Brad Pitt and Youn Yuh-jung at Oscars 2021. (Image courtesy: AFP)
- 'Nomadland' broke a number of Oscars records on Sunday
- Chloe Zhao became the second female director and first of color to win
- McDormand became the fourth woman to win at least three acting Oscars
An Oscars like no other crowned Nomadland best picture, experimented with the ceremony's traditional format and shone a spotlight on diversity while also honoring more established stars.
Here are five takeaways from Hollywood's biggest night on Sunday:
- Train wreck? -
Shifting the Oscars from Hollywood's Dolby Theatre to a train station in downtown Los Angeles provided for more social distancing and outdoor space -- but also gave the whole ceremony an odd cabaret lounge vibe.
Dim lighting may have improved the ambience in the room, but made it difficult to pick out some of the nominees in attendance.
While guests largely without masks sat tucked away in booths and alcoves, DJ Questlove was spinning the decks, including for an unexpected and bizarre music trivia segment that featured a dancing Glenn Close just before the final prizes.
"They didn't ask me, but if they had, I would say... we should add a karaoke bar," joked Frances McDormand as she accepted best actress, noting the talented singers in the room such as Hamilton star Leslie Odom, Jr.
The night then ended on a particularly anti-climactic note that some viewers compared to the infamous 2017 Oscars incident when best picture was accidentally awarded to the wrong film.
This time, producers decided to end with the best actor prize -- but sadly, 83-year-old winner Anthony Hopkins was 5,000 miles away in Wales, presumably asleep, meaning there was no victory speech and the show ended with a whimper.
- Brad and Yuh-jung -
A year after South Korea's "Parasite" broke the Oscars language barrier with its stunning best picture win, it seems some in Hollywood are still struggling with their foreign language phonetics.
Joking about the various mispronunciations of her name, "Minari" best supporting actress winner Youn Yuh-jung told the audience: "Tonight you are all forgiven."
Fortunately, one person who did not stumble over Youn's name was Brad Pitt, whose company produced the Korean immigrant drama.
Pitt presented the award and later helped the slightly starstruck 73-year-old actress off the stage.
"He didn't mispronounce my name... I couldn't believe that he was speaking to me when he announced my name. So then I... maybe I just blacked out a couple of minutes, a couple of seconds or so," she said backstage.
Asked if she would like to star alongside Pitt one day, Youn added: "That will never happen with my English and age, you know. I don't think so."
- Racial justice -
Racism and police violence were constant themes of the night, beginning with Regina King's opening monologue expressing relief at the conviction of Minneapolis cop Derek Chauvin for the murder of George Floyd.
"I know that a lot of you people at home want to reach for your remote when you feel like Hollywood is preaching to you," she said.
"But as a mother of a black son, I know the fear that so many live with, and no amount of fame or fortune changes that, okay?"
Others felt similarly compelled to speak out -- winning short film co-directors Travon Free and Martin Desmond Roe ("Two Distant Strangers") wore suits lined with the names of those killed by police, and quoted statistics on killings by law enforcement.
"As long as I'm standing, I'm going to fight for us," added singer-songwriter H.E.R. after her song for civil rights drama Judas and the Black Messiah won.
- Vinterberg's tears -
The night's most heartfelt moment came early on as Thomas Vinterberg dedicated his best international film win to his daughter, who was killed in a car crash just days into production of Another Round.
"We ended up making this movie for her, as her monument," said the Danish director.
She was killed by "someone looking into his cell phone" on a highway, recalled Vinterberg, who said his daughter "felt seen by" and was "supposed to be in" the movie.
"So, Ida, this is a miracle that just happened. And you're a part of this miracle. Maybe you've been pulling some strings somewhere, I don't know. But this one is for you."
- Nomadland howls explained -
"Nomadland" broke a number of Oscars records on Sunday, including Chloe Zhao becoming the second female director and first of color to win.
Its star McDormand moved into an elite group as the fourth woman to win at least three acting Oscars, alongside Ingrid Bergman, Meryl Streep and Katharine Hepburn, who has four.
McDormand was also a producer on the movie, entitling her to yet another Oscar for the movie's best picture win -- something she celebrated by howling loudly on stage.
"The howling is for our production sound mixer Wolf... who we unfortunately lost recently," explained Zhao backstage, who had also worked with the late Michael Wolf Snyder on her previous films.
(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)