As it had been all awards season, Chloé Zhao’s Nomadland was the dominant force at a subdued and small Oscars ceremony broadcast live from Union Station and the Dolby Theater in Los Angeles on Sunday night.
The movie—about people in the U.S. West who live, travel and work out of their vans and campers—won best picture, best director for Zhao and best actress for Frances McDormand, her third. Zhao is the first woman of color and only the second woman, besides Kathryn Bigelow for The Hurt Locker in 2008, to win a best director statue. McDormand is now in a rare club of three-time best actress winners, tying Meryl Streep. Only Katherine Hepburn has won more with four.
While the night felt talky, with winners allowed to finish their speeches uninterrupted by an orchestra, it included several surprises. Anthony Hopkins won his second best-actor statue for The Father, which also won best adapted screenplay for Christopher Hampton and Florian Zeller; a best supporting actress win for Minari’s Yuh-Jung Youn, delivered to her by last year’s best supporting actor, Brad Pitt; and a best original screenplay nod for Emerald Fennell.
More expected was Daniel Kaluuya’s best supporting actor win for his turn as activist Fred Hampton in Judas and the Black Messiah
Denmark’s Another Round won best international feature. Disney/Pixar’s Soul won best animated feature, with Trent Reznor, Atticus Ross and Jon Batiste winning best score for that movie. Best animated short went to If Anything Happens I Love You from Will McCormack and Michael Govier, about parents who are grieving their daughter who was killed in a school shooting. Netflix’s My Octopus Teacher, about a man who develops a friendship with an octopus, won best feature documentary, with Collette winning best documentary short.
In the technical categories, Christopher Nolan’s Tenet won for best visual effects.
Sound of Metal, which also was nominated best picture, best actor and best supporting actor, won for best sound and film editing. Mank’s Erik Messerschmidt won for best cinematography, beating out best picture Nomadland in this category, and Mank’s Donald Graham Burt and Jan Pascale won best production design. Mank entered the Oscars as this year’s most nominated movie with 10 nods and came away with two wins.
Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom, which also was nominated for best picture and best actor and actress for the late Chadwick Boseman and Viola Davis, took home Oscars for best makeup and hairstyling as well as best costume design.