Look, I agree that the Oscars is an archaic institution that exist mostly just for Hollywood to pat itself on the back for a year's worth of moneymaking, shrouded in attempts to remind the viewers about the magic of cinema. As someone who isn't cynical about movies, I appreciate the attempt, even when it's not easy to see through all the noise into the heart of what is important about movies in the first place: creating empathy and making the world feel less like a scattering of strangers and something more like a global community of people waiting to understand one another.
The best thing about the Oscars to me is that it gives lesser-known artists a massive push that they wouldn't have otherwise. As filmmakers, The Daniels now have what is basically a blank check to create whatever they're passionate about just based on how well "Everything Everywhere All At Once" did during the Academy Awards. It's hard to completely discount the Oscars when they still have the power to change actors' and filmmakers' lives overnight.
The 2023 Academy Awards didn't have anything quite as headline-grabbing as The Slap from last year, but it was a much stronger ceremony simply for the fact that everything felt a little less desperate and, almost across the board, the speeches from the winners were packed with powerful, honest and heartfelt moments. But, since this is Hollywood we're talking about, there were also a few awkward and horrible moments sprinkled throughout. Let's take a look, yeah?
The Worst: Jimmy Kimmel
I don't think this is a hot take, but I'll go ahead and say it: Jimmy Kimmel is a hack. Ever since he hosted The Man Show in the late '90s into the aughts, Kimmel's brand of smug masculinity has always leaned into undercutting any genuine emotion with a half-assed joke, and his Oscar hosting was no different. Also, making fun of Nobel Peace Prize Winner Malala Yousafzi's name in 2023 doesn't sit very well with me.
The Best: The Speeches
From Best Supporting Actor winner Ke Huy Quan speaking directly to his 84-year-old mother watching from home, to multiple-award-winner Daniel Scheinert saying drag is a threat to no one, back around to songwriters M.M. Keeravani and Chandrabose winning Best Original Song for "Naatu Naatu" from "RRR" and Keeravani singing his acceptance speech, the speeches were mostly all deeply warm-hearted and humanist. Michelle Yeoh thanking all the mothers of the world might have made me cry a bit.
The Best: Jenny the Donkey
Donkeys had a rough go at the movies across the last year with "EO," "The Banshees of Inisherin" and "Triangle of Sadness," so it was nice to see Jenny the Donkey (from "Banshees") get led onstage by Kimmel. As sweet as that was, it was the look of pure love and joy on Colin Farrell's face that really melted my heart. Him blowing a kiss to Jenny might have been my favorite moment of the night.
The Best and Worst: The Winners and Losers
Mostly everything that won was fairly predictable. There weren't too many big surprises other than the fact that "Everything Everywhere All at Once" won seven of the 11 awards it was nominated for, making it the weirdest and most eclectic Best Picture winner ever. It was also amazing to see BendFilm Festival juror and friend Tallie Medel onstage as the film won Best Picture.
Jamie Lee Curtis winning Supporting Actress was lovely even though Kerry Condon's work in "Banshees" was astonishing. "Banshees" getting shut out completely was a bit of a bummer, but losing to "EEAAO" across the board isn't something I can take much umbrage about.
Same with "Marcel the Shell With Shoes On" not winning the Animated Feature Oscar was rough because I think it's one of the finest movies (animated or otherwise) of the last few years. But Guillermo del Toro winning for "Pinocchio" softens the blow because it's a beautiful film and I'm always rooting for del Toro.
I cheered when Sarah Polley won Adapted Screenplay for "Women Talking," one of the most tense and beautifully written films of the last few years, but I would be lying if I didn't say I wasn't a little disappointed "Banshees" lost for Original Screenplay. "EEAAO's" script is brilliant and more than deserving, so I'm only a little disappointed, but the "Banshees" script is a master-class in character and relishes in the beauty of words.
As much as I'm a fan of Brendan Fraser and am excited that he's having a resurgence, Colin Farrell gave the male performance of the year in "Banshees." Just sayin'. Same with "Babylon," a movie that was savaged by critics but to me had easily the best score and production design of the year, neither of which it won.
Otherwise, it was a pretty solid awards show for those of us that care about that sort of thing. Were you happy with the winners? Let us know!