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All the Surprise Winners from the ‘History-Making’ 2021 Oscars

While it may be dwindling in popularity or even relevance, the 93rd annual Academy Awards was a history-making night for the film industry. For the first time in Oscars’ history, an all-Black producing team was nominated for Best Picture, while two actors of Asian descent were nominated for Best Actor and two female directors were up for the top gong. In an era of diversity and inclusion, the 2021 Academy Awards delivered in bucketloads and there were a few surprises in the mix.

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For the first time in history, a woman of colour was named Best Director, with Nomadland‘s Chloe Zhao going home with the major award. The victory capped off an incredible night for the filmmaker, whose winning piece, just her third full-length feature was also named Best Picture. Filmed on a budget of less than USD$5 million and featuring a cast of predominantly non-professional actors, Nomadland stood up as an understated and breathtaking film amongst the nominees, which also included the Riz Ahmed-led The Sound of Metal and the Anthony Hopkins drama The Father.

It wasn’t all heartache for Hopkins, however. The esteemed actor took home the Best Actor award for his work on The Father, in a surprising announcement. The late Chadwick Boseman was initial expected to win the award for his stunning portrayal of Levee Green in Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom, however, was pipped to the post by Hopkins. The surprises didn’t stop there, either.

Anthony hopkins the father

In a rather bizarre move, the Academy switched the order of proceedings, leaving the Best Actor award until last, a spot usually reserved for the penultimate Best Picture accolade. Compounding the confusion was the fact that Hopkins wasn’t even present for the event. Instead, the slightly awkward and much-debated awards ceremony concluded with a rather anti-climactic reading of Hopkins’ name by past winner Joaquin Phoenix. On the female side, Frances McDormand won the Oscar for best actress for her role in Nomadland, beating out other nominees Viola Davis, Carey Mulligan, Vanessa Kirby and Andra Day.

Suffice to say, the significance of the Academy Awards in the film industry has dwindled in recent years. The glitz and glamour of the red carpet event, combined with the ongoing transition of films to streaming platforms have changed the way the public communicates and engages with entertainment. In the days leading up to the 93rd Academy Awards, many movie buffs questioned the validity and relevance of the ceremony in 2021. Sadly, the odd spectacle that eventuated did little to quash their concerns.

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Oscar Winners 2021

With the 93rd annual Academy Awards now done and dusted, the trophies handed out and the plaques engraved, the industry moves forward. Here is a list of every 2021 Oscar winner, highlighted in bold.

Best Picture

Nomadland
The Father
Judas and the Black Messiah
Mank
Minari
Promising Young Woman
Sound of Metal
The Trial of the Chicago 7

Best Actor in a Leading Role

Anthony Hopkins (The Father)
Riz Ahmed, “Sound of Metal”
Chadwick Boseman, “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom”
Gary Oldman, “Mank”
Steven Yeun, “Minari”

Best Actress in a Leading Role

Frances McDormand (Nomadland)
Viola Davis, “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom”
Andra Day, “The United States vs. Billie Holiday”
Vanessa Kirby, “Pieces of a Woman”
Carey Mulligan, “Promising Young Woman”

Best Director

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

Best Actress in a Supporting Role

You-Jung Youn (Minari)
Maria Bakalova (Borat Subsequent Moviefilm)
Glenn Close (Hillbilly Elegy)
Olivia Colman (The Father)
Amanda Seyfried (Mank)

Best Actor in a Supporting Role

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

Best adapted screenplay

The Father
Borat Subsequent Moviefilm
The Father
Nomadland
One Night in Miami
The White Tiger

Best Original Screenplay

Promising Young Woman
Judas and the Black Messiah
Minari
Sound of Metal
The Trial of the Chicago 7

Best Animated Feature Film

Soul
Onward
Over the Moon
A Shaun the Sheep Movie: Farmageddon
Wolfwalkers

Best International Feature Film

Another Round 
Better Days
Collective
The Man Who Sold His Skin
Quo Vadis, Aida?

Best Sound

Sound of Metal
Greyhound
Mank
News of the World
Soul

Best Costume Design

Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom
Emma
Mank
Mulan
Pinocchio

Best Makeup and Hairstyling

Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom
Emma
Hillbilly Elegy
Mank
Pinocchio

Best Live Action Short Film

Two Distant Strangers
Feeling Through
The Letter Room
The Present
White Eye

Best Animated Short Film

If Anything Happens I Love You
Genius Loci
Opera
Yes-People

Best Documentary Feature

My Octopus Teacher (Netflix)
Collective
Crip Camp
The Mole Agent
Time

Best Documentary Short Subject

Colette
A Concerto is a Conversation
Do Not Split
Hunger Ward
A Love Song For Latasha

Best Original Song

‘Fight for You,’ (Judas and the Black Messiah)
‘Husavik (My Hometown),” “Eurovision Song Contest: The Story of Fire Saga’
‘Io Si (Seen),” “The Life Ahead’
Speak Now,” “One Night in Miami’
‘Hear My Voice,” “The Trial of the Chicago 7’

Best Visual Effects

Tenet
Love and Monsters
The Midnight Sky
Mulan
The One and Only Ivan

Best Cinematography

Mank
Judas and the Black Messiah
News of the World
Nomadland
The Trial of the Chicago 7

Best Production Design

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

Best Film Editing

Sound of Metal
The Father
Nomadland
Promising Young Woman
Sound of Metal
The Trial of the Chicago 7

Best Original Score

Soul
Da 5 Bloods
Mank
Minari
News of the World

Still have questions? We’ve got you covered.

General FAQs

Who won best actor at the 2021 Academy Awards?

Despite the late Chadwick Boseman going into the event as the odds-in favourite, perennial winner Sir Anthony Hopkins was crowned Best Actor at the 93 annual Academy Awards for his work on the film The Father.

What was the Best Picture for 2021?

At the 93rd annual Academy Awards, Nomadland was named Best Picture, knocking off other nominees such as The Sound of Metal and The Father.

Who won Best Director for 2021?

At the Academy Awards in April, Nomadland director Chloe Zhao was named Best Director. The momentous occasion marked the first time a woman of colour had taken home the award.