The 94th Academy Awards winners

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Arts and life editors Claire Schuppel and Grace Sherban cover the main Oscars winners.

Claire Schuppel and Grace Sherban

Hollywood’s biggest night has returned to normalcy since the COVID-19 pandemic, with the 94th Academy Awards celebrated on March 27. There were countless notable moments that occurred during the award show, but here are just a few of the most important prizes awarded. 

Best Adapted Screenplay

The award for Best Adapted Screenplay went to “CODA,” which tells the story of deaf parents raising their two children, one born without hearing, and the other born with it. Sian Heder adapted the film from “La Famille Bélier,” which was a 2014 French film. The plot of the film contained tremendous depth and heart, so it was a well deserved win. Bringing awareness to underrepresented populations has become a common trend in recent Oscar history. 

Best Original Screenplay

“Belfast” was nominated for seven awards, and Kenneth Branagh picked up its sole win for Best Original Screenplay. “Belfast” is a semi-autobiographical story about Branagh’s childhood growing up in Northern Ireland during a period of great conflict. On top of this win, Branagh becomes the first person in Oscar history to be nominated in a total of seven individual Oscar categories.

 

The director of “Drive My Car” accepting his award. ( Neilson Barnard/Getty)

Best International Picture

The Best International Picture was awarded to “Drive My Car,” a Japanese film directed by Ryusuke Hamaguchi. The story is an important one, chronicling the life of a widowed actor in his struggles. His paternal relationship with his hired driver becomes a necessity in his day to day life as they get closer. “Drive My Car” is deserving of the award and is a must-watch in the 2021 releases. 

 

Best Director

Jane Campion’s win in the Best Director category for her work on “The Power of the Dog” makes her only the third woman to win this award in 94 years. Campion became the first woman to be nominated twice in this category with her first nomination being in 1994 for “The Piano.” Campion said in a backstage interview, “I’m very proud to have won tonight — for my film and for my cast, but also just to be another woman who’s going to be followed by a fourth, a fifth, a sixth, a seventh, and an eighth. I’m very excited by the fact that this is moving fast now. We need it. Equality matters.”

Best Supporting Actor

The Best Supporting Actor award was given to Troy Kotsur for his poignant performance in “CODA.” Kostur plays Frank, a deaf husband and father to two children. He struggles in his dependence on his hearing daughter, as he realizes she will become more than the family’s interpreter. Kotsur’s portrayal of Frank is authentic, with many layers of depth. He became the first deaf man to win an acting award. This was his first nomination. His co-star, Marlee Matlin, was the first deaf woman to win an Oscar for acting in 1987 with “Children of a Lesser God.”

Best Supporting Actress

Oscar winners Ariana DeBose, Troy Kotsur and Jessica Chastain. (Photograph: Mike Coppola/Getty Images)

It came as no surprise that, after sweeping almost every Oscar indicator, Ariana DeBose won her first Academy Award on her first nomination. With this win, DeBose becomes one of the few people to win an award for the same character since Rita Moreno won this category for her turn as Anita in “West Side Story” back in 1962. DeBose made history as the first openly queer woman of color to win this award and dedicated the award to those who feel unseen and underrepresented. In her speech, she paraphrased a Sondheim lyric by saying, “So to anybody who has ever questioned your identity, ever, ever, ever, — or you find yourself living in the gray spaces — I promise you this: There is indeed a place for us.”

Best Actress

Between all of the acting categories, Best Actress was the most difficult to pin down the winner this awards season. Things were finally made clear when Jessica Chastain was announced the winner for her role in “The Eyes of Tammy Faye” after being nominated two times previously. The film stars Chastain as Tammy Faye Baker, a televangelist, and tracks the rise and fall of her empire.  

Best Actor

Will Smith brought home his first Best Actor award for “King Richard,” following two prior nominations. The story follows Richard Williams, father of Serena and Venus Williams, and his success in shaping them to be two of the greatest tennis players in history. Smith won the BAFTA for his role, which solidified his position to win this title as well. Smith sparked controversy with his ill-mannered response to a joke Chris Rock made regarding his wife, Jada Pinkett Smith. He stated in his speech that he hopes to be invited back to the Academy Awards, later apologizing to Rock via Instagram

 

The cast and crew of Best Picture winner “CODA.” (Neilson Barnard/Getty Images)

Best Picture

The highly sought after Best Picture award went to “CODA,” directed by the previously mentioned Sian Heder. While many believed the award would go to “The Power of the Dog,” “CODA” was the fan favorite this awards season. Again, the film fostered a space for a realistic depiction of a deaf family’s dynamic, showing the admirable strength of their bonds. The strides made for disability awareness are important for Hollywood history.