Oscars Not Fun Like Last Year, But Still Some Winners!

A24’s futuristic film won seven Oscars, including best picture, directing, and acting in three of the four categories.

The 95th Academy Awards may be remembered by cinema historians as the beginning of a new New Hollywood. The Oscar for best picture went to A24’s head-scratching, sex toy-wielding, TikTok-era “Everything Everywhere All at Once,” along with six other prizes, while “All Quiet on the Western Front,” a German-language war epic from Netflix, won four awards, including best international film.

The Daniels, the young filmmaking duo behind the racially diverse “Everything Everywhere All at Once,” won Oscars for their original screenplay and directing. (The Daniels is an oh-so-cool sobriquet for Daniel Kwan and Daniel Scheinert. They are both 35.) The film, which received a field-leading 11 nominations, also won Oscars for film editing, best actress and best supporting actor and actress, with Michelle Yeoh, Ke Huy Quan and Jamie Lee Curtis honored for their performances.

“Ladies, don’t let anybody ever tell you that you are ever past your prime,” Yeoh, 60, said when accepting the best actress Oscar. “Never give up.” She was the first Asian woman to receive the award.

Quan’s win provided the Academy Awards with a hall-of-fame comeback story: After early success in movies like “The Goonies” and “Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom,” his acting career grew so cold that he turned to stunt work. “Dreams are something you have to believe in,” Quan said as tears streamed down his face and A-list attendees gave him a standing ovation. “I almost gave up on mine. To everyone out there, please keep your dreams alive.”

Curtis was also in tears by the time she reached the fiery conclusion of her acceptance speech. “To all of the people who have supported the genre movies that I have made for all these years,” she said, “the thousands and hundreds of thousands of people, we just won an Oscar together!”

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences spread nominations remarkably far and wide this year. Two blockbuster sequels, “Avatar: The Way of Water” and “Top Gun: Maverick,” made the best picture cut. So did the little-seen art films “Triangle of Sadness,” “Women Talking” and “Tár.” Voters also made room for a musical (“Elvis”) and a memory piece (“The Fabelmans”).

In some ways, spreading nominations widely reflected the jumbled state of Hollywood. No one in the movie capital seems to know which end is up, with streaming services like Netflix hot then not, and studios unsure about how many films to release in theaters and whether anything but superheroes, sequels and horror stories can succeed. Over the weekend, “Scream VI” was the top movie at the North American box office, with an estimated $44.5 million in ticket sales.

First-time nominees filled 16 of the 20 acting slots, with new stars like Austin Butler (“Elvis”), Barry Keoghan (“The Banshees of Inisherin”), Brian Tyree Henry (“Causeway”), Paul Mescal (“Aftersun”) and Stephanie Hsu (“Everything Everywhere All at Once”) honored for breakthrough roles.

But first-time acting nominations also went to Hollywood stalwarts like Curtis, Yeoh and Brendan Fraser. To some degree, the inclusion of Quan, Curtis, Fraser and Yeoh was seen as redemption for Hollywood: All had somehow been cast to the side at some point over their careers.

An overcome Fraser, who won the Oscar for best actor for his performance as an obese professor in “The Whale,” thanked Darren Aronofsky, the film’s director, “for throwing me a creative lifeline.”

The academy was also trying to balance old and new in the Oscars ceremony itself. The academy’s chief executive had promised a return to the polished, glamorous Oscar ceremonies of the past to recover from last year’s chaotic telecast, when an angry Will Smith walked onstage and slapped Chris Rock. In a change from last year, when eight categories were scuttled to a nontelevised portion, all 23 Oscars were handed out live on air.

As host, Jimmy Kimmel arrived on the Oscars stage by parachute, moments after a pair of “Top Gun”-style fighter jets flew over the Dolby Theater in Los Angeles at 345 miles per hour. He then breezed through a self-assured monologue that left the A-listers seated before him cheering in support. He teased Steven Spielberg — gently — for his lack of recreational drug use and Fraser and Quan for once appearing together in “Encino Man.” It was the kind of affable ribbing that once made Billy Crystal the king of the Oscar M.C.’s.

