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Oscars 2023: Biggest Moments, Highlights, and Disappointments

Oscars 2023: Highlights and Disappointments
James Francisco

Oscars 2023 was the year (mostly) everything went right

The 2023 Oscars proved to be one of the most memorable and inspiring nights in the Academy’s 95-year history.

While much attention in the run-up to this year’s ceremony was placed on slap-related matters, not to mention returning host Jimmy Kimmel’s predictable decision to go into overkill when it came to slap jokes, the bulk of the evening thankfully saw presenters and winners alike largely shifting the focus back to the real reason we all do this every year: our love for movies.

The performances were better than ever, with Rihanna, Lady Gaga, and more giving us some unforgettable moments. The speeches were heartfelt and tearful, even if some winners were cut short.

Below, we recapped the best parts of this year’s Oscars, the biggest surprises, and even one or two letdowns.

‘Everything Everywhere All at Once’ dominates with seven wins

Well before the 2023 Oscars, Everything Everywhere All at Once had already secured its place in film history. At the box office, it became the first A24 entry to surpass $100 million, thus topping the studio’s previous biggest commercial hit, Ari Aster’s Hereditary.

Heading into Sunday’s ceremony, Daniel Kwan and Daniel Scheinert’s film led the 2023 class of nominees with 11 total nods, including Best Picture. By the end of the night, the film had won seven of those nominations, Best Picture among them.

It also emerged victorious (resulting in a number of movingly vulnerable acceptance speech moments) in the Best Director (for the Daniels), Best Actress (for Michelle Yeoh), Best Supporting Actor (for Ke Huy Quan), Best Supporting Actress (for Jamie Lee Curtis), Best Original Screenplay (again for the Daniels), and Film Editing (for Paul Rogers) categories.

Yeoh, notably, is now the first Asian Best Actress winner in the Oscars’ nearly century-long history. Sunday’s win also marked only the second time a woman of color has won in the category, following 2023 Oscars presenter Halle Berry’s win in 2002 for Monster’s Ball.

“For all the little boys and girls who look like me watching tonight, this is a beacon of hope and possibility,” Yeoh said when accepting her award.

Rihanna performs “Lift Me Up”

Following her Apple Music Super Bowl Halftime Show performance last month, Rihanna was back on another global stage on Sunday, this time to perform her Oscar-nominated Black Panther: Wakanda Forever single “Lift Me Up.”

While the song ultimately lost in the Best Original Song category to “Naatu Naatu” from RRR, the performance was a memorable one. ASAP Rocky even got some screentime; as seen below, he was understandably quick to toast to his love’s Oscars performance on Sunday night.

As for a new album, perhaps we should all stop worrying about updates on that front. Greatness takes time.

A24 is unstoppable

A24 has been behind some of the most thrillingly original films of the past decade, dating all the way back to Harmony Korine’s 2013 Florida romp Spring Breakers.

At the 2023 Oscars, the prolific entertainment brand proved to be downright unstoppable, and not just with Everything Everywhere All at Once’s seven wins out of 11 total nominations.

Darren Aronofsky’s The Whale, another A24-backed 2022 awards darling, bagged two wins of its own on Sunday—Best Actor for Brendan Fraser and Best Makeup and Hairstyling for Adrien Morot, Judy Chin, and Anne Marie Bradley.

With Fraser’s win, A24 pulled off the feat of winning all major categories (i.e. Best Picture, Best Actor and Actress, Best Supporting Actor and Actress, etc.) at this year’s Academy Awards.

Expect to see A24 continuing this streak in the months and years ahead, as its upcoming slate boasts a slew of highly anticipated releases including the Joaquin Phoenix-led Beau Is Afraid and the Sundance-premiered Past Live

Jimmy Kimmel soared as host

It’s not easy to host the Oscars a year after one of the most drama-filled shows in recent history. Kimmel was tasked with the responsibility of delicately dancing around the Will Smith and Chris Rock slap fiasco that took place at last year’s show while still keeping this entertaining and engaging. It wasn’t easy but Kimmel is a pro.

He addressed the issue and poked fun at it head-on without mentioning the actors’ involved by name, and didn’t overdo it. He’s in a room full of celebrities that could inspire a thousand jokes, there’s no need to rely on the ones who aren’t (especially those the Academy banned for 10 years) for cheap laughs.

Kimmel arrived to the ceremony in a parachute, delivered a strong monologue, and made fun of the usual length of the award show (which somehow made it go by a lot more smoothly than usual.) The late-night show host knows how to keep a crowd engaged while ensuring the show is flowing at a good pace.

The attendees all know him, some of them closely, and he shares a similar familiarity with the viewers at home who watch him nightly or catch clips of his show on social media. That paired with his confidence and relaxed comedic style is a recipe for a successful hosting gig.

Expect him to return as a host, again and again.

‘Top Gun: Maverick’ adds an Oscar to its long list of feats

Top Gun: Maverick ranks high in Tom Cruise’s filmography for a number of reasons: great writing, note-perfect performances, breathtaking visuals, and—perhaps most of all—its status as a rare example of a sequel arguably besting its predecessor while also paying considered tribute along the way.

Adding to its long list of critical and commercial accomplishments on Sunday was a well-earned win in the Best Sound category. Fans of the first Top Gun will note that the original 1986 film lost in the comparable sound categories 36 years ago, making Sunday’s win particularly important for the filmmakers.

‘Everything Everywhere All at Once’ wins Best Picture

Let’s be frank. Had EEAO and its cast not made as much noise as it did when it was released and during awards season, chances are this award could’ve gone to The Fabelmans or All Quiet on the Western Front. They both follow a familiar format and storyline that would’ve easily helped them be crowned as winners.

They’re both strong and impactful films in their own right, but they weren’t the most beloved and talked about movie of the year like EEAO has been.

Instead, the people who made the groundbreaking, entertaining and unique film went home with the trophy. It would’ve been a disappointment if they didn’t, but The Academy made the right choice with this one—and Hollywood is better for it, only if it continues to follow this trend.

Angela Bassett did the thing, The Academy did not

There is so much to say about Angela Bassett going home empty-handed last night. She shouldn’t have. Her performance as Queen Ramonda in Black Panther: Wakanda Forever was mesmerizing, powerful, and electrifying.

Sure, it was the first time a Marvel film gets recognized in the acting categories, and it wasn’t likely that she’d win over Jamie Lee Curtis, but this was Bassett’s moment.

Her performance signified so much within the film, culturally and represented so many women, Black mothers in particular, and the sacrifices they make to protect and care for their families. Bassett has gone largely ignored by the Academy, just like Curtis, even though she’s one of the most remarkable actors of our time.

Of all the categories, this one to me feels like the biggest oversight. Bassett deserved better, and for anyone criticizing her reaction or lack thereof, please reflect on how you reacted in the moments where you have felt ignored and overlooked.

There’s no saying how she actually felt unless she vocalizes it herself but if that’s what she experienced, then not reacting feels totally acceptable in this scenario. Win or lose, Bassett is a force and her impact in Hollywood will continue to surpass any award.

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