Chinese filmmaker Chloe Zhao became only the second woman, and the first woman of color, to win the Academy Award for best director as her film Nomadland also captured the award for best picture at Sunday’s Oscars.
The film follows a woman who leaves her small town to wander the American West, meeting along the way others who have sought an itinerant life away from conventional society.
“I have always found goodness in the people I’ve met everywhere I went in the world,” Zhao said as she accepted her directing award. “This is for anyone who has the faith and the courage to hold onto the goodness in themselves and hold onto to the goodness in each other, no matter how difficult it is to do that.”
Nomadland star Frances McDormand won the Oscar for best actress. It was her third time winning the award, following her wins for Fargo in 1997, and Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri in 2018.
The award for best actor went to Anthony Hopkins for his role as a man battling dementia in the film The Father, which also won for best adapted screenplay. Hopkins first won an Oscar nearly 30 years ago.
Best original screenplay went to Emerald Fennell for Promising Young Woman, a thriller in which a woman seeks revenge against predatory men.
Typically a glamor-filled event held at the Dolby Theater in Los Angeles, the award show shifted to the city’s Union Station transit hub due to the coronavirus pandemic. Nominees were seated at lamp-lit tables around an amphitheater.
The list of nominees featured more women and more actors of color than ever before.
South Korean actress Yuh-Jung Youn won the best supporting actress award for her portrayal as the matriarch in the film Minari. She is the first Asian actress to win an Academy Award since 1957.
Best supporting actor went to Britain’s Daniel Kaluuya, who played Black Panther leader Fred Hampton in Judas and the Black Messiah.
Mia Neal and Jamika Wilson made history as the first Black women to win the Oscar for makeup and hairstyling for their work, along with Sergio Lopez-Rivera, in the film Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom.
The award for best international film went to Danish director Thomas Vinterberg’s Another Round.