"We all have gotten a little bit of Zoom fatigue," director Glenn Weiss told ET. "As a result of that, we really wanted to bring a celebration without distraction. We wanted to bring something where people at home are a part of it and are experiencing this room in a same way."
Breaking from tradition, that room was in Downtown L.A.'s Union Station and not the Oscars' usual home at the Dolby Theatre in Hollywood. The ceremony went host-less, featured a nontraditional red carpet and, due to COVID safety precautions, only nominees and their guests were in attendance.
ET was right here, though, providing you live coverage of the entire night.
Anthony Hopkins Wins Best Actor
The Oscars left the biggest shock of the night for the final award: When Best Actor in a Leading Role was left for the final award of the night, many assumed it was to award the late Chadwick Boseman and pay tribute.
Instead, Joaquin Phoenix, who won Best Actor in a Leading Role last year, announced Anthony Hopkins as this year's recipient for his performance in The Father. Hopkins was not in attendance, and the Academy accepted on his behalf, creating an abrupt and confusing end to the ceremony that even parting words from musical director Questlove couldn't salvage.
Frances McDormand Wins Best Actress
Last year's winner in the category, Renee Zellweger returned to the Oscars to gush over the nominees and pass the title back to Nomadland's Frances McDormand. "Look, they didn't ask me, but if they had… we should have had a karaoke bar," she quipped, keeping her speech brief and to the point: "I have no words. My voice is in my sword. We know the sword is our work, and I like work. Thank you for knowing that, and thanks for this."
'Nomadland' Wins Best Picture
In a switcheroo this year, Best Picture is not the final award of the night. Reflecting on her own Best Picture win as part of West Side Story, Rita Moreno awarded the top prize to Nomadland's team of producers, which includes writer-director Chloé Zhao and star Frences McDormand. (The latter becomes the first actress nominated for acting and producing the same film.)
Taking the stage with her team -- including the real-life nomads cast in the film -- Zhao said, "We thank all the hearts and hands that came together to make this movie... All the people we met on the road, thank you for teaching us the power of resilience and hope and reminding us what true kindness looks like."
"Please, watch our movie on the largest screen possible," McDormand said as she took the mic. "And one day very, very soon take someone you know into a theater, shoulder-to-shoulder in that dark space, and watch every film recognized here tonight. We give this to our wolf." And with that, McDormand let out a wolfy howl.
'In Memoriam' Pays Tribute to Chadwick Boseman, Sean Connery and Many More
Angela Bassett gave an impassioned introduction to this year's "In Memoriam" segment, set to Stevie Wonder's "As." The clip paid tribute to those the film industry has lost over the last year, including Christopher Plummer, Kelly Preston, Yaphet Kotto, Fred Willard, Helene McCrory, Carl Reiner, Lynn Shelton, Diana Rigg, Conchata Ferrell, DMX, Sean Connery, Chadwick Boseman and many more.
"Let us as one community say, 'Thank you. You will remain as we remember you in our hearts always,'" Bassett said in her emotional introduction, paying tribute to all the artists that make the Academy's most beloved films possible.
Glenn Close Does 'Da Butt,' Andra Day Gets Bleeped
Ahead of the night's final awards, Lil Rel Howery took to the audience to ask stars to guess Oscar-nominated songs. The first contestant was Best Actress nominee Andra Day, who had to guess if Prince's "Purple Rain" was nominated, won, or snubbed at the Academy Awards. "It’s a great song so it’s probably not even f***in' nominated," she joked, before passing the mic back. (And she was right!)
"I don't know how much that's gonna cost y'all, ABC, but it happened!" Lil Rel exclaimed, before taking his game to Daniel Kaluuya and Glenn Close, the former of whom gamely gushed over the School Daze track "Da Butt" and earned a bleeping herself when she said it was "bullsh*t" the song was snubbed. If As Close got out of her seat to perform her own rendition of "Da Butt" dance, Lil Rel proclaimed, "This the Blackest Oscars of all time, y'all!"
