95th Academy Awards Recap
Another year in the books.
Not a whole lot to really say about this one. A lot of the obvious stuff won. Which, given what won, a lot of that is very interesting and worth talking about and celebrating. Huge wins for diversity all around, and in the right way. Two Asian actors won Oscars, a woman won Screenplay, two Indian films won awards. And none of it felt forced. It felt like legitimately everyone picked what they liked the best. There’s a lot to love about this year as a whole given the choices they made.
Now, of course, in terms of picking everything (which you know is my main focus in the moment. We can talk about the rest going forward for the rest of time)… it was a pretty boring year. Lotta chalk. Lotta obvious choices. I knew it was a boring one when I only had one 3 come in on my Scorecard and the rest were 1s and 2s. There was literally one surprise winner all night. And even that wasn’t that much of a surprise when you got there. So — big win for diversity, great night for feeling good for people, and another year that thoroughly proves that these awards, when you pay attention to precursors and general history, are pretty easy to figure out most of the time.
Best Picture: Everything Everywhere All at Once
This one was obvious from the jump. It had the most nominations, it won all the precursors, and was the film most people were excited about. It didn’t even have any competition! Nothing came close to challenging this here, so the whole season was just a slow march to the inevitable. Which is both awesome and insane. When we all saw this movie last April when it was released in theaters, none of us thought, “Yeah, this is gonna win 7 Oscars.” Absolutely not. I saw it and went, “Man, I hope a lot of people see this.” Which ended up being true within weeks. The fact that the Academy embraced such a weird and different movie is actually quite commendable. Because, let us not forget — 5 years ago, Green Book won Best Picture. Nothing about this movie screams Oscars when you first see it(except maybe the editing and screenplay). And yet, here we are. It’s pretty awesome and really great in a lot of ways, because it shows that not the same old crap is automatically going to win. If anything, this year was a rejection of the ‘same old crap’. The Fabelmans — 0 wins. Elvis — 0 wins. Babylon — lost the biggest gimme in the world. This Academy really is different now. You can see it in the voting. They’re rejecting the boring old white choices. And what’s great about it is — they should be rejecting them. It’s not just change for the sake of change. It’s change to catch up with the fact that most people actually don’t agree with a lot of the choices that were being made a lot of the time by the voting body, so they updated the voting body to better reflect the diversity of opinions that exist within the industry. And so you get a film like this that, in so many ways, is a trailblazer and a huge door-opener for so many things going forward. So as much as right now, all I see is ‘easy winner everyone should have guessed’, going forward, this is kind of a huge deal. And that’s nice.
Best Director: Daniel Kwan & Daniel Scheinert, Everything Everywhere All at Once
The directors of the “Turn Down for What” music video are now Best Director winners. The guys whose previous film was about a farting corpse are now Best Director winners. One of these two also directed a film about a guy who gets fucked to death by a horse. Best Director winner. This is wild. And also hugely deserved. Were there really that many directorial efforts this year as unique and memorable and original and truly noteworthy as this one? I don’t think there were. This win actually is in the truest sense of the category. They built, conceived, shot and executed this film from the ground up. And it’s a stellar piece of work. But also — these are two guys in their 30s who make weird and unique movies, and it’s great to see them recognized. Because, let’s be honest — how fucking boring would it have been if Steven Spielberg had won instead? And now — they’ve got the hat trick (which we’ll talk about in a minute). Their speech (all their speeches) — amazing.
Also, one last thing I want to point out, because I heard Kimmel say it in the open — Steven Spielberg is now the first person to be nominated across six decades. And while he didn’t win, that fact is arguably the most impressive thing that happened tonight. That’s nuts. Truly generational talent there. And you forget how, for at least two full decades (separated decades, mind you. I’m talking 80s and 2000s), Spielberg was thoroughly underappreciated and dismissed.
