By: Trevor Elmendorf
The 2021 Academy Awards marked the pinnacle of award season in the film industry and along with it were some very notable winners and quite a few surprises. Many first time winners were recognized by the Academy, showing potential to be staples of movie culture for decades. A few legends received very well deserved awards and recognition also.
The show itself featured a much more relaxed atmosphere with only the nominees, their guests, and presenters being able to attend, according to NME.com. Musical performances that are typically inherent to the Oscars were moved to the pre-show, which led to a final product that was subtler than some of the grand productions in the past. Ironically, this change in tone was reflective of many of the quieter films that were nominated for best picture such as Nomadland, Sound of Metal, and Minari.
One of the night’s first awards was the Oscar for Best International Picture. At the 2020 ceremony, Bong Joon-Ho’s masterpiece about class inequalities in South Korea, Parasite, was a historical success. The film won many of the nights’ most prominent awards including Best Picture and Best International Feature Film. While it set a very high bar for excellence, this year’s winner, Another Round is a worthy successor. It is directed by Danish filmmaker Thomas Vinterberg and stars Mads Mikkleson in a story about a social experiment with alcohol that goes wrong. Mikkleson could have easily received a Best Actor nomination for his performance, but the film getting the recognition that it deserved was one of the highlights of the night by far.
As the show continued to unfold, two first time winners that could become future household names were awarded for their work. Daniel Kaluyya who is best known for his role as the protagonist in Jordan Peele’s Get Out, received the award for Best Supporting Actor due to his portrayal of Fred Hampton in Judas and the Black Messiah. Kaluyya was the pulse of the film and put in one of the most important performances of his young career. It was his second Oscar nomination since 2018 and there are almost certainly more to come in the future.
The other first time winner was Chloé Zhao, who made Oscars history by earning Best Director for her film Nomadland, which also went on to win Best Picture. According to npr.org, Zhao became the first woman of color to win the prestigious award, and only the second woman to ever do so for directing. She excels in making beautifully shot independent films that feature real life people, which is the case with Nomadland. Zhao’s next project titled Eternals will be part of the Marvel Cinematic Universe and is scheduled to be released in November according to Marvel’s website. It will be interesting to see how she incorporates her unique style into a big budget superhero franchise and further establishes herself as one of the worlds signature directors.
The two biggest acting awards went to titans of the industry that have won Oscars in the past. Frances McDormand won Best Actress for her stoic performance in Nomadland, which was her third career acting win. According to Indiewire.com, she is one of six actors ever to have three wins. This achievement by McDormand was by far one of the most significant talking points to come out of this year’s show. The Best Actor award was taken home by Anthony Hopkins for The Father who had received the award previously for his role in The Silence of the Lambs. While it was a very well-deserved win, there was some controversy due to the way that the accolade was delivered.
Traditionally, Best Picture is the award that caps off the show but this year the order was shuffled and the award for Best Actor was given last. This led many to believe that the late Chadwick Boseman was going to win and a tribute to his legacy would end the show, but that is not how things played out. There was mass confusion on social media, but Hopkins did more than enough in The Father to justify the win. The 92nd Academy Awards had plenty of highlights, and next years categories should be even stronger due to an influx of high profile releases that are scheduled for release later this year.