H.E.R.'s 'Fight For You' Wins Best Original Song
Closing out the music portion of the ceremony, Zendaya presented the original song Oscar to H.E.R. for her Judas and the Black Messiah track, "Fight For You." "I did not expect to win this award. I am so, so, so, so grateful," she exclaimed.
"Musicians, filmmakers, I believe we have an opportunity and a responsibility to tell the truth and write history the way that it was," H.E.R. said. "I have no words. Knowledge is power. Music is power. And as long as I'm standing, I'ma always going to fight for us. I'm always going to fight for our people.
'Soul' Wins Best Original Score
Zendaya presented the original score Oscar to Trent Reznor, Atticus Ross and Jon Batiste for their dual compositions for Pixar's Soul. "You know what's deep is about God gave us 12 notes. It's the same 12 notes Duke Ellington had, Bach had, Nina Simone," Batiste said.
"It's the same 12. Every gift is special. Every contribution of music that comes from the divine into the instruments, into the film, into the mind and hearts and souls of every person who hears it... It's just so incredibly special," he continued, calling the collaboration on the film and resulting award "a culmination of a series of miracles."
Viola Davis Presents Tyler Petty With Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award
Davis praised Perry as someone who "personifies empathy" and has "paid for the funerals of Black men whose names were on the placards at marches." "Tyler knows what it is to be hungry. To be without a home. To feel unsafe and uncertain," she noted. "So when he buys groceries for 1,000 of his neighbors, supports a women's shelter, or quietly pays tuition for a hard-working student, Tyler is coming from a place of shared experience."
The video package highlighting Perry's humanitarian efforts also included high praise from Whoopi Goldberg. "This man exemplifies the best you could ask from any human," she said. "And that is to care about your fellow human beings."
Onstage, Perry paid a special thanks back to Davis, the Board of Governors, singingly out Goldberg and Ava DuVernay, and shared a story about a homeless woman asking him for shoes. He took her into his studio and gave her a pair of shoes. "I recall her saying, 'I thought you were going to hate me for asking,'" he said. 'I said, 'How can I hate you when I used to be you?'"
"It is my hope that all of us will teach our kids to refuse hate," Perry said. "I refuse to hate somebody because they are Mexican or because they are Black or white. Or because they're LGBTQ. I refuse to hate someone because they are a police officer. I refuse to hate someone because they are Asian." He dedicated the award to anyone who wants to stand in the middle, "That's where healing happens. That's where conversations happen. That's where change happens."
'Sound of Metal' Wins Best Film Editing
Harrison Ford began his turn as presenter with a bit about all of the awful feedback he got for a past film, eventually revealing it to be Blade Runner. "These notes can help us understand why the editing process can often get a little complicated," he explained, before awarding the Oscar to Sound of Metal's Mikkel E.G. Nielsen.
"I'm from Denmark, and I would like to greet Denmark, because they are extremely bold at funding the Danish Film School so we students can develop our craft and language for four years," he said, gesturing to his little gold man. "This is what you get."
'Mank' Wins Best Cinematography
Erik Messerschmidt accepted Mank's second Oscar in a row, taking the stage with reverence for his fellow nominees. "I wish I could split this into five pieces," he said. "It's such an honor to be nominated amongst all of you."
Messerschmidt also shared his gratitude with director David Fincher and the cast and crew of the ambitious period piece for "hitting their marks," he said with a laugh. "It makes a difference!"
'Mank' Wins Best Production Design
Halle Berry presented the Oscar to the team from Mank, comprising production designer Donald Graham Burt and set decorator Jan Pascale. "It's a long way down here," Pascale beamed, thanking director David Fincher and her fellow winner. "When I was young, I never realized this career was even a possibility. There were so many people who guided me."
Yuh-Jung Youn Wins Best Supporting Actress
Reigning Best Supporting Actor Brad Pitt brought his man bun to the stage to present the award for Best Supporting Actress to Minari's Yuh-Jung Youn. "Mr Brad Pitt, finally, nice to meet you," she called out to him, before calling out the many ways Westerns have mispronounced her name. "Tonight, you are all forgiven," she assured.
