celtic fantasy from the Irish studio Cartoon Saloon, had its partisans.

“Soul,” directed by Pete Docter, had racked up wins all season long, continuing Pixar’s dominance at awards time. This is the studio’s 11th Oscar for best animated feature since the category was introduced in 2002.

The movie is notable for a number of reasons: It’s Pixar’s first movie with a Black protagonist (the pianist and music teacher Joe, voiced by Jamie Foxx), and the creative team includes the company’s first Black co-director, Kemp Powers.

Docter, accepting the Oscar, thanked music and art teachers, including his parents, and said: “You make the world a better place.”

He added, “My wish for all of us tonight is that we could follow the example of jazz musicians: that wherever we are, whatever we have, we turn it into something beautiful.”

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April 25, 2021, 9:14 p.m. ETApril 25, 2021, 9:14 p.m. ET
Chloe Zhao back stage after accepting the Oscar for best director on Sunday.
Chloe Zhao back stage after accepting the Oscar for best director on Sunday.Credit…ABC

Chloe Zhao on Sunday became the first woman of color, first Chinese woman and second woman ever to win the Oscar for directing, capping off a historically impressive run of honors she has amassed this awards season for her work on the drama “Nomadland.”

In accepting the award, Zhao recalled a phrase she had learned as a child that she said translated from Mandarin 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. And this is for you, you inspire me to keep going.”

This year’s Oscars marked the first time in its history that more than one female filmmaker was nominated for the best director in a single year. In addition to Zhao, Emerald Fennell scored a nomination for “Promising Young Woman.”

Before this year, only five female filmmakers had been recognized in the director category. In 2010, Kathryn Bigelow became the first and only woman to be named best director until Zhao won the category on Sunday.

Earlier in the awards season, Zhao took home the top directing prize at the Golden Globes, the Critics Choice Awards and the Directors Guild Awards and she has won similar accolades from several other groups.

“Nomadland” has also garnered wide praise and several honors. The movie tells the story of a widow who travels the country in a van and joins the itinerant work force while connecting with other Americans she meets along the way. Zhao adapted the movie from Jessica Bruder’s nonfiction book of the same name and used several nonprofessionals in the cast, including people featured in Bruder’s book.

Zhao, who adapted and helped produce “Nomadland,” was nominated for four Oscars in all: directing, adapted screenplay (which she lost to Christopher Hampton and Florian Zeller of “The Father”), editing and best picture.

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April 25, 2021, 9:11 p.m. ETApril 25, 2021, 9:11 p.m. ET
Mia Neal, left and Jamika Wilson (along with the makeup artist Sergio Lopez-Rivera) accepting their Oscar.
Mia Neal, left and Jamika Wilson (along with the makeup artist Sergio Lopez-Rivera) accepting their Oscar.Credit…ABC

In what may shape up as a night of firsts, Mia Neal and Jamika Wilson became the first Black women to win an Oscar for best hair and makeup for their work on “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom.”

“I want to say thank you to our ancestors who put the work in, were denied, but never gave up,” Neal said. “And I also stand here as Jamika and I break this glass ceiling with so much excitement for the future. Because I can picture Black trans women standing up here 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.”

Neal and Wilson, who were honored for the film’s hairstyles (Sergio Lopez-Rivera was cited for the film’s makeup) were also the first Black women ever nominated in the category. The award was added in 1981 after the 1980 drama “The Elephant Man” was not recognized.

The film, adapted from August Wilson’s play and directed by George C. Wolfe, is set during a recording session in 1920s Chicago. It tells the story of Rainey, a pioneering blues singer played by Viola Davis, and her battle to protect her gift from exploitation by a white-owned record label. When Chadwick Boseman’s musician, an ambitious upstart named Levee, wants to play a song his way, a clash of egos ensues.

The film is “a powerful and pungent reminder of the necessity of art, of its sometimes terrible costs and of the preciousness of the people, living and dead, with whom we share it,” The New York Times co-chief film critic A.O. Scott wrote in his review.

