‘Oscars’ sees major cultural shift

Evelyn Quan Wang (Michelle Yeoh) stands in front of her husband Waymond Wang (Ke Huy Quan) and daughter Joy Wang (Stephanie Hsu) in a breathtaking scene from award-winning film ‘Everything Everywhere All at Once.’ // Photo courtesy of Allyson Riggs A24

The 95th Academy Awards marked a divergence in tradition and push towards much-needed representation. On March 12, the Oscars began its night without its 62-year-old traditional ‘red carpet’. While this decision worked against enjoying the grandiosity of attendees’ stunning outfits, it set the stage for a new era.

Hosting for his third time, Jimmy Kimmel engaged the audience and attendees with every quip and introduction. He entered the scene by parachuting down from the ceiling onto the stage after being edited into a “Top Gun: Maverick” flight scene. Kimmel referenced last year’s incident of Will Smith slapping Chris Rock and then winning best actor by saying that any assailant would have to get past a few of his friends. 

He began by introducing Michael B. Jordan in his role in “Creed” and Michelle Yeoh from “Everything Everywhere All at Once,” shifting then to point out Pedro Pascal from “The Mandalorian,” who is widely known for his current role as Joel in the HBO Max series “The Last of Us.” Kimmel finished by panning to “The Amazing Spider-Man’s” Andrew Garfield making an awkward smile, which became one of this awards show’s most popular memes.

Leading the awards was A24 film “Everything Everywhere All at Once,” winning seven Oscars all for above-the-line categories, garnering recognition for achievement within the core areas of the film’s development and execution. History-makers Michelle Yeoh and Ke Huy Quan led the cast, followed by Jamie Lee Curtis, in receiving an Oscar for their roles. 

Michelle Yeoh became the first Asian actress to win “Best Actress,” and her acceptance speech spoke on the acknowledgement of achievement amongst minorities by saying, “to all the little boys and girls who look like me watching this tonight, this is a beacon of hope and possibilities. This is proof — dream big, and dreams do come true. And ladies, don’t let anybody tell you you’re ever past your prime.”

Ke Huy Quan also stole hearts and drew tears after speaking about his life story while accepting his Oscar for “Best Supporting Actor.” 

As the first Vietnamese-American to be nominated and the second Asian actor to win, Ke Huy Quan excitedly shared, “My journey started on a boat. I spent a year in a refugee camp … This is the American Dream.” After taking a break from acting following his debut roles in “Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom” and “The Goonies,” Ke Huy Quan took a final chance at acting with his role in “Everything Everywhere All At Once,” showing that the film scene is starting to illustrate the stories of minorities. Fellow cast member Jamie Lee Curtis (“Freaky Friday”) won the Oscar for “Best Supporting Actress,” and the film took home four more accolades for “Best Picture,” “Best Editing,” “Best Original Screenplay” and “Best Directing.”

A24’s awards didn’t stop there. Brendan Fraser, known best for his roles in “George of the Jungle” and “The Mummy,” returned from his pause in acting to star in “The Whale,” winning him his first Oscar for “Best Actor.” 

The night continued to make history when “RRR’s” anti-colonialist song “Naatu Naatu” was honored as the “Best Original Song,” making it the first Indian film song to ever be nominated and win. Costume designer Ruth E. Carter similarly made history as the first black woman to ever win multiple Oscars. After receiving her first Oscar for her work in “Black Panther,” she accepted her second award for “Best Costume Design” for her work on the sequel “Black Panther: Wakanda Forever.”

Throughout the night, “All Quiet on the Western Front” showed out by winning four Oscars for “Best International Feature Film,” “Best Cinematography,” “Best Production Design” and “Best Original Score.” Film sensation “Top Gun: Maverick” also took home an Oscar for “Best Sound,” though Miles Teller attended without his trendsetting mustache. 

While live-action films continue to dominate the awards, Guillermo del Toro (“Hellboy” and “The Shape of Water”) highlighted the importance of animation in cinema. His film “Guillermo del Toro’s Pinocchio” won him his third Oscar for “Best Animated Feature Film.” Upon accepting, he talked about the need to keep animation and the beauty of its capabilities in the conversation. 

Aside from announcing its winners, the Oscars were graced with performances from many notable faces. One of the more unimpressive moments came from Lady Gaga styled in a t-shirt. Most of the negativity around her landed on her chapped lips and lack of formal attire, which are debatably trivial. Aside from this, most other singers met or exceeded Oscar standards. Fresh off her Superbowl halftime performance, Rihanna lit up the stage with her performance of the “Black Panther: Wakanda Forever’s” soundtrack’s hit “Lift Me Up.” 

The 95th Academy Awards acknowledged the best of the best and honored the transition towards a more inclusive film industry. One aspect of the show that will always remain is its spontaneous moments, and Elizabeth Banks walking on stage accompanied by a life-size version of the “Cocaine Bear” will definitely keep the audience assured that they will experience the unexpected.