Diversity Wins at the 95th Academy Awards


The 95th Oscar winners were some of the most diverse in their history. (Courtesy of Twitter)

Award season came to a close on Sunday, March 13 with the 95th Oscars hosted by Jimmy Kimmel honoring the marvelous films that came out last year. Winners are chosen through an intricate process and rigorous voting cycle from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. Winning this award is a huge accolade for an actor, director, composer or anyone else who dedicates their hard work to the art of filmmaking. 

“Everything Everywhere All At Once” directed by Daniel Kwan and Daniel Scheinert has dominated this year’s award season. Getting recognition from all over the industry, like the Golden Globes, Screen Actors Guild, Critic’s Choice and, of course, the Academy Awards. Out of the 11 nominations picked up, the sci-fi multiverse film won seven of their categories, including four out of the five biggest awards of the night: Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actress awarded to Michelle Yeoh, Best Supporting Actress awarded to Jamie Lee Curtis and Best Supporting Actor awarded to Ke Huy Quan. Many were disappointed to see Curtis win in a cast full of Asian actors, especially when co-star Stephanie Hsu, who delivered such a terrific and emotional performance in the film, was also nominated for Best Supporting Actress. However, coming from this slew of awards came one of the best acceptance speeches I’ve ever seen. Quan’s incredibly emotional reaction while winning the award for Best Supporting Actor left