After thanking her co-stars and "captain and director" Lee Issac Cheung, Youn shared her appreciation with her fellow nominees. "I don't believe in competition. How can I win over Glenn Close?" she marveled. "All five nominees, we are the winners for different roles. So we cannot compete with each other. Tonight, I have a little bit of luck, I think. Maybe I am a little bit luckier than you."
Always the good boy, Pitt guided Youn backstage, her arm draped in his.
'Tenet' Wins Best Visual Effects
The effect of seeing Steven Yeun is quite special, indeed. Anyway, the Best Actor nominee was tapped to share a story about seeing Terminator as a child and present the visual effects Oscar to Tenet's VFX team of Andrew Jackson, David Lee, Andrew Lockley and Scott R. Fisher.
"It all goes back to our director, Christopher Nolan," Fisher said, accepting the award from L.A. while his colleague watched from overseas. "He leads us all and gives us amazing opportunities to do amazing things.
'My Octopus Teacher' Wins Best Documentary Feature
Pippa Ehrlich and James Reed accepted the Oscar for their documentary about one man's unique bond with an octopus. "Thanks to all our fellow nominees who spent so many years and I presume a lot of tears making beautiful and important tears and bringing them into the world," said Ehrlich, thanking subject Craig Foster and the film's "incredible octopus team, whose arms stretch across the world."
"In many ways, this really is a tiny personal story that played out in a sea forest at the very tip of Africa," she added. "But on a more universal level, I hope that it provided a glimpse of a different kind of relationship between human beings and the natural world."
'Colette' Wins Best Documentary Short Subject
Marlee Matlin awarded the documentary short Oscar to Anthony Giacchino and Alice Doyard for their short about Colette Marin-Catherine, a French Resistance fighter whose brother was killed during World War II.
"Today is Colette's birthday. She was born just 22 days before the first Oscars," director Giacchino said. "When we got nominated, she reminded us that the power of documentary filmmaking is that her brother, Jean-Pierre, is no longer lost in the night and fog of the Nazi concentration camp system."
'Soul' Wins Best Animated Feature Film
Pete Docter and Dana Murray accepted the award for Disney and Pixar's latest, about a music teacher (voiced by Jamie Foxx) who aspires to be a jazz pianist. "This film started as a love letter to jazz, but we have no idea how much jazz would teach us about life," Doctor said in his joyful acceptance speech. "We don't get to control what happens, but we can, like a jazz musician, turn whatever happens into something of value and something of beauty."
'If Anything Happens I Love You' Wins Best Animated Short Film
Reese Witherspoon presented the animated short Oscar to directors Michael Govier and Will McCormack for their short, which explores the grief of parents who lose their child in a school shooting.
"We dedicate this film to all those who've lost loved ones to gun violence," McCormack said. "We deserve better than to live in a country where more than 100 people die by gun violence every single day. We deserve better, we must do better, we will do better."
'Two Distant Strangers' Wins Best Live Action Short Film
Riz Ahmed teased the live action shorts nominees as the filmmakers of tomorrow, before announcing Travon Free and Martin Desmond Roe as this year's winner for their police violence-centered short, Two Distant Strangers.
"Today, the police will kill three people. Tomorrow, the police will kill three people," Free said onstage. "Those people are disproportionately Black people." In quoting James Baldwin, he made a plea, "Please, don't be indifferent to our pain."
'Sound of Metal' Wins Best Sound
For the first time, the Oscars combined Sound Mixing and Editing into one category, presented by Riz Ahmed to his own film, Sound of Metal, and its sound team, Nicolas Becker, Jaime Baksht, Michelle Couttolenc, Carlos Cortés and Phillip Bladh.
"Sound of Metal received from its team so much care, love and attention," Becker said, accepting the award remotely. "So much energy. We believe it's one of the reasons it's been received by the audience so beautifully. Thank you for that."
