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The 93rd annual Academy Awards ceremony took place on Sunday, April 25th. Normally the ceremony takes place in February, but was postponed due to the pandemic. The setting this year was much more intimate than the usual awards show, with a scaled back red carpet, and a ‘casual’ outdoors pre-party for nominees to mingle amongst each other. This year, both the Dolby Theatre and Union Station were the backdrops for the show, along with several other locations across the globe to accommodate those with travel restrictions.


This year’s show was the lowest rated broadcast since it began airing in 1953 (with numbers adjusted). It was also the third time in the show’s history that there was no host, as the awards struggle to remain relevant both during a pandemic and to a generation who appear apathetic to the glitz and glamour. However, due in part to the reduced number of eligible films released in 2020, this year’s nominees were the most diverse for inclusion for women and people of color both in front of, and behind, the camera.


Promising Young Woman poster / a woman lays on her back, her legs raised and crossed to the sky. She lays inside a pair of bright pink lips, dripping lipstick as though bloodFor the first time in its history, two women were nominated for Best Director. Emerald Fennell did not win for directing Promising Young Woman but she did win Best Original Screenplay for the feminist revenge satire-thriller, starring Best Actress nominee Carey Mulligan. Chloe Zhao’s director win made her only the second woman to win this catagory in the history of the award, as well as the first Chinese woman and the first woman of colour to win this award.




Nomadland poster / Francis McDormand sitting in a lawn chair beside a mobile home with a line of laundry in the foreground, with the sprawling prairie behind herZhao won for the film Nomadland, which is based on the non-fiction book by Jessica Bruder, Nomadland: Surviving America in the Twenty-First Century. Following a woman who loses her job to automation, she travels across the US in a van and experiences the collapse of the American Dream firsthand. Frances McDormand won Best Actress in a Leading Role for her role in the film, her third Oscar in this category. McDormand has previously won for the films Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri and the 1997 Coen Bros. classic film Fargo. Nomadland also took home the most wins of the night, including Best Picture, Best Adapted Screenplay, Best Cinematography, and Best Film Editing.


Minari poster / a South Korean family - a grand mother, a father, mother, and two small children - standing in front of a cornfieldAnother first of the night was Steven Yeun’s nomination as the first Asian American for Best Actor, in the Korean-American drama Minari, about a Korean-American family in 1980s America. While Yeun did not win, his co-star Yuh-jung Youn did win the award for Best Actress in a Supporting Role. The film had 6 nominations, but this was the only win. While she may be a new face for many, Youn has had a career in South Korean film and television for over the last 50 years. This win made her the first Korean actor to win an Academy Award. 


Judas and the Black Messiah poster / extreme closeups of Lakeith Stanfield and Daniel Kaluuya, under a red filterBest Actor in a Supporting Role went to one of my personal favorites, Daniel Kaluuya. Kaluuya became known for his role in the British television show Skins, and then blew up after his incredible performance in the Jordan Peele film Get Out, for which he was nominated Best Actor in a Leading Role. His incredible portrayal of American Activist Fred Hampton in Judas and the Black Messiah was what got him this well-deserved win. This film also received the award for Best Original Song, for the song “Fight for You” by H.E.R.



The Father poster / greyscale closeups of Anthony Hopkins and Olivia ColemanBest Actor in a Leading Role went to Sir Anthony Hopkins, for his role in the film The Father. In the film, Hopkins plays a man suffering from dementia, while his daughter (played by Best Actress-nominated Olivia Coleman) struggles to get help. This is the second Oscar for Hopkins, whose previous win was for his portrayal of serial killer Hannibal Lector in the 1992 movie Silence of the Lambs. While Hopkins could not be at the ceremony due to him being in his home country of Wales, he did send out a message the following day on his social media, paying tribute to his competitor in the category, Chadwick Boseman. This win makes Hopkins is the oldest-ever acting Oscar winner.


Another Round poster / Mads Mikkelsen in profile, drinking directly from a Champaign bottleBest International Feature Film went to the Danish film, Another Round. This film stars Mads Mikkelsen as the leading character, and is about a group of teachers who decide to test out a theory that drinking daily will help them have a more enjoyable life. The film’s world premiere was last year, at the Toronto International Film Festival.


Best Documentary Feature went to “My Octopus Teacher”, which, in my opinion, is a film everyone should see. While not yet available on Blu-ray or DVD, the film is streaming on Netflix, and it’s one that shouldn’t be missed. The relationship between the filmmaker and this ocean creature is really just incredible. Definitely a well-deserved win for these filmmakers from South Africa.


Soul poster / an animated blackman wearing a fedora and glasses stands in front of a black-navy field, with a small cat beside him. Emerging from his chest is a blue ghost-like being.Disney Pixar’s Soul, about a New York jazz musician (voiced by Jamie Foxx) who gets stuck in the after-life, took home the win for Best Animated Feature Film. This is the first time a film has ever won this award without ever playing in U.S. movie theatres. The film also won for Best Original Score, composed by Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross from the band Nine Inch Nails, with several of the films songs written by Jon Batiste. This is the second win in this category for the members of the band.



Sound of Metal poster / Riz Amed stands in profile against a black field, with a wave form behind himSound of Metal was the winner for Best Film Editing and Best Sound, and was nominated for four other categories: Best Picture, Best Supporting Actor, and Best Original Screenplay. The film also made history when its star Riz Ahmed became the first Muslim actor to be nominated for the category of Best Actor in a Leading Role. While Ahmed didn’t win, his portrayal of a drummer on the verge of becoming deaf was astounding. This film will be available on Blu-ray & DVD sometime in 2022, where it will be released as part of the Criterion Collection.


With theatres poised to reopening the US later this year, and the major film studios intent on releasing their major films either in theatres or on streaming, it is unlikely that 2021 will be as irregular as 2020 in terms of what is eligible. What remains to be seen is if the Academy will consider a streaming release enough to be considered. What also remains to been see is if they will continue to recognize the contributions of under represented filmmakers, or will they slip back to their old ways as they struggle to remain relevant as they quickly approach their 100th anniversary in 2029.


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Happy watching!

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