Twice in a row, the COVID-19 pandemic has prevented the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences from staging the Oscars the way it always has been done. This time however, AMPAS would not stand for a remote/virtual presentation, and eventually sprang for a multi-venue event. The main awards presentations for the 93rd Academy Awards this past Sunday, April 25, were done jointly at Union Station and Dolby Theater. But several remote locations were arranged for nominees to gather at while reducing travel costs, for example in London and Seoul, South Korea. This complex production setup would be where arguably one of the most historic Academy Awards nights would play out, as highlighted by CNBC.
It is interesting to note that one of the most difficult Oscars presentations in the history of the Academy would see a more diverse pool of nominees prevail to receive one of the highest honors in filmmaking. It seemed appropriate that this is also the Academy Awards that would break some established protocols even while COVID safety protocols are enforced at all locations involved. That would explain why Best Picture was announced before the acting award categories, and the winner was no surprise: “Nomadland” by Asian-American filmmaker Chloe Zhao, who would also win Best Director.
There was another surprise in store. Heading into Oscars night, the easy bet was that the late Chadwick Boseman could get a posthumous Best Actor Award for “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom.” Wonder of wonders, he got beaten out by Anthony Hopkins for “The Father.” But even then there was a milestone, as the 83-year-old Hopkins became the oldest Academy Award winner for any category. Best Actress was no slouch either, as Frances McDormand (“Nomadland”) won her third Best Actress Oscar, tying with the likes of Meryl Streep and Ingrid Bergman. Only Katharine Hepburn has more Best Actress awards at four.
African-American representation did manage to get accolades despite Boseman. Disney-Pixar’s “Soul” starring the voice of Jamie Foxx, which was forced to premiere on Disney+ streaming last year, won Best Animated Feature. Next, “Ma Rainey’s” had makeup-hairstylists Jamika Wilson and Mia Neal become the first African-American women to get a Best Makeup and Hairstyling nomination, made even sweeter by the fact that they won. They join a multitude of other nominees, Black and similar minorities that were in the running to win an Oscar Sunday, like Daniel Kaluuya and Youn Yuh-jung.
Another point of interest is that while the productions with multiple nominations are still there (Netflix’s “Mank” from director Dave Fincher and starring Gary Oldman had he most at ten), actual multi-Oscar winners during the 93rd Academy Awards were limited to no more than three, that one being “Nomadland” followed by twofer winners “Ma Rainey’s,” “The Father,” Mank,” “Judas and the Black Messiah,” “Sound of Metal” and “Soul.” In a new innovation, the ceremony made room for three studios to introduce trailers for their upcoming films this year. 20th Century Studios had “West Side Story” (premiering December) while Warner Bros. previewed “In the Heights” (premiering June), and Searchlight Pictures showcased “Summer of Soul” (premiering July).
Image courtesy of ABC15 Arizona