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.”

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.

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. 

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 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.

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This year’s Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award went to the Motion Picture and Television Fund and was accepted 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.

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.

The 93rd Academy Awards took place at the Los Angeles’ historic Union Station for the first time. Filming for the ceremony is also taking place at the event’s usual location at the city’s Dolby Theatre.

While this isn’t the first awards show to forge ahead despite the pandemic, the Oscars are breaking from the largely virtual Golden Globes by having locations for the stars to actually attend the event. However, numerous international hubs and satellite feeds are connecting nominees unable to travel.

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. There is also no host.

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

The 2021 Oscars are taking place at the historic Union Station in Los Angeles for the first time this year.  

The 2021 Oscars are taking place at the historic Union Station in Los Angeles for the first time this year.  
(AP Photo/Chris Pizzello)

Producers, led by filmmaker Steven Soderbergh, promised a reinvented telecast. He previously described this year’s Oscars would appear more like a movie. 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.”

Netflix dominated this year with 36 nominations, including the lead nominee “Mank,” David Fincher’s black-and-white drama about “Citizen Kane” co-writer Herman J. Mankiewicz. The streamer is still pursuing its first best-picture win; this year, its best shot may be Aaron Sorkin’s “The Trial of the Chicago 7.”

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The 93rd Academy Awards will be different this year, but nominees will still be receiving tons of swag.

The 93rd Academy Awards will be different this year, but nominees will still be receiving tons of swag.
(iStock)

The night’s top prize, best picture, is widely “Nomadland.” Should it be victorious, it will be one of the lowest budget best-picture winners ever. Zhao’s film, populated by nonprofessional actors, was made for less than $5 million. (Her next film, Marvel’s “Eternals,” has a budget of at least $200 million.)

History is also possible in the acting categories. If the winners from the Screen Actors Guild Awards hold — “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.

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An Academy Awards crew member looks over a background element for the red carpet at Union Station.

An Academy Awards crew member looks over a background element for the red carpet at Union Station.
(AP Photo/Chris Pizzello, Pool)

Several of those awards appear to be locks, particularly for the late Boseman, who would become the third actor to ever win a posthumous Academy Award following Peter Finch and Heath Ledger. Taylor Simone Ledward, Boseman’s widow, has often accepted previous honors on his behalf.

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If there’s one less certain category, it’s best actress. Davis, who has won previously for her performance in “Fences,” is up against Carey Mulligan for “Promising Young Woman” and two-time winner McDormand. Prognosticators call it a three-way toss up.

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.

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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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