Six takeaways from the 2023 Oscar nominations

The Academy Award nominations stoke controversy and deliver surprises, from the absence of female directors to a record for Asian actors.

En esta combinación de fotografías el arte promocional de las nominadas al Oscar a mejor película, fila superior de izquierda a derecha, "“Im Westen nichts Neues”, "Avatar: The Way of Water", "The Banshees of Inisherin", "Elvis", "Everything Everywhere All at Once", fila inferior de izquierda a derecha, "The Fabelmans", "Tár", "Top Gun: Maverick", "Triangle of Sadness" y "Women Talking". (Netflix/Disney/Searchlight/Warner Bros./A24/Universal/Focus/Paramount/Neon/Orion-United Artists via AP)
The nominations for the 95th Academy Awards have been announced with Everything Everywhere All at Once leading the pack [AP]

The nominations for the Academy Awards have been unveiled with Everything Everywhere All at Once leading the way with 11 nods.

As usual, the announcement on Tuesday stoked plenty of controversies, and there were surprises – from the absence of female directors to the inclusion of an actress from a film almost nobody has seen. There was also a record number of nominations for Asian actors.

Here are six key takeaways:

1. Women ignored in the best director category – #OscarSoMale

No women were nominated for best director this year, an absence that prompted anger and accusations of sexism on social media.

Allegations of sexism have been regularly levelled at the Oscars over the years. Until 2021, Kathryn Bigelow was the only woman to ever win Hollywood’s top directing prize, which she took home for The Hurt Locker.

But the Oscar has gone to women for the past two years with Chloe Zhao (Nomadland) and Jane Campion (The Power of the Dog) appearing to finally end decades of male domination.

This year, however, strong candidates, including Sarah Polley (Women Talking) and Gina Prince-Bythewood (The Woman King), were overlooked, prompting people to share the hashtag #OscarsSoMale.

The nominees are:

  • Steven Spielberg (The Fabelmans)
  • Martin McDonagh (The Banshees of Inisherin)
  • Todd Field (Tar)
  • Ruben Ostlund (Triangle of Sadness)
  • Daniel Kwan and Daniel Scheinert (Everything Everywhere All at Once)

The academy was also criticised for not including any Black actors in the lead acting categories.

2. Michelle Yeoh becomes first Asian best actress nominee

The science-fiction flick Everything Everywhere All at Once about an exasperated Chinese immigrant in the United States struggling to finish her taxes landed four acting nods. Michelle Yeoh made history by becoming the first Asian to get a best actress nomination.

Her fellow cast members Jamie Lee Curtis and Stephanie Hsu were nominated for best supporting actress and Ke Huy Quan for best supporting actor.

A record number of Asian actors were nominated this year, according to the entertainment trade magazine Variety. Hong Chau also got a nod for her role in The Whale.

“I think this is beyond just me,” Yeoh told The Hollywood Reporter after the nominations were announced.

“It represents so many who have hoped to be seen in this way, to have a seat at the table, to say, ‘I am of value too. I need to be seen too.'”

“My phone is going completely bananas from Hong Kong and Asia and China,” Yeoh said.


The cast and crew of "Everything Everywhere All at Once" pose after winning the Best Picture award at the 28th annual Critics Choice Awards in Los Angeles, California, U.S., January 15, 2023. REUTERS/Aude Guerrucci
The cast and crew of Everything Everywhere All at Once after winning the best picture award at the Critics Choice Awards on January 15, 2023, in Los Angeles [Aude Guerrucci/Reuters]

3. To Leslie

One of the more startling nominations went to Andrea Riseborough for best actress for her performance in To Leslie, an independent film about a Texas single mother struggling with alcoholism who wins the lottery but soon squanders her wealth.

While her performance had been widely praised, few people have seen the movie. It has netted a paltry $27,322 in ticket sales, according to BoxOfficeMojo.

However, Riseborough benefitted from an intense, last-minute social media campaign mounted on her behalf by celebrity friends, including Edward Norton, Gwyneth Paltrow and Sarah Paulson.

ritish actress Andrea Riseborough poses as she arrives at the British Academy of Film and Television Arts Los Angeles Britannia Awards in Beverly Hills, California November 30, 2011. REUTERS/Fred Prouser (UNITED STATES - Tags: ENTERTAINMENT)
British actress Andrea Riseborough was a surprise best actress nominee for her role in To Leslie [File: Reuters]

4. India’s RRR nominated for best original song

Despite not being submitted as India’s official Oscars pick, the unapologetically over-the-top action film RRR has built grassroots support to become a popular favourite in Hollywood in recent months.

Fans include Avatar director James Cameron, who was seen praising its director SS Rajamouli in a recent video that went viral on social media, prompting hopes the film could land a best picture nomination.

While that did not happen, its catchy musical number Naatu Naatu was nominated for best original song.

The film that India submitted instead for best international feature, Last Film Show, failed to land a nomination.

But two Indian-made documentaries made it into the Oscars nominations: All That Breathes for best documentary feature film and The Elephant Whisperers for best documentary short.

5. Fabelmans surprise

Few doubted that Spielberg’s semi-autobiographical drama The Fabelmans would land a best supporting actor nomination. Paul Dano has received widespread acclaim for his portrayal of the director’s father.

But Dano did not make the list. Instead, academy voters cast ballots for 87-year-old Judd Hirsch, who appears in the film for fewer than 10 minutes.

Hirsch plays a cantankerous and highly eccentric great-uncle who shows up unexpectedly to offer a young Spielberg advice about pursuing his film-making dreams.

The academy has previously rewarded brief appearances with statuettes, including Judi Dench for Shakespeare in Love and Beatrice Straight for barely five minutes in Network.

Cast member Judd Hirsch attends a premiere for the film "The Fabelmans" during the AFI Fest in Los Angeles, California, U.S., November 6, 2022. REUTERS/Mario Anzuoni
Judd Hirsch’s nomination for his brief appearance in The Fabelmans surprised many people in Hollywood when he beat out his co-star Paul Dano [File: Mario Anzuoni/Reuters]

6. Rihanna vs Lady Gaga

With award show television ratings plummeting in recent years, Oscars producers will be keen to ensure some of showbiz’s biggest names attend the ceremony in March.

No category is more star-studded than the best original song, which features Lady Gaga, Rihanna and David Byrne.

Gaga sang Hold My Hand in Top Gun: Maverick. Rihanna performed Lift Me Up in the superhero sequel Black Panther: Wakanda Forever, and Talking Heads frontman Byrne penned This Is a Life from Everything Everywhere All at Once.

The category is rounded out by MM Keeravaani’s Naatu Naatu and Applause by Diane Warren.

Warren has now been nominated an astonishing 14 times without winning best original song although she did receive an honorary Academy Award last year for a song-writing career that has included Aerosmith’s I Don’t Want to Miss a Thing.

Source: Al Jazeera and news agencies