Nomadland wins big as director Chloe Zhao makes history at Oscars

LOS ANGELES: Nomadland, the story of van dwellers in America, won the Best Picture Oscar and two other Academy Awards on a triumphant night for women.

In a major upset, Anthony Hopkins - who did not attend the ceremony - won the Best Actor trophy for his role as a man battling dementia in The Father.

The Oscar had been widely expected to go to the late Chadwick Boseman for his final film, Ma Rainey's Black Bottom.

China native Chloe Zhao was named Best Director for Nomadland, making her the first Asian woman and only the second woman ever to take home the trophy after Kathryn Bigelow in 2010 for The Hurt Locker.

The film also gave Frances McDormand her third Best Actress Oscar.

Social distancing forced a rethink of the ceremony, moving it to Union Station in downtown Los Angeles.

After strict Covid-19 testing and quarantine protocols, nominees and their guests walked the red carpet, mostly maskless. The prospect of all four acting honours going to people of colour for the first time was not realised, even as South Korea's Youn Yuh-jung won the Best Supporting Actress Oscar for her role as a cantankerous grandmother in immigrant tale Minari while Britain's Daniel Kaluuya was named Best Supporting Actor for playing 1960s Black Panther activist Fred Hampton in Judas And The Black Messiah.

But 15 women won a record 17 Oscars, the Film Academy said, including for sound (Sound Of Metal), production design (Mank), original screenplay (Promising Young Woman) and documentary feature (My Octopus Teacher).

Soul, the first from Disney's Pixar to feature a black lead character, won Best Animated Feature, while Denmark's Another Round took the prize for Best International Feature. - REUTERS