We’ve now all had some time to sleep on and sit with the 95th Academy Awards ceremony, and, so, now feels like a good time to look back and assess what is supposed to be the biggest night in Hollywood. Jimmy Kimmel was back to be the host, all of the categories were back, and it never got physical like last year did. It was therefore meant to be a normal Oscars ceremony, but what does a normal Oscars ceremony look like in 2023, and how should we feel about this year’s list of winners? Well, I have thoughts.
Let’s be honest. AMPAS was coming off a 94th ceremony that was a disaster in most aspects. Their Best Actor winner was allowed to walk up on stage and physically assault a presenter before he picked up his little golden man and gave an emotional speech. They were humiliated when their attempt to crown a ‘most popular film’ by way of an online poll was predictably the victim of being trolled by the internet. There were odd decisions made with regard to presenters. And then, of course, they cheapened the show even further by shortening the show and pre-taping certain categories. It was a complete and utter disaster that overshadowed the films they were meant to champion and celebrate.
So, how did the Academy course correct? They hired a crisis team, scrapped the online votes, brought all of the categories back into the live show, and they brought back Jimmy Kimmel to host. The first three decisions felt pretty obvious. Most people would’ve done that. They are decisions I agree with. And I also agree with the decision to bring back Kimmel. Although he is no Billy Crystal, Jimmy Kimmel has time and time again proven himself to be a steady, safe, and solid choice. His jokes walk the line without crossing it, he’s genuinely funny without being distracting, and he knows the job pretty well by now. For what it’s worth, I thought he did a really good job. If anything, the weaker — or more boring — parts of the show were the times when he wasn’t on stage. Kimmel was the safe choice, but it was also the right choice for this moment, and he did exactly what he needed to do.
There weren’t any major crisis situations this time around. Frankly, the biggest crisis was the fact that they missed some very notable names during the In Memoriam segment including one of the leads of a film that was nominated for Best Picture (Charlbi Dean from Triangle of Sadness). If there were any embarrassing moments from the show, then that would be a fair focal point. Otherwise, I thought it was a decent but not exactly glamorous show. Most but not all of the musical performances were interesting to watch, with the Naatu Naatu performance being one of the highlights of the night (Kimmel’s joke that long speeches would lead to winners being danced off the stage was good fun). I also really enjoyed the way the categories and nominees were presented on stage (with nominee images being shown behind the presenters). The show did feel long, and it did suffer somewhat around the middle part of the show, but, as a ceremony, I thought it was rather solid, even though it wasn’t outright impressive. Still, that is more than enough given last year’s disaster.
That leaves us with the individual winners and what those choices mean in the grand scheme of things. Although very few people in the film and Oscars community (which I think of myself as a part of) got all 23 categories right, it did feel pretty predictable, right? Sure, the winners didn’t line up with BAFTA, but it did line up perfectly with the recent SAG awards and other precursors. Everything Everywhere All at Once was the night’s big winner, as expected. But even though it may have been somewhat predictable, the list of winners was satisfying to me. Frankly, I still have more problems with the nominations than I do with the winners. The quartet of acting winners consists of comeback kings and winners who were long overdue for a little golden man, and it’s really nice that those awards season narratives had happy endings. To add to that, the animation win was a great industry statement about the power of animation as an art form, and the Best Picture winner is a multiverse film partially in Mandarin and Cantonese which features characters with sausage fingers, a scene with rocks that communicate, and action scenes with dildos. For the 95th round of winners, AMPAS went with an odd and original crowdpleaser that was never ever viewed as ‘awards bait.’ I think that’s growth, and I think that’s exciting for the future of the Academy.
– Article Written by Jeffrey Rex Bertelsen.