At 83, Anthony Hopkins became the oldest Best Actor nominee ever. Previously, this record was held by Richard Farnsworth, who received a nomination at the age of 79 for his performance in The Straight Story (1999). Hopkins would eventually win the award and now holds the record for oldest Best Actor winner.

With her Best Supporting Actress nomination, Glenn Close joins James Coco and Amy Irving in receiving a Razzie nomination and Oscar nomination for the same performance.

For the first time, two women were nominated for Best Director: Chloé Zhao and Emerald Fennell.

In the In Memoriam segment, photos of nearly 100 individuals were shown in less than three minutes, with many being on screen for barely half a second, after Angela Bassett's introductory remarks lasted almost a minute and a half.

Glenn Close tied Peter O'Toole's record of eight acting nominations without a win.

The first Academy Awards ceremony in which the Best Picture Oscar was not awarded last since 1972, when Charles Chaplin received an Honorary Award. Until 1948 it was common for acting awards to be presented last.

The ceremony was postponed from February 28 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Fred Hampton appears as a character in two of the nominated films: Judas and the Black Messiah (2021) and The Trial of the Chicago 7 (2020). He is portrayed by Daniel Kaluuya (nominated for Best Supporting actor for his performance) and Kelvin Harrison Jr. respectively. Both films received a Best Picture nomination.

The first Oscars broadcast framed entirely in a letterbox aspect ratio, with the exception of graphics, photos and films containing a different aspect ratio.

With his nominations for Best Supporting Actor and Best Song, Leslie Odom Jr. joins Lady Gaga, Mary J. Blige and Cynthia Erivo in being the only people to receive nominations in an acting and music category in the same year. All three received their double nominations for a film they appeared in.

The nominated works in the category of "Best Original Song" were not performed live, unlike previous years. Instead, performances were featured in the pre-show Oscars: Into the Spotlight (2021). Molly Sandén's performance of "Husavik (My Hometown)", from Eurovision Song Contest: The Story of Fire Saga (2020), was shot on location in Húsavík, Iceland, as Sandén was unable to achieve a working visa for the US. The rest of the songs were recorded at the Dolby Family Terrace of the Academy Museum of Motion Pictures in Los Angeles. During the actual awards broadcast, clips from each song's music video were shown.

Of the eight Best Picture nominees, The Trial of the Chicago 7 (2020) was the only one that did not win any awards, with each of its six nominations losing.

Chloé Zhao becomes only the second woman to win Best Director, following Kathryn Bigelow's win for The Hurt Locker.

Instead of the regular recent practice of the previous year's Best Actor and Actress winners presenting this year's award for the opposite-sex category, the previous winners instead presented the award for the category they had themselves won.

Mikkel E.G. Nielsen becomes the first Danish film editor to be nominated and win for Best film Editing. Thomas Vinterberg, who won International feature award, also become the first Dane to be nominated in the Best Director category.