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Oscars 2023: Six biggest talking points, from Jamie Lee Curtis’s shock win to Everything Everywhere dominance

Louis Chilton walks you through the biggest incidents from a night monopolised by one film

Monday 13 March 2023 07:42 GMT
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The cast and directors of ‘Everything Everywhere All at Once’, which swept the Oscars
The cast and directors of ‘Everything Everywhere All at Once’, which swept the Oscars (Getty Images)

It was a night of few surprises. The 2023 Academy Awards, held at the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles on Sunday (13 March), went ahead after two years marred by incident – first Covid, then an on-stage altercation.

In comparison, this year’s affair, hosted by Jimmy Kimmel, was rather muted, with the awards themselves being dominated by one serial winner: the goofy multiverse comedy-drama Everything Everywhere All at Once.

The ceremony did, however, throw up a number of memorable moments, whether they were scripted – such as Kimmel’s dig at Matt Damon, re-awakening a long-held feud – or spontaneous, such as Elizabeth Banks’s graceful recovery after almost tripping over her particularly ornate dress.

Among the other highlights of the evening were the directors of Short Film winner An Irish Goodbye leading the auditorium in a rendition of “Happy Birthday”, and the heartfelt speech from Best Supporting Actor winner Ke Huy Quan.

Hugh Grant too had a memorable evening – from a “painful” red carpet interview, to an on-stage appearance in which he compared himself to a “scrotum”.

Here are the six biggest talking points from the Oscars 2023.

The after-slap

There was never going to be an easy way to address the sensational events of last year’s Oscars. Will Smith’s slap was too big to go unacknowledged, but – as this year’s ceremony showed – jokes about the incident quickly wear thin. Host Jimmy Kimmel made several throughout the evening, including during his opening monologue, when he joked: “If anyone in this theatre commits an act of violence at any point, you will be awarded the Oscar for Best Actor and permitted to give a 19-minute long speech.” The elephant in the room never completely went away, however, and further slap jokes throughout the evening didn’t help matters.

Jimmy Kimmel hosting the Oscars (Getty Images)

Everything Everywhere all the awards

Rarely do we see a film sweep the Oscars as thoroughly as Everything Everywhere, which ran roughshod over the competition in seven categories: Best Picture, Best Director, Best Film Editing, Best Supporting Actor, Best Supporting Actress, Best Actress, and Best Original Screenplay. What makes the dominance of Daniel Scheinert and Daniel Kwan’s movie even more uncommon is just how un-Oscar-y a film it is. With wacky visuals, crude sex toy jokes, and a pulpy sci-fi premise, this was a movie crafted with no lofty ambitions of Oscar glory in mind. Perhaps that’s what voters found so winning.

Nothing for the rest

While German-language war drama All Quiet on the Western Front made it out of the evening with a few significant wins, many of the films once considered frontrunners ended up empty-handed. Steven Spielberg’s auto-biographical drama The Fabelmans won nothing, despite a slew of nominations, likewise Martin McDonagh’s black comedy The Banshees of Inisherin. Those who had bet big on an against-the-odds win for Top Gun: Maverick were surely disappointed, too, as the high-grossing Tom Cruise sequel failed to make a mark outside the Best Sound category.

Daniel Scheinert and Daniel Kwan, directors of ‘Everything Everywhere’, at the Oscars (Variety via Getty Images)

Jamie Lee, you are all of us?

The first (and only?) big surprise of the night came early on, as Jamie Lee Curtis bagged the Best Supporting Actress award for her role as a misanthropic bureaucrat in Everything Everywhere All at Once. Her win is both a testament to the career’s worth of goodwill the Halloween star had banked, as well as the runaway momentum Everything Everywhere had on the night; left in her wake was co-star Stephanie Hsu, as well as The Banshees of Inisherin’s Kerry Condon, Hong Chau (The Whale) and Angela Bassett (Black Panther: Wakanda Forever). Was it deserved? Not everybody thought so.

Jimmy Kimmel, Everything Everywhere and a donkey: Highlights of the Oscars 2023

Michelle Yeoh makes history

By the time the night got around to the Best Actress award, it was clear which way the wind was blowing. But until this point, the category had been too close to call. Yeoh’s main competitor was two-time winner Cate Blanchett, whose role as a cancelled orchestra conductor in Tár was a career highlight. Yeoh beat Blanchett, as well as Ana de Armas (Blonde) Andrea Riseborough (To Leslie) and Michelle Williams (The Fablemans) to the prize, which made her the first Asian actor to win in the category. Holding the trophy, she said: “For all the little boys and girls who look like me watching tonight, this is the beacon of hope and possibilities.”

Michelle Yeoh accepting the award for Best Actress (Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP)

Brendan Fraser bounces back

Darren Aronofsky’s film, about a grief-stricken obese man trying to reconnect with his teenage daughter, has been fiercely divisive, with critics branding it fatphobic and problematic. Whatever you think of the movie – and of Fraser’s performance, which saw him don an elaborate “fatsuit” – it’s hard not to be charmed by the actor’s career comeback, sealed on the night with a Best Actor win. For years, it seemed like Fraser had been chewed up and spat out by an industry that saw him only as a handsome face; now, he’s finally getting the credit for the artist he always was.

See the full list of winners here.

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