By Grace Burton, Third Year, Social Policy and Politics
The 95th annual Academy Awards ceremony has come to a close, leaving audiences with a reinvigorated love for the power of storytelling and an appreciation for the hard work that goes into making the films we adore.
The most stand-out moments include historic wins for both Michelle Yeoh and Ke Huy Quan, who respectively won Best Actress and Best Supporting Actor for this award season's powerhouse and tonight's Best Picture, Everything Everywhere All at Once (2022).
Quan emotionally thanked his 84-year-old mother, sobbing, ‘Mom, I just won an Oscar!’ as he accepted his award.
‘My journey started on a boat. I spent a year in a refugee camp, and somehow, I ended up here on Hollywood’s biggest stage. They say stories like this only happen in the movies. I cannot believe it’s happening to me. This- this is the American Dream. Dreams are something you have to believe in. I almost gave up on mine. To all of you out there, please keep your dreams alive. I love you. Thank you!’
Michelle Yeoh also made an inspiring speech about using her Oscar as a ‘beacon of hope and possibilities’ for young boys and girls who look like her, having made history by becoming the first Asian woman to win the Best Actress category.
She went on to thank her extended family in Hong Kong for helping her at the start of her career and allowing her to stand on their shoulders.
'This is proof that dreams, dream big, and dreams do come true. And ladies, don’t ever let anyone tell you you are ever past your prime. Never give up!'
Another notable win went to Brendan Fraser for his performance in The Whale (2022). While fans were surprised that Austin Butler didn’t take home the big win for his performance in Elvis (he should really drop the accent now), anyone who knows the tragic history and treatment of Fraser for the last twenty years at the hand of the Academy knows nobody deserved this award more.
While Yeoh and Quan’s wins were cause for celebration, there were also some notable snubs throughout the evening. With many taking to Twitter to express that Angela Bassett was robbed by Jamie Lee Curtis for Best Supporting Actress. Her role in Black Panther: Wakanda Forever (2022) was the first nomination for a black woman in a Marvel film this year.
Michael B. Jordan and Jonathan Majors offered their condolences to Bassett from the stage shortly after her loss with the sincere words, ‘Hi, auntie. We love you’. This comes after the controversial omission of Viola Davis from nominations for her role in The Woman King (2022).
However, Ruth E. Carter made history once again with her second win for Best Costume Design, becoming the first black woman to win multiple Oscars in any category. Last year, she took home the same award for her costume designs in Ma Rainey's Black Bottom (2021) and, this year, for Black Panther: Wakanda Forever.
Although with Everything, Everywhere amassing seven wins for a film about and for people of colour, it is clear that the Academy is positively changing after pushback for more representation.
However, this representation was lost in the nominees for the Best Director category as not a single woman was nominated. The lack of female representation was particularly striking given the number of films which could have been nominated, such as Sarah Polley’s Women Talking (2022) which won Best Adapted Screenplay.
Polley ironically thanked the Academy for ‘not being mortally offended by the words women and talking so close together’. It highlighted the work that still needs to be done.
As Jamie Lee Curtis, who won Best Supporting Actress, demanded to see ‘more women anywhere, anytime, all at once’ winning.
Despite this, it was heartening to hear the Daniels duo dedicate their award to ‘the mummies of the world’ that nurture their children’s creativity. Daniel Scheinert also made pointed references to the current ‘don’t say gay’ controversies sweeping America by shouting that dressing in drag is a ‘threat to nobody!’ which was met by huge applause.
Of course, it only took about ten minutes before Jimmy Kimmel referenced The Slap in his monologue before continuing to make ill-placed references to the newly instated crisis team after Will Smith’s infamous slapping of Chris Rock last year.
In addition to his strange questions for, Nobel-Prize winning, Malala over Chris Pines and Harry Styles’ spitgate, it is hard not to cringe at his presenting...
Other worthy mentions include Rihanna’s performance of Lift Me Up, paying tribute to the late Chadwick Boseman, or Lady Gaga’s emotional performance of Hold My Hand from Top Gun: Maverick.
Although both lost out to the feverishly catchy Natuu Natuu from RRR (2022) for Best Original Song, which saw composer MM Keeravani playfully sing his own tune for the audience instead of a speech.
This win was a first for Indian films, and as Deepika Padukone rightfully said, ‘if you don’t know Naatu, you’re about to’.
After taking home seven BAFTAs last month, All Quiet on the Western Front won four Academy Awards last night, including Best International Feature Film- beating Argentina, 1985- Best Cinematography, Production Design and Original Score.
But one of the night's most memorable moments was getting to meet Jenny, who played the donkey in The Banshees of Inisherin (2022).
Overall, the 2023 Oscars were a night to remember, filled with history-making moments and thought-provoking speeches. While there were certainly some snubs and controversies, the ceremony served as a reminder of the power of storytelling and the importance of representation in the film industry.
Featured Image: Courtesy of Felix Mooneeram / Unsplash
What did you think of the 95th Academy Award winners?