Oscars 2023: The Biggest Surprises and One Whopping Snub

A ceremony buoyed by good vibes offered a few surprises and one widespread snub

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It seems like the Academy Awards have taken “Everything Everywhere All at Once” character Waymond Wang’s (played to perfection by newly-minted Oscar-winner Ke Huy Quan) words to heart: “The only thing I do know is that we have to be kind. Please, be kind. Especially when we don’t know what’s going on.”

Good vibes were plentiful at Sunday night’s ceremony, bolstered by moving musical moments, historic wins and, perhaps most importantly, no physical violence. Though outright surprises were few, there were a few moments that caught us off-guard. We’ll discuss them below.

Surprise: “All Quiet On the Western Front” Wins Best Production Design


Our own Steve Pond predicted that this category would come down to one of two lush options in the form of Baz Lurhmann’s “Elvis” and Damien Chazelle’s “Babylon,” only for Netflix’s gritty World War I adaptation “All Quiet on the Western Front” to walk away with the prize. The win was one of four for the film, which also won Best International Feature, Best Original Score and Best Cinematography, the second-most successful film of the night and the only real threat to upset “Everything Everywhere All at Once” for Best Picture. While it didn’t succeed, it was still one of only three films to win more than one award, with “Everything Everywhere” winning seven and “The Whale” winning two.

Surprise: Lady Gaga Performs

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In the lead up to the Oscars, four of the five Best Original Song nominees were confirmed to perform at the ceremony, with the only holdout being previous Oscar-winner in the category Lady Gaga. And yet, Sunday morning word got out that Lady Gaga would, in fact, be taking the stage at the Dolby Theatre to sing her nominated song from “Top Gun: Maverick,” “Hold My Hand.”

The performance itself was a stripped-down (and we do mean stripped down, as Gaga not only changed into ripped jeans and a t-shirt, but also removed her red carpet makeup) version of the song on a plain stage, filmed almost exclusively in close-up. Regardless, the song remains a banger, and it was lovely to have it included, if only for those of us who would have been really bothered to only have four of the five nominees included.

Surprise: Jamie Lee Curtis Wins Best Supporting Actress

When is a surprise not a surprise?

It wasn’t shocking that Jamie Lee Curtis triumphed in Best Supporting Actress, at least for people who watched the Screen Actors Guild Awards last month, but it was far from a sure thing. For a long time during the lead-up to the Oscars it seemed as though Angela Bassett was the frontrunner for her turn in “Black Panther: Wakanda Forever”, with wins at the Golden Globes and Critics Choice Awards. But increasingly, as enthusiasm for “Everything Everywhere” reached a fevered pitch, it seemed as though Queen Ramonda from Wakanda might be unseated by another Hollywood legend.

Indeed, it was Curtis, self-proclaimed nepo baby (daughter of Oscar nominees Janet Leigh and Tony Curtis), who came out on top, maybe by a nose, maybe by a hair’s breadth, but most likely by a hotdog finger.

Surprise: “Everything Everywhere All at Once” Wins Most Everything

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Broken down into pure numbers, what “Everything Everywhere” accomplished at the Oscars is awe-inspiring, in some ways becoming the most dominant film in the 95 years of the Academy Awards. Traditionally, the highest achievement for a movie at the Oscars is to win the “Big Five,” that is, Best Picture, Best Director, Best (Original or Adapted) Screenplay, Best Lead Actor and Best Lead Actress. Only three films have ever accomplished the feat, “It Happened One Night,” “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest” and “Silence of the Lambs.”

Now, “Everything Everywhere” didn’t have a lead actor, so it didn’t and couldn’t win the Big Five, but it did something else, something that’s never been done before. It won six of the seven above the line awards, specifically, Best Picture, Best Director, Best Original Screenplay, Best Lead Actress, Best Supporting Actor and Best Supporting Actress.

Only two other films in history have won three of the four acting prizes, “A Streetcar Named Desire” and “Network,” and each of those films finished with only four Oscars overall.

That doesn’t even touch on all the other types of history made by “Everything Everywhere,” a film which managed to dominate in the most delightful way possible.

Snub: Nothing, Nowhere, Never For “The Banshees of Inisherin,” “Elvis,” “The Fabelmans,” “Tár” and “Triangle of Sadness”

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It turns out that “The Banshees of Inisherin” secret star Jenny the donkey was the only creature affiliated with the film to make it into the spotlight at the ceremony and more’s the pity. The downside of Oscar sweeps means that often fewer films will be able to have a breakout moment, as was the case for the five Best Picture nominees mentioned above.

Of the Best Picture nominees overall, as previously mentioned “Everything Everywhere” won seven and “All Quiet” won four. The only other film to win multiple prizes was “The Whale,” which won Best Actor for Brendan Fraser and Best Makeup and Hairstyling — but it wasn’t a Best Picture nominee. Of the other films that were contenders in that category, “Top Gun: Maverick” won Best Sound, “Avatar: The Way of Water” won Best Visual Effects and “Women Talking” won Best Adapted Screenplay.

Which breaks down to a great night for one film, a fine night for another and a lot of post-show drinking for everyone else.

At least no one got slapped.