Sunday’s 93rd Academy Awards show was presented by the production team’s lead, Filmmaker Steven Soderbergh, as a new and unique experience; hopefully breaking away from the award season’s previously lackluster virtual showings and drawing in pre-pandemic ratings. The broadcast began in a widescreen movie format with Regina King, director of the Oscar-nominated “One Night in Miami,” striding into Los Angeles’ Union Station and onto the stage as colorful opening credits announcing the presenters popped up on screen.
King explained the safety protocols followed to hold the program and mentioned that the ceremony will be ruled like a movie set with nominees donning masks when cameras weren’t rolling. The guest list was severely restricted; there were socially distant interviews on the red carpet, media outlets were limited, attendees went through testing and vaccinations, and casual wear was prohibited out of caution due to mishaps in other Zoom-in award shows. Without an audience or live performances for the best song nominees, which were pre-recorded and played before the show, nominees like Tyler Perry were able to give impassioned speeches without being interrupted by play-off music.
The biggest shakeup of the night was a switch of the usual final reveal of the night, “Nomadland” for Best Picture, was announced before the recipients of the Best Actor and Actress awards. “Nomadland” Director Chloe Zhao took home the Best Director trophy as the second woman, first of color, to claim the prize in the same year that multiple women were nominated for the category for the first time. In an unexpected win, the absent Anthony Hopkins took home the Best Actor trophy for his role in “The Father” over the late Chadwick Boseman. Hopkins at 83 is the oldest person to take home a trophy in the acting category.
Many suspect the production switch of the final reveal to the Best Actor award was to conclude the night with a tribute to Boseman after his award win, but with Hopkins not attending the ceremony and Best Picture already revealed, the Oscars ceremony ended unceremoniously. In hindsight, maybe the secrecy surrounding the winners until the live show is aired backfired.
Despite the perceived snub, many made history on Sunday night. For the first time, two actors of Asian descent were nominated for best acting awards with “Minari” actress Yuh- Jung Youn winning the Oscar for Best Supporting Actress, the first Korean actor to do so. This was also the first time a Muslim actor, Riz Ahmed, was nominated for best actor and an all- Black producing team was nominated for best picture. Hairstylists Mia Neal and Jamika Wilson of the hair and makeup trio (with makeup artist Sergio Lopez-Rivera) behind “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom” were the first Black women to be nominated for and win Best Makeup and Hairstyling. “Soul,” Pixar’s first animated film with a Black character lead, took home Best Animated Feature.