‘Nomadland’ dominates Oscars, but thunder stolen by anticlimactic finish

WTOP's Jason Fraley recaps the Oscars (Part 1)

It should have been a climactic Oscar bow for “Nomadland,” which won Best Picture, Best Actress for Frances McDormand (her third, just one shy of the record) and Best Director for Chloe Zhao (the first woman of color and the second woman ever to win the prize).

Instead, the Academy changed the order of awards to save Best Actor for last, likely a choice by producer Steven Soderbergh (“Ocean’s 11″) with fingers crossed that the late great Chadwick Boseman would win for a posthumous sendoff and a feel-good finish.

The entire thing backfired when the final award went to Anthony Hopkins (“The Father”), who became the oldest acting winner ever at age 83 — but wasn’t even there to accept it.


PHOTOS: 93rd Annual Academy Awards — no host, no virtual speeches, just Oscars


It was an awkward way to close out the 93rd annual Academy Awards, which weathered the pandemic by handing out awards at both Union Station in Los Angeles and a second location in London, as well as filming live segments at the Dolby Theater in Hollywood.

The rest of the telecast fell flat, feeling like a casual event akin to the Golden Globes rather than a prestigious culmination with all the glitz and glamor of the annual Oscar stage.

However, several of the acceptance speeches were highly entertaining.

Upon winning Best Supporting Actor for “Judas and the Black Messiah,” Daniel Kaluuya thanked slain Illinois Black Panther Party Chairman Fred Hampton by saying, “What a man.” He then thanked his parents for having sex, his mom looking mortified. Kaluuya’s win caps a stellar run of “Get Out,” “Widows,” “Black Panther” and “Queen & Slim.”

Best Supporting Actress went to Yuh-jung Youn for combining wisecracking humor and touching lullabies as the grandma in “Minari,” a poetic portrait of the American Dream. Her speech boasted zingers, saying, “I forgive you all” for mispronouncing her Korean name.

Emerald Fennell won Best Original Screenplay for her page-turning script for “Promising Young Woman,” the first woman to win in 13 years since Diablo Cody’s “Juno” (2007).

Best Adapted Screenplay went to Florian Zeller and Christopher Hampton for “The Father,” adapting Zeller’s own inventive stage play about an aging British man battling dementia.

Best Animated Feature went to “Soul,” upping Pixar’s total to 11 wins in the category. The film also won Best Original Score for Jon Batiste, Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross.

Best Original Song went to H.E.R.’s “Fight for You” from “Judas and the Black Messiah,” upsetting Leslie Odom Jr.’s “Speak Now” from Regina King’s “One Night in Miami.”

“Sound of Metal” won Best Film Editing and Best Sound by showing a heavy-metal drummer losing his hearing and entering the deaf community to learn sign language.

“Mank” won Best Cinematography and Best Production Design for its black-and-white recreation of the 1940s Hollywood studio system during the writing of “Citizen Kane.”

“Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom” won for Best Costume Design and Best Makeup & Hairstyling, the latter cementing Mia Neal and Jamika Wilson as the first Black women to win.

“Tenet” won Best Visual Effects for bringing Christopher Nolan’s palindrome vision to life.

Netflix’s “My Octopus Teacher” won Best Documentary Feature, inspiring a bizarre line: “If a man can forge a friendship with an octopus, it makes you wonder what else is possible.”

“Another Round” won Best International Feature for Danish filmmaker Thomas Vintenberg, who delivered a heartbreaking moment by revealing that his daughter was recently killed in a texting-while-driving accident. It was very fitting for the film’s live-life-to-the-fullest theme.

The most unifying speech came from Tyler Perry, who received an honorary Oscar for philanthropy by feeding folks during the pandemic: “I refuse to hate anyone because they’re Black, LGBT, a police officer or Asian. Anyone who wants to refuse hate and blanket judgements, meet me in the middle. The middle is where change happens.”

In the end, it was an anticlimactic finish to a bizarre Oscars amid a unique pandemic.

“Please watch our movie on the largest screen possible,” McDormand said. “Then one day very, very soon, take everyone you know into a theater, shoulder to shoulder in that dark space, and watch every film that’s represented here tonight.”

WTOP's Jason Fraley recaps the Oscars (Part 2)

Jason Fraley

Hailed by The Washington Post for “his savantlike ability to name every Best Picture winner in history," Jason Fraley began at WTOP as Morning Drive Writer in 2008, film critic in 2011 and Entertainment Editor in 2014, providing daily arts coverage on-air and online.

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Producers Peter Spears, from left, Frances McDormand, Chloe Zhao, Mollye Asher and Dan Janvey, winners of the award for best picture for “Nomadland,” pose in the press room at the Oscars on Sunday, April 25, 2021, at Union Station in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Chris Pizzello, Pool)

Producers Frances McDormand, left, and Chloe Zhao, winners of the award for best picture for "Nomadland," pose in the press room at the Oscars on Sunday, April 25, 2021, at Union Station in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Chris Pizzello, Pool)
Producers Frances McDormand, left, and Chloe Zhao, winners of the award for best picture for “Nomadland,” pose in the press room at the Oscars on Sunday, April 25, 2021, at Union Station in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Chris Pizzello, Pool)

Anthony Hopkins
FILE – In this Feb. 15, 2011 file photo, Anthony Hopkins smiles while posing for photos prior to the premiere of his new film “The Rite” in Mexico City. “Nomadland” has won four prizes, including best picture, at the British Academy Film Awards on Sunday, April 11, 2021. The film’s director, Chloe Zhao, became only the second woman to win the best director trophy, and star Frances McDormand was named best actress. “Nomadland” also took the cinematography prize on Sunday. Emerald Fennell’s revenge comedy “Promising Young Woman” was named best British film, while the best actor trophy went to 83-year-old Anthony Hopkins for playing a man grappling with dementia in “The Father.” An event that was criticized in the recent past with the label #BAFTAsSoWhite rewarded a diverse group of talents, during a pandemic-curbed ceremony at London’s Royal Albert Hall. (AP Photo/Alexandre Meneghini, File)

