Best Pictures of 2023, Extra Credit, Oscar Extra Credit

Oscar Extra Credit – 2023 Oscar Recap

I was out late watching last night’s ceremony at a Brooklyn theater; so I am very tired, but very, very happy. (Since I’m tired – lemme warn you, this post is going to be video-heavy.)

…I surprisingly didn’t do too bad with my predictions. Some of the ones I missed were because I was too chicken to commit to anything – I wimped out on Makeup and Sound – and for others I missed because I was playing it kind of safe; I genuinely thought that Best Editing would go to something more “predictable” like Top Gun or Elvis and that John Williams would win through the force of sentiment. Speaking of which – Best Score is the only award I disagree with, because hearing that deep bass motif from All Quiet on the Western Front play a few times as it picked up its own awards made me realize how repetitive it was.

But the top awards I completely agree with. Ke Huy Quan won for Best Supporting Actor – which was the least surprising moment of the night – but Ariana Debose still burst into tears simply seeing his name inside the envelope before announcing his win. I was pleasantly surprised with Jamie Lee Curtis getting Best Supporting Actress, and delighted to see Brendan Fraser and Michelle Yeoh take the top acting awards.

And oh good Lord their speeches…everyone in the room was crying by the end of Ke Huy Quan’s speech, both in the Dolby Theater and in the theater where I was.

And Jamie Lee Curtis called attention to the fact that movies are a collaborative art form, even the genre films she’d been better known for up to that point.

Brendan Fraser has one heck of a speechwriter on his team – his speeches all this season have always been pretty eloquent. Although this one did lean into the nautical metaphors rather a lot…

I was wondering how the Academy was going to handle the presenters this year, since traditionally last year’s Best Actor presents this year’s Best Actress award – but last year’s Best Actor is barred from attending the Oscars for the next ten years for…reasons. I’m not sure why, but they tapped Halle Berry to fill in for him. But it turned out to be a poetic choice – because that meant that the first-ever actress of color to win this category got to hand the award to Michelle Yeoh, the second-ever.

Curtis, Quan, and Yeoh may have been eloquent and serious with their speeches – but other winners from the Everything Everywhere team were a bit less so. Thanks to Daniel Scheinert, the word “butthead” has been used in an Oscar speech.

That was their acceptance for Best Original Screenplay; they were a bit more serious when they got back up again when they won for Best Direction.

The Everything Everywhere team has all leaned into their offbeat nature. Editor Paul Rogers opened his remarks by saying “this is only my second film, this is so weird….”

Producer Jonathan Wong also referred to their studio A24 “supporting our weirdness” when accepting Best Picture.

And while I’m already familiar with singer David Byrne getting a bit quirky, I have to wonder what the crowd in the Dolby Theater was thinking when he and Stephanie Hsu were performing his nomination for Best Song and revealed, in the middle of the song, that he was wearing hot dog finger gloves.

But as many predicted, “Naatu Naatu” won the Best Song. And I had to chuckle during Bollywood star Deepika Padukone’s introduction to the performance when she spoke about the song’s impact and popularity on social media and was setting up its context during the film; she pointed out the fact that it was sung in the Indian language Telugu, and not English like most other Oscar songs, and then added, “it’s also a total banger.” And….well, yeah.

I also cracked up when composer M. M. Keeravaani opened his speech by mentioning he listened to The Carpenters a lot as a kid – and then proceeded to sing the rest of his speech, in the form of rewritten lyrics to their song “Top Of The World”.

There were a lot of smaller funny and feel-good moments as well – like when the cast and crew of the Live-Action Short-film winner, An Irish Goodbye, used half their allotted time to sing “Happy Birthday” to one of the cast members whose birthday it happened to be that day.

Or when Harrison Ford presented the award for Best Picture – which meant that he and Ke Huy Quan got to reunite onstage and celebrate a bit.

During his opening monologue, Jimmy Kimmel called attention to the fact that Brendan Fraser and Ke Huy Quan also worked together about 31 years ago – “that’s right, two actors from Encino Man were nominated for Oscars.” They brought that up again themselves when the team from Good Morning America were interviewing Brendan Fraser after his win – and Ke Huy Quan crashed the interview.

Costumer Ruth Carter made history as the first woman of color to win two Oscars, for her work on Wakanda Forever – and mentioned that her own mother had recently passed, dedicating the award to her and asking Chadwick Boseman to take care of her.

Navalny took Best Documentary – and during the speech, Alexey Navalny’s wife Yulia had the final word, sending a heartfelt message to her husband who was still in solitary confinement in Russia.

And at the other end of the serious-to-silly spectrum – Hugh Grant and Andie McDowell teamed up to present for Production Design. Before they read the nominees, though Grant quipped that they were there to do something else as well – “first, we’re here to illustrate the importance of a good moisturizer”, joking that McDowell had uses one faithfully and he hadn’t; so she still looked stunning, while he looked “basically [like] a scrotum.”

…I only got five hours of sleep last night, so I’m going to rest up for a day before getting back into the regular flow of reviews.

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