With awards season done and dusted for another year, the 95th Academy Awards delivered few surprises on or off the stage.
As predicted, offbeat low-budget adventure Everything Everywhere All at Once scooped the pool this year, taking home seven Oscars, including the prestigious best picture category.
Actress Michelle Yeoh and co-stars Jamie Lee Curtis and Ke Huy Quan won in their categories for the film, while frontrunner Brendan Fraser took home a best actor Oscar for his portrayal of a morbidly obese English teacher in The Whale.
Every year, there’s a reason to love the Oscars.
This year, US talk show host Jimmy Kimmel had the honour of hosting duties on Monday and, after parachuting on stage in a nod to Top Gun: Maverick, delivered a monologue sprinkled with Slapgate references, even as the four-hours show was ending.
It wore thin on an audience keen to embrace magic moments.
These included Malaysian-born Yeoh, 60, and Vietnamese-born Quan, 52, becoming the first Asian actors to win an Oscar in the 95-year history of the awards.
And Curtis, 64, who won her first Oscar in her 45-year acting career that started at age 19 when she auditioned for Halloween, cemented her place in scream queen history.
For Fraser, his road to redemption in Hollywood was complete after winning an Oscar, having walked away from his acting career for more than two decades.
The audience inside the packed Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles was on its feet for Lady Gaga’s emotional, last-minute performance of Top Gun’s anthem Hold My Hand and for Rihanna’s equally moving Wakanda Forever theme song, Lift Me Up.
Fast-paced excitement was left to Bollywood this year, with RRR performers dancing and singing their way through Naatu Naatu, the movie’s song that created a viral sensation.
It went on to win best original song, as did their fellow countrymen Kartiki Gonsalves and Guneet Monga for their documentary short film, The Elephant Whisperers.
Missing in action
For a film that “saved” Hollywood – at least that’s what Steven Spielberg thought – grossing more than $US1.49 billion at the box office, Top Gun: Maverick walked away with one award (best sound) from six nominations.
Its star and Hollywood icon Tom Cruise didn’t even show up.
James Cameron’s film, Avatar: The Way of Water, which was a major box office success, breaking multiple records, made about $US2.2 billion worldwide.
It was the highest-grossing film of 2022, the highest-grossing film of the COVID-19 pandemic era, and the third-highest-grossing film of all time.
Cameron didn’t turn up, either.
Aussies shut out
Much was made in the lead-up to the Oscars about Australia’s Cate Blanchett firming as favourite to win best actress for playing a devious orchestra conductor in Tár.
After winning a Golden Globe and a BAFTA, and dozens of critics awards ceremonies, she lost to Yeoh.
And Elvis – made entirely in Australia at the beginning of the pandemic and spearheaded by director Baz Luhrmann and his wife, costume designer Catherine Martin – won zero awards.
Both were films about music.
Luhrmann earlier told Variety on the carpet that there’s going to be an Elvis stage musical, similar to how Priscilla and Moulin Rouge were adapted: “I’m not sure I’ll direct it, but I’ll produce it.”
That’s something to look forward to amid the disappointment of losing.
All about the ‘champagne’ carpet
The last time the red carpet was champagne carpet was in 1961.
With white being the predominant breakout colour this year for designers, Vogue observed that A-list stars were leaning “into minimal, if not slightly bridal looks”.
Best Actress nominee Michelle Williams shone in her Chanel couture dress that included a sheer, embellished cape overlay, while fellow nominee Yeoh “went the feathered route in her sweetheart-neckline Dior gown”, Vogue stated.
There was colour, thanks to Ruth Carter, the costume designer for Black Panther: Wakander Forever, who wore a strapless yellow satin gown, Melissa McCarthy in neck-to-toe red and Hong Chau’s pink Prada gown, complete with a black sequined train.
Blanchett was dressed to win in Louis Vuitton, which included a navy silk skirt with a long train and a never-before-seen archival teal top.
Banshees actress Kerry Condon “brought a ray of sunshine” with her strapless yellow Versace gown, wrote Vogue.
The leading men paraded mostly in traditional black tie, with some opting for embossed jackets and coat tails.
Standouts were Harry Shum, who spoke about a sequel to Crazy Rich Asians on the carpet, Top Gun‘s Jay Ellis who wore a stylish Fendi suit and Austin Butler, who chose a black Saint Laurent tuxedo.
The donkey and the bear
Visual stunts were kept to a minimum this year.
After Kimmel’s parachute, it was left to Jenny the donkey, one of the animal stars of The Banshees of Inisherin to lighten things up.
Dressed in a gold sequinned animal therapy jacket, Jenny was thrilled to be on stage (very much alive), as was her co-star Colin Farrell, who blew her a kiss.
Elizabeth Banks, who accused her Cocaine Bear lead star of tripping her in her voluminous black and white gown as she walked to the podium, regrouped and fed off the humour of the bear (a man in a suit, not real).
Presenting the award for best visual effects, when the bear pointed at the audience and slapped its nose, Banks asked: “Are you trying to score right now? You need to wait ’til the afterparty like everybody else.”
The bear, using mime and fake-whispering (like Humphrey in the old days on Australian TV), nominated the films.
“The Navi are not real; it’s visual effects. Avatar is visual effects,” Banks said.
“Is this All Quiet on the Western Front? OK, that’s visual effects. It was a real war, but real visual effects. Batman flying around is not real. Tom Cruise flying around is real, but also visual effects. Wakanda? Wakanda is totally real.”
“And without visual effects, Cocaine Bear would have been some actor, in a bear suit, probably on cocaine.”
A visual highlight, as were the gowns and props.
Ke Huy Quan, Michelle Yeoh, Brendan Fraser and Jamie Lee Curtis. Photo: Getty
Ana de Armas (Blonde). Photo: Getty
Jessica Chastain. Photo: Getty
Michelle Williams (The Fabelmans). Photo: Getty
Tems’ outfit blocked audience’s view of the stage. Photo: Getty
Too much? Melissa McCarthy. Photo: Getty
These are Oscar winner Ruth E Carter’s pink platforms. Photo: Getty
Kate Hudson. Photo: Getty
Top Gun: Maverick‘s Monica Barbaro played pilot ‘Phoenix’. Photo: Getty
Elizabeth Banks and Cocaine Bear. Photo: Getty
Jenny, and Jimmy Kimmel. Photo: Getty
Daniel Kwan and Daniel Scheinert were everywhere, and celebrated in style at scooping the awards pool at this year’s Oscars. Photo: Getty
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