Director/Producer Chloe Zhao, winner of the award for best picture for “Nomadland,” poses in the press room at the Oscars on Sunday, April 25, 2021, at Union Station in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Chris Pizzello, Pool)

Emerald Fennell, winner of the award for best original screenplay for “Promising Young Woman,” poses in the press room at the Oscars on Sunday, April 25, 2021, at Union Station in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Chris Pizzello, Pool)

Mikkel E. G. Nielsen, winner of the award for best film editing for “Sound of Metal,” poses in the press room at the Oscars on Sunday, April 25, 2021, at Union Station in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Chris Pizzello, Pool)

Erik Messerschmidt, winner of the award for best cinematography for “Mank”, poses in the press room at the Oscars on Sunday, April 25, 2021, at Union Station in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Chris Pizzello, Pool)

Donald Graham Burt, left, and Jan Pascale pose in the press room with the award for best production design for “Mank” at the Oscars on Sunday, April 25, 2021, at Union Station in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Chris Pizzello, Pool)

Yuh-Jung Youn, winner of the award for best actress in a supporting role for “Minari,” poses in the press room at the Oscars on Sunday, April 25, 2021, at Union Station in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Chris Pizzello, Pool)

Daniel Kaluuya, winner of the award for best actor in a supporting role for “Judas and the Black Messiah,” poses in the press room at the Oscars on Sunday, April 25, 2021, at Union Station in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Chris Pizzello, Pool)

Mia Neal, from left, Jamika Wilson and Sergio Lopez-Rivera, winners of the award for best makeup and hairstyling for “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom,” pose in the press room at the Oscars on Sunday, April 25, 2021, at Union Station in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Chris Pizzello, Pool)

Michael Govier, left, and Will McCormack pose in the press room with the award for best animated short film for “If Anything Happens I Love You at the Oscars on Sunday, April 25, 2021, at Union Station in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Chris Pizzello, Pool)

Dana Murray, left, and Pete Docter, winners of the award for animated feature film for “Soul,” pose in the press room at the Oscars on Sunday, April 25, 2021, at Union Station in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Chris Pizzello, Pool)

Martin Desmond Roe, left, and Travon Free, winners of the award for best live action short film for “Two Distant Strangers” pose in the press room at the Oscars on Sunday, April 25, 2021, at Union Station in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Chris Pizzello, Pool)

Florian Zeller smiles as he holds his Oscars statuette after winning the Best Adapted Screenplay for the ‘The Father’ at a screening of the Oscars on Monday April 26, 2021 in Paris, France. (AP Photo/Lewis Joly, Pool)

Phillip Bladh, from left, Carlos Cortes, Michellee Couttolenc and Jaime Baksht, winners of the award for best sound for “Sound of Metal,” pose in the press room at the Oscars on Sunday, April 25, 2021, at Union Station in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Chris Pizzello, Pool)

Nicolas Becker smiles as he holds his Oscar statuette won for Best Sound for ‘Sound of Metal’ at a screening of the Oscars on Monday April 26, 2021 in Paris, France. (AP Photo/Lewis Joly, Pool)

A view of the red carpet appears before the start of the Oscars on Sunday, April 25, 2021, at Union Station in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Chris Pizzello, Pool)
A view of the red carpet appears before the start of the Oscars on Sunday, April 25, 2021, at Union Station in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Chris Pizzello, Pool)

Questlove arrives at the Oscars on Sunday, April 25, 2021, at Union Station in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Chris Pizzello, Pool)

Questlove arrives at the Oscars on Sunday, April 25, 2021, at Union Station in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Chris Pizzello, Pool)

Vanessa Kirby arrives at the Oscars on Sunday, April 25, 2021, at Union Station in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Chris Pizzello, Pool)

Andra Day arrives at the Oscars on Sunday, April 25, 2021, at Union Station in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Chris Pizzello, Pool)

Amanda Seyfried arrives at the Oscars on Sunday, April 25, 2021, at Union Station in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Chris Pizzello, Pool)

H.E.R. arrives at the Oscars on Sunday, April 25, 2021, at Union Station in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Chris Pizzello, Pool)

Angela Bassett arrives at the Oscars on Sunday, April 25, 2021, at Union Station in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Chris Pizzello, Pool)

Zendaya arrives at the Oscars on Sunday, April 25, 2021, at Union Station in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Chris Pizzello, Pool)

Sacha Baron Cohen and Isla Fisher arrive to attend a screening of the Oscars on Monday April 26, 2021 in Sydney, Australia. (AP Photo/Rick Rycroft, Pool)

Tyler Perry arrives at the Oscars on Sunday, April 25, 2021, at Union Station in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Chris Pizzello, Pool)

Daniel Kaluuya
Daniel Kaluuya arrives at the Oscars on Sunday, April 25, 2021, at Union Station in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Chris Pizzello, Pool)

Steven Yeun, Joana Pak
Steven Yeun, left, and Joana Pak arrive at the Oscars on Sunday, April 25, 2021, at Union Station in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Chris Pizzello, Pool)

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Producers Frances McDormand, left, and Chloe Zhao, winners of the award for best picture for "Nomadland," pose in the press room at the Oscars on Sunday, April 25, 2021, at Union Station in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Chris Pizzello, Pool)
Anthony Hopkins
A view of the red carpet appears before the start of the Oscars on Sunday, April 25, 2021, at Union Station in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Chris Pizzello, Pool)
Daniel Kaluuya
Steven Yeun, Joana Pak

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