Chloé Zhao and Yuh-Jung Youn Make History

Chloé Zhao and Yuh-Jung Youn made history last night at the 93rd Academy Awards held at Union Station and Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles. Zhao was the first woman of color, the first Asian woman and the second woman to win best director. Youn was the first South Korean woman to win an Oscar.

Although the black-and-white film “Mank” about a rascally alcoholic writer creating the Academy Award-winning “Citizen Kane” had the most nominations (10), “Nomadland” ended the night with the most wins. The film was adapted for a non-fiction book by Jessica Bruder about a different class of migrant worker. The film centered on a widow who must learn about van life and living on the road after the town factory closes down. Out of six nominations, “Nomadland” received three awards: Best Picture, Best Director and Best Actress (Frances McDormand).

In her acceptance speech, Zhao said, “This is for anyone who has the faith and the courage to hold on to the goodness in themselves and hold on to the goodness in each other no matter how difficult it is to do that.” Zhao had not only directed, but written the screenplay for which she received a nomination for Best Adapted Screenplay, but that award went to Christopher Hampton and Florian Zeller for “The Father, which was based on Zeller’s own play. A total of seven women have been nominated for best director, including two this year. Kathryn Bigelow was the first winner for the 2009 “The Hurt Locker.”

Youn won a Best Supporting Actress Oscar for her role as the feisty grandmother in “Minari.” Youn appeared stunned, saying, “I cannot believe I’m here.” She did manage to thank one of the producers by saying, “Mr. Brad Pitt, finally! Nice to meet you. Where were you when we were filming, in person?” Seriously, if Pitt were producing a movie, I’d want to see him, too.

The first Asian woman to win an Oscar was the Japanese actress Miyoshi Umeki (梅木 美代志) in 1957 for her supporting role in the Korean War drama, “Sayonara” which starred Marlon Brando. At 73, Youn isn’t the older winner, Peggy Ashcroft was 77 when she won for her role in the 1984 British Raj drama “A Passage to India.”

Isaac Lee Chung’s “Minari” had also been nominated for six Oscars, including Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actor (Steven Yeun), Best Original Screenplay and Best Original Score. But Youn was its only win on Oscar night.

Pakistani Brit Riz Ahmed (“Sound of Metal”) and Yeun lost to Anthony Hopkins (“The Father”). Hopkins is the oldest Best Actor Oscar winner at 83. This was Hopkins sixth Oscar nomination, fourth for Best Actor and his second win. He won his first Oscar in 1992 for “The Silence of the Lambs.” Ahmed received some positive kudos on Twitter for his red carpet attentiveness to his wife, California-born Indian American Fatima Farheen Mirza.

Iranian American Ramin Bahrani was nominated (Best Adapted Screenplay) for his tale about young Asian Indian’s rise out of poverty, “The White Tiger,” but lost to Christopher Hampton and Florian Zeller who won for “The Father.”

Oscars and Diversity

Looking at 12 categories (directing, best picture, best actor and actress, best supporting actor and actress, adapted screenplay, original screenplay, animated feature, documentary feature, original music score and original song), there was diversity, even if there were people on Twitter complaining #OscarsSoWhite. The complaints seemed to focus on Hopkins win over the late Chadwick Boseman (“Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom”).

Looking at 12 categories (directing, best picture, best actor and actress, best supporting actor and actress, adapted screenplay, original screenplay, animated feature, documentary feature, original music score and original song), there was diversity, even if there were people on Twitter complaining #OscarsSoWhite. The complaints seemed to focus on Hopkins win over the late Chadwick Boseman (“Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom”).

A female director won, the Best Picture had a woman as the central character, Emerald Fennel won for Best Original Screenplay (“Promising Young Woman”) and two women (H.E.R and Tiara Thomas with D’Mile) wrote the Best Original Song “Fight for You.” That’s about 50 percent representation.  In categories where gender wasn’t an issue, more women were nominated than ever before.

