The Oscars many have been waiting for - but not in the way we expected

Frances McDormand, left, and Chloe Zhao, winners of the award for best picture for Nomadland. Credit: AP

In many ways it was a night when Hollywood got things right, the long overdue diversity in the nominations, both in race and gender, translating to victory for the likes of Daniel Kaluuya and Chloe Zhao.

In the case of the latter, it seems incredible that the Chinese-born filmmaker is only the second woman to win for Best Director in the Oscars entire 93-year history – the first was Kathryn Bigelow 12 years ago for The Hurt Locker.

That Ms Zhao was up against another woman in the same category – Britain’s Emerald Fennell who went on to win Best Original Screenplay for the stunning Promising Young Woman, was also record making.

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After years of high profile campaigning for parity in pay and recognition, this was an awards roster that was welcome, could it be that three years after Frances McDormand acceptance speech at the Oscars in which she called for widespread use of inclusion riders – in which actors could insist contractually that the crews on their films are diverse – is having the desired effect? Not a phrase I like to use, but in this case, literally, time will tell. 

Elsewhere the main setting in Union Station in LA, chosen in these social distancing times, because it’s more spacious than the traditional Dolby theatre where the Oscars are normally held, worked well, though the event at times, particularly at the end when Sir Anthony Hopkins won best actor and wasn’t there, with many people expecting the late Chadwick Boseman to triumph, was rather muted.

Daniel Kaluuya won the Oscar for best actor in a supporting actor Credit: AP

When you consider the film that won the biggest award of the night, Nomadland, has the lowest box office for any film that has ever won this gong at the Oscars, then as you can imagine viewers will probably not have been that impressed or that invested in the films that were being celebrated last night.

These award shows have been losing viewers over the past few years, the pandemic, with cinemas mostly closed, has not helped things.

The film world will certainly have echoed the sentiments expressed by Frances McDormand as she picked up her third Oscar, that her film should be seen on a big screen and that people should try and get back to cinemas when they open.