“And if any of you get offended by a joke and decide you want to come up here and get jiggy with it? It’s not going to be easy,” Kimmel said, addressing last year’s slap without directly mentioning Smith. He then joked that people like Michael B. Jordan, the “Creed” star, and Pedro Pascal, who plays the title role in “The Mandalorian,” were prepared to intervene.

“Seriously, the academy has a crisis team in place,” Kimmel said. “If anything unpredictable or violent happens during the ceremony, just do what you did last year — nothing. Maybe even give the assailant a hug.”

As expected, “Guillermo del Toro’s Pinocchio” received the Oscar for best animated feature, and “Navalny” was honored as best documentary. Less anticipated was Ruth Carter’s win for her “Black Panther: Wakanda Forever” costume design. (Most awards handicappers had predicted victory for the “Elvis” costume designer Catherine Martin. Carter also won for “Black Panther” in 2019.)

The #OscarsSoWhite outcries from 2015 and 2016, prompted by all-white slates of acting nominees, continue to reverberate at the academy, which has been trying to diversify its membership by race, gender and nationality. Nearly 50 percent of the academy’s most recent class of new members came from overseas. About 25 percent of the academy’s total membership of 10,000 now comes from outside the United States.

But the academy was criticized this year for not nominating any women in the best director category. For decades, women and people of color were almost entirely excluded from the directing race. In 2021, for the first time, two women were nominated: Chloé Zhao (“Nomadland”) and Emerald Fennell (“Promising Young Woman”), with Zhao winning. Last year, Jane Campion (“The Power of the Dog”) won the Oscar for directing.

This year, Sarah Polley (“Women Talking”) was left out even though her film was nominated for best picture. (Polley won for her adapted screenplay.) “I give up,” Patty Jenkins, whose directing credits include “Wonder Woman” and “Monster,” told Variety on Saturday about women being shut out of the category. “It’s still going to take a long ways to go. It’s going to take a lot more to really see truly more diverse awards.”

The internationalization of the academy was on display among this year’s directing nominees. The Swedish filmmaker Ruben Östlund (“Triangle of Sadness”) and the British-born Martin McDonagh (“The Banshees of Inisherin”) were honored. Joining them were Todd Field (Tár) and the Daniels. Filling out the best director category was Spielberg — a director who was once part of that New Hollywood crew and is now a Hollywood elder statesman with nine total nominations for directing, this one for “The Fabelmans.”

The academy emphasized that the ceremony would feel modern — part of an urgent effort to make the telecast more relevant to young people. The 2022 show drew 16.6 million viewers, the second-worst turnout on record after the pandemic-affected 2021 telecast. If the Nielsen ratings do not improve, the academy faces a financial precipice: Most of its revenue comes from the sale of broadcasting rights to the show. Hundreds of millions of dollars are at stake. (The most-viewed Oscars telecast was in 1998, when 57.2 million people watched “Titanic” win the trophy for best picture.)

Big musical stars, including Rihanna and Lady Gaga, sang their nominated songs; Lenny Kravitz performed during the “In Memoriam” segment. The best song Oscar went to “Naatu Naatu” from the Indian film “RRR.” The nominee pool for best picture had never before included more than one billion-dollar ticket seller, according to box office databases, and this year there were two. “Top Gun: Maverick” collected $1.5 billion, and “Avatar: The Way of Water” took in $2.3 billion. (Viewership tends to increase when popular films are nominated.)

In another change, the red carpet was not red: Stars walked a champagne-colored rug, breaking with a 62-year tradition. The choice was made as part of an overhaul of the preshow spectacle, which, for the first time, was managed by members of the Met Gala’s creative team. In the days leading up to the Oscars, another in a series of rainstorms soaked Los Angeles, so much so that the academy sent an alert to the news media on Wednesday warning that it may “need to clear the carpet at a moment’s notice.” In the end, the weather cooperated, and it was a sunny 63 degrees.


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