‘Nomadland’ takes home top prize; McDormand wins Best Actress (8:05 p.m. PDT)
Chloé Zhao took the stage again Sunday night to accept the Oscar for Best Picture for “Nomadland.”
“My entire ‘Nomadland’ company, what a crazy, once-in-a-lifetime journey we’ve all been on together,” Zhao said.
Zhao then handed the stage over to the film’s star, Best Actress nominee Frances McDormand. McDormand encouraged Oscar viewers to head back to theaters to watch the evening’s nominated films, a recurring theme of the night.
Moments later, McDormand was back on stage to accept the award for Leading Actress.
Yuh-Jung Youn becomes first Korean actor to win an Oscar (6:56 p.m. PDT)
Veteran Korean actor Yuh-Jung Youn gained recognition with American audiences Sunday when she took home the Oscars for Best Supporting Actress, becoming the first Korean actor to win at the Academy Awards.
She seemed starstruck herself by Brad Pitt, who presented the award.
“Mr. Brad Pitt, finally, nice to meet you!” she said.
She said many throughout the world have badly botched the pronunciation of her name, but “tonight you are all forgiven.”
The “Minari” actor acknowledged the exceptional performances of her fellow nominees with the charm and humor she’s become know for over the awards season, even joking that she must be luckier than Glenn Close, has now been nominated for eight Oscars without a win.
Disney’s ‘Soul’ wins best animated film (6:25 p.m. PDT)
The Disney Pixar film “Soul” took home the award for Best Animated Feature Sunday night. What began as a “love letter to jazz” became an exploration of the meaning of life, according to as described by director Pete Docter, who thanked music and art teachers in his speech. “You make the world a better place.”
Later in the evening, “Soul” also took home the prize for Original Score.
‘Parasite’ director Bong Joon-ho pays tribute to art of directing 6:15 p.m. PDT)
Shortly before the Best Directing award was presented, “Parasite” director Bong Joon-ho said the nominees were asked, “If you have to explain to a random kid on the street what directing is in 20 seconds, what would you say?”
Here are their responses:
Thomas Vinterberg, “Another Round”: “Filmmaking is a risk, to jump off a cliff, doing something where you don’t know if there is water below you.”
Lee Isaac Chung, “Minari”: “Film must respond to life, not the other way around. To be a storyteller, one needs to be rooted in real life for one’s stories to have any impact.”
Chloé Zhao, “Nomadland”: “A director is a jack of all trade and master of none. When things go wrong, watching ‘Burden of Dreams’ and asking yourself, ‘What would Werner Herzog do?'”
Emerald Fennell, “Promising Young Woman”: When Fennell was 8 years old, she told her mother that when she grew up, she “wanted to write stories about murder.”
David Fincher, “Mank”: “There are potentially a hundred different ways to shoot a scene. But at the end of the day there are really only two – and one of them is wrong.”
Chloe Zhao becomes second woman in Oscars history to take home top prize for directing (6:04 p.m. PDT)
“Nomadland” director Chloe Zhao became the second woman in Oscars history, and the first woman of color, to win the award for achievement in directing.
With four nominations, Zhao is the most-nominated woman in a single year in Oscar history.
Kathryn Bigelow was the first woman to win in the directing category in 2010 for “The Hurt Locker.”
Thomas Vinterberg gives emotional tribute to daughter during acceptance speech for ‘Another Round’ (5:25 p.m. PDT)
After Denmark’s “Another Round” was announced as the winner for Best International Feature Film, the film’s director, Thomas Vinterberg, paid tribute to his late daughter while accepting the award.
“We wanted to make a film that celebrates life,” Vinterberg said, adding that his daughter was killed in a highway crash four days before shooting began. “And we miss her and I love her,” he said, his voice cracking with emotion. “This is a miracle that just happened-and you’re a part of this miracle. Maybe you’ve been pulling some strings somewhere, I don’t know. But this one is for you.”
“Promising Young Woman” and “The Father” take home early prizes for screenplay (5:15 p.m. PDT)
Emerald Fennell took home the first award of the night — Best Original Screenplay for “Promising Young Woman.” Fennell is the first woman to take home that award since Diablo Cody won for “Juno” in 2008.
