Women achieve historic wins at 2021 Academy Awards

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Director/Writer Chloé Zhao and Frances McDormand appear on the set of “Nomadland.” [Searchlight Pictures photo]

Women made history at the 93rd Academy Awards on Sunday.

According to TheWrap, women earned a record 17 trophies, the most in Oscar history. Considering the ceremony awarded 30 male winners, that means women received 36% of the statuettes awarded in the 23 competitive categories.

Compare that to 2020, when a third of the 39 winners were women, and 2019, when 15 of the 54 winners were women, which is 27.8%. TheWrap’s math does not include the International Feature category, which is awarded to the film’s country of origin; this year, that was Denmark for Thomas Vinterberg’s “Another Round.”

It stands to reason that more female winners comes from more female nominees and that was the case this year. The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences this year nominated a record 70 women with a total of 76 Oscar nominations, the highest total ever. According to TheWrap, 76 of the 235 individual nominees across all 23 competitive categories from this year’s films were women, or about 23%.

For the first time, the Academy this year nominated two women in the directing category, with “Nomadland’s” Chloe Zhao and “Promising Young Woman’s” Emerald Fennell picking up nods in the coveted category. Zhao won the category, becoming just the second woman (after “The Hurt Locker’s” Kathryn Bigelow) and the first woman of color to garner the best director Oscar. “Nomadland” also won best picture and best actress for Frances McDormand, who has now won the category three times in her career.

If McDormand wins best actress again during her career, she will tie with the late Katharine Hepburn, who has the most wins with four in the category.

Fennell earned best original screenplay for “Promising Young Woman.”

Yuh-jung Youn stars in “Minari.” [A24 photo]

After making history earlier in the awards season with her Screen Actors Guild Award victory, “Minari’s” Youn Yuh-jung became the first Korean performer to win an Oscar. Youn earned the best supporting actress trophy for playing a surprisingly feisty grandmother in Lee Isaac Chung’s family drama “Minari.”

Mia Neal and Jamika Wilson became the first Black women to win an Oscar for best makeup and hairstyling, for their work on the fact-based period film “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom.” They share the Academy Award with Sergio Lopez-Rivera.

Other women to win at the Oscars include Ann Roth, costume designer for “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom”; H.E.R. and lyricist Tiara Thomas for their original song “Fight for You” from the biopic “Judas and the Black Messiah”; Dana Murray, producer of the best animated feature winner “Soul,” which featured Pixar’s first Black protagonist; Pippa Ehrlich, one of the producers on the documentary feature winner “My Octopus Teacher”; Alice Doyard, a producer of the documentary short victor “Collette”; set decorator Jan Parsale, who shares the best production design Oscar with Donald Graham Burt for David Fincher’s black-and-white biopic “Mank”; and Michellee Couttolenc, one of the sound design winners for the musical drama “Sound of Metal.”

Here’s hoping we’ll be celebrating even more women winners at the 2022 Oscars.


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