This year’s Oscar nominees were historically among the most diverse rosters at the event: seventy women received nods in 23 categories and nine people of color were nominated for their acting.
Even before the winners were announced, there were several notable breakthroughs – including top actor nominations for Riz Ahmed, the first Muslim to be so recognized, and Steven Yeun, the first Asian-American actor to be included in the category. And for just the second time in Oscar history, two black women – Viola Davis and Andra Day – were in the running for Best Actress.
And while a sweep of actor categories by people of color hasn’t materialized, there have been plenty of other firsts:
A Korean first: Yuh-Jung Youn is the first Korean actor to win an Oscar. It was the singer’s first nomination, whose tongue-in-cheek grandmother turn in “Minari” also earned her SAG and BAFTA awards this season. “Maybe,” she said in her speech on Sunday, “that’s American hospitality for the Korean actor.”
Honors for aging winners: Anthony Hopkins, at 83, became the oldest actor to win the award for best actor. He won for his performance as a man with dementia in “The Father”. With Ann Roth’s victory for costumes in “My Rainey’s Black Bottom,” she became the oldest woman to win an Oscar. She is 89 years old.
A leading breakthrough: Chloe Zhao, the filmmaker behind “Nomadland,” is the first woman of color to win – and be nominated – for best director. She is only the second woman to win the category, after Kathryn Bigelow for “The Hurt Locker”.
A make-up and hairstyle breakthrough: Mia Neal and Jamika Wilson, who worked on “My Rainey’s Black Bottom,” are the first black women to win this award (and be nominated for it). “I know that one day it won’t be unusual or revolutionary,” Neal said in his acceptance speech. “It will just be normal.”
And finally, a losing streak: Glenn Close, nominated for Supporting Actress for “Hillbilly Elegy,” took a less exciting step: After eight unsuccessful nods, she tied the record held by Peter O’Toole for most actress nominations without victory.