The two acting awards went to women over 50. Frances McDormance is 63 and Youn is 73. She has been nominated for acting Oscars six times and “Nomadland” is her third win after her 1997 win for “Fargo,” and her more recent 2018 win for “Three Billboards Outside of Ebbing, Missouri.” All for Best Actress. The only actress who has won more Oscars for Best Actress is Katharine Hepburn (12 nominations and four wins). Hepburn won Best Actress for the 1982 “On Golden Pond,” the 1969 “The Lion in Winter,” the 1968 “Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner” and the 1934 “Morning Glory.” Meryl Streep has been nominated 17 times, but only won twice (for the 2012 “The Iron Lady” and for the 1983 “Sophie’s Choice”).

Black people were represented in four of the 12 categories (33 percent) while Latino/Hispanic were only represented in one of the 12 (8 percent). Asians were represented in three of the 12 categories (25 percent). H.E.R. Is Filipina (and Black). Even if we limited our statistics to the acting categories only, which is what the original #OscarsSoWhite was about, the figure (1 in four or 25 percent) would still be above the representation within the national population (13 percent). On Twitter there were some complaints about only one Black woman winning Best Actress (Halle Berry for the 2002 “Monster’s Ball”), however, there are other things to consider such as Latino representation. Latinos make up 19 percent of the US population and 49 percent of the LA County population compared to Black and African Americans who make up only 13 percent of the US population and 9 percent of LA County.

According to my information no Latina/Hispanic actress has won a Best Actress Oscar. Four have been nominated: Fernanda Montenegro for the 1998 “Central Station,” Salma Hayek for the 2002 “Frida,” Catalina Sandino Moreno for the 2004 “Maria Full of Grace” and Yalitza Aparcio” for the 2018 “Roma.” One Latino actor, the Puerto Rico-born José Ferrer won Best Actor (1950) for “Joan of Arc.” Two Latinos, Mexican American Anthony Quinn (twice–once for the 1952 “Viva Zapata!” and in 1956 for “Lust for Life”) and Puerto Rican Benicio del Toro (the 2000 “Traffic”) won Best Supporting. Two women have won Best Supporting Actress Oscars: Rita Moreno (1961 for “West Side Story”) and Lupita Nyong’o (2013 for “12 Years a Slave”).

For Asian Americans, Best Actor Oscars have been won by Yul Brynner (born in an Asian part of Russia and he was reportedly part Mongolian) for the 1956 “The King and I,” and F. Murray Abraham (who is part Syrian) for the 1984 “Amadeus.” No East Asian American has won. The first actor of Indian descent to win Best Actor was Brit Ben Kingsley.

Best Actress (“Black Swan”) has been won by Natalie Portman who was born in Israel. Haing S. Ngor won a Best Supporting Actor for the 1984 “The Killing Fields.”

Directing Oscars were won by Ang Lee (“Brokeback Mountain,” 2005 and “Life of Pi,” 2012) and Bong Joon-ho for “Parasite.”

Of the 12 categories, eight wins represented diversity for 66 percent. Outside of those 12 categories, Mia Neal and Jamika Wilson (“Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom”) became the first Black women to win an Oscar for makeup and hairstyle.

Netflix backed seven winners out of 36 nominations. The Walt Disney Company received a total of five Academy Awards which includes “Nomadland.”

