RATINGS UPDATE: On March 23, the Live+7 viewing numbers (streaming viewers over the week following the live telecast) were added to the live numbers of 18.7 million people. Another 1.2 million people watched during that time, bringing the 2023 viewing total to just shy of 20 million, at 19.9 million. Year-to-year, 2023 was up 12% live (18.7M to 2022’s 16.7M) and up 8% overall (19.9M to 2022’s 18.4M). 2023 was a full 60% higher in live ratings from two years ago, when 2021’s Oscars hit an all-time low of 10.4 million live viewers.
Ke Huy Quan hugging Harrison Ford on the Oscar stage after the Best Picture win was, well, everything everywhere all at once.
That joyous onstage reunion between the iconic Oscar presenter and his former Short Round co-star from Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom (who was now an Academy Award-winning actor himself) — with director Steven Spielberg looking on from the audience like a happy proud papa, no less — was the perfect capper to a night where this year’s awards season darling Everything Everywhere All At Once made Oscar history.
Everything Everywhere, an edgy risk-taking Asian-cast indie that was a critical and box office hit a year ago in the spring of 2022, became one of the most unlikely juggernauts in the 95 years of the Academy Awards. About the farthest thing from what anyone would describe as Oscar bait, the year’s leader with 11 nominations went on to sweep the 2022 Oscars with 7 Academy Awards including Best Picture.
This marks the biggest win total by a single film in the era of the “up to 10 Picture nominees / preferential ballot” shift that began thirteen years ago in 2009, when the previous high watermark was set with 6 by The Hurt Locker.
In the old era — when there were only 5 Best Picture nominees and the winner was determined by a single “most” total, rather than the preferential ballot series we have now — sweeps were common. Since then, the new system has resulted in the Academy spreading the wealth. Other than The Artist winning 5 Oscars in 2011, all other totals for Best Picture winners have been 4 Oscars or less. I couldn’t explain, exactly, the math or science behind why that is, but that’s been the history. Sweeps were basically relics of the past until Everything Everywhere came along.
To put EEAAO‘s dominance into some sort of context, its unprecedented 7 wins in this new era is akin to the old era’s record peaks of 11 by Ben-Hur, Titanic, and The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King. Indeed, Everything Everywhere All At Once truly lived up to its name.
Included in the sweep were the writing and directing duo of Daniel Kwan and Daniel Scheinert, who both shared the Directing and Original Screenplay awards. Meanwhile, three of their actors nearly swept the four acting categories: Michelle Yeoh for Best Actress, Ke Huy Quan for Best Supporting Actor, and Jamie Lee Curtis for Best Supporting Actress. It also won the Oscar for Best Film Editing.
In an all-time first, EEAAO became the first movie in Oscar’s 95 year history to win three acting awards and Best Picture. The two previous films to win three acting awards — A Streetcar Named Desire and Network — each lost their Best Picture bids in 1951 (to An American in Paris) and 1976 (to Rocky).
Yeoh became the first woman of full Asian descent to win Best Actress, and the first woman of color in over twenty years when Halle Berry won for Monster’s Ball in 2001. Fittingly, Berry was chosen to replace last year’s Best Actor winner Will Smith (who’s in a decade-long timeout from the Oscars for that infamous slap) as co-presenter for Yeoh’s award. along with last year’s Best Actress winner Jessica Chastain.
Yeoh and co-star Jamie Lee Curtis, who won Best Supporting Actress, became the first-ever pair of Actress winners from the same year to both be age 60 or older. As Yeoh put it so well in her acceptance speech, “Ladies, don’t let anybody tell you that you are ever past your prime.” Curtis bore her emotions, too, framing her win in terms of “we won” rather than “I”, referencing her husband, children, longtime agents and partners and, most poignantly, her late acting-parent legends Tony Curtis and Janet Leigh.
And as for Ke Huy Quan, he capped off one of the most inspiring awards seasons runs we’ve ever seen (and possibly the most unpredictable Hollywood comeback story to go along with it), rising from the three-decade obscurity of brief childhood stardom. Serendipitously, he decided to give his acting dream one last shot a couple of years ago, just in time for the script to EEAAO to come across his desk. And now, for that journey to end like this? Only in the movies. Suffice it to say, his tearful, gratitude-filled speech met the moment (and eloquently at that).
Also of note: EEAAO‘s three acting wins make it the first Best Picture winner in the preferential ballot era to win multiple acting awards. Over the past thirteen years, Best Picture champs scored one acting trophy at most. In addition, EEAAO‘s theatrical debut of April 8 is the earliest calendar-release Best Picture winner since 1991’s Silence of the Lambs, which opened in February of its year.
Equally moving and inspiring was Brendan Fraser‘s parallel comeback that culminated in the Academy Award for Best Actor. Blackballed and forgotten by no fault of his own (following a toxic mix of sexual assault by industry power-players and debilitating injuries stemming from action films like The Mummy franchise), Fraser’s acting career had deteriorated to slight roles in forgettable (even off-the-radar) titles.
But director Darren Aronofsky gave Fraser the opportunity of a lifetime (or, as Fraser put it in his acceptance speech, a “creative lifeline”) with The Whale, and Fraser delivered with nothing less than one of the best screen performances I’ve ever seen. And he did so underneath Oscar-winning Makeup. The fat suit prosthetics by Adrien Morot, Judy Chin and Annemarie Bradley were so mailable and lifelike that every nuance of Fraser’s humane, heartbreaking portrayal shown through.
Maybe it’s just me, but these four look like they’ll be Goonies for life.
Notable: Fraser is the first nominee since Jeff Bridges (Crazy Heart) in 2009 to win Best Actor for a film that wasn’t nominated for Best Picture.
Meanwhile, the night’s other big winner was Netflix’s All Quiet on the Western Front, the German adaptation of the acclaimed WWI novel. Nominated for 9 Academy Awards including Best Picture, it won 4: Best International Feature, Best Cinematography, Best Production Design, and Best Score.
Netflix also won two other awards — Best Animated Feature (Guillermo del Toro’s Pinocchio) and Best Documentary Short Film (The Elephant Whisperers) — to snag 6 total, second only to A24’s 9 Oscars (7 by EEAAO and two by The Whale). And by claiming the top six categories (Picture, Director, and all four Acting), A24 became the first studio in Oscar history to sweep that top tier in a single year.
In the other major category, actress-turned-filmmaker Sarah Polley won Best Adapted Screenplay for her script of the novel Women Talking. Also nominated for Best Picture, the eight-woman drama failed to see any of its ensemble nominated or Polley make the Directors shortlist, so the win here looked like joyous vindication for Polley.
In the tech / artisan categories, another important historical breakthrough was reached. Ruth Carter became the first African-American woman to win multiple Oscars when she won her second Best Costume Design honor, this year for Black Panther: Wakanda Forever.
For all the celebration and representation that took place, there were still notable losers. Best Picture nominees The Fabelmans, The Banshees of Inisherin, and Elvis were all completely shut out despite having (respectively) seven, nine, and eight nominations a piece. TÁR , the year’s most critically-acclaimed film that entered the night with six nominations, was also goose-egged. Top Gun: Maverick was another Best Picture candidate with six nominations, but it only snagged one win for Best Sound.
Individually, probably the biggest snub of the night was Angela Bassett whose powerful, fiery supporting performance in Black Panther: Wakanda Forever lost out to Jamie Lee Curtis despite having garnered most of the wins during the awards season. Bassett’s loss to Curtis at the Screen Actors Guild awards was the first big tell that an upset was brewing (and that the love and admiration for EEAAO was truly widespread and deeply felt).
For Cinematography, Mandy Walker had a strong shot at becoming the first woman to win the honor after having won for Elvis at the American Society of Cinematographers Guild, but she lost out to the epic war scale of All Quiet on the Western Front.
And yet, even with the snubs considered, there were no surprises. The categories that were difficult to predict were tight races with two or three contenders, and eventual winners fell within those possibilities (as did the easy-bet locks like Quan for Supporting Actor and EEAAO for Picture and Director). In other words, there were absolutely no shocks or gasp-inducing upsets.
Likewise, the ceremony itself was safe and conventional but in a good way. Far from memorable and free of any iconic moments outside of a few emotional speeches, it was refreshing to see a big Return to Normal with this year’s Oscar ceremony. Not only were there no violent outbursts that put a pall over the entire evening, but the producers even brought back live speeches in all 23 categories after trying to pre-record a handful last year (a move that only angered the industry without saving any time).
