Chloe Zhao, the director of "Nomadland," was named best director, being the first woman of color to do so and helping to make the Oscars ceremony one of the most diverse in the academy's history. Six years after #OscarsSoWhite used social media to highlight racism in Hollywood, the acting awards recognized a diverse pool of talent, including a Black man and an Asian woman.
The Oscars faced obstacles, despite the fact that the pool of winners was expanding. Because of the coronavirus pandemic, the ceremony had to be scaled down, with just about 200 people attending in person at Union Station in Los Angeles. It was two months late, and there were no blockbusters among the films vying for top honors. This means that the audience for Sunday's ABC broadcast would be even lower than last year's record low.
The ceremony was held without a host this year. However, Regina King, an actress, and producer, spoke about the pandemic's casualties while praising Hollywood's never-ending ability to entertain and distract in her opening remarks.
“We are here to celebrate tonight,” she said. “Everyone had a difficult year, but our love of movies helped us get through it. It helped us feel less alone and brought us closer together while we were apart.”
Despite the fact that the past year was dominated by the rise in popularity of streaming platforms, and that theaters will be closed for most of 2020, conventional studios nevertheless won a slew of awards. Emerald Fennell won best original screenplay for “Promising Young Woman,” a Universal-Focus Features film about a woman seeking vengeance for the rape of her friend, in addition to Disney's top honors. For his role in “Judas and the Black Messiah,” about the FBI's attempts to penetrate the Black Panthers, Daniel Kaluuya won best supporting actor. Warner Bros. distributed the film, which premiered at the Sundance Film Festival. For "Soul," Disney won the Academy Award for Best Animated Film.
Streaming sites, on the other hand, kept their own. For the first time, films that premiered online were eligible for the Academy Award. Netflix Inc. has the most nominations and two opportunities to win the best picture in “The Trial of the Chicago 7” and “Mank,” which received a boost during the pandemic lockdown. Despite several nominations, it has never received the best picture award.
The streaming service took home the award for best documentary feature for the film "My Octopus Teacher," as well as the award for best animated short for "If Anything Happens I Love You." For "Mank," it also took home two awards, including best production design and best cinematography.
Disney+, which has tens of millions of new users, has recently presented a greater challenge to Netflix, and the best picture award could give it another boost. As part of its purchase of 20th Century Fox, the studio acquired “Nomadland” from Searchlight Pictures. The last time it won best picture was in 2003 when the musical "Chicago" won.
Another Disney unit, ABC, won the night by selling out advertisements for the evening's ceremony. Despite low viewing expectations, a single ad cost about $2 million, making it one of the most expensive spots on television. The network aggressively marketed the show in an attempt to offset viewer losses from last year's record-low audience of about 24 million viewers.