Best Actor: Brendan Fraser, The Whale
This made me so happy. I was worried for a minute that Austin Butler was gonna win, which was just gonna be such a boring choice. Nothing against him or the performance. It just would have been so deflating for me to see. Fraser was a story — like Ke Huy Quan — you wanted to see him up on that stage. And it’s nice that he gets that moment. You can feel how you want about the film and its portrayal of obese people. That’s all valid. But on a personal level — good for Brendan Fraser. You know how truly liked you have to be for Tom Cruise to remake your movie and for people to, en masse, say, “Fuck that, bring Brendan back instead”? Especially after he’d been off the radar for 15 years by that point. Good for him. I’m thrilled for him, and I hope this brings him fully back into movies and in bigger things. I know he’s already gonna be in Scorsese’s new movie. Which is awesome. I hope he keeps it going. I’ll be thrilled to see him back on screen again in noteworthy films.
In terms of picking a ballot, this was one of the marquee categories of the night. This was a make or break one for people’s ballots. Sure, by the time they announced it you knew it had already won Makeup and that he was probably going to win this, but it could just as easily been Austin Butler. But I figured that the only reason he didn’t win the Globe is because of his history there, which means that Butler really only ‘won’ BAFTA, which wasn’t a whole lot for me to hang my hat on. The whole time it felt like he was the more likely winner, so I’m glad my gut won out in the end. Now… 5 years ago… Butler probably wins this category. But it’s not 5 years ago. So we get a nice moment for an actor we all want to root for.
Best Actress: Michelle Yeoh, Everything Everywhere All at Once
Thrilled for her. The first East Asian Actress winner ever (and second nominee, I believe, after Merle Oberon). It’s hard not to be happy for her. Asian woman, acting legend, in some amazing movies, who never got her due, 60 years old (which is a big deal). It’s a good win. Cate Blanchett winning would have been so boring. That’s the kind of win that would have felt paint-by-numbers, and everyone would’ve forgotten the performance almost immediately after she won (kind of like the film she won her previous Actress award for). Yeoh is the better story, and I’m happy for her. This is also a win you saw coming on in the past few weeks, sort of like how you saw CODA coming on strong at the end of last season. So I hope most people went off the on-paper favorite who only seemed like a favorite because they were anointed as such and went onto the person who, if you were paying actual attention with your eyes and ears, was clearly the better choice. Also — this makes her the second Bond girl to be a Best Actress winner. Just saying.
Best Supporting Actor: Ke Huy Quan, Everything Everywhere All at Once
How could you not be happy at this? His story has been an utter delight throughout the season, and that speech along made it all worthwhile. This is exactly the kind of thing the Oscars are built on and the kind of thing we should be celebrated. I am so happy for him and I hope they don’t let him slip through the cracks again and we start to see him on screen as consistently as he wants to be on it. Talking logistically — he was the obvious winner all throughout the process. No one came close to challenging him. This was one of the easiest ones to guess on the night. And as the second award, everyone should have been 2-2 by the time it was guessed.
Best Supporting Actress: Jamie Lee Curtis, Everything Everywhere All at Once
She made the most sense. I went off her because I’m of an age where I like to not take the boring route. But after that SAG win, there wasn’t really anyone else who made a ton of sense as a winner. And honestly, good for her. She put in the work for so many years and she got a reward. She also gave a speech that is guaranteed to be used in clip packages for years to come. Third award on the night, and it was hard to be mad at any of the choices to that point. You can disagree with the performance (as I will, going forward), but as a winner, you can’t be mad at her getting something. I’m happy for her.
This also makes the film the third film ever to win three acting awards, alongside A Streetcar Named Desire and Network. Which is kinda nuts to think about, but there it is.
Best Original Screenplay: Everything Everywhere All at Once
Chalk win. No one’s surprised and no one’s upset. You could say that Banshees deserved it more, but it was clear there was no heat under Banshees at all and this was the film destined to win this. It gives the Daniels the hat trick, winning for producing, writing and directing a film, something only 8 people had done previously (well… 9, but… you’ll see): Leo McCarey (Going My Way), Billy Wilder (The Apartment), Francis Ford Coppola (Godfather Part II), James L. Brooks (Terms of Endearment), Peter Jackson (Return of the King), the Coens (No Country for Old Men), Alejandro Iñarritu (Birdman) and Bong Joon-ho (Parasite). It’s exclusive company they’ve just joined. It’s a big deal.
