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The 2021 Oscars changed up the order of the awards, saving best actor and actress for the end of the night, after the award for the top prize of best picture, and if viewers turned off their TVs after Nomadland captured its expected best picture win, they missed two big surprises.
In the best actress category, where two black women were nominated for only the second time in Oscar history, neither one won, despite Viola Davis becoming the most nominated Black actress in Oscars history with four nominations and winning the equivalent award from the Screen Actors Guild earlier this month and Day winning best actress at the Golden Globes. Instead that prize went to Nomadland star Frances McDormand who lost the Golden Globe, SAG Award, Critics Choice and Independent Spirit Award for best actress but won the BAFTA best actress award two weeks ago, where Davis and Mulligan, who won the Critics Choice and Spirit Award, were not nominated.
In the best actor category, where the late Chadwick Boseman was widely expected to win for his final on-screen role in Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom, after snagging numerous predecessor awards, that prize went to an absent Anthony Hopkins, from The Father, who also won the BAFTA acting award two weeks ago.
Also failing to win, after multiple nominations, were supporting actress nominee Glenn Close, now tied with Peter O’Toole for the most nominations in acting categories without a win at eight, and Diane Warren, who has been nominated for 12 Oscars, but has yet to secure a win. Nevertheless, Close and Warren weren’t widely expected to win this year.
And while Trial of the Chicago 7 went into the night up for six awards, a strong showing that had it tied with six-time nominees like Minari, Judas and the Black Messiah, Nomadland and The Father, all of which won at least one award, the Aaron Sorkin-written and -directed Netflix film, which won the best cast award at the SAG Awards, sometimes seen as a best picture precursor, failed to win a single Oscar.
Meanwhile, Focus Features’ Promising Young Woman seemed off to a strong start when it won best original screenplay, the first award of the night, but failed to win another award despite its five nominations.
And while Mank had a leading 10 nominations heading into this year’s Oscars, it only won two awards, both in technical categories.
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