Diversity, the big winner at Oscars

Express News Service
The 93rd Academy Awards was held on Sunday, April 25, in Los Angeles. Owing to the raging pandemic, the show was a mix of both virtual and in-person presentations.

Chloe Zhao made history as the first woman of colour to be named the Best Director for ‘Nomadland’ and became only the second woman filmmaker to win the award after Kathryn Bigelow’s win in 2010 for ‘The Hurt Locker’.

“This is for everyone who has the faith and courage to hold on to the goodness in themselves, and hold on to the goodness in each other,” Zhao said, in her acceptance speech. 

Frances McDormand was named the Best Actress for her performance in ‘Nomadland’ as Fern, a middle-aged woman who adapts to a vagabond lifestyle and sets out on a healing journey.

The award marked McDormand’s third win, after ‘Fargo’ in 1997 and ‘Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri’ in 2018.

“I have no words. My voice is in my sword. We know the sword is our work and I like work. Thank you for knowing that and thanks for this,” said McDormand, who became the fourth actress to win three Oscars after Katharine Hepburn, Ingrid Bergman, and Meryl Streep. 

‘Nomadland’ also won the coveted Best Picture award. A scathing portrayal of the harsh realities caused by an economic slowdown, the film blends the intimacy of a documentary with the panoramic beauty of cinema. The film, with its critical take on a materialistic lifestyle and capitalistic sentiments, was the big winner of the day.

‘Sound of Metal’ won its well-deserved Best Sound award for putting its sound design to effectively communicate the plight of a musician who gradually loses his hearing ability.

It was also bestowed with the Best Editing award. Had Riz Ahmed won his acting trophy for ‘Sound of Metal’, he would have been ingrained in the history of Oscars as the first Muslim to win Best Actor.

Similarly, Chadwick Boseman’s win would have made him the first Black man to posthumously win the top honour in acting. 

The biggest surprise in an otherwise straightforward show came in the form of the reordering of the Best Picture and Best Actor slots.

Announcing the Best Picture last has remained the Oscars’ norm since 1948 with this convention being disrupted only once in 1971, when the Best Picture announcement was followed by a special honorary award for Charlie Chaplin. 

This year’s order hinted at a celebration of Boseman’s work, with the decision to pick Anthony Hopkins (‘The Father’) for the Best Actor award coming across as an upset. This is Anthony Hopkins’ second Best Actor trophy after his previous win for ‘Silence of the Lambs’.

At 83, Hopkins is the oldest actor to get an Academy Award. Hopkins, who couldn’t attend the event in person, posted a video later to thank the Academy.

“I did not expect to get this award. I am really grateful to the Academy and I feel very privileged and honoured,” he said in the video. Hopkins also paid tribute to Boseman and said that the actor “was taken from us far too early.”

Emerald Fennel, whose direction nomination alongside Zhao, marked the first time two female filmmakers were nominated in that category, won the Best Original Screenplay for ‘Promising Young Woman’. Fennel became the first woman to bag an award in the screenwriting category since Diablo Cody’s win for Juno in 2008.

Meanwhile, Christopher Hampton and Florian Zeller, who adapted the play by the latter into the feature-length script of ‘The Father’, were bestowed with the Best Adapted Screenplay award. Although Danish filmmaker Thomas Vinterberg couldn’t get hold of the Oscar trophy for his first direction nomination, he had enough reasons to smile with his film ‘Another Round’ winning the Best International Feature Film.

Also, the Best Supporting Actress award was given to Youn Yuh-Jung for her tender performance as the warm grandmother in the profound family drama, ‘Minari’, making her the first Korean to win an acting award.

Daniel Kaluuya, who brought American activist and revolutionary socialist Fred Hampton to life in ‘Judas and the Black Messiah’, took home the Best Supporting Actor trophy. 

In an award season dominated by streaming giants with uncertainty wafting over the future of theatres, Frances McDormand urged people to watch films on a big screen.

“Please watch our movie on the largest screen possible, and one day very, very soon take everyone you know into a theatre, shoulder to shoulder, in that dark space and watch every film that’s represented here tonight,” she said.