The College Review of the 95th Academy Awards
Written by Hailey Kukral on March 15, 2023
Hollywood’s most important night took place last weekend, on the coattails of an eventful show a year ago. The 95th Academy Awards took place Sunday, March 12th, at the Dolby Theatre located on shiny Hollywood Boulevard. The star studded event featured performances from all the Best Original Song nominees, sob-worthy wins & speeches, and one to many Will Smith jokes. As I sat and watched the very Hunger Games-Capitol-like ceremony, I took note of various moments I wanted to talk about. Don’t worry I know what you’re thinking; “I need to hear a random 21-year old, Ohio college student’s opinion on the Academy Awards”. You’ve come to the right place. So without further ado, here is the college review of the Oscars.
First and foremost, Jimmy Kimmel was selected as the host of the ceremony this year. He cracked jokes, changed outfits, and to be honest, I don’t have much to complain about, shockingly. Don’t get me wrong, he had his moments, but he appropriately addressed the wide array of thoughts going into the night. Those generally include “OH MY GOD, is Chris Rock going to be there?”, or “How are they going to address this???”. Kimmel played it safe, and didn’t give much of an opinion.
In his opening monologue he addressed the audience saying “So we have strict policies in place. If anyone in this theater commits an act of violence at any point during the show, you will be awarded the Oscar for Best Actor and permitted to give a 19-minute-long speech”. He continued on stating, “Seriously, The Academy has a crisis team in place. If anything unpredictable or violent happens during the ceremony. Just do what you did last year: nothing,”. Kimmel called out various celebrities who played heroes such as Pedro Pascal, Michael B. Jordan, and Michele Yeoh. Andrew Garfield was also include in this lineup for playing Spiderman, but he seemed less than eager to be fighting this imaginary battle.
Even though Garfield didn’t seem that thrilled, plenty of celebrities through out the night were extremely happy to be there. The entire cast and crew of Everything, Everywhere, All At Once quickly became the most notable group of the night. EEAAO ended up with 7 wins, gaining the most awards out of any film including:
- Best Original Screenplay
- Best Achievement in Directing
- Best Achievement in Film Editing
- Jamie Lee Curtis for Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role
- Ke Huy Quan for Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role
- Michele Yeoh for Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role
- Best Picture
This brilliant ensemble screamed for every win, and sported the famous bagel symbol from the movie.
I mean this genuinely, if you haven’t seen this film, I’m begging you to drop your plans for the night, and watch it. EEAAO is ridiculous, and wild, yes, but it beautifully illustrates generational trauma between a mother and daughter. That longline doesn’t even begin to cover the nuances it held. As much as I adored Michele as Evelyn, and Stephanie as Joy, Ke Huy Quan was the standout performance. He portrayed the Waymond, the caring father, who fights his battles with kindness. They must have taken some character notes from Ke’s real life personality.
After leaving the industry for many years following movies like The Goonies and Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom, EEAAO was his comeback film. It won him the Oscar he was so deserving of. Ke in his extremely lovable nature went up to accept the award and said “Mom, I just won an Oscar!”. His kind personality made him one of the favorites of this award season. How can you not love him? He is exactly the kind of humble and joy Hollywood desperately needs sometimes.
This was the year of the finally awards. Not only did Ke win, but Brendon Fraser ended up taking home the award for Best Actor in a Leading Role for The Whale. Fraser was blacklisted from Hollywood for many years following him speaking up about an assault by a well-known producer in the industry. After many frustrating years, as well as starting a family, he reentered the film scene with this stellar performance.
He accepted his award by saying “So this what the multiverse looks like”, followed by a ton of nautical-themed metaphors about his kids, cast mates, crew, and supporters. These were the two wins that made my night worth it. They were so deserving after their many years in the business. Ke and Brendon exemplify compassion.
There were plenty of other highs across the night, including the stunning performances of all the nominees for Best Original Song. Some of the most notable performances came from Rihanna singing “Life Me Up” from Black Panther: Wakanda Forever, and Lady Gaga singing “Hold my Hand” from Top Gun: Maverick. As much as I adored these emotional, and beautiful moments, one performance stuck out to me.
A crew of over 20 dancers took to the stage to preform the song “Naatu Naatu” from RRR, and they brought the house down. The ceremony was desperately needing something upbeat & fun, and wow did they deliver. Although I haven’t seen the movie, the routine they did was almost identical to the scene, and my god is that difficult choreography. I can’t express this enough, please go watch the video if you need a pick me up, or you’re just feeling down. Seeing such talented people having so much fun really does make you feel better. They were my official standout performance of the night.
Now here’s where my complaining starts. Nothing is going to be perfect when it comes to award shows, but there were a couple moments that had me mad, confused, or disappointed. First off, I was shocked that Elvis and Banshees of Inisherin didn’t win a single Oscar. I will admit, I thought Elvis was a bad movie. The pacing was god awful, and the entire film was narrated from the perspective of the antagonist, who is recently being coined as the man who killed Elvis.
There were only two things that made it bearable to watch; the cinematography & Austin Butler. Let’s start with how the film was shot, because it was gorgeous. In true Baz Luhrmann fashion, everything was whimsical, brightly-colored, and very intense. Mandy Walker served as the Cinematographer on the film, and was nominated for Best Cinematography, the only Oscars category never won by a woman… in 95 years. I was desperately hoping that we would finally close that gap of inequality, but in true Hollywood fashion, it was given to the man-led, war film.
Now consistent sexism within the film industry doesn’t surprise me, but Austin Butler losing Best Leading Actor did. This is the man that isolated from his friends & family to prepare for the role, and hasn’t dropped the famous accent in almost 4 whole years. If that isn’t method acting, I can’t say I know what would be. Butler embodied the icon so closely that it makes you question what footage is real, or recreated. The only plus to him losing the Oscar was him losing it to Brendon Fraser.
For me, the most upsetting moment of the night came when Jamie Lee Curtis won Best Supporting Actress over Angela Bassett and Stephanie Hsu. Let’s forget how iconic Curtis is for a second, because if we’re talking acting Hsu had it in the bag. I understand she’s younger, but she played a myriad of characters, unlike Curtis or even Bassett. If Stephanie has no more fans left on the Earth, then I’m dead.
Now as much as I can complain about who won or didn’t win what award, this year’s Academy Awards were a win in my book. As many echoed across various platforms, something about the night felt different. To me, it felt like a large collection of newbies, and legacies teaming up to support each other on film’s biggest night. There was something different in the air other than that consistent Hollywood bureaucracy.
I want to encourage everyone to go watch every film nominated from this season, or to at least attempt it. This season was dedicated to the weirdos, the dreamers, and those who never thought it would be possible for them. Something about seeing people who care about this as much as you do, helps everything seem less scary.