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April 25, 2021, 9:09 p.m. ETApril 25, 2021, 9:09 p.m. ET
Riz Ahmed in “Sound of Metal,” about a musician going deaf.Credit…Amazon Studios, via Associated Press

Hear that? It’s the quiet that comes with a little less confusion in the best sound category. In the past, the Oscar for this achievement was given in two separate categories: sound editing and sound mixing. This year, perhaps to the relief of some academy members but to the disappointment of sound professionals, the categories have been combined into one.

As a quick explainer, the sound editing has more to do with the collecting of sounds and the mixing is more about how those sounds are placed within the film.

The category has often been a place where big-budget fare like war sagas (“1917,” “Dunkirk”) or space movies (“Arrival,” “Gravity”) have shined. This year’s nominations for “Greyhound” and “News of the World” seem in step with that trend.

And yet, the award has gone this year to a smaller film, “Sound of Metal,” which benefited from a unique sound design that put audiences into the aural perspective of the punk-metal drummer Ruben (Riz Ahmed) as he experienced hearing loss. The film may not have had a chance in a year with more Dolby Digital-friendly blockbusters. But then again, since the plot hinges on the movie’s audio approach, it may have always had what it took to win Oscar gold.

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April 25, 2021, 9:00 p.m. ETApril 25, 2021, 9:00 p.m. ET
A scene from the trailer for the new adaptation.
A scene from the trailer for the new adaptation.Credit…ABC

The first trailer for Steven Spielberg’s “West Side Story” film is here, and it looks to be worth the wait.

The promo, broadcast during the Oscars, opens on a city at sunrise as a man sweeps along a deserted sidewalk. Shadows of men from rival gangs fade into one another as they close the distance between them. Women in billowing dresses run through the streets, and the fence climbing is dramatic as ever.

The release date was pushed back a year because of the pandemic, to Dec. 10, but the film is ideal fare to be appreciated on an oversized screen.

Ansel Elgort stars as the streetwise Tony and Rachel Zegler as the pure-hearted Maria, two teenagers who fall in love despite their connections to rival street gangs in 1950s New York City.

The film is the latest iteration of the classic 1957 musical, which is itself a loose retelling of Shakespeare’s “Romeo and Juliet.” The musical, with music by Leonard Bernstein, lyrics by Stephen Sondheim and a book by Arthur Laurents, came to the silver screen in 1961, in a film adaptation that won 10 Academy Awards, including best picture and best supporting actress for Rita Moreno, who also appears in a supporting role in the new film. A Broadway revival directed by Ivo Van Hove opened last February, but it ran for only a few weeks before being shut down by the pandemic.

Even if you’ve never seen the musical on the stage or screen, you’ve probably heard one of its iconic tracks, whether that’s “Maria,” “Tonight” or “I Feel Pretty” (spoofed by Melissa McCarthy’s Sean Spicer on “Saturday Night Live”).

But if the trailer is any indication, Spielberg’s approach will hew closer to the show that rattled Broadway when it opened in 1957 than the high school theater staple whose songs have since become sentimental standards.

The new film boasts a screenplay by Tony Kushner, the “Angels in America” playwright, and choreography by Justin Peck of New York City Ballet. It was originally scheduled to be released last December but was pushed back a year to Dec. 10, 2021 — which now coincides with the 60th anniversary of the original film’s release.

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April 25, 2021, 8:56 p.m. ETApril 25, 2021, 8:56 p.m. ET
Photographs of Cary Grant and Doris Day decorate the Motion Picture & Television Fund home.
Photographs of Cary Grant and Doris Day decorate the Motion Picture & Television Fund home.Credit…Mel Melcon/Los Angeles Times via, Getty Images

And the Oscar goes to … a nursing home?

Yes! Sort of.

The nonprofit Motion Picture & Television Fund, which underwrites a nursing home and retirement village for aging and ailing “industry” people (actors, executives, choreographers, lighting technicians, camera operators), received one of two honorary Academy Awards. The organization, founded in 1921 by Mary Pickford, Charlie Chaplin and other stars, also provides a wide range of other services to Hollywood seniors.

