This Sunday was the Academy Awards aka the Oscars and most viewers went in with a lot of skepticism considering how boring and/or bizarre the ceremony has been in recent years. Plus, lots of people were pretty sure Jimmy Kimmel was incapable of being anything other than a liberal politics spewing blow hard.
But much to everyone’s surprise the ceremony was…quite good? Over three hours long, it didn’t really get slow until the very end. It seems like Hollywood might have actually looked itself in the mirror and decided to make some changes and actually entertain people.
Here’s all the best moments and what went right for the ceremony:
- The showrunners were absolute sticklers about time for acceptance speeches
Kimmel’s opening bit layed down some ground rules and he joked that instead of playing winners off the stage with music, they’d dance them off with performers. While the dancers were a joke, the showrunners showed absolutely no mercy to the winners. If they hit their time allotment, their mic was turned off, the camera panned away and the music played while they were ushered by several escorts off the stage. This was a very smart move by the showrunners that kept the ceremony really clipping along and prevented the kind of rambling that leads to controversy.
- Some beloved household names not typically associated with the award circuit took home top prizes
The voting body of the Academy really took to heart that sometimes it’s nice to vote for the performance by the most deserving actor who everyone knows and loves versus the actor who only does the high brow material. Brandon Fraser (Encino Man, George of the Jungle), Jamie Lee Curtis (Halloween, Freaky Friday), and Key Huy Quan (Short Round in Temple of Doom, Encino Man) too home Best Actor, Best Supporting Actress and Best Supporting Actor respectively and as underdogs gave very emotional speeches about their victories which was inspiring for the live audience and viewers at home who know and love these actors because of their highly entertaining and valuable prior films.
- The musical performances were excellent
All the original song nominees were performed for the broadcast and they were all excellent and extremely varied. Lady Gaga stripped down and gave a powerful rendition of her original song, “Hold My Hand” featured in Top Gun: Maverick which couldn’t have been more different than the musical number “Natu Natu” performed from the film RRR. Sofia Carson (who recently won The Conservative Critic Fail Award for Worst Performance in a Motion Picture) was a glowing angel singing “Applause” from Tell it Like a Woman and Rihanna was maybe actually singing (at least partially) for her performance of “Life me Up” from Wakanda Forever. They were all wonderful and gave a real sense for their corresponding films.
- No politics (almost)
The Academy rejected Vladimir Zelensky’s request to make an appearance at the awards (as he did at the Grammys and other award ceremonies) and in a statement made clear that their ceremony was going to be a-political. Very few winners so much as mentioned a political issue in their speech (except one was a documentary literally about the Russian invasion of Ukraine) and those who did mention politics were so brief it was easy to miss. Jimmy Kimmel didn’t make any political jokes whatsoever. It’s unclear if the showrunners asked winners to keep their speeches away from politics or if Hollywood is just becoming less insufferable. Either way, it was deeply refreshing.
- Short Round and Indiana Jones were reunited
If it wasn’t enough that Key Huy Quan aka Short Round won his academy award with the most emotional humility the ceremony has ever seen (until Brendan Fraser won his), Harrison Ford showed up to deliver the Best Picture award which went to Quan’s film, Everything, Everywhere, All at Once. The two reunited on stage in one of the most pure moments of the ceremony, warming the hearts of Indy fans everywhere.
5. Brendan Fraser’s full redemption arc
Brendan Fraser was sexually assaulted (“allegedly”) by the President of the Hollywood Foreign Press at the height of his career in 2003. Fraser was just coming off The Mummy Returns and beginning new projects that were meant to launch him further into a family household name. The event shook him and isolated him causing him to withdraw from the industry and, like many of Hollywood’s victims, become shunned by studios. Since that time Fraser has steadily worked giving sometimes truly stunning performances that have long gone unsung until he came forward with his story in 2018. His victory at the Oscars is a full circle moment that was deeply emotional and so well deserved.
- Nominee families were invited
For the first time in recent memory, many of the winners referenced their family being present at the ceremony up in the “nosebleed” seats. Historically, the Oscars have had to limit attendance so extremely that nominees were not even allowed a single plus one let alone their entire family. Sometimes, not all the members of the cast of Best Picture nominees were even invited to attend. How this was managed is unclear because the ceremony was still in the same Dolby (formerly Kodak) theater as always. Maybe families have always been able to come and no one ever mentioned it before? It’s all very unclear but it was nice to know everyone had their loved ones watching their big moment.
- Malala Yousafzai ruined Jimmy Kimmel’s joke by not getting it and it was therefore extra funny
Malala Yousafzai continues to make all of us look bad by being not only the youngest awardee of the Nobel Peace Prize but her documentary Stranger at the Door was also nominated for Best Documentary feature so she got to go to the Oscars and she looked amazing. Jimmy Kimmel incorporated her into his bit by pretending a viewer from home wanted to ask her opinion on “whether or not Chris Pine spat on Harry Styles” (more on that here). Yousafzai seemed dubious and probably had no idea what he was talking about so she just answered “I only speak about peace.” Which was sort of a hilarious brush off that Jimmy did not know what to do with.
- Tems caring not at all who might have to sit behind her
Tems was nominated for Best Original Song for her work on “Lift Me Up” from Wakanda Forever but she will forever live in our hearts as the view obstruction for about 10 audience members. Beautiful dress though.
Overall, the Academy Award ceremony was the best it’s been in years. Here is a full list of the night’s winners.