Chloé Zhao Wins Best Director
Last year's Best Director winner, Bong Joon-ho, appeared from Seoul, South Korea, to name the Nomadland helmer as his successor. Zhao makes history as the first woman of color (and only the second ever female director) to win the Oscar for Best Director. "What a crazy, once in a lifetime journey we went on together," she told her Nomadland family.
"People at birth are inherently good," Zhao quoted a Chinese text she memorized as a child. "I still truly believe them today. Even though sometimes it may seem like the opposite is true, I have always found goodness in the people I met wherever I went in the world. This is for anyone who has the faith and the courage to hold onto the goodness in themselves, and the goodness in each other. This is for you. You inspire me to keep going."
'Ma Rainey's Black Bottom' Wins Best Costume Design
Don Cheadle next presented Best Achievement in Costume Design to Ann Roth, for her work dressing the cast of Ma Rainey. Roth, who at 89 is one of the oldest Oscar winners in history, was not present and the Academy accepted the honor on her behalf.
'Ma Rainey's Black Bottom' Wins Best Makeup and Hairstyling
Don Cheadle was on hand to present Oscars for makeup and hairstyling to Ma Rainey's Sergio Lopez-Rivera, Mia Neal and Jamika Wilson. "I was raised by my grandfather," Neal began, recalling the adversity he faced throughout his life as a Black man. "I want to say thank you to our ancestors, who put the work in and were denied," and proceeded to acknowledge the importance of their glass-ceiling breaking moment.
"I can picture Black trans women standing up here, and Asian sisters and our Latina sisters and Indigenous sisters," she said. "I know that one day it will not be groundbreaking, it will just be normal."
Daniel Kaluuya Wins Best Supporting Actor
Reigning Best Supporting Actress winner Laura Dern continued the tradition of presenting this year's Best Supporting Actor to Kaluuya for his performance in Judas in the Black Messiah. As his mother and sister watched on from London, Kaluuya thanked God, his family and Hampton's family, the latter of whom served as consultants on the film. "To Chairman Fred Hampton, bro, what a man. How blessed we are to live in a lifetime where he existed."
The actor concluded by making a call to action to Hollywood to keep working for change. "I'm gonna get back to work on Tuesday morning, because tonight, I'm going out." While pondering the surrealness of the moment, Kaluuya suddenly proclaimed, "My mom, my dad, they had sex. That's amazing!" to which his mom and sister reacted in surprise while the audience laughed.
'Another Round' Wins Best International Feature Film
Laura Dern presented the award to director Thomas Vinterberg for his drinking drama, the official nominee and now winner of Denmark. "This is beyond anything I could ever imagine, except this is something I've always imagined since I was 5 or something," he said onstage. "This is a film about letting go of control in your life, as I lost control of my own" -- referring to the death of his daughter he experienced while filming Another Round.
Thanking his cast, Vinterberg said of star Mads Mikkelsen, "You gave us your finest, not just for the film but for my daughter as well. I'll never forget that." He concluded by paying tribute to his daughter. "We ended up making this movie for her. So, Ida, this is a miracle that just happened, and you're a part of this miracle. Maybe you've been pulling some strings somewhere. This one is for you."
'The Father' Wins Best Adapted Screenplay
After sharing the stories of each Adapted Screenplay nominees, Regina King awarded the Oscar to Christopher Hampton and Florian Zeller for their absorbing dementia drama. "I have to thank everyone involved in The Father," Zeller said in his remote acceptance speech, thanking his team and cast, with gushing words for star Anthony Hopkins. "I wrote the script for him. To me, he is the greatest living actor, and to work with him, it was just a dream."
'Promising Young Woman' Wins Original Screenplay
After opening the show, Regina King introduced the year's Original Screenplay nominees and announced Emerald Fennell as the winner. "They said, 'Write a speech,' and I didn't because I didn't think this would ever happen!" Fennell said on stage, clutching her little gold man. "Oh my god, he's so heavy! And so cold!" After thanking star Carey Mulligan, her producers and her family, Fennell concluded with a special thanks to her son, who was born mere weeks after filming on Promising Young Woman wrapped.