The 48-acre campus in Woodland Hills, a community on the northwest edge of Los Angeles, has been home over the years to Oscar-winning actresses (Hattie McDaniel, Mary Astor); career assistants (Leah Bernstein, who tended to Stanley Kramer’s professional needs on 28 films); television stars (Katherine MacGregor, known as Harriet Oleson on “Little House on the Prairie”); and studio moguls (Terry Semel, the former Warner Bros. chief). Residents must be 70 years or older and have worked in Hollywood for more than two decades. Spouses and life partners are also eligible.

Challenges over the years have included severe financial hardship, a deadly 2001 fire and the coronavirus. Leading fund-raising efforts for decades has been Jeffrey Katzenberg, the former DreamWorks Animation executive.

When the academy announced in January that the M.P.T.F., as it is known, would get an honorary Oscar, some of Hollywood’s cattier eyebrows arched in response: Was this a way to burnish Katzenberg after his latest business endeavor, the Quibi streaming service, crashed in epic fashion?

But Katzenberg, who raised $2 million for the fund at a virtual event on Saturday, did not accept the award. Instead, more than 70 health professionals who work for the nonprofit — coronavirus frontline workers, all of them — were invited to come onto the telecast as a group.

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April 25, 2021, 8:30 p.m. ETApril 25, 2021, 8:30 p.m. ET
Daniel Kaluuya wins Best Supporting Actor for “Judas and the Black Messiah.”Credit…ABC

Daniel Kaluuya won the Academy Award for best supporting actor for his nuanced portrayal of Fred Hampton in “Judas and the Black Messiah,” beating out his co-star, Lakeith Stanfield, who was also nominated in the category.

“To chairman Fred Hampton,” Kaluuya said in his acceptance speech. “What a man. How blessed we are that we lived in a lifetime where he existed.”

“There’s so much work to do,” Kaluuya added, speaking about Hampton’s legacy. “That’s on everyone in this room.”

Kaluuya’s win was far from a surprise. Critics have widely praised his performance of Hampton, an ascendant leader of the Black Panther Party who was killed by the police in 1969. And Kaluuya won the Golden Globe for best supporting actor earlier this awards season.

But when Oscar nominations were unveiled last month, Stanfield’s inclusion in the supporting actor category alongside Kaluuya puzzled some Oscars pundits, who thought Stanfield a better fit for the best actor category. As it turned out, it did not ultimately cost Kaluuya, who was considered something of a lock to win the category.

Kaluuya previously had earned a best actor Oscar nomination for his turn in the 2017 smash “Get Out.” Sunday marked his first Oscar win.

Kaluuya’s rousing call-and-response speeches drive some of the most electric scenes in “Judas and the Black Messiah.” But in an interview with The New York Times, Kaluuya detailed the great lengths he went to in order to understand Hampton and, in so doing, come to capture his idiosyncratic voice and style of speaking. “I gave it everything I had. I gave. I gave. I gave,” he said then.

In his review of the film, The New York Times co-chief film critic A.O. Scott acknowledged Kaluuya’s efforts, writing that the actor “finds inflections of Southernness in his voice and manner — undertones of humor and courtliness, an appreciation of the expressive possibilities of language.”

“I don’t feel like I’m entitled to anyone’s attention,” Kaluuya told The Times. “I have to offer, or channel, or shape something that’s going to make you want to give it to me.”

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April 25, 2021, 8:25 p.m. ETApril 25, 2021, 8:25 p.m. ET
Regina King spoke of her concerns about police violence when she opened the show.
Regina King spoke of her concerns about police violence when she opened the show.Credit…ABC

Regina King opened the Oscars by striding onto the stage at Union Station and immediately bringing up events of the past week.

Without preamble, she offered blunt commentary on the recent trial and verdict handed down in the case of Derek Chauvin, the former Minneapolis police officer, who was found guilty of second-degree murder in the death of George Floyd.

“It has been quite a year, and we are still smack-dab in the middle of it,” she said in her opening monologue. “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.

“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 added.

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