I will not lie. There was a collective “gasp” of shock heard inside the virtual pressroom when it was clear that the late, great actor Chadwick Boseman did not win an Oscar, posthumously for his mesmerizing performance in “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom,” despite Boseman winning the SAG Award, the Critics Choice Award and a Golden Globe, to name a few. All this. Despite being a front runner, he did not win an Oscar.
Mr. Boseman died after a private battle with colon cancer last year at the age of 43.
But as they say in Hollywood, the show must go on, and it did because the Hollywood creative team did not allow COVID-19 to stop the show. The annual salute to excellence in film started with a bang, last Sunday, with strict pandemic precautions firmly in place. Keeping safety first on their minds meant that thousands of heavy-hitters, movie stars and powerbrokers were missing from the guest list. 2021 was only nominees, presenters and a few guests allowed at Los Angeles’ Union Station, a shift from the massive Dolby Theatre. The intimate (but safe) design was overseen by David Rockwell and the 1939 train station gave a very different backdrop. Sunday night’s Oscar ceremony was historic in more ways than one, making the 441-day wait for the 93rd Academy Awards well worth it.
Daniel Kaluuya won the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor for “Judas and the Black Messiah” for his amazing portrayal of Black Panther Party chairman Fred Hampton in a film by Shaka King. This marks his first Oscar win and second nomination, the previous in 2018 in the best actor category for Jordan Peele’s “Get Out.”
Despite having nine actors of color earning Academy Award nominations—an Oscar record for diversity in those categories—only two won. Best Makeup and Hairstyling, it was George Wolfe’s “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom”—Sergio Lopez-Rivera, Mia Neal, Jamika Wilson. The legendary Ann Roth won Best Costume for “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom.”
Also walking into the history books is “Nomadland’s” Chloé Zhao who made history becoming the second woman and the first woman of color to win an Oscar for directing. The film also won best picture.
A segment of Kaluuya’s acceptance speech (about his parents having sex) has already been turned into a meme. But on a serious note, during his speech, he thanked the cast, crew and producers behind “Judas and the Black Messiah,” and he paid tribute to Hampton and the entire Black Panther party.
Here is what winners of the 2021 Oscars had to share in the virtual press room.
Daniel Kaluuya won the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor for “Judas and the Black Messiah.”
“Thank you, God. Thank you, God. I can’t be here without your guidance and your protection. I’d like to thank my mum. Thank you so much for pouring into me. You gave me everything. You gave me your factory settings. [laughter] So I can stand at my fullest height. Um, love to my sister, love to my niece, my friends, my family, everyone I love, from London Town to Kampala. I’d like to thank my team, incredible support. Bro, we out here, yo. Man. Man. It’s good, come and dance. Ryan, Zinzi, Sev, Proximity, everyone at Proximity. Charles King, man, everyone at MACRO, Bron, Participant. Nigel. Everyone at Warner Brothers.”
Sergio Lopez-Rivera, Mia Neal and Jamika Wilson won the Oscar award for Best Makeup and Hairstyling for “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom.”
Neal and Wilson became the first African American women to win the Oscar award for Best Makeup and Hairstyling.
The trio transformed Viola Davis into Ma Rainey, styling her crown i.e. hair and makeup to give her a 1920s look. Neal was the hair department head and hair and wig designer, while Wilson is Davis’ hairstylist and Lopez-Rivera is her makeup artist.
On being the first African American women to win:
“Thank you to our ancestors who put the work in, who were denied, and never gave up.
“I stand here as Jamika and I break this glass ceiling with so much excitement for the future—because I can picture Black trans women standing up here, and Asian sisters, our Latina sisters, and Indigenous women. I know one day it won’t be unusual or groundbreaking. It will just be normal.”
“Two Distant Strangers” won the Academy Award Sunday for Best Live Action Short Film and is currently playing on Netflix. The well-crafted short film about a young African American man caught in a deadly time loop with a white cop won the Oscar for best live-action short film Sunday, bringing more attention to the hot-button issue of police killings of unarmed Black men, which has dominated national headlines this week.
Created by co-directors Travon Free and Martin Desmond Roe, and produced by the L.A.-based production company Six Feet Over who arrived just days after Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin was convicted for murder and manslaughter in the killing last year of George Floyd, which sparked protests around the world.
On why winning an Oscar for “Two Distant Strangers” is important:
“Today the police will kill three people, and tomorrow the police will kill three people, and the day after that, the police will kill three people,” Free said. “Because on average in America, the police will kill three people a day, which amounts to about 1,000 people a year. Those people disproportionately happen to be Black people.”
On dealing with the painful reality of being an African American in America:
“I had an idea while we were out protesting and marching that was spurred by how I was feeling about what I was seeing, how I was feeling about internalizing the pain of seeing so many Black people be killed at the hands of police—and thinking about the emotional roller coaster you go on every time you hear a new name or see a new story or see a new video. It put me in the mindset, this feels like the worst version of living ‘Groundhog Day.’
“And when I had that thought to myself, it was something that I couldn’t put it away. It would not go away. Because it was the pandemic and we weren’t working, we weren’t doing anything, I felt like I wanted to sit down and do something with the idea.”
Here is the full list of 2021 Oscar winners:
Best Actor in a Leading Role:
Anthony Hopkins (“The Father”)
Best Actress in a Leading Role:
Frances McDormand (“Nomadland”)
“Nomadland” (Frances McDormand, Peter Spears, Mollye Asher, Dan Janvey and Chloé Zhao, producers)
Best Original Song:
H.E.R. and Tiara Thomas
Best Original Score:
“Soul,” Trent Reznor, Atticus Ross, Jon Batiste
Best Film Editing:
“Sound of Metal,” Mikkel E.G. Nielsen
“Mank,” Erik Messerschmidt
Best Production Design:
“Mank.” Production Design: Donald Graham Burt; Set Decoration: Jan Pascale
Best Actress in a Supporting Role:
Yuh-Jung Youn (“Minari”)
Best Visual Effects:
“Tenet,” Andrew Jackson, David Lee, Andrew Lockley and Scott Fisher
Best Documentary Feature:
“My Octopus Teacher,” Pippa Ehrlich, James Reed and Craig Foster
Best Documentary Short Subject:
“Colette,” Anthony Giacchino and Alice Doyard
Best Animated Feature Film:
Best Animated Short Film:
“If Anything Happens I Love You” (Netflix)
Best Live-Action Short Film:
“Two Distant Strangers”
“Sound of Metal,” Nicolas Becker, Jaime Baksht, Michelle Couttolenc, Carlos Cortés and Phillip Bladh
Chloé Zhao (“Nomadland”)
Best Costume Design:
“Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom,” Ann Roth
Best Makeup and Hairstyling:
“Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom,” Sergio Lopez-Rivera, Mia Neal, Jamika Wilson
Best Actor in a Supporting Role:
Daniel Kaluuya (“Judas and the Black Messiah”)
Best International Feature Film:
“Another Round” (Denmark)
Best Adapted Screenplay:
“The Father,” Christopher Hampton and Florian Zeller
Best Original Screenplay:
“Promising Young Woman,” Emerald Fennell