The 93rd annual Academy Awards made history before the first award was even handed out.
After years of criticism for a lack of diversity, this year’s slate of nominees contained some notable firsts. It was the first time an all-Black producing team was nominated for best picture, the first time two actors of Asian descent received a nod for best actor and the first year that two women were nominated for best director. When the winners were revealed, it reflected this spirit of inclusion.
Chloe Zhao took home the best directing trophy, becoming the second woman to claim the title. Her film, “Nomadland,” also snagged the top prize of the night, best picture.
However, in a strange balk of tradition, the award was not presented last. Instead it was handed out before the best actress and best actor awards. It is unclear why the Academy made this change.
Mia Neal and Jamika Wilson, two-thirds of the hairstyling and makeup team behind “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom,” also made history on Sunday. The pair are the first Black women to receive a nomination for best makeup and hairstyling and, now, the first to win.
“Soul,” which took home the best animated feature award, is also Pixar’s first film to feature a Black character in the lead.
Yuh-Jung Youn was the first Korean performer to win at the ceremony in one of the four acting categories. Youn won the best supporting actress prize for her work in Lee Isaac Chung’s “Minari.”
The biggest upset of the night was Anthony Hopkins winning the best actor trophy over the late Chadwick Boseman. Boseman posthumously took home the best acting awards at the Critics Choice, Golden Globes and Screen Actors Guild awards this year.
Netflix won the night, taking home seven trophies — two for “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom,” two for “Mank” and then individual awards for best live-action short, best animated short and best documentary feature.
Disney had the second-largest haul with five, including three wins for “Nomadland” and two for “Soul.”
The ceremony itself was a much more intimate experience for attendees and the audience at home. Due to travel restrictions and a need for greater social distancing because of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, this year’s show was spread out across several locations.
Union Station was used as the main set piece for the show, with attendees rotating in and out of the ceremony in order to limit the number of people gathered at one time.
The ceremony also was treated like a movie set. Nominees were permitted to remain maskless while on camera, but had to place their masks back on when the cameras stopped rolling.
While there were moments of levity, like Glenn Close dancing to “Da Butt,” this year’s Oscars were subdued and focused mainly on the awards themselves. With Covid restrictions, there was limited banter between presenters and most awards were only given out by one person.
In fact, unlike previous years, there were few skits or sketches during the show and all of the best song nominees’ performances were prerecorded and were played before the main event began, as guests were greeted on the Red Carpet.