Trophy Talk

The 2023 Oscars' Biggest Moments: Michelle Yeoh, Ruth E. Carter Make History; Ke Huy Quan, Brendan Fraser Back on Top

Everything Everywhere All at Once made history, Indy and Short Round made everyone smile, and Lady Gaga sang in a T-shirt and shorts.

by | March 12, 2023 | Comments



(Photo by ABC/Getty Images)

Despite host Jimmy Kimmel’s comment that — because two of the best picture nominees, Top Gun: Maverick and Avatar: The Way of Water, were sequels — Hollywood was out of ideas, the 95th Academy Awards tried hard to suggest that the industry is evolving.

Or, at least, that it’s trying to be Everything Everywhere All At Once.

Shocking pretty much no one, that film — about Michelle Yeoh’s laundromat owner, Evelyn Wang, who realizes that there’s potentially innumerable versions of her life happening across different time planes — took home the Best Picture Oscar, in addition to many other awards. These included a win for Yeoh in the Best Actress category, making her the first Asian talent to win the category, and one for supporting actor Ke Huy Quan, a former child star who had mostly given up on the business but who became this year’s Comeback Kid in the role of Evelyn’s husband Waymond.

THE OSCARS® - The 95th Oscars® will air live from the Dolby® Theatre at Ovation Hollywood on ABC and broadcast outlets worldwide on Sunday, March 12, 2023, at 8 p.m. EDT/5 p.m. PDT. (ABC) MICHELLE YEOH

(Photo by ABC/Getty Images)

Both acceptance speeches brought tears and cheers, with Yeoh channeling both minority representation (“For all the little boys and girls who look like me watching tonight, this is a beacon of hope and possibilities”) and ant-ageist sentiments (“And ladies don’t let anybody tell you that you are ever past your prime”).

Ke Huy Quan accepting the Oscar for Best Supporting Actor at the 95th Academy Awards

(Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images)

The night was full of feel-good moments like these, either through acceptance speeches or through stunts like Kimmel bringing out Jenny, the scene-stealing donkey from the nominated film The Banshees of Inisherin to suggest she’s available as an emotional support animal for anyone feeling anxious during the evening. Even the team from the Oscar-winning short An Irish Goodbye got into the revelry, using their time on stage to ask the audience to sing “Happy Birthday” to star James Martin.

The edict, seemingly handed down from the get-go with Kimmel’s opening monologue, was to acknowledge noteworthy incidents in recent years like 2017’s envelope malfunction that momentarily made La La Land the best picture winner over Moonlight and Will Smith slapping Chris Rock at last year’s ceremony but then keep the evening light and fun.

In that regard, we’ve rounded up some of the 2023 Oscars’ most noteworthy moments.

Jamie Lee Curtis Wins First Oscar

THE OSCARS® - The 95th Oscars® will air live from the Dolby® Theatre at Ovation Hollywood on ABC and broadcast outlets worldwide on Sunday, March 12, 2023, at 8 p.m. EDT/5 p.m. PDT. (ABC) JAMIE LEE CURTIS

(Photo by ABC/Getty Images)

Everything Everywhere All At Once supporting actress Jamie Lee Curtis spoke for many at home with her visibly stunned reaction when her name was called as the 2023 recipient of the Best Supporting Actress Oscar. Many assumed that the award would go to Angela Bassett, who played the grieving mother/queen Ramonda in Black Panther: Wakanda Forever or — if it were going to go to an Everything, Everywhere actor — to Curtis’ co-star in the action dramedy, Stephanie Hsu.

Curtis’ bipartisan acceptance speech acknowledged all of the people who made this award — her first Oscar win — happen, be it her co-stars in films past and present or her infamous acting family that includes her Oscar-nominated parents Janet Leigh and Tony Curtis (her for Best Supporting Actress for Psycho and him for Best Actor for The Defiant Ones).

She also acknowledged her early career in horror films and the fans that supported her then.