Regina King opens Oscars with nods to COVID-19, Derek Chauvin conviction (5 p.m. PDT)
Actor and director Regina King is acknowledging the difficult year during an opening straight out of the movies for the 2021 Oscars. King said we are “mourning the loss of so many” in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic. She also referenced the guilty verdict at Derek Chauvin’s trial. She said that if Chauvin had not been convicted, she may have traded her “heels for marching boots.” King was featured at the start of the 2021 Oscars in an opening produced by director Steven Soderberg. Producers and directors promised that this year’s ceremony would be closer to a movie then a television show.
SEE THE FULL LIST OF WINNERS HERE
An Oscars ceremony unlike any other has begun, with history on the line in major categories and a telecast that has been completely retooled for the pandemic.
There is no host, no audience, nor face masks for nominees attending the ceremony at Los Angeles’ Union Station – this year’s hub for a show usually broadcast from the Dolby Theatre. In contrast with the largely virtual Golden Globes, Zoom boxes have been closed out – though international hubs and satellite feeds will connect nominees unable to travel.
RED CARPET: Gowns, glamour return to Hollywood’s biggest night despite unusual award season
The red carpet was back Sunday, minus the throngs of onlookers and with socially distanced interviews. Only a handful of media outlets were allowed on site, behind a velvet rope and some distance from the nominees.
Casual wear, the academy warned nominees early on, was a no-no. During the Oscar preshow, nominees gathered at an outdoor set at Union Station that resembled an open-air lounge.
FULL LIST: 2021 Oscar nominees
Leslie Odom Jr., a supporting acting nominee for “One Night in Miami,” was especially appropriately dress in a shiny all-gold suit that could match an Oscar statuette. Speaking to ABC, he praised a strong year for Black stories.
“It feels like there’s been a major conversation, a conversation happening in between these projects,” said Odom citing films like “One Night in Miami,” “Judas and the Black Messiah,” “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom” and “The Forty-Year-Old Version.” “It’s a special time, these movies about Black life.”
Show producers are hoping to return some of the traditional glamour to the Oscars, even in a pandemic year. The pre-show on ABC begins at 6:30 p.m. EDT and will include pre-taped performances of the five Oscar-nominated songs – the first, “Husavik (My Hometown)” from “Eurovision Song Contest: The Story of Fire Saga.,” was shot in the Iceland town’s harbor. The ceremony is available to stream on Hulu Live TV, YouTubeTV, AT&T TV, FuboTV and on ABC.com with provider authentication.
How to watch, stream the 2021 Oscar best picture nominees
Pulling the musical interludes (though not the in memoriam segment) from the three-hour broadcast – and drastically cutting down the time it will take winners to reach the podium – will free up a lot of time in the ceremony. And producers, led by filmmaker Steven Soderbergh, are promising a reinvented telecast.
The Oscars will look more like a movie, Soderbergh has said. The show will be shot in 24 frames-per-second (as opposed to 30), appear more widescreen and the presenters – including Brad Pitt, Halle Berry, Reese Witherspoon, Harrison Ford, Rita Moreno and Zendaya – are considered “cast members.” The telecast’s first 90 seconds, Soderbergh has claimed, will “announce our intention immediately.”
But even a great show may not be enough to save the Oscars from an expected ratings slide. Award show ratings have cratered during the pandemic, and this year’s nominees – many of them smaller, lower-budget dramas – won’t come close to the drawing power of past Oscar heavyweights like “Titanic” or “Black Panther.” Last year’s Oscars, when Bong Joon Ho’s “Parasite” became the first non-English language film to win best picture, was watched by 23.6 million, an all-time low.
MORE: Disabled performers, characters in the spotlight at this year’s Academy Awards
Netflix dominated this year with 36 nominations, including the lead-nominee “Mank,” David Fincher’s black-and-white drama about “Citizen Kane” co-writer Herman J. Mankiewicz. The streamer is still pursuing its first best-picture win; this year, its best shot may be Aaron Sorkin’s “The Trial of the Chicago 7.”