Best Adapted Screenplay: Women Talking
I don’t know how to say this but… this was the obvious winner all along. You looked at that category and immediately knew Top Gun, Living and Glass Onion had no shot. So you had this movie and the war film as the two choices, and war movies never win for writing. Ever. And yet, the war movie had 9 nominations to this film’s 2 and all the logic said, “Well obviously it’ll be the other choice.” But no. I was utterly convinced al the way through this was happening. So this isn’t a surprising win at all to me. Maybe history will deem it as such, but when you look at the category, to me it was the only choice that made sense. And then, on a personal level — good for Sarah Polley. She’s amazing and she deserved it and I’m very happy she’s won.
Best Editing: Everything Everywhere All at Once
This was a gimme. It was the best edited film of the year. The things they had to keep track of were worth this alone, and then there are those supercuts of all the universes converging in the span of like, ten seconds, that are just breathtaking. And also — I’d have given this film the award based purely on a single cut to a cliff with a couple of rocks on it. A stunning moment. This film deserved this win above all the others it won.
Best Cinematography: All Quiet on the Western Front
What the hell else was it gonna be? This was a win that was basically handed to everyone the minute they didn’t nominate The Batman or Top Gun. Sometimes they give you an easy winner and you just have to take it. It was the only choice that also happened to be the right choice. Sometimes it’s just that easy.
Best Original Score: All Quiet on the Western Front
Two things to note first — John Williams, oldest nominee in Academy history, and now the second-most nominated person ever behind Walt Disney. That’s awesome. Anyway, in terms of the score — this was announced after Production Design and Babylon had already lost that. So you knew this was winning. I suspected a Babylon rejection going in, so I figured this was the most likely winner. And it played out as suspected. Most voters wouldn’t necessarily remember the score more than Babylon’s, but they will remember the big, blaring motif that plays throughout the film, and that was enough to get it the win. It’s a solid winner. Academy Award winner Hauschka.
Best Original Song: “Naatu Naatu,” from RRR
Some notes I wrote down while watching the performances:
- “I wish there was a prop bet on whether David Byrne would wear hot dog fingers. I’d have made so much money.”
- “It’s fun to see them confronted with the shit they voted for (because you know they didn’t even listen to half of it).” — this was in response to them starting with the Diane Warren song from the film nobody had seen or heard of and then following it up with the David Byrne performance that clearly made them go, “What kind of weird shit is this?” Because you know they didn’t actually listen to that song before they nominated it. And now they had to sit through that choice.
- “They should have just opened the show with “Naatu Naatu” and let them go ten minutes. Everyone would have been fucking PUMPED to start that show.”
- “LOVE how they did the Gaga song performance. Did they have Bradley Cooper direct this too?” — Goddamn that was more interesting than 98% of all song performances I’ve seen in the past 20 years. I remember hearing them say she wasn’t gonna perform because she didn’t have time to put together a performance, but that performance proved that if you have a good song and just sing the shit out of it, that’s so much more interesting than anything else they could have put together with a month of prep time. That’s the difference between pure talent and over-preparation.
- I also questioned why they put Rihanna on last. I’m always curious about the calculus of that. Because I always think you’d want to put the big names on earlier for people to see them sing. All the kids on the east coast would have gone to bed by the time she went on. But also, you don’t want to put her on too early, because you want people to know she’s coming up and to keep watching, waiting for her. I’m always fascinated by how they figure out that balance (or whether they think about it at all, which they probably don’t). Also interesting they put her on last, because usually the last performance is the one they figure is gonna win. But they also announced the category like 45 minutes after her performance, so I think they kinda knew. But the logistics of when and how the song performances go on is usually more interesting to me than the actual categories are most of the time.
That’s really the bulk of what I have to say about this category, because we knew “Naatu Naatu” was gonna win all along. There was no surprise here. It’s the second foreign song to win, so that’s cool, but ballot-wise, this was straight chalk.
Best Production Design: All Quiet on the Western Front
Well that was a big rejection of both Elvis AND Babylon. I half-expected Babylon. But Elvis too… damn. Fuck the old white people movies, huh. This is the only thing on the night that can moderately be considered a ‘surprise’. It won no precursors at all, even at BAFTA, where it swept. It pretty much came out of nowhere. But good for them. The production design was awesome. But legitimately, if anyone was picking a ballot, this is the only winner that can even remotely be considered a surprise. And even then, it was clearly the third choice. So your surprise was a third choice, which is something you get out of at least one Shorts category most years anyway. So that’s nothing.
