Oscars 2023: The biggest snubs and surprises from this year’s Academy Awards
Many filmmakers went home empty-handed
At the 2023 Oscars filmmakers behind Everything Everywhere All At Once didn’t need to jump over to another multiverse to pick up the Oscar for best picture – the directing duo, The Daniels, managed that phenomenal achievement in our very own reality.
And while Everything Everywhere’s victory wasn’t a surprise – the movie was a frontrunner and ended up winning seven Oscars on the night – it’s still wild that a movie prominently featuring stick-on googly eyes and a universe where people have hot dog fingers won the Academy’s biggest award.
Read more: Oscars 2023: The full list of winners
Elsewhere, the results were relatively predictable, yet some perceived wisdom proved wrong. There were snubs, surprises, and a few moments that will have everyone talking for the next few days.
These are the biggest talking points from the Oscars 2023.
Everything Everywhere All at Once dominance
Everything Everywhere All at Once was the film to beat going into the ceremony – and, in the end, nobody could beat it. First up, supporting actor and actress for Ke Huy Quan and Jamie Lee Curtis, then came Oscars for best editing, best original screenplay, and best director for The Daniels, AKA Daniel Kwan and Daniel Scheinert, who thanked all the teachers who ever taught them in their acceptance speech.
Read more: How Everything Everywhere All At Once became an awards favourite
Michelle Yeoh’s victory for best actress sealed the deal, and then, finally, came the award for best picture. It was Everything, Everywhere’s night, and there wasn’t even a close second.
Michelle Yeoh finally has her Oscar
It’s hard not to adore Michelle Yeoh. Once best known for appearing alongside Pierce Brosnan’s Bond in Tomorrow Never Dies, then for her role in Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, Yeoh finally had the opportunity to take centre stage in Everything Everywhere All At Once.
Read more: Michelle Yeoh toasts historic Oscar win
Now, Yeoh has become an Oscar winner, beating fierce competition from the presumed frontrunner Cate Blanchett, along with Ana de Armas, Michelle Williams, and (controversially) Andrea Riseborough.
It’s finally the year of Yeoh, and nobody could be more deserving.
Angela Bassett didn’t do the thing
Having previously been nominated for her lead role in What's Love Got to Do with It, Angela Bassett remains an Oscar nominee rather than a winner.
Despite being the favourite to take home the best supporting actress award for her role in Black Panther: Wakanda Forever, she lost to Jamie Lee-Curtis for Everything Everywhere.
Read more: Jamie Lee Curtis bags first Oscar
The Academy, it seems, cannot get over its hangups about the Marvel Cinematic Universe – Kevin Feige’s superhero empire has yet to produce an Oscar-winning role for one of its actors. In fact, Basset was the first person to receive an Oscar nomination for an MCU role, despite the franchise being 30 movies deep.
Brendan Fraser bests Austin Butler for Best Actor
Considering how Rami Malek won Best Actor for playing Freddie Mercury in Bohemian Rhapsody, Austin Butler should have probably won in the same category for his stunning portrayal of Elvis Presley.
Butler sings, dances, and (still) speaks like The King. However, the former Disney Channel actor could not beat Brendan Fraser’s measured, sensitive performance from underneath heavy prosthetics in The Whale.
Read more: Brendan Fraser caps comeback with Oscar win
Not only was Fraser brilliant in Darren Aronofsky’s drama, but the actor had that an all important Hollywood comeback narrative, giving him an emotional edge over Butler and fellow nominee Colin Farrell, who infused his performance as Pádraic Súilleabháin in The Banshees of Inisherin with a wonderful pathos. It was a snub for Butler, but a moment of pure, tearful joy for Fraser.
Mandy Walker could have made history
The Oscar for best cinematography went to a worthy winner in James Friend for All Quiet on the Western Front, but that doesn’t stop the disappointment of seeing the Academy skip another chance to name the first ever female victor in the category.
Mandy Walker’s work on Baz Luhrmann’s Elvis elevated Austin Butler’s central performance by perfectly capturing Presley’s chaotic world – and his swinging hips. Unfortunately, 95 years into these awards, Best Cinematographer has still yet to be given to a woman.
Jenny the Donkey was the night's emotional support animal
The stars of Banshees of Inisherin were all present on the evening, including the scene-stealing, finger-eating Jenny the Donkey. Colin Farrell looked somewhat stunned that the Academy had flown the mule all the way from Ireland to the Dolby Theater, the human actor blowing kisses to Jenny as host Jimmy Kimmel walked the donkey on stage.
However, in a disappointing turn of events, reports later stated that the donkey on stage was not Jenny from the movie. For shame, Kimmel, fooling everyone like that. Hopefully Jenny’s double, dubbed the night’s “emotional support animal”, had a good time at the Vanity Fair afterparty, presumably heading there with Cocaine Bear, who also made an appearance during the ceremony.
Women Talking wins Best Adapted Screenplay
For a moment, midway through the Oscars, momentum seemed to be behind All Quiet on the Western Front. The German-language streaming movie picked up multiple awards, including best international feature, best cinematography, best original score and best production design.
But then, just as the ground was swelling in All Quiet’s favour, the film started faltering. That’s when Women Talking, adapted by Sarah Polley from Miriam Toews’ novel, managed to pull off its only win of the evening, besting All Quiet for best adapted screenplay. A remarkable moment for Polley, whose collected, measured and deserving film had its moment in the spotlight.
Nothing for multiple best picture nominees
Steven Spielberg’s The Fabelmans was the director’s most revealing and personal work to date, depicting the story of the filmmaker’s own cherished, tricky childhood.
However, despite being catnip for anyone with a passion for cinema, Spielberg’s work went unrewarded. The same went for Todd Field’s Tár, another film that seemed like a surefire contender for some of the night’s biggest awards.
Read more: Ke Huy Quan's remarkable comeback
Elvis, too, failed to nab any awards. Rounding out the final best picture nominees with no metalware to put on the mantelpiece was Triangle of Sadness and, surprisingly, Banshees of Inisherin, which was previously considered a frontrunner for the night’s biggest award.
Conversely, Top Gun: Maverick and Avatar: The Way of Water both picked up statuettes, for Best Sound and Best Visual Effects, respectively.
Never heard Naatu Naatu? You’re about to…
Despite an awards push last year, S.S. Rajamouli’s epic RRR was overlooked by the Academy, picking up just one nomination across all categories for its infectious, joyous original song Naatu Naatu.
Showing that music transcends all language, the Telegu track beat Lady Gaga’s Hold My Hand from Top Gun: Maverick and Rihanna’s Lift Me Up from Black Panther: Wakanda Forever. An immeasurably important moment for Tollywood, topped only by the on-stage performance of Naatu Naatu that brought the house down and got Hollywood’s A-listers on their feet.