The 93rd Annual Academy Awards took place Sunday night from Union Station in Los Angeles, where socially distanced seating was set up to enable guests to go maskless. Other guests appeared from the BFI Southbank in London as the Academy’s U.K. satellite event, while some segments also took place at the Oscars’ traditional home of the Dolby Theatre in Hollywood.
Although there were very few LGBTQ-inclusive nominees this year, the nominees and winners were notable for being more racially diverse than in years past. Although the show went hostless for the third year in a row, Questlove served as the house DJ and emcee, with Regina King opening the show and presenting the first categories.
Travon Free, a Black bisexual man, won an Oscar for his Live Action Short Two Distant Strangers, a film that deals with the subject of police violence. Free gave an impassioned speech asking people not to be indifferent to the struggles of Black Americans.
Mia Neal, winning an Oscar as part of the team for the LGBTQ-inclusive film Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom (she and co-winner Jamika Wilson were the first Black women to ever win in this category), shouted out Black transgender women from the stage. “Because one day I can picture Black trans women standing up here… and Asian sisters, and our Latina sisters, and Indigenous people,” she said in her acceptance speech. “One day it will not be unusual or groundbreaking, it will just be normal.” She ended her speech in tribute, “To the spirit of Ma Rainey.” Ma Rainey, played by Viola Davis, was a queer woman and is depicted as such in the film.
Chloé Zhao, a director who was born in China, made history by winning Best Director for Nomadland. She is the second woman—as well as the first woman of Asian descent and the first woman of color—to do so. Kathryn Bigelow was the first woman ever to win Best Director, back in 2010 for The Hurt Locker.
Two out of the four acting winners for the night were people of color; Daniel Kaluuya won Best Supporting Actor for Judas and The Black Messiah, and Youn Yuh-jung won Best Supporting Actress for Minari. (the latter’s hilarious speech was one of the highlights of the night)
Bryan Cranston presented a segment from the Dolby Theatre honoring the Motion Picture Television Fund (MPTF) with this year’s Humanitarian Award. It was the first time an organization, and not a person, received the award. While also honoring 70 vaccinated front-line workers in person, a gay hair and makeup artist was recognized in a pre-taped video as one of the beneficiaries of the MPTF.
Tyler Perry, also receiving a Humanitarian Award, gave a shout-out to the LGBTQ community, when speaking about “refusing hate” during his speech.
In a surprise twist at the end of the broadcast, the Best Picture winner (Nomadland) was announced before Best Actress and Best Actor. Frances McDormand won for the former (for Nomadland) and, in a surprise twist, Anthony Hopkins won for the latter (for The Father) over the heavily favored late Chadwick Boseman (for Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom).