The surprises and stupidities of the 2023 Oscar nominations

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Oscar nomination morning is always a mixed bag. It consistently brings news to be happy or furious about, with many of both emotions bubbling up on Tuesday morning.

For starters, yay, 11 nominations for “Everything everywhere at once‘, the weird little multiverse movie that could! Yay for consistently great actors like Brian Tyree Henry and Hong Chau finally getting their act together! Boo against zero women nominated for Best Director because, come on, there’s no excuse in the year 2023. Boo for one of the best movie experiences of the year, “The Woman King,” being completely left out.

Here are some of the surprises and disapproval from this year’s Oscar nominations.

SURPRISES

Brian Tyree Henry for Best Supporting Actor

Brian Tyree Henry has been one of those actors who seemingly forever deserved an Oscar nomination, especially the year he starred in ‘Widows’, ‘If Beale Street Could Talk’. and “Spider-Man: Into the Spiderverse.” When he shows up in something, you know it’s going to be good. In “Causeway,” his performance as a car mechanic dealing with the effects of past trauma elevates what is otherwise pretty standard drama. Somewhat often, the Academy finally recognizes an actor who has earned a nomination for a long time, and that actor’s nomination isn’t necessarily for his best or most memorable performance. The nomination or the win is more for their entire body of work. We’ll take it, even if it evokes mixed emotions, because it’s a testament to that actor’s consistency. That certainly applies to Henry. It’s great to finally call him an Oscar nominee.

Hong Chau for Best Supporting Actress

Like Henry, Hong Chau is one of those actors who has been on the job for a while and is always great. Again, I have mixed feelings about this nomination, albeit for slightly different reasons. There is a lot of controversy around ‘The Whale’, starring Brendan Fraser as an obese writing teacher, especially if the film perpetuates grease-phobic tropes. But other than that, there’s no question that Chau, who plays Fraser’s character’s best friend and caretaker, is remarkable, and she’s earned recognition from the Academy for a while now.

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Stephanie Hsu for Best Supporting Actress

I posted this as a surprise because many people were understandably concerned that Stephanie Hsu would be left out in place of her much more famous “Everything everywhere at once‘co-star Jamie Lee Curtis. Instead, pleasantly enough, both women were nominated. Hsu has to bear some of the toughest scenes of that film’s wild ride. She has to play two characters at the same time: Joy, the daughter of protagonist Evelyn (Michelle Yeoh), and Joy’s alter ego Jobu Tupaki, the film’s villain. A star on stage and screen, Hsu is undoubtedly on the rise, and it’s great that this Oscar nomination will add to her growing career.

Paul Mescal for Best Actor

From his television debut in Hulu’s “Normal People” adaptation (and giving audiences some much-needed horniness during those dark days of 2020) to being an Oscar nominee in just three years, Paul Mescal has had a pretty meteoric rise. In “Aftersun,” directed by Charlotte Wells, he delivers a tender and introspective performance as a young father struggling with his mental health while taking his daughter (Frankie Corio) on vacation. It’s the kind of performance that isn’t exactly flashy and therefore not the kind the Academy often rewards. So it’s nice to see the recognition for him.

Andrea Riseborough for Best Actress

In probably one of the biggest headaches of the morning, British actor Andrea Riseborough was nominated for the little-seen indie film ‘To Leslie’, thanks to a partially self-funded award campaign and support from celebrity peers in the industry. They ran a coordinated Twitter campaign and hosted award screenings and panels led by big names like Kate Winslet, Gwyneth Paltrow and Charlize Theron. (Vulture has a more detailed explanation here.) It’s an interesting tactic. However, it’s also worth noting that while Riseborough has undoubtedly had a respected career working steadily in critically acclaimed independent films, only certain types of people tend to have the connections, resources, and industry-level support for this kind of come-from-behind. Oscar nominations. .

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Ana de Armas for Best Actress

“Blonde” was one of the most divisive movies of 2022 for several reasons (one of them: the anti-abortion scenes, which didn’t go over well, especially at this particular moment in American politics). But many people agreed that no matter how they felt about the movie, Ana de Armas put a LOT into it, taking on a demanding and perhaps impossible role as Marilyn Monroe. Moreover, with leading roles in ‘Knives Out’, ‘No Time to Die’ and ‘Deep Water’, she has had a few important years.

Top Gun: Maverick for Best Adapted Screenplay

The Academy certainly loved “Top Gun: Maverick” and nominated it for Best Picture, which was somewhat to be expected given its huge box office take (it was a common refrain to joke that Tom Cruise saved the movies in 2022) . But a screenplay nomination? OK I guess? Action movies aren’t exactly known for their writing style. But if the Academy likes a movie, they real love it and tend to nominate it across the board.

SNUBS

No female nominees for Best Director

Did ‘Women Talking’ Direct Itself? Didn’t members of the Academy just see “The Woman King”? (See below for much, much more on that.) Gina Prince-Bythewood and Sarah Polley – and all the women who directed critically acclaimed films this year – deserve much better than this.

‘The Woman King’ completely shut out

As my colleague Candice Frederick pointed out, this is the kind of film that the Oscars would normally really go for: a riveting historical epic with big and technically daring action sequences. (Example: The new German adaptation of the World War I epic “All Quiet on the Western Front” garnered nine nominations Tuesday morning.) Plus, “The Woman King” became a huge blockbuster in a transitional year for theatrical productions. releases.

Viola Davis for Best Actress

See above. Although Davis has been nominated four times and won an Oscar before – and has certainly always shown how much of a legend she is – the Academy continues to ignore starring black women.

Case in point: On Tuesday morning, Angela Bassett was the only black woman to be nominated for an acting award for her supporting role in the “Black Panther” sequel “Wakanda Forever.” It came a full 30 years after her first (and so far only) Oscar nomination as Tina Turner in “What’s Love Got to Do with It.” And if you need a reminder of the Academy’s dismal history, in the 95 years of the Oscars, only one black woman has ever won Best Actress: Halle Berry for “Monster’s Ball” more than 20 years ago.

Danielle Deadwyler for Best Actress

See above. My best guess is that the surprise nominations of Riseborough and the Armas ousted Davis and Deadwyler. The latter delivered a remarkable and truly challenging performance as Mamie Till-Mobley in ‘Till’ directed by Chinonye Chukwu. The film, which depicts Till-Mobley’s journey into civil rights activism in the wake of her son’s brutal death, received mixed reviews and was underrated, in part due to its difficult subject matter. But Deadwyler’s work was undeniably great, and again, it’s appalling to see no black women nominated for leading roles.

‘Decides to Leave’ for Best International Film

Widely regarded as one of the front runners for Best International Film, South Korea’s “Decision to Leave” is the latest film from director Park Chan-wook (“The Handmaiden”, “Oldboy”). It’s a tortuous, Hitchcock-inspired mystery about a detective, Hae-jun (Park Hae-il), who investigates the murder of a man… a suspect in the case. It is a beautifully shot thriller with nods to classic film noir and mystery films. Being both a highly entertaining and dramatic film, it’s a strange omission for the Academy, which has really embraced a wider range of international films in recent years.

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