The full list of winners:


Here is the full list of 2021 Oscar winners:

Best Actor in a Leading Role

Riz Ahmed (“Sound of Metal”)

Chadwick Boseman (“Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom”)

Anthony Hopkins (“The Father”) (WINNER)

Gary Oldman (“Mank”)

Steven Yeun (“Minari”)

Best Actress in a Leading Role

Viola Davis (“Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom”)

Andra Day (“The United States v. Billie Holiday”)

Vanessa Kirby (“Pieces of a Woman”)

Frances McDormand (“Nomadland”) (WINNER)

Carey Mulligan (“Promising Young Woman”)

Best Picture

“The Father” (David Parfitt, Jean-Louis Livi and Philippe Carcassonne, producers)

“Judas and the Black Messiah” (Shaka King, Charles D. King and Ryan Coogler, producers)

“Mank” (Ceán Chaffin, Eric Roth and Douglas Urbanski, producers)

“Minari” (Christina Oh, producer)

“Nomadland” (Frances McDormand, Peter Spears, Mollye Asher, Dan Janvey and Chloé Zhao, producers) (WINNER) 

“Promising Young Woman” (Ben Browning, Ashley Fox, Emerald Fennell and Josey McNamara, producers)

“Sound of Metal” (Bert Hamelinck and Sacha Ben Harroche, producers)

“The Trial of the Chicago 7” (Marc Platt and Stuart Besser, producers)

Best Original Song

“Fight for You,” (“Judas and the Black Messiah”). Music by H.E.R. and Dernst Emile II; Lyric by H.E.R. and Tiara Thomas (WINNER)

“Hear My Voice,” (“The Trial of the Chicago 7”). Music by Daniel Pemberton; Lyric by Daniel Pemberton and Celeste Waite

“Húsavík,” (“Eurovision Song Contest”). Music and Lyric by Savan Kotecha, Fat Max Gsus and Rickard Göransson

“Io Si (Seen),” (“The Life Ahead”). Music by Diane Warren; Lyric by Diane Warren and Laura Pausini

“Speak Now,” (“One Night in Miami”). Music and Lyric by Leslie Odom, Jr. and Sam Ashworth

Best Original Score

“Da 5 Bloods,” Terence Blanchard

“Mank,” Trent Reznor, Atticus Ross

“Minari,” Emile Mosseri

“News of the World,” James Newton Howard

“Soul,” Trent Reznor, Atticus Ross, Jon Batiste (WINNER)

Best Film Editing

“The Father,” Yorgos Lamprinos

“Nomadland,” Chloé Zhao

“Promising Young Woman,” Frédéric Thoraval

“Sound of Metal,” Mikkel E.G. Nielsen (WINNER)

“The Trial of the Chicago 7,” Alan Baumgarten

Best Cinematography

“Judas and the Black Messiah,” Sean Bobbitt

“Mank,” Erik Messerschmidt (WINNER)

“News of the World,” Dariusz Wolski

“Nomadland,” Joshua James Richards

“The Trial of the Chicago 7,” Phedon Papamichael

Best Production Design

“The Father.” Production Design: Peter Francis; Set Decoration: Cathy Featherstone

“Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom.” Production Design: Mark Ricker; Set Decoration: Karen O’Hara and Diana Stoughton

“Mank.” Production Design: Donald Graham Burt; Set Decoration: Jan Pascale (WINNER)

“News of the World.” Production Design: David Crank; Set Decoration: Elizabeth Keenan

“Tenet.” Production Design: Nathan Crowley; Set Decoration: Kathy Lucas

Best Actress in a Supporting Role

Maria Bakalova (‘Borat Subsequent Moviefilm”)

Glenn Close (“Hillbilly Elegy”)

Olivia Colman (“The Father”)

Amanda Seyfried (“Mank”)

Yuh-Jung Youn (“Minari”) (WINNER)

Best Visual Effects

“Love and Monsters,” Matt Sloan, Genevieve Camilleri, Matt Everitt and Brian Cox

“The Midnight Sky,” Matthew Kasmir, Christopher Lawrence, Max Solomon and David Watkins

“Mulan,” Sean Faden, Anders Langlands, Seth Maury and Steve Ingram

“The One and Only Ivan,” Nick Davis, Greg Fisher, Ben Jones and Santiago Colomo Martinez

“Tenet,” Andrew Jackson, David Lee, Andrew Lockley and Scott Fisher (WINNER)

