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Oscars 2023: A Night of Wholesome Comebacks

By Julia Barth, Editor-in-Chief

The 95th Academy Awards were held last Sunday, and compared to a spectacle of an event last year due to upsets and an unsettling slap, this year’s awards were relatively calm and — dare I say — emotional.

One of the most emotional wins of the night was when Michelle Yeoh took home her award for Best Actress, the first Asian woman to ever win that category. She was recognized for her role in “Everything Everywhere All at Once,” a sci-fi movie that cleverly and creatively explored the phenomenon of the multiverse. Yeoh addressed her historic win in her acceptance speech, saying, “For all the little boys and girls who look like me, this is a beacon of hope and possibilities.”

Yeoh’s co-stars, Jamie Lee Curtis and Ke Huy Quan, also took home awards for Best Supporting Actress and Best Supporting Actor. “Everything” went on to win the award’s major prizes of Best Director (Daniel Kwan and Daniel Scheinert), Original Screenplay and Best Picture.

Taking home the last major award of the night was Brendan Fraser, who won Best Actor for his role in the A24 film “The Whale.” Fraser’s win was celebrated at the Oscars and online because of his recent resurgence as an actor following several years on Hollywood’s blacklist after accusing a former Hollywood Foreign Press Association president of sexual assault.

Despite the sweep in all the major categories by “Everything,” another film took home many prizes for categories in production. “All Quiet on the Western Front,” a German-language film on Netflix, won for cinematography, original score, international feature and production design.

The full winners list, which can be found online on the Oscar’s website, included “Top Gun: Maverick” for sound, “Avatar: The Way of Water” for visual effects and “Navalny,” which took home the award for documentary feature.

The night continued with a performance from Rihanna of her original song “Lift Me Up” written for “Black Panther: Wakanda Forever”, dedicated to the late Chadwick Boseman. Lady Gaga performed a stripped-down version of her song “Hold My Hand” which she wrote for “Top Gun.”

This highly emotional Oscars tried to lighten the mood by having Jimmy Kimmel as the host, chiming in every now and then with jokes (many of which were about the slap from last year). The jokes felt stale, but what’s an award show without a bit of that?

Another thing of note about this ceremony is the pairing of extremely popular actors to present awards together. I don’t know if the Academy is following trends and popular TikToks, but it didn’t feel accidental that they paired Florence Pugh and Andrew Garfield together or Pedro Pascal with Elizabeth Olsen. Just something to think about.

But the theme of the night, to me, was comebacks. All of the major awards went to actors who have been in the business for years and who have rarely won major awards. It was extremely refreshing to watch seasoned, humble actors be recognized for their inspiring performances.

Fraser’s performance and subsequent wins have catapulted him back into the spotlight, and Yeoh waxed poetic on how she never gave up on her dreams, addressing the women in the audience: “Ladies, don’t let anyone tell you that you are ever past your prime.”

Ke Huy Quan provided grateful acceptance for every award he won this season, explaining that he’d never thought he would make it as an actor again. “Dreams are something you have to believe in,” he said. “I almost gave up on mine. To all of you out there: please keep your dreams alive. Thank you so much for welcoming me back.”

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