The 2021 Oscars

A glitzy, social-distanced and authentic Oscar, like never before.

After a 2-month delay and countless scrapped plans and juggled guest lists, the 2020-2021 Oscars finally happened on Sunday, 25 April in L.A. (02:00-05:16 on Monday, 26 April South African time). This year’s Oscars honoured the best films and talent on screen and behind the scenes in movies released between 1 January 2020, and 28 February 2021, with 366 films eligible for nomination.

Unlike most awards shows that have happened remotely this season, the Oscars went for the full, worldwide red carpet live extravaganza, with the main stage set at Union Station in LA, and alternative locations in New York, London and across Europe, too, all the way to Sydney, Australia, with the famous Harbour Bridge in the background. Director Bong Joon-ho (who won the 2020 Best Picture and Best Director Oscars for his film Parasite) presented the Best Director Oscar to Chloé Zhao for Nomadland (making her the second-ever woman to win the Best Director Oscar, and the first woman of colour to do so), from the Dolby Cinema Theatre in Seoul, Korea, where a translator was on hand to interpret his speech.

The ceremony (which eventually clocked in at 3 hours, 16 minutes) started with a dramatic walk-in by the night’s first host, Regina King (whose directorial debut, One Night In Miami, was up for 3 Oscar nominations). Regina casually snatched up an Oscar statuette from a table as she strode by in her silver gown, as her entrance was shot like the opening of a heist movie, with the upcoming presenters listed in movie-credit style.

Once on stage in front of the stars and nominees (seated at socially distanced tables), Regina launched into an immediate acknowledgement of the Black Lives Matter movement, particularly the recent conviction of former police officer Derek Chauvin for the murder of George Floyd (a case that surfaced multiple times throughout the ceremony, particularly because it was a piece of filmed evidence that formed the backbone for the conviction), before explaining how the ceremony was working within the parameters of COVID-19 restrictions.

Cast and crews of winning films raised their voices to highlight social justice movements throughout the night.

Protest and power

As presenter for the Best Supporting Actor Oscar, Laura Dern didn't just hand out the little golden man, she took time to thank all the performers, especially those whose movies furthered the cause of social justice. It was a fitting night for Daniel Kaluuya to take the win for Judas & The Black Messiah and his role as Black Panther leader Fred Hampton. As he thanked everyone he’d worked with in turn (along with his mom and dad for having sex and producing him!), the cameras focussed on his guests – his mom and his sister, who were in the audience and shaking their heads and ducking out of shot in delight and embarrassment. "What a man, what a man. How blessed we are that we lived in a lifetime that he existed," said Daniel, before highlighting how much the real life Fred was able to accomplish in his short life of 21 years.

The first 3 awards set a tone of sincerity and intimacy that made for a refreshing “new” Oscars – one in which the absence of seat fillers made for a more authentic seeming experience than we’ve seen in recent years. And as Don Cheadle presented the awards for Hair And Make-up to Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom’s team, Sergio Lopez-Rivera, Mia Neal and Jamika Wilson (Mia and Jamika became the first black women to win Oscars in make-up and hairstyling), Mia took a walk through history of prejudice and the way people from her own family have been denied opportunities in the past, contrasting to her own position standing on the stage at the Oscars. Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom also claimed the Achievement in Costume Design Oscar.

Travon Free and Martin Desmond Roe, who won the Best Live Action Short Film Oscar for Two Distant Strangers, spoke out against racially motivated police violence and added their voices to the evening’s pleas to keep pushing for real social justice in America. Travon told the stars gathered for the ceremony, “Today, the police will kill 3 people. And tomorrow, the police will kill 3 people. And the day after that, the police will kill 3 people, because on average, the police in America everyday kill 3 people, which amounts to about a thousand people a year," said Free. "Those people happen to disproportionately be black people.” The linings of Travon and Martin’s black-and-yellow evening jackets carried the names of victims of police violence including Tamir Rice, Stephen Clark and Duante Wright, while their shoes were stamped with the names of more victims, including that of George Floyd, whose killer, former police officer Derek Chauvin, was found guilty of murder a week before the Oscars ceremony.

And when Will McCormack and Michael Govier won their Best Animated Short Film for If Anything Happens I Love You, they took the opportunity to speak out on the theme of their film, the spectre of continued school shootings in America.

