The New York Times

March 15, 2023

The 2023 Academy Awards Return to the Mellow Ceremony We Know Them As

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The 2023 Academy Awards marked the 95th anniversary of the annual award ceremony, and unlike last year, the night was calm and drama-free. The previous year’s ceremony gained attention for the “slap heard around the world” when Will Smith, who won “Best Actor” later that night, slapped actor and comedian Chris Rock on stage while he was presenting an award. This year’s Oscars were much more mellow, with celebrities on their best behavior and no real surprises as far as who took home awards and who left empty-handed. Of course, host Jimmy Kimmel made a few references to last year’s drama in his opening monologue, but luckily, nothing like that incident was seen this year. Instead of being overshadowed by scandal, this year’s ceremony celebrated some deserving and historic wins across all categories.

There were many big victories to celebrate this year. Michelle Yeoh received Best Actress for her performance in Everything Everywhere All At Once. Yeoh is the first Asian American woman to win the award. That was not the only win for the film, as it took home six other awards, including Best Picture.  

Yeoh’s co-star Jamie Lee Curtis won the Oscar for Best Supporting Actress. The award was the first Oscar nomination and win for Curtis, who is a long time veteran in the film industry. In her acceptance speech, Curtis mentioned her parents, who had both been past Oscar nominees. Her mother was even nominated in the same category as her in 1961 for her role in Psycho.  

Another big win for Everything Everywhere was Best Supporting Actor, which went to Ke Huy Quan. Quan’s family escaped war in Vietnam when he was a child, and he has been open about his struggle to get roles in Hollywood as an Asian American actor. In his acceptance speech, he encouraged viewers not to give up on their dreams like he almost did when he was at his lowest point. Quan retired from acting in the early 2000s, but was motivated by the film Crazy Rich Asians to give his career another shot.

Additionally, Ruth E. Carter made history for being the first Black woman to win two Academy Awards. She received Best Costume Design for Black Panther: Wakanda Forever, and she won the same award in 2019 for her work on the franchise’s first film. The film was also nominated for Best Supporting Actress, Best Visual Effects and Best Makeup and Hairstyling, but only received one award this year. Angela Bassett was a strong contender for Best Supporting Actress and was one of the favorites to win, but she lost the award to Curtis.

Best Actor was awarded to Brendan Fraser for his performance in The Whale. Fraser was a first time Oscar nominee and appeared extremely shocked when his name was announced. In his emotional speech, he gave thanks to the film’s director, Darren Aronfsky, and acknowledged that things did not always come easily to him in the entertainment industry.

The show also featured an intimate performance by Lady Gaga, who performed “Hold My Hand,” her Oscar nominated song that is featured in Top Gun: Maverick. Gaga, who is usually known for her elaborate costumes and makeup, shocked viewers by performing in a t-shirt, ripped jeans and little makeup or hair styling. She intended for the performance to be raw and meaningful, and she achieved just that, leaving the audience in awe and receiving a standing ovation. This is Lady Gaga’s fourth performance at the Oscars; she also took the stage in 2015, 2016 and 2019.  

Although this year’s ceremony wasn’t the exciting and dramatic production that last year’s show was, it was relieving to have a traditional, cordial award ceremony in which the focus was on the deserving winners and nominees rather than the scandals that occurred between them.

Ili Pecullan is a freshman in the College of Human Ecology. She can be reached at [email protected].