Best Costume Design: Black Panther: Wakanda Forever
Hmm. No Elvis. That was two losses in a row. Makeup and Costumes. Guess we really are seeing a changing of the guard. (I wrote that as it won, which was fairly early on in the night.) Also, good for Ruth Carter. This is a good win for a lot of reasons, and her speech was good. I’m happy for this one. I’m also pretty happy because I really didn’t want to miss just the categories I deliberately went off of. I wanted to legitimately get something wrong, and to the point when this was announced, I was worried about that. So I’m glad I missed this one (plus I got a 2 on the Scorecard, so it was basically a nothing miss for me).
Best Makeup & Hairstyling: The Whale
Well, that was a big one. That could have easily gone to Elvis. This telegraphed Fraser’s win, and also made or broke a lot of ballots, because this was one of the big categories that could have swung another way. And you kind of had to put this and Actor together. So you either got 2 or 0 from them. Overall, a good win. And also kind of a historic one, given that some of the Makeup was done with visual effects. Though clearly a lot was also practical, so it’s a good winner on top of all that.
Best Visual Effects: Avatar: The Way of Water
No shit. What is there to say about this? It was one of the three biggest locks on the night. Either this was winning or we all were getting it wrong.
Best Sound: Top Gun: Maverick
Yeah, if it was gonna be anywhere, it was gonna be here. This makes sense. Interesting they didn’t go all in on All Quiet. I thought that had a shot at 5-6 wins. And yet, they kept it at 4 (which… no foreign film still has ever won more than 4 Oscars). It was a tossup all the way through, so there’s no surprise here. Top Gun was probably the savvy choice. But BAFTA was no joke in Sound. They’d only missed one winner since 2007. But, shit happens. Tossups go the other way sometimes. Happy for Top Gun going home with something.
Best Animated Feature: Guillermo del Toro’s Pinocchio
I love Guillermo. I’m so happy for him. I also like that he used his speech to talk about keeping animation at the forefront of cinema and using it to tell complex stories and not just relegating it to children’s fare. Otherwise, completely obvious winner. One of the biggest locks of the night. A nice easy one for people to start off with.
Best International Feature: All Quiet on the Western Front (Germany)
Next to Avatar, this was the biggest lock on the night, if not the single biggest lock on the night. Every single person picking a ballot should have had, as their foundation, this, Avatar, Ke Huy Quan, Pinocchio and “Naatu Naatu.” Five absolute stone cold locks to start from.
Best Documentary Feature: Navalny
Yup. That made the most sense. The Academy is nothing if not predictable. This was one of those categories that saved the ballot for me, in case I started going off the rails. A lot of people could have been 4-4 by the time this one came through. I also love that they put his wife on at the end of the speech. They couldn’t play off SHIT there. But anyway, I’m happy this one came through. Because it wasn’t a gimme, even though my Oscar senses said it was really the only proper choice. It’ll go down as a sort of forgotten winner, as so many of them do. It’ll join the ranks of Icarus and American Factory instead of Searching for Sugar Man, 20 Feet from Stardom and Summer of Soul. Which is fine. Tonight, though — this was a big winner for a lot of ballots.
Best Documentary Short: The Elephant Whisperers
God, what an obvious choice. I’m almost mad that I got that right. This was proof that there’s really no point in overthinking things. As soon as this happened I was like, “Oh I just swept the four hard ones.” Because I did. I had all four winners cold and the only reason I went 3/4 is because I straight up refused to vote for one of them. It’s rare that I sweep these bottom categories. Last year I swept basically the top half and got like a 4 on one of the shorts categories. So it’s always super helpful when I can get basically all 1s in these ones.
Best Live Action Short: An Irish Goodbye
NO SHIT. They are nothing if not predictable. What is there to even say about this? Fucking obviously this won. Most people should have had this. This wasn’t difficult to guess.