Above all, though, there was a call to stop violence. Tyler Perry earned a standing ovation as he accepted the Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award and gave a rousing speech, honouring his mother for the lessons she taught him, the most important of which was to refuse to hate – anyone, for any reason. And Best Director and Best Picture winner Chloé Zhao said in her acceptance speech for Nomadland, “This is for anyone who has the faith and the courage to hold on to the goodness in themselves and to hold on to the goodness in others, no matter how difficult it is to do that.”

An Oscar for South Africa

The big thrill of the ceremony for South Africans was seeing Pippa Ehrlich and James Reed accepting the Best Documentary Feature in person in LA for My Octopus Teacher. Despite a dazzling awards season for the film, including winning the Best Documentary BAFTA, and Critics' Choice Awards, both James and Pippa were shaky-voiced and overwhelmed with happiness when they stepped up to accept the award. After commenting that there would be South Africans up in the early hours of morning watching the ceremony and cheering them on live, Pippa said, “This really is a tiny personal story that played out in a sea forest at the very tip of Africa. But, on a more universal level, I hope that it provided a glimpse of a different kind of relationship between human beings and the natural world. Parts of this story are universal to almost every person on Earth – love and friendship, and connection and hope.”

In a personal letter before the ceremony, President Cyril Ramaphosa congratulated the production team, calling the film, “Documentary storytelling at its best, with a deeply resonant conservation message.”

It’s a celebration…

While the overall tone of this year’s ceremony was impassioned and sombre, the awards also celebrated the nominees and winners’ success stories from humble beginnings, and the role of film in their lives.

Regina told personal stories behind the Best Original Screenplay-nominated screenwriters' early years in the entertainment business. And winner Emerald Fennell was struck breathless because she hadn't written a speech. She mentioned that the last speech she wrote was when she was about 10 years old, and her acceptance speech then included thanks to her "dream husband", Zack Morris (played by Mark-Paul Gosselaar) from Saved By The Bell.

Another Round’s director Thomas Vinterberg, who won the Oscar for Best International Feature Film of The Year, on the other hand, admitted that he had been practicing his big Hollywood awards speech since he was 5-years-old… in the bathroom, in train stations, at school, and so forth. And things took a heart-rending turn when Thomas dedicated his win to his late daughter, Ida, who died in a car accident during production on the film.

On a happier note, the charming South Korean actress Yuh-Jung Youn had the theatre laughing as she flirted with Brad Pitt, then accepted her Oscar for Performance By An Actress In A Supporting Role for Minari, by thanking her two boys who make me go out and work. She's going to need a whole new room in her house for her awards. This season the role has won her 36 awards out of 54 nominations, including the BAFTA, Screen Actors Guild Award and Critics’ Choice Awards for Best Supporting Actress.

Presenter Harrison Ford reached into his pocket and took out some "editorial suggestions that were presented after a film that I was in". That movie was Blade Runner and Harrison used the part-joke, part-memory to get across how important editing can be for the story that a film tells.

In Memoriam

The ageless and glorious, Angela Bassett, wearing a scarlet Alberta Ferretti gown with dramatically puffed sleeves, presented the In Memoriam segment, playing tribute to the over 3,1 million losses to COVID-19 worldwide. And she also highlighted the lives lost too soon to violence and to poverty. And Hollywood remembered the loss of its own, from actress Cicely Tyson to Sean Connery and the loss felt most deeply, Chadwick Boseman, as a shocking number of names and faces flew past on screen.

PS: Tune in for rebroadcast of the whole ceremony, because you’ll see the great Glenn Close dancing Da Butt (to Da Butt by EU, 1988), and Nomadland star and Best Actress winner Frances McDormand (who might have had the shortest acceptance speech of the night) producing a wolf howl that falls somewhere on the cool-cringe spectrum, depending on your tastes.

The Oscars® will be rebroadcast on Monday, 26 April on M-Net (DStv channel 101) at 22:30 

Watch M-Net

Oscar movies on DStv

The night’s big winner for DStv viewers is Soul, which won the Best Animated Feature and Best Original Score Oscars, and was nominated for Best Sound (giving animation studio Pixar 12 Best Animated Feature Oscars to their name). Soul introduces Joe Gardner, played by Jamie Foxx, as a music teacher who finally gets his big break only to misstep into the ‘Great Before’. It’s available to rent on DStv’s BoxOffice.

