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After being delayed for two months, the Oscars took place on 26 April and chose to go a different route than other award shows have chosen to do during the pandemic. Union Station in Los Angeles and the Hollywood Dolby Theatre were set up as in-person locations with some nominees in different countries being over video call. 

 

Chloé Zhao made history as the first Chinese woman and first Woman of Colour to win the award for Best Directing in her film “Nomadland” which later also took home the award for Best Picture. Zhao is only the second woman in history to win for Best Picture after Kathryn Bigelow won in 2009. It was also the first time two women were nominated in the Best Directing category as Emerald Fennell was nominated for her work on “Promising Young Woman”. In her acceptance speech, Chloé Zhao recited a Chinese poem her father taught her, saying “This is for anyone who has the faith and the courage to hold on to the goodness in themselves”. 

 

In the category Makeup and Hairstyling, Sergio-Lopez Riviera alongside Mia Neal and Jamika Wilson won for their work on “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom”. Mia and Jamika made history as the first ever Black women to win in their category. On winning Mia Neal spoke about shattering the glass ceiling. At 73 years old, Yuh-Jung Youn became the first Korean woman, and second Asian woman, to win Best Actress in a Supporting Role for “Minari”. For Best Actor in a Leading Role, Steven Yeun of “Minari” was the first Asian American man to be nominated and Riz Ahmed was the first Muslim man to be nominated for his work on “Sound of Metal”. Emerald Fennell won Best Writing (Original Screenplay) for her directorial debut of “Promising Young Woman”, nominated also for Best Picture, Best Actress for Carey Mulligan, Best Director and Best Film Editing. Fennell wrote, produced and directed and was the first woman to win for Best Screenplay since 2008. 

 

For his role as American activist Fred Hampton, chairman of the Black Panther Party, Daniel Kaluuya took home the award for Best Actor in a Supporting Role for “Judas and the Black Messiah”.  Kaluuya’s win highlights the importance for representation and racial equality. Lakeith Stanfield, who acted opposite Daniel Kaluuya, was also nominated for his work as William O’Neal in “Judas and the Black Messiah” the man who becomes an FBI informant on Fred Hampton. It was surprising to viewers to see Kaluuya and Stanfield nominated in the Supporting Actor category and not the Leading Actor category, however their work was seen as the work of an ensemble

Daniel Kaluuya gave a heart-warming speech saying “For my mom, thank you so much for pouring into me, you gave me everything. You gave me your factory settings. So I can stand at my fullest height,” He went on to thank Fred Hampton and the work he did, “When they played divide and conquer, we say unite and ascend. Thank you so much for showing me myself.” His speech then turned into a viral moment when he thanked his parent’s sex life “My mom, my dad — they had sex. It’s amazing.”

 

Tyler Perry received the Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award for his philanthropic work throughout the years. Perry helped those in need during the pandemic by providing meals. His acceptance speech made headlines as he spoke on refusing hate, "It is my hope that all of us will teach our kids — and not only to remember — just refuse hate”. 

 

As someone who’s always watched awards shows religiously I was excited to see how the Oscars would take place and although the night may have looked different to previous ceremonies, but it still featured many moments of history and representation. 

Sarah is currently a fourth year student at the University of Cape Town focusing her honours degree in Linguistics. She completed her undergrad in 2021 with a Bachelor of Arts degree majoring in Linguistics, English Literature and Media Studies. She enjoys learning languages and writing, as well as sitcoms and technology.
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