The Oscars Starts Its 'Movie' With a Regina King Monologue
Meeting the assignment of this year's awards show-as-a-movie mentality, the ceremony kicked off in the most Soderbergh-y way possible, with Regina King strutting into Union Station, Oscar in hand, as the credits rolled. The 2019 Best Supporting Actress winner welcomed the crowd and acknowledged up top that, had the George Floyd verdict gone a different way, "I might have traded in my heels for marching boots."
King celebrated the unifying power of film and revealed that this year's Oscars will be maskless when the cameras are rolling -- "just like on a movie set" -- but during commercials, attendees are expected to mask up.
H.E.R. Keeps Star-Studded Awards Season Going With Oscars Performance
After singing at the Emmys and winning at last month's GRAMMY Awards -- not to mention performing at Super Bowl LV -- the singer capped off an impressive awards season by taking the stage at the Academy Museum to perform her nominated original song, "Fight For You," from Judas and the Black Messiah. H.E.R. accompanied herself on the drums, while the rest of the musicians on stage donned movie-appropriate Black Panther Party-esque ensembles.
Leslie Odom Jr. Channels Sam Cooke for 'Speak Now' Performance
The One Night in Miami star (and Best Supporting Actor nominee) took the Dolby Family Terrace stage during the pre-show to perform his Best Original Song nominee, "Speak Now." Wearing white-on-white-on-white with a statement chain, Odom Jr. crooned through a pared-back performance that highlighted his voice, appearing alone onstage as smoke billowed around him.
Celeste Performs 'Hear My Voice' from 'Trial of the Chicago 7'
Traveling all the way from London to attend the Oscars, singer Celeste and composer Daniel Pemberton took the stage at the Dolby Family Terrace to perform their Best Original Song nominee, "Hear My Voice," for Aaron Sorkin's The Trial of the Chicago 7. Set against the L.A. night sky, the songstress performed the soulful track backed by an all-female orchestra.
Laura Pausini and Diane Warren Perform 'Io sì (Seen)'
Perennial nominee Diane Warren teamed up with Italian singer-songwriter Laura Pausini to create the main theme for the Sophia Loren-starrer, The Life Ahead, and the pair took the stage during golden hour on the Dolby Family Terrace of the Academy Museum of Motion Pictures to perform their nominated track during the pre-show. Warren, seated at a red piano, accompanied Pausini as an orchestra, also dressed all in red, played along.
Molly Sandén Performs 'Husavik' All the Way From Iceland
Swedish performer Molly Sandén, who provided the singing vocals for Rachel McAdams' character in Eurovision Song Contest: The Story of Fire Saga, got her moment in the spotlight during Oscars: Into the Spotlight, performing the Best Original Song nominee "Husavik" from the titular town itself, Husavik, Iceland, along with a very cute, sweater-clad children's choir and a fireworks finale.
The Hottest Red Carpet Accessory is... Masks!
The Oscars is the first awards show of the season to feature a true red carpet experience, with the stars posing for photogs before heading into the ceremony. (Albeit with fewer stars, as this year's guest list is limited to nominees and their guests only.) The glitziest and most glamorous Oscars ensembles this year are accessorized with a mask, which stars like Steven Yeun, Leslie Odom Jr. and more putting it on and taking it off as they safely navigate Hollywood's biggest night amid the ongoing pandemic.
Ahead of the big night, the Academy announced that the Oscars would be treated "as an active movie set, with specially designed testing cadences to ensure up-to-the-minute results, including an on-site COVID safety team with PCR testing capability." Last year's Best Supporting Actress winner Laura Dern showed off her "Oscars prep" on Instagram, posing with her nasal swab and facemask as she prepared for the big show.
The 2021 Oscars Are Taking You 'Into the Spotlight'
The Oscars ceremony itself may not start until 8 p.m. ET/5 p.m. PT -- find out everything you need to know about how to watch that -- but the festivities have already begun on ABC with the official pre-show, Oscars: Into the Spotlight, hosted by Hamilton's Ariana DeBose and actor Lil Rel Howery and featuring the five Best Original Song performances.