Read about Soul See Soul on Box Office Read about Box Office

Other nominated content coming to DStv includes Nomadland, The United States vs. Billie Holiday, which received an Oscar nomination for Andra Day in the category Best Performance By An Actress In A Leading Role; Judas & The Black Messiah, which won Daniel Kaluuya the Best Supporting Actor Oscar, and Promising Young Woman, which won Emerald Fennell the Best Original Screenplay Oscar.

The big nominees vs. wins

  • Nomadland 6 nominations, 3 wins
  • Soul 3 nominations, 2 wins
  • Mank 10 nominations, 2 wins
  • The Father 6 nominations, 2 wins
  • Sound of Metal 6 nominations, 2 wins
  • Ma Rainey's Black Bottom 5 nominations, 2 wins
  • Judas & The Black Messiah 6 nominations, 1 win
  • Minari 6 nominations, 1 win
  • Promising Young Woman 5 nominations, 1 win
  • The Trial of The Chicago 7 6 nominations, 0 wins
  • News of The World 4 nominations, 0 wins
  • One Night In Miami 3 nominations, 0 wins

Where to watch

Watch Oscars 2021: The Results on Monday, 26 April on BBC World News (DStv Channel 400) at 10:30

Watch BBC World News

Watch The 93rd Academy Awards on Monday, 26 April on M-Net (DStv channel 101) from 22:30 (main show)

Watch M-Net

Watch Talking Movies: Oscar Review Special on Saturday, 1 May on BBC World News (DStv Channel 400) at 12:30

Watch BBC World News

Read about 2020/2021 Awards shows

And the winners are…

Official winners

Best Motion Picture of The Year

The Father
Judas & The Black Messiah
Promising Young Woman
Sound of Metal
The Trial of the Chicago 7

Best International Feature Film of The Year

Another Round – Denmark
Better Days – Hong Kong
Collective – Romania
The Man Who Sold His Skin – Tunisia
Quo Vadis, Aida? – Bosnia and Herzegovina

Achievement In Directing

Another Round – Thomas Vinterberg
Mank – David Fincher
Minari – Lee Isaac Chung
Nomadland – Chloé Zhao
Promising Young Woman – Emerald Fennell

Achievement In Cinematography

Judas & The Black Messiah – Sean Bobbitt
Mank – Erik Messerschmidt
News of the World – Dariusz Wolski
Nomadland – Joshua James Richards
The Trial of the Chicago 7 – Phedon Papamichael

Performance By An Actress In A Leading Role

Viola Davis in Ma Rainey's Black Bottom
Andra Day in The United States vs. Billie Holiday
Vanessa Kirby in Pieces of a Woman
Frances McDormand in Nomadland
Carey Mulligan in Promising Young Woman

Performance By An Actor In A Leading Role

Riz Ahmed in Sound of Metal
Chadwick Boseman in Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom
Anthony Hopkins in The Father
Gary Oldman in Mank
Steven Yeun in Minari

Performance By An Actress In A Supporting Role

Maria Bakalova in Borat Subsequent Moviefilm: Delivery of Prodigious Bribe to American Regime for Make Benefit Once Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan
Glenn Close in Hillbilly Elegy
Olivia Colman in The Father
Amanda Seyfried in Mank
Yuh-Jung Youn in Minari

Performance By An Actor In A Supporting Role

Sacha Baron Cohen in The Trial of the Chicago 7
Daniel Kaluuya in Judas & The Black Messiah
Leslie Odom, Jr. in One Night in Miami...
Paul Raci in Sound of Metal
LaKeith Stanfield in Judas & The Black Messiah

Achievement In Costume Design

Emma – Alexandra Byrne
Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom – Ann Roth
Mank Trish – Summerville
Mulan – Bina Daigeler
Pinocchio – Massimo Cantini Parrini

Achievement In Make-up And Hairstyling

Emma – Marese Langan, Laura Allen and Claudia Stolze
Hillbilly Elegy – Eryn Krueger Mekash, Matthew Mungle and Patricia Dehaney
Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom – Sergio Lopez-Rivera, Mia Neal and Jamika Wilson
Mank – Gigi Williams, Kimberley Spiteri and Colleen LaBaff
Pinocchio – Mark Coulier, Dalia Colli and Francesco Pegoretti

Achievement In Production Design

The Father
Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom
News of the World

