Oscars 2021 presenter Regina King announces awards as 'maskless' movie, references Derek Chauvin conviction

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Sunday night’s Oscars kicked off with its first presenter of the night, actress Regina King, declaring the film industry’s biggest night is maintaining its producers’ promise: to provide an intimate ceremony with “maskless” guests amid the coronavirus pandemic.

“Oh, live TV here we go, welcome to the 93rd Oscars. Oh, Jesus, I made it,” King said.

Noting that it’s “been quite a year” for presenters, nominees, performers, and the rest of the world as we are “still smack dab in the middle of it,” the 93rd Academy Awards is a night “to celebrate,” she said.

“And yes, we’re doing it maskless,” King declared. “Well, think of this as a movie set, an Oscars movie with a cast of over 200 nominees. People have been vaxxed, tested, retested, social distanced and we are following all of the rigorous protocols that got us back to work safely. So, just like as a movie set masks off and when we’re not rolling, masks on. Ok, that’s how we do it.”

ACADEMY AWARDS POISED TO MAKE HISTORY DESPITE EXPECTED LOW-RATINGS AMID THE CORONAVIRUS PANDEMIC

Regina King kicked off the 93rd Annual Academy Awards at Union Station on April 25, 2021 in Los Angeles, California. 
(Matt Petit/A.M.P.A.S. via Getty Images)

The “One Night in Miami” director added that it would have been quite a different celebratory night for her had Derek Chauvin not been convicted in the May 2020 murder of George Floyd.

“I have to be honest if things had gone differently this week in Minneapolis, I would have traded in my heels for marching boots,” she said.

The first two awards of the night went to Emerald Fennell who won the award for best original screenplay for the film “Promising Young Woman,” starring Carey Mulligan, and the best adapted screenplay then went to Florian Zeller and Christopher Hampton for “The Father.”

In accepting his award for best director, Thomas Vinterberg, paid tribute to his daughter, Ida, who he said died in a car accident days into beginning filming for “Another Round.”

“She loved this. She was supposed to be in this. You’ll be able to see her clapping and cheering with us. We ended up making this movie for her, as her monument. 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, I don’t know. But this one is for you,” Vinterberg said.

Daniel Kaluuya won best supporting actor for “Judas and the Black Messiah.”

“We’re going up tonight. We’re going to celebrate life. We’re breathing, we’re walking, it’s incredible. Life is incredible,” he said.

RICKY GERVAIS TROLLS ACADEMY AWARDS AFTER ROASTING HOLLYWOOD AT 2020 GOLDEN GLOBES: ‘WAS IT SOMETHING I SAID?’

This year’s Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award went to the Motion Picture and Television Fund and was accepted on the fund’s behalf by CEO Bob Beitcher. He noted it was the first time the award has gone to an organization, and it was due to the fund’s support of providing to those in need during the pandemic.

This image released by Searchlight Pictures shows Frances McDormand, left, and director Chloe Zhao on the set of "Nomadland." Zhao has made cinema of rugged authenticity, relying frequently on non-professional actors and moments of serendipity while filming. She is nominated for a Golden Globe for best director. (Searchlight Pictures via AP)
(AP)

Chloé Zhao took home the award for best director for “Nomadland,” a category that had two female filmmakers nominated for the first time. Zhao is now just the second woman to win best director in the Academy’s 93 years (following Kathryn Bigelow for “The Hurt Locker”), and the first woman of color.

Prior to the telecast’s start at 8 p.m., the red carpet made its return — one of the most notable changes from other pandemic-era award shows. In the weeks leading up to Hollywood’s most glamorous night, it was announced that casual wear is a no-no. 

ACADEMY AWARDS POISED TO MAKE HISTORY DESPITE EXPECTED LOW-RATINGS AMID THE CORONAVIRUS PANDEMIC

Daniel Kaluuya won best supporting actor for "Judas and the Black Messiah.
(Chris Pizzello-Pool/Getty Images)

The show is being shot in 24 frames-per-second (as opposed to 30), meaning it’ll appear more widescreen. Presenters, including Brad Pitt, Halle Berry, Reese Witherspoon, Harrison Ford, Rita Moreno and Zendaya — are considered “cast members.”

Travon Free, one of the directors of “Two Distant Strangers” discussed police brutality in his acceptance speech for the film’s win for best action short film.

“Today the police will kill three people and tomorrow the police will kill three people. and the day after that the plie will kill three people because on average the police in America every day kill three people,” Free said, alongside co-director Desmond Roe.

He continued: “Those people have been disproportionately black people… I ask that you please not be indifferent. Please don’t be indifferent to our pain.”

THE OSCARS SEES AARON SORKIN, PAULINA PORIZKOVA MAKE DEBUT AS A COUPLE

Travon Free attends the 93rd Annual Academy Awards on April 25. He wore a Dolce & Gabbana suit lined with the names of those killed by police brutality in the United States. 
(Matt Petit /A.M.P.A.S. via Getty Images)

Prior to the ceremony, the 36-year-old writer made headlines for his outfit: a Dolce & Gabbana suit lined with the names of those killed by police brutality in the U.S.

History is possible in the acting categories. Following Black actor Daniel Kaluuya’s win for best supporting actor, if “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom’s” Chadwick Boseman for best actor, Viola Davis for best actress; Yuh-Jung Youn (“Minari”) for best supporting actress — it would the first time nonwhite actors swept the acting categories — and a dramatic reversal from recent “OscarsSoWhite” years.

OSCARS 2021: A BREAKDOWN OF THE NOMINATED MOVIES

Halle Berry made a statement at the 2021 Oscars red carpet on Sunday with the debut of a short bob haircut. It was also the first awards show she attended alongside her boyfriend, Van Hunt.
(Chris Pizzello-Pool/Getty Image)

Pixar’s upcoming animated movie “Soul” took home the award for best animated feature, starring Tina Fey and Jamie Foxx.

Sunday’s pandemic-delayed Oscars bring to a close the longest awards season ever — one that turned the season’s industrial complex of cocktail parties and screenings virtual. Eligibility was extended into February of this year, and for the first time, a theatrical run wasn’t a requirement of nominees. Some films — like “Sound of Metal” — premiered all the way back in September 2019.

The ceremony is available to watch on ABC and is also available to stream on Hulu Live TV, YouTubeTV, AT&T TV, FuboTV and on ABC.com with provider authentication.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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