“To all of the people who have supported the genre movies that I’ve made for all these years, the thousands and hundreds and thousands of people, we just won an Oscar. Together,” Curtis said.

That Curtis made these remarks on the same weekend that Scream VI, the latest film in the popular horror movie franchise, opened at the box office is some Final Girl 5D chess.

The Daniels Best Spielberg in Best Directing

Daniel Kwan and Daniel Scheinert with their Oscars for Best Director at the 95th Academy Awards

(Photo by Frederic J. Brown/Getty Images)

Talk about a torch-passing moment. Dan Kwan and Daniel Scheinert — aka “The Daniels” — won the Best Directing Oscar for their film Everything Everywhere All At Once, beating out Steven Spielberg for his autobiographical movie The Fabelmans. This is especially noteworthy because the directing team also cast Quan, resurrecting the career of an actor who — when he was a child — was cast in Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom (which Spielberg directed) and The Goonies (which he wrote).

Brendan Fraser’s Back on Top

Brendan Fraser with his Oscar for Best Actor at the 95th Academy Awards

(Photo by Gilbert Flores/Getty Images)

The Oscars capped a year of comeback stories. In addition to Quan’s win for supporting actor, Brendan Fraser — who starred in a list of blockbuster movies in the ’90s and 2000s before stepping away from the industry — received the Best Actor Oscar for his work in the controversial film The Whale.

Crying as he accepted his award, Fraser said that “I started in this business 30 years ago, and things, they didn’t come easily to me, but there was a facility that I didn’t appreciate at the time, until it stopped.”

Lady Gaga Performs After All

THE OSCARS® - The 95th Oscars® will air live from the Dolby® Theatre at Ovation Hollywood on ABC and broadcast outlets worldwide on Sunday, March 12, 2023, at 8 p.m. EDT/5 p.m. PDT. (ABC) LADY GAGA

(Photo by ABC/Getty Images)

After reports said “no” and then one report said “yes”, Lady Gaga did, indeed, perform the song “Hold My Hand” from the film Top Gun: Maverick at the 95th Academy Awards.

Rumors originally stated that the musician and actor, whose song “Shallow” from hers and Bradley Cooper’s remake of A Star is Born won the 2019 Oscar for Original Song, would not be able to participate in this ceremony due to conflicts with filming Joker: Folie à Deux. Instead, she appeared on stage lit in shadows and in a considerably more toned down look than the sheer black Versace gown she wore earlier that night on the red carpet.

“We need a lot of love to walk through this life, and we all need a hero sometimes,” she said before beginning a performance that was dedicated to the late Tony Scott, who directed the original Top Gun film.

Ultimately, the best original song category went to the catchy “Naatu Naatu” by Kaala Bhairava, M. M. Keeravani and Rahul Sipligunj from the Indian film RRR.

…But A Woman Still Hasn’t Won The Cinematography Oscar

This year’s Oscars brought many glass-ceiling shattering moments that, in addition to the noteworthy wins for Everything Everywhere also included Black Panther: Wakanda Forever costume designer Ruth E. Carter becoming the first Black woman ever to win two Oscars.

But one of the Film Academy’s notoriously Old Boys Club categories — Best Cinematography — remained that way on Sunday night. Mandy Walker, who was nominated for her work on the biopic Elvis, lost the award to All Quiet on the Western Front cinematographer James Friend.

The Academy’s lack of acknowledgement for female directors and directors of photography were noted at other points in the ceremony as well.

Upon accepting the Oscar for adapted screenplay,Women Talking writer-director Sarah Polley dryly stated that she’d like to “thank the Academy for not being mortally offended by the words ‘women’ and ‘talking’ [being] so close together like that.”

And, in his opening monologue, Kimmel commented that Avatar director James Cameron wasn’t in attendance, perhaps because he was snubbed for a directing nomination.

“He does have a point,” the comedian commented. “How does the Academy not nominate the guy who directed Avatar? What do they think he is? A woman?”

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