The Handbook
The Handbook

The stars aligned last night, socially distanced, on the red carpet for one of the most unusual Oscars awards in the Academy’s 91 year history. But while the scaled back pandemic version of the awards might have been rather different, the talent and films were top notch and scored recognition for several Britons.

So here are 7 things we learnt last night…

Anthony Hopkins became the oldest Best Actor winner

At 83 Sir Anthony Hopkins is the oldest person to win the Best Actor award for his lead in The Father. He pipped the late Chadwick Boseman, who many felt was a shoe-in for his role in Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom.

Unable to attend in person, Sir Anthony paid tribute to Boseman from Wales in his Instagrammed acceptance speech, saying the actor was “taken from us far too early”.

The Oscars were held in a railway station

Think of the Academy Awards and you’re probably imagining the glamorous surroundings of the Dolby Theatre, packed with the usual 3,000 Oscars guests and overflowing with razzmatazz. You’re probably not thinking of a busy railway terminus in downtown LA.

An unusual venue, Union Station proved ideal for social distancing, however. With the guest list whittled down to just 170 the main hall at the station allowed for social distancing with its 40-foot windows and towering ceilings.

Everyone loved Nomadland

Nomadland, a film about a woman who lived in her van in the American West following the financial crisis deservedly won the Best Film award plus Best Director and Best Actress.

Star Frances McDormand bagged her third Oscar as the lead role in a film where most of the actors were real people. The film also won Chloe Zhao the award for Best Director.

McDormand used her acceptance speech to pay tribute to the film’s Sound Mixer Wold Snyder, who died last month aged 35.

Someone really did break a leg!

Bizarre footage emerged of a stretcher rushing a guest away from the awards with their leg strapped up, apparently broken.

The patient was wheeled down the red carpet and put in an ambulance, though it’s not yet clear who the male guest was.

Given actors’ predilection for wishing luck with the words ‘break a leg’, we can only assume they won big…

There was a British ‘hub’

For the first time ever the Oscars came to London! With international travel limited, for obvious reasons, the Oscars expanded to the UK to allow for the high number of British nominees.

The BFI on the South Bank was chosen as the natural location to host, with at least nine nominees living in Britain and the red carpeters this side of the Atlantic including Olivia Colman.

A woman won Best Director

Approximately 1% of the Oscars for Best Director had gone to women until last night. Now it’s 2%. As for women of colour, Chloe Zhao was the very first.

Zhao won the award for Nomadland, a night’s biggest winner with three awards for Best Director, Best Actress and Best Film.

It was a good night for British stars

If there’s one thing we’ve learnt over the past year it’s that we’re all interconnected and there’s no space for nationalism; but let’s just sing the the praises of the British talent on show last night.

Brit winners included Sir Anthony Hopkins with his Best Actor award, along with Daniel Kaluuya, star of Judas & The Black Messiah who took Best Supporting Actor.

Heavily pregnant writer, actor and director Emerald Fennell (probably best known as Camilla in The Crown) was nominated for Best Director and Best Original Screenplay, winning the Oscar for the latter.

The six wins, the best number since Slumdog Millionaire swept the Oscars with nine, were rounded off by composer Atticus Ross, who won Best Original Score for the film Soul, along with Trent Reznor and Jon Batiste.


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