Best Animated Short: The Boy, the Mole, the Fox and the Horse
This was the favorite all throughout, and finally a favorited storybook short actually wins. It was the safest choice (which I of course went off of on my ballot because I have to be difficult). Most people should have had it, because most people aren’t as stubborn as I am.
– – – – – – – – – –
- Everything Everywhere All at Once — 7 wins (Picture, Director, Actress, Supporting Actor, Supporting Actress, Original Screenplay, Editing)
- All Quiet on the Western Front — 4 wins (Cinematography, Score, Production Design, International Feature)
- The Whale — 2 wins (Actor, Makeup & Hairstyling)
- Avatar: The Way of Water — 1 win (Visual Effects)
- Black Panther: Wakanda Forever — 1 win (Costume Design)
- Guillermo del Toro’s Pinocchio — 1 win (Animated Feature)
- Navalny — 1 win (Documentary Feature)
- RRR — 1 win (Song)
- Top Gun: Maverick — 1 win (Sound)
- Women Talking — 1 win (Adapted Screenplay)
- And then, The Elephant Whisperers won Documentary Short, An Irish Goodbye won Live Action Short and The Boy, the Mole, the Fox and the Horse won Animated Short.
– – – – – – – – – –
Time for the Scorecard. This felt like a pretty good year, but not an all-timer kind of year. Only one thing came in where I went, “Oh, that was a third choice.” Otherwise it was top twos all around, with a few I deliberately took knowing I’d be wrong.
- Best Picture: +1
- Best Director: +1
- Best Actor: +1
- Best Actress: +1
- Best Supporting Actor: +1
- Best Supporting Actress: +2
- Best Original Screenplay: +1
- Best Adapted Screenplay: +1
- Best Editing: +1
- Best Cinematography: +1
- Best Original Score: +1
- Best Original Song: +1
- Best Production Design: +3
- Best Costume Design: +2
- Best Makeup & Hairstyling: +1
- Best Visual Effects: +1
- Best Sound: +2
- Best Animated Feature: +1
- Best International Feature: +1
- Best Documentary Feature: +1
- Best Documentary Short: +1
- Best Live Action Short: +1
- Best Animated Short: +2
I got 18/23 straight up. Which is solid. That’s an average year. Plus when you consider I deliberately voted against 2 winners, I did just fine. Very pleased with this one.
- 2010: +12 (36)
- 2011: +14 (38)
- 2012: +10 (34)
- 2013: +5 (29)
- 2014: +8 (32)
- 2015: +9 (33)
- 2016: +11 (35)
- 2017: +5 (29)
- 2018: +9 (33)
- 2019: +3 (27)
- 2020: +13 (36)
- 2021: +4 (27)
- 2022: +6 (29)
Shit, I’ll take a +6. Especially since two of them I told you were probably not gonna happen. So realistically, on the ballots I told all my friends to take in their pools, I was a +4. This is a banner year all around. Extra great considering how I barely even watched 80% of nominees by the time nominations rolled around and put so little thought in the whole thing throughout. I could say it’s because I’m just that damn good or say that it really just is pretty easy to do this once you have all the information and do it for a length of time to where you can intuit how they’ll probably vote. Even with the changing voting body, you can still guess how they’re gonna vote the majority of the time. Because legitimately — take away the Shorts categories (which can go sideways at any given time) — the only surprise we had this year was Production Design, and that was a third choice that was only a surprise because it won no precursors (which probably has to do with the fact that it was a foreign film). So, all in all, this one was easy to figure out. So we all should have done well here. If I can teach you anything about this whole process it’s that anyone can be good at this fairly easily so long as you look at what’s in front of you and don’t listen to the idiots talking about it (and that includes me).
(P.S. My Oscar trivia article is updated with the results from this year.)
– – – – – – – – – –
Pour one out for The Banshees of Inisherin. I’ll remember that film. Forever, I’ll remember that film, that Martin McDonagh masterpiece, and Colin Farrell’s performance, as well as those of Brendan, Kerry, Barry, and the rest. :*)
March 14, 2023 at 4:08 am
Cate Blanchett’s Blue Jasmine win is widely considered the greatest Best Actress winning performance since the millennium. You can’t just phrase things because you didn’t like it.
March 20, 2023 at 2:13 pm