The 53rd Academy Awards, honoring the best in film for 1980, were presented March 31, 1981, at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion in Los Angeles. The ceremonies, which were presided over by Johnny Carson, were originally scheduled for the previous day but were postponed due to the assassination attempt on President Ronald Reagan.
David Lynch's The Elephant Man and Martin Scorsese's Raging Bull, with eight nominations each, had the most nominations of this year's films. Their nominations included Best Picture, Best Actor and Best Director. Michael Apted's Coal Miner's Daughter received seven nominations while Ordinary People and Tess received six.
The year's winner of acting categories also marked as the closest span ever between the four winners, all of whom were under 40 when they won the award. Robert De Niro was 37 when awarded Best Actor, Sissy Spacek was 31 when awarded Best Actress, Timothy Hutton was 20 when awarded Best Supporting Actor, and Mary Steenburgen was 28 when awarded Best Supporting Actress. In addition, Hutton was the youngest ever Best Supporting Actor winner. His award was one of four that Ordinary People won, more than any other movie; the movie also won Best Picture, Best Director for Robert Redford and Best Screenplay Based on Material from Another Medium for Alvin Sargent.
The lack of recognition for Christopher Tucker's make-up work on The Elephant Man prompted the creation of the Academy Award for Best Makeup the following year.
Best Supporting Actress nominee Eva Le Gallienne was born in 1899, which made her the last acting nominee to be born in the nineteenth century. As of 2017, this is the earliest Oscars for which all five directing nominees are still living.