2023 Memorable Oscars Moments
Michelle Yeoh made history, Ke Huy Quan made us teary-eyed, while Cocaine Bear made us uncomfortable.
After several years of missteps and controversies, the question lingering at the Oscar two Sundays ago was always something to dwell on: what could go wrong?
With little to no setbacks, the Academy pulled off an almost perfectly controversy-free ceremony that featured many emotional moments and some awkward run ins.
Most Historic Achievement: Michelle Yeoh Becomes First Asian to Win Best Actress
In the 95-year history of the Oscars, an Asian star had never taken home the best actress award. This was until Sunday March 20th when Michelle Yeoh won the Oscar for her lead performance as a laundromat owner in Everything Everywhere All at Once.
“For all the little boys and girls who look like me watching tonight, this is a beacon of hope and possibilities,” Yeoh said adding, “This is proof that dreams — dream big, and dreams do come true.”
Most Heartfelt Acceptance Speech: Ke Huy Quan
Occasionally, an acceptance speech can sneak its way through an award show with genuineness and humbleness. On the 12th, the speech came from a very emotionally overwhelmed Ke Huy Quan who won for best supporting actor.
After childhood success in Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom and The Goonies, his career took a pause for two decades until the win for his role of a supportive but neglected husband in Everything Everywhere All at Once, the part that brought him his well deserved recognition.
Putting into perspective how long some performers stride to achieve a film’s highest glory, Quan mentioned his 84-year-old mother, who was at home watching, and thanked her for the sacrifices she made to bring their family to the United States. “My journey started on a boat,” he started off. “I spent a year in a refugee camp. And somehow, I ended up here on Hollywood’s biggest stage. They say stories like this only happen in the movies. I cannot believe it’s happening to me. This, this is the American dream.”
Biggest Welcoming Win: Jamie Lee Curtis
It was fitting, in all likelihood, that Jamie Lee Curtis won the supporting actress award shortly after her co-star Ke Huy Quan took the win for best supporting actor.
While Quan’s win made a legendary career comeback, Curtis is considered Hollywood royalty, a daughter of two actors who got her started in Halloween back in the 70s.
Curtis made sure to spread all the love, saying that she shared her honor with the numerous people who had helped her get where she is today.
“To all of the people who have supported the genre movies that I have made for all these years, the thousands and hundreds of thousands of people,” she said adding a stall for emphasis, “we just won an Oscar together!”
Most Symbolic Speech: Brendan Fraser
During Fraser’s acceptance speech, he made sure to add naval references after he won best actor for The Whale. Here are the metamorphic phrases he said: “throwing me a creative lifeline,” “hauling me aboard,” “the good ship ‘The Whale,’” “our lighthouse,” “whale-sized hearts,” “only whales can swim at the depth of the talent of Hong Chau” and “like a bit of a diving expedition on the bottom of the ocean.”
All parallels aside, Fraser’s acceptance was certainly sincere. The first-time nominee had been considered a front-runner for the award since it premiered at the Venice Film Festival, and his win was the courtesy note on a beautiful comeback story.
With all of these heartwarming moments came along the cringeworthy ones. We can’t forget it's an award show after all — these things are bound to happen.
Most Unpredicted Comic: Malala
As Jimmy Kimmel occupied the gaps between awards by asking audience members questions allegedly from fans, Malala Yousafzai, the Pakistani activist for girls’ education and the youngest recipient of a Nobel Peace Prize, was approached by last year’s biggest mystery: “Do you think Harry Styles spit on Chris Pine?” Malala came prepared replying with, “I only talk about peace.” The response briskly put a stop to the banter, but it wasn’t long before she was trapped in another joke, where someone in a bear costume crawled over to her.
Animal Interruption: The Person in the Cocaine Bear Costume
While presenting the award for best visual effects, director Elizabeth Banks of Cocaine Bear was accompanied by a person in a bear costume. Not all furry trends need to be hopped on. On another note, let’s not bother Malala.
Most Brought Up Joke: Jimmy Kimmel Mentions the Slap
Before the telecast, executives made one thing clear: no one wanted the Slap — the shocking moment when Will Smith struck Chris Rock onstage last Oscars — to be mentioned on the telecast this year, not even as a joking matter. Everyone took great measures to make sure something like that wouldn’t happen again, going so far as setting up crisis teams as well as run-throughs of different scenarios. They even chose a long-serving host, Jimmy Kimmel, for his ability to handle anything live television could throw his way. What they didn’t count on — surprisingly, was Kimmel mentioning the subject they most wanted to avoid.
“If anyone in this theater commits an act of violence at any point during the show, you will be awarded the Oscar for best actor and permitted to give a 19-minute-long speech,” Kimmel mentioned in the beginning of the show, which started a line of jokes related to the Slap.
Leaving the cringeworthy moments behind, the 95th annual Oscars has shed a light on the unforgettable wins that paved a way for more representation.