Achievement In Film Editing

The Father – Yorgos Lamprinos
Nomadland – Chloé Zhao
Promising Young Woman – Frédéric Thoraval
Sound of Metal – Mikkel E. G. Nielsen
The Trial of the Chicago 7 – Alan Baumgarten

Original Screenplay

Judas & The Black Messiah – Screenplay by Will Berson & Shaka King; Story by Will Berson & Shaka King and Kenny Lucas & Keith Lucas
Minari – Written by Lee Isaac Chung
Promising Young Woman – Written by Emerald Fennell
Sound of Metal – Screenplay by Darius Marder & Abraham Marder; Story by Darius Marder & Derek Cianfrance
The Trial of the Chicago 7 – Written by Aaron Sorkin

Adapted Screenplay

Borat Subsequent Moviefilm: Delivery of Prodigious Bribe to American Regime for Make Benefit Once Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan Screenplay by Sacha Baron Cohen & Anthony Hines & Dan Swimer & Peter Baynham & Erica Rivinoja & Dan Mazer & Jena Friedman & Lee Kern; Story by Sacha Baron Cohen & Anthony Hines & Dan Swimer & Nina Pedrad
The Father – Screenplay by Christopher Hampton and Florian Zeller
Nomadland – Written for the screen by Chloé Zhao
One Night in Miami... – Screenplay by Kemp Powers
The White Tigers – Written for the screen by Ramin Bahrani

Best Animated Feature Film of The Year

Onward Dan – Scanlon and Kori Rae
Over the Moon – Glen Keane, Gennie Rim and Peilin Chou
A Shaun the Sheep Movie: Farmageddon – Richard Phelan, Will Becher and Paul Kewley
Soul – Pete Docter and Dana Murray
Wolfwalkers – Tomm Moore, Ross Stewart, Paul Young and Stéphan Roelants

Best Animated Short Film

Burrow – Madeline Sharafian and Michael Capbarat
Genius – Loci Adrien Mérigeau and Amaury Ovise
If Anything Happens I Love You – Will McCormack and Michael Govier
Opera – Erick Oh
Yes-People – Gísli Darri Halldórsson and Arnar Gunnarsson

Best Documentary Feature

Collective – Alexander Nanau and Bianca Oana
Crip Camp – Nicole Newnham, Jim LeBrecht and Sara Bolder
The Mole Agent – Maite Alberdi and Marcela Santibáñez
My Octopus Teacher – Pippa Ehrlich, James Reed and Craig Foster
Time – Garrett Bradley, Lauren Domino and Kellen Quinn

Best Documentary Short Subject

Colette – Anthony Giacchino and Alice Doyard
A Concerto Is a Conversation – Ben Proudfoot and Kris Bowers
Do Not Split – Anders Hammer and Charlotte Cook
Hunger Ward – Skye Fitzgerald and Michael Scheuerman
A Love Song for Latasha – Sophia Nahli Allison and Janice Duncan

Best Live Action Short Film

Feeling Through – Doug Roland and Susan Ruzenski
The Letter Room – Elvira Lind and Sofia Sondervan
The Present – Farah Nabulsi
Two Distant Strangers – Travon Free and Martin Desmond Roe
White Eye – Tomer Shushan and Shira Hochman

Achievement In Visual Effects

Love and Monsters
The Midnight Sky
The One and Only

Achievement In Sound

News of the World
Sound of Metal 

Achievement In Music Written For Motion Pictures (Original Score)

Da 5 Bloods – Terence Blanchard
Mank – Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross
Minari – Emile Mosseri
News of the World – James Newton Howard
Soul – Trent Reznor, Atticus Ross and Jon Batiste

Achievement In Music Written For Motion Pictures (Original Song)

Fight For You from Judas & The Black Messiah: Music by H.E.R. and Dernst Emile II; Lyric by H.E.R. and Tiara Thomas
Hear My Voice from The Trial of the Chicago 7: Music by Daniel Pemberton; Lyric by Daniel Pemberton and Celeste Waite
Husavik from Eurovision Song Contest: The Story of Fire Saga: Music and Lyric by Savan Kotecha, Fat Max Gsus and Rickard Göransson
Io Sì (Seen) from The Life Ahead (La Vita Davanti a Se): Music by Diane Warren; Lyric by Diane Warren and Laura Pausini
Speak Now from One Night in Miami…: Music and Lyric by Leslie Odom, Jr. and Sam Ashworth

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