But the night’s top prize, best picture, is widely expected to go to Chloé Zhao’s “Nomadland,” a contemplative character study about an itinerant woman (Frances McDormand) in the American West. Should it be victorious, it will be one of the lowest budget best-picture winners ever. Zhao’s film, populated by nonprofessional actors, was made for less than $5 million. (Her next film, Marvel’s “Eternals,” has a budget of at least $200 million.)
Zhao is also the frontrunner for best director, a category that has two female filmmakers nominated for the first time. Also nominated is Emerald Fennell for the scathing revenge drama “Promising Young Woman.” Zhao would be just the second woman to win best director in the academy’s 93 years (following Kathryn Bigelow for “The Hurt Locker”), and the first woman of color.
Oscars arrive at downtown Los Angeles’ Union Station
History is also possible in the acting categories. If the winners from the Screen Actors Guild Awards hold – “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom’s” Chadwick Boseman for best actor, Viola Davis for best actress; Yuh-Jung Youn (“Minari”) for best supporting actress; and Daniel Kaluuya (“Judas and the Black Messiah”) for best supporting actor – it would the first time nonwhite actors swept the acting categories – and a dramatic reversal from recent “OscarsSoWhite” years.
Several of those awards appear to be locks, particularly for the late Boseman, who would become the third actor to ever win a posthumous Academy Award following Peter Finch and Heath Ledger. Taylor Simone Ledward, Boseman’s widow, has often accepted previous honors on his behalf.
If there’s one less certain category, it’s best actress. Davis, who has won previously for her performance in “Fences,” is up against Carey Mulligan (“Promising Young Woman”) and two-time winner McDormand. Prognosticators call it a three-way toss up.
Sunday’s pandemic-delayed Oscars will bring to a close the longest awards season ever – one that turned the season’s industrial complex of cocktail parties and screenings virtual. Eligibility was extended into February of this year, and for the first time, a theatrical run wasn’t a requirement of nominees. Some films – like “Sound of Metal” – premiered all the way back in September 2019.
The pandemic pushed several anticipated movies out of 2020, but a few bigger budget releases could still take home awards. Pixar’s “Soul” appears a sure-thing for best animated film, and Christopher Nolan’s “Tenet” – which last September tried to lead a moviegoing revival that fizzled when virus cases spiked and many theaters couldn’t reopen – will likely win for its visual effects.
But for the first time, Hollywood’s most prestigious awards will overwhelming belong to films that barely played on the big screen. The biggest ticket-seller of the best picture nominees is “Promising Young Woman,” with $6.3 million in box office.
Lately, with vaccinations expanding, signs of life have begun to show in movie theaters – most of which are operating at 50% capacity. Warner Bros.’ “Godzilla vs. Kong” has made around $400 million worldwide, which theater owners point to as proof that moviegoers are eager for studios to again release a regular diet of big movies. Right now, the date circled on cinema calendars is May 28, when both Paramount’s “A Quiet Place Part II” and Disney’s “Cruella” arrive in theaters – though “Cruella” will simultaneously stream for $30.
But it’s been a punishing year for Hollywood. Around the world, movie theater marquees replaced movie titles with pleas to wear a mask. Streaming services rushed to fill the void, redrawing the balance between studios and theaters – and likely forever ending the three-month theatrical exclusivity for new releases. Just weeks before the Oscars, one of Los Angeles’ most iconic theaters, the Cinerama Dome, along with ArcLight Cinemas, went out of business.
After the pandemic, Hollywood – and the Oscars – may not ever be quite the same. Or as WarnerMedia’s new chief executive Jason Kilar said when announcing plans to shift the studio’s movies to streaming: “We’re not in Kansas anymore.”
April 25 is Oscar Sunday. Live coverage begins Sunday morning and continues all day with special “On The Red Carpet” coverage leading up to the 93rd Academy Awards ceremony. After the last award is handed out, stay with “On The Red Carpet” for continuing coverage. Be sure to follow @OnTheRedCarpet on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and TikTok for all your Oscar news and information.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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