In urgent need of a credibility reset after last year’s shenanigans the 95th Academy Awards delivered a reassuringly conventional, star-laden show that harkened back to days gone by yet at its heart seemed to offer a glimpse of generational shift.
Wisely, the Academy had opted for safe pairs of hands in executive producers Ricky Kirshner and Glenn Weiss show host Jimmy Kimmel, who made a grand entrance as he was lowered onto the stage in a harness and parachute after a video clip riff on Top Gun: Maverick showed him ejecting from Tom Cruise’s jet. There were no hot dog fingers, but there was a reference to “slap-gate” that was made. Kimmel stated that if anyone in the theatre commits violence during the show, he will award the Oscar for best actor and be allowed to give a 19 minute speech.
And so the memories of Will Smith’s madness at last year’s ceremony were forgotten. Kimmel kept the proceedings moving at a good pace, delivering mostly humorous gags at children’s parties. A few missed, most drew indulgent, polite laughter, like when he poked fun at Cruise and
Avatar director James Cameron for not turning up to the theatre despite being huge advocates of theatre-going.Elegant backdrop frames tasteful homage to cinema
Set against an elegant, retro-style backdrop that made good use of screens to dress the stage and its surroundings in gold and silver, the show felt brisk, even though three hours and 34 minutes was not too far off recent ceremony run times.
Show producers made sure to highlight the collaborative nature of filmmaking, with part of the stage dedicated to recreating editing rooms and recording studios when crafts awards were handed out.
They also did a good job of pairing presenters who were not required to trot out corny routines. Dwayne Smith, Emily Blunt, Margot Robbie, Morgan Freeman, and Jessica Chastain presented the best lead actress award. Berry filled in for the Academy-banned Smith to present the best lead actress award.
aaaaahs when Kimmel came on with what turned out to be an equine stand-in for Jenny the donkey from The Banshees OfInisherin , and tittering quickly turned to tedium when a hoarse Elizabeth Banks presented the visual effects category alongside an actor dressed up as a bear costume in reference to her film CocaineBear . The Academy continued to struggle with how to engage the general public.Kimmel presented what turned out to be an equine stand-in for Jenny the donkey from
The Banshees Of
Inisherin. Tittering quickly turned to tedium when Elizabeth Banks presented the visual effects category alongside an actor dressed up as a bear costume in reference to her film CocaineBear. This was the first award of night. Ke Huy Quan’s win as a male supporting actor for A24’s
Everything All At Once10 was followed by the second award in the category, the second for an Asian-American person. The two most predictable Oscars of the night out of the way, the Oscars moved through the winners towards the great unknowns – lead actor, lead actress, best picture.‘Everything’ and ‘All Quiet’ ran close race
All Quiet On The Western Front won the international feature film Oscar and several crafts awards, there was a sense in the room that this could be the night Netflix finally laid its hands on the best picture Oscar.Anticipation levels were rising. The
RRR10 crew celebrated and took photographs in the mezzanine lobby after ‘Naatu Naatu’ was named best song. Inside the room, Everything was gaining momentum with wins for Jamie Lee Curtis for supporting actress, editing, original screenplay for the Daniels. When the directors became only the third directing pair to win the directing Oscar after Robert Wise & Jerome Robbins for West Side Story in 1961 and Joel Coen & Ethan Coen for No Country For Old Men in 2007, it seemed like Everything‘s star was rising.And so it proved to be. Michelle Yeoh defeated Cate Blanchett, the early season favourite, to become the first Asian woman to win the lead actor Oscar in 95 years. She was also the sixth person of Asian descent to win an acting award (after Quan). Wins for Ruth E. Carter for
Black Panther: Wakanda Forever (her second costume Oscar after BlackPanther four years ago) and Sarah Polley for adapted screenplay for WomenTalking were popular in the room.As the ceremony barrelled towards its finale, the speeches left smiles on faces. Quan described his win as the epitome of the American Dream. Yeoh, a Malaysian star, urged children to dream and the 60-year old got a huge cheer when urged women to not let anyone tell them that they are past their prime. Brendan Fraser (
TheWhale ) and Jamie Lee Curtis gave copious thanks, with the latter telling the room, “I am hundreds of people.”When
Everything was announced as best picture winner a loud roar rang out. It was a rare win for a scifi feature (possibly first if The Form Of Water10 is classified as fantasy), and it culminated weeks of speculation about which film would take home the top prize. Everything had cleaned up at the US guilds ceremonies yet nobody was discounting Bafta winner All Quiet On The Western Front, especially after years of convergence between Oscars and Bafta winners.In the end the Academy voted for a daring, original piece of work that also happened to be, like other nominees and winners on the night, a box office hit. The Academy and ABC executives were looking to increase show ratings and they liked the fact that the Academy voted for a bold, original piece of work. It was encouraging that a film with polarizing potential would win in the Academy’s preferential voting system. This meant it would have been a popular pick among the 9,500 plus voters of all ages.
The final sight on the stage summarised it: Quan and best-known picture presenter Harrison Ford were at the centre of the stage. Quan was a child actor opposite Ford back in 1984’s
Indiana Jane And The Temple Of Doom
. Quan was hugging Ford nearly 40 years later, having recommitted to acting after almost giving up. They looked as if they had never wanted to leave each other.Five points from Oscars 202310