Film drama Nomadland has scooped three Oscars including best picture, while British stars Sir Anthony Hopkins and Daniel Kaluuya have won acting awards.
Nomadland’s Chloé Zhao made history as the first non-white woman and second woman overall to win best director.
At 83, Sir Anthony is the oldest ever recipient of best actor; while best supporting actor Kaluuya is the first black British actor to win an Oscar.
“I did not expect to get this,” said Sir Anthony, who missed the ceremony.
British actress-turned-writer/director Emerald Fennell also won a screenplay award.
The star, who plays Camilla Parker Bowles in The Crown, won best original screenplay for Promising Young Woman, which she also directed.
Frances McDormand won best actress for her role in Nomadland, while veteran South Korean actress Yuh-Jung Youn won best supporting actress for Minari.
The trophies were handed out in one of the grand halls at Los Angeles’s stylish Union Station to allow for a Covid-safe ceremony, while many UK-based nominees were at a venue in London – although Sir Anthony was at neither.
Sir Anthony won best actor for his masterful performance as a man suffering with dementia in The Father, 29 years after he won his first Oscar for The Silence of the Lambs.
His victory was the biggest surprise of the night. The award had been tipped to go to the late Chadwick Boseman, who died aged 43 last August, for Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom.
Sir Anthony was neither in LA nor at the British Film Institute in London, the ceremony’s UK venue, so instead posted a message on Instagram on Monday morning.
“At 83 years of age I did not expect to get this award, I really didn’t,” he said in a video filmed in his “homeland” of Wales. “I’m very grateful to the Academy, and thank you.”
The slow-burning drama about a woman living in her van in the American West after the financial crash won the top prize for best film, plus best director and best actress.
McDormand, who now has three best actress Oscars, is one of the only professional performers in the film. Most of the rest of the cast is made up of real people playing fictionalised versions of themselves.
In her acceptance speech, Zhao thanked the real-life nomads “for teaching us the power of resilience and hope”.
Before Zhao, the only woman to have won the directing prize in the Oscars’ 92-year history was Kathryn Bigelow for The Hurt Locker in 2010.