Also returning: an actual full, live orchestra rather than a house band. An orchestra helps the Oscars to feel like the event that it’s supposed to be, rather than a glorified late night TV show. In addition, the Academy ended the one-year experiment of having tables in the front third of the auditorium and went back to having all rows of seating. This, again, helped the ceremony to feel like a theatrical gala rather than a dinner party.
The show’s biggest problem was also one of its oldest: at 3 1/2 hours, it was too long. Worse yet, it felt too long (which isn’t always the case with these things). Several scripted bits by presenters dragged with notable dead-air beats, and the first two nominated song performances were absolutely lifeless. On the whole, there were just too many bits and fillers. The night’s pace saw only a third of the awards handed out by what should’ve been the halfway mark (90 minutes) and only 18 of 23 in three hours (making for 6 awards an hour, with 5 left).
Thankfully, the pace accelerated in the last thirty minutes as they knocked out the five that were left during that final stretch (even while also allowing extra time for the four big speeches), but that’s the kind of tempo the whole night should’ve had.
For his part as host, Jimmy Kimmel kept a light touch with only a few jokes having a slight edge, and his compliment of “slap” jokes were all clever and well-placed, so it never felt like he was milking it. I’ve never been a big Kimmel fan (nor a hater, either), but he did a nice job of keeping the room relaxed — which is an underappreciated virtue in an Oscar host.
If there was a shameful moment it came from Disney itself, who owns ABC (the network that broadcasts the Oscars). The studio used actual broadcast time on stage to introduce a new trailer for the live-action The Little Mermaid. Yes, the trailer played during the ad break and not officially during the ceremony, but to cue that up on the Oscar stage rather than simply run the spot during a purchased ad window was imminently unfair to all other studios. It never should have been allowed, and the Academy should’ve vetoed the decision the moment it was made.
As far as how my own Oscar predictions went, my final tally was a decent 16-for-23; god, but short of elite level (which I’d define as 20 or more).
Below is the complete list of winners. (To see a list of all the nominees, click here.)
*To watch each acceptance speech, click on the category title.*
THE 95TH ANNUAL ACADEMY AWARDS
BEST PICTURE – Everything Everywhere All At Once
BEST DIRECTOR – Daniel Kwan and Daniel Scheinert, Everything Everywhere All At Once
BEST ACTOR – Brendan Fraser, The Whale
BEST ACTRESS – Michelle Yeoh, Everything Everywhere All At Once
BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR – Ke Huy Quan, Everything Everywhere All At Once
BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS – Jamie Lee Curtis, Everything Everywhere All At Once
BEST ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY – Everything Everywhere All At Once, Daniel Kwan and Daniel Scheinert
BEST ADAPTED SCREENPLAY – Women Talking, Sarah Polley
BEST ANIMATED FEATURE – Guillermo del Toro’s Pinocchio
BEST INTERNATIONAL FILM – All Quiet on the Western Front (Germany)
BEST DOCUMENTARY FEATURE – Navalny
BEST ORIGINAL SCORE – All Quiet on the Western Front, Volker Bertelmann
BEST ORIGINAL SONG – “Naatu Naatu” (RRR), M. M. Keeravani and Chandrabose
BEST FILM EDITING – Everything Everywhere All At Once
BEST CINEMATOGRAPHY – All Quiet on the Western Front, James Friend
BEST PRODUCTION DESIGN – All Quiet on the Western Front
BEST COSTUME DESIGN – Black Panther: Wakanda Forever
BEST MAKEUP AND HAIRSTYLING – The Whale
BEST LIVE ACTION SHORT – An Irish Goodbye
BEST ANIMATED SHORT – The Boy, the Mole, the Fox and the Horse
BEST DOCUMENTARY SHORT SUBJECT – The Elephant Whisperers
BEST SOUND – Top Gun: Maverick
BEST VISUAL EFFECTS – Avatar: The Way of Water
(To read a full list of the nominees, click here)
2 thoughts on “THE 95TH ANNUAL ACADEMY AWARDS: Analysis & Full List of Winners (AWARDS 2022)”
Good Morning Jeff! A very well written and informative recap here. I think I look forward to your analysis of the evening more than the evening itself. I hope to see you up on the stage yourself someday!
It would be a fun party to crash. 🙂