Chloé Zhao makes Oscar history; Kaluuya wins for supporting actor
At a socially distanced Oscar ceremony retooled for the pandemic, Chloé Zhao made history. The “Nomadland” filmmaker won best director on Sunday, becoming just the second woman in the 93 year of the Academy Awards to win the award and the first woman of color.
Only Kathryn Bigelow, 11 years ago for “The Hurt Locker,” had previously won the award. The win, widely expected, caps the extraordinary rise of the China-born Zhao, a lyrical filmmaker whose “Nomadland” is just her third feature. Her film, the favorite to win best picture, is a wistful open-road drama about itinerant life in the American West.
“I have always found goodness in the people I’ve met everywhere I went in the world,” said Zhao. “This is for anyone who has the faith and the courage to hold on to the goodness in themselves and to hold on the goodness in other no matter how difficult it is to do that.”
The 93rd Academy Awards, the most ambitious award show held during the pandemic, rolled out a red carpet and restored some glamour to the nearly century-old movie institution, but with a radically transformed — and in some ways downsized — telecast.
The ceremony — fashioned as a movie of its own — kicked off with opening credits and a slinky Regina King entrance, as the camera followed the actress and “One Night in Miami” director in one take as she strode with an Oscar in hand into Los Angeles’ Union Station and onto the stage. Inside the transit hub (trains were still running), nominees sat at cozy, lamp-lit tables around an intimate amphitheater.
Daniel Kaluuya won best supporting actor for “Judas and the Black Messiah.” The win for the 32-year-old British actor who was previously nominated for “Get Out,” was widely expected. Kaluuya won for his fiery performance as the Black Panther leader Fred Hampton, whom Kaluuya thanked for showing him “how to love myself.”
With the awards capping a year of national reckoning on race and coming days after Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin was convicted for killing George Floyd, police brutality was on the minds of many attendees. King said that if the verdict had been different, she might have traded her heels for marching boots.
Travon Free, co-director of the live-action short winner “Two Perfect Strangers,” wore a suit jacket lined with the names of those killed by police. His film dramatizes police brutality as an inescapable time loop like a tragic “Groundhog’s Day” for Black Americans.
Death toll in fire at Iraqi COVID-19 hospital surpasses 80
BAGHDAD — The death toll from a massive fire at a Baghdad hospital for coronavirus patients rose to at least 82 Sunday as anxious families searched for missing relatives and the government suspended key health officials for alleged negligence.
The flames, described by one witness as “volcanoes of fire,” swept through the intensive care unit of the Ibn al-Khatib Hospital, which tends exclusively to COVID-19 patients with severe symptoms. Officials said the blaze, which also injured 110 people, was set off by an exploding oxygen cylinder.
Nurse Maher Ahmed was called to the scene late Saturday to help evacuate patients.
“I could not have imagined it would be a massive blaze like that,” he said. The flames overwhelmed the hospital’s second floor isolation hall within three to four minutes of the oxygen cylinder exploding, he said. “Volcanoes of fire.”
Most of those killed suffered severe burns, he said. Others were overcome by smoke, unwilling to leave behind relatives hooked up to ventilators. Ahmed said the patients could not be moved. “They would have minutes to live without oxygen.”
He said he and others watched helplessly as one patient struggled to breathe amid the smoke.
By wire sources