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 (WINNER)

“Time,” Garrett Bradley, Lauren Domino and Kellen Quinn

Best Documentary Short Subject

“Colette,” Anthony Giacchino and Alice Doyard (WINNER)

“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 Animated Feature Film

“Onward” (Pixar)

“Over the Moon” (Netflix)

“A Shaun the Sheep Movie: Farmageddon” (Netflix)

“Soul” (Pixar) (WINNER)

“Wolfwalkers” (Apple TV Plus/GKIDS)

Best Animated Short Film

“Burrow” (Disney Plus/Pixar)

“Genius Loci” (Kazak Productions)

“If Anything Happens I Love You” (Netflix) (WINNER)

“Opera” (Beasts and Natives Alike)

“Yes-People” (CAOZ hf. Hólamói)

Best Live-Action Short Film

“Feeling Through”

“The Letter Room”

“The Present”

“Two Distant Strangers” (WINNER)

“White Eye”

Best Sound

“Greyhound,” Warren Shaw, Michael Minkler, Beau Borders and David Wyman

“Mank,” Ren Klyce, Jeremy Molod, David Parker, Nathan Nance and Drew Kunin

“News of the World,” Oliver Tarney, Mike Prestwood Smith, William Miller and John Pritchett

“Soul,” Ren Klyce, Coya Elliott and David Parker

“Sound of Metal,” Nicolas Becker, Jaime Baksht, Michelle Couttolenc, Carlos Cortés and Phillip Bladh (WINNER)

Best Director

Thomas Vinterberg (“Another Round”)

David Fincher (“Mank”)

Lee Isaac Chung (“Minari”)

Chloé Zhao (“Nomadland”) (WINNER)

Emerald Fennell (“Promising Young Woman”)

Best Costume Design

“Emma,” Alexandra Byrne

“Mank,” Trish Summerville

“Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom,” Ann Roth (WINNER)

“Mulan,” Bina Daigeler

“Pinocchio,” Massimo Cantini Parrini

Best Makeup and Hairstyling

“Emma,” Marese Langan, Laura Allen, Claudia Stolze

“Hillbilly Elegy,” Eryn Krueger Mekash, Patricia Dehaney, Matthew Mungle

“Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom,” Sergio Lopez-Rivera, Mia Neal, Jamika Wilson (WINNER)

“Mank,” Kimberley Spiteri, Gigi Williams, Colleen LaBaff

“Pinocchio,” Mark Coulier, Dalia Colli, Francesco Pegoretti

Best Actor in a Supporting Role

Sacha Baron Cohen (“The Trial of the Chicago 7”)

Daniel Kaluuya (“Judas and the Black Messiah”) (WINNER)

Leslie Odom Jr. (“One Night in Miami”)

Paul Raci (“Sound of Metal”)

Lakeith Stanfield (“Judas and the Black Messiah”)

Best International Feature Film

“Another Round” (Denmark) (WINNER)

“Better Days” (Hong Kong)

“Collective” (Romania)

“The Man Who Sold His Skin” (Tunisia)

“Quo Vadis, Aida?” (Bosnia and Herzegovina)

Best Adapted Screenplay

“Borat Subsequent Moviefilm.” 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,” Christopher Hampton and Florian Zeller (WINNER)

“Nomadland,” Chloé Zhao

“One Night in Miami,” Kemp Powers

“The White Tiger,” Ramin Bahrani

Best Original Screenplay

“Judas and the Black Messiah.” Screenplay by Will Berson, Shaka King; Story by Will Berson, Shaka King, Kenny Lucas, Keith Lucas

“Minari,” Lee Isaac Chung

“Promising Young Woman,” Emerald Fennell (WINNER)

“Sound of Metal.” Screenplay by Darius Marder, Abraham Marder; Story by Darius Marder, Derek Cianfrance

“The Trial of the Chicago 7,” Aaron Sorkin

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