Cocaine bear, fighter jets and wiener fingers: A rundown of the 95th Oscars

March 15, 2023, 12:05 a.m.

The 2023 Oscars seemed to contain three noteworthy themes: a clean sweep by a wacky-yet-heartfelt story of an immigrant woman who alternates between her infinite lives in the multiverse; comical moments from host Jimmy Kimmel to lighten the insurmountable pressure in the room and record-breaking wins for Asian American and African American nominees.

“Everything Everywhere All at Once” won seven of the eleven awards for which it was nominated: Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actress, Best Supporting Actor, Best Supporting Actress, Best Original Screenplay and Best Film Editing. Michelle Yeoh, who played the film’s heroine, became the first woman of Asian descent and only the second woman of color to win the award of Best Actress.

“For all the little boys and girls who look like me watching tonight, this is a beacon of hope and possibilities,” Yeoh said in her moving acceptance speech.

Additionally, Ke Huy Quan won Best Supporting Actor for his role Waymond Wang in “Everything Everywhere All at Once.” He not only won the award, but won the crowd over with his emotional and motivational speech that recounts his experience as a Vietnamese immigrant as he urged people to keep their dreams alive.

“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,” he said while tearing up.

Jamie Lee Curtis’ win for Best Supporting Actress for her role as an IRS inspector for “Everything Everywhere All at Once” sparked controversy on Twitter. To some, it was a long-awaited career win for an actress who has starred in over fifty films. To others, it was a nepotism baby stealing the spotlight from powerhouses Angela Bassett and Stephanie Hsu.

The film with the second highest number of wins was the German WWI drama “All Quiet on the Western Front.” It took home golden statues for Best International Feature, Best Cinematography, Best Production Design and Best Original Score. Another landmark award, Best Actor, went to Brendan Fraser for the role of a reclusive 600-pound English teacher in psychological drama “The Whale.”

Ruth E. Carter made history, becoming the first Black woman to win two Oscars. The costume designer for “Black Panther: Wakanda Forever” solemnly noted that her mother recently passed away at the age of 101. She heart-wrenchingly stated, “Chadwick, please take care of Mom.”

Chadwick Boseman was the star of “Black Panther” who was diagnosed with colon cancer, but kept his condition private and continued to act until his death. Rihanna delivered a harmonious performance of the film’s emotional ballad “Lift Me Up” at the awards show as a tribute to the late Boseman.

An energizing performance of the Best Original Song winner, “Naatu Naatu,” kept attendees awake during the 3.5 hour show with riveting beats and electrifying dance moves. Indian actress Deepika Padukone said, “In addition to being sung in Telugu and illustrating the film’s anti-colonist themes, it’s also a total banger.”

Host Jimmy Kimmel provided comic relief and started the evening with a bang, landing on stage with a parachute after his “Top Gun: Maverick”-inspired “flight” in an F18 fighter jet. As he avoided turbulence, he jokingly acknowledged last year’s incident involving Will Smith slapping Chris Rock onstage and proceeding to win Best Actor. Kimmel sarcastically announced, “If anyone in this theater commits an act of violence, you will be awarded the Oscar for Best Actor and permitted to give a 19-minute-long speech.”

There were two prominently unpopular moments during the 2023 Oscars that were quick to prompt viewers to create contemptuous social media posts. The controversy stemmed from viewers’ discontent at Disney’s profit-driven occupation of the show’s air time and Jimmy Kimmel joking with Malala.

Firstly, Disney’s ownership of the ABC network prompted its promotion for the upcoming live-action “The Little Mermaid.” Internet users lamented this decision, claiming it interrupted the year’s most important awards show and took time away from winners’ once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to make a speech to the world.

Secondly, Kimmel awkwardly “harassed” Malala, a famous female education activist and youngest Nobel Peace Prize Laureate, by asking whether Harry Styles spit on Chris Pine after their rumored fight. She shut down the conversation by responding, “I only talk about peace.” Kimmel faced backlash for asking Malala her opinion on a petty Hollywood rumor when she is a champion of real-world, human rights issues.

Some humorous moments of the show were successful. Kimmel later brought comic relief when he brought out none other than animal actor Jenny the Donkey from the Irish film, “The Banshees of Inisherin.” Kimmel joked that Jenny was an emotional support animal that offers hugs to the nominees on this stressful day.

Reinforcing the animal theme, a life-size figure in a bear costume helped introduce the award for Best Visual Effects as a tribute to the comedic thriller, “Cocaine Bear.” Director Elizabeth Banks humorously stated, “Without visual effects, ‘Cocaine Bear’ would have been some actor in a bear suit … probably on cocaine.”

A full list of the winners and nominees can be found here.

Editor’s Note: This article is a review and includes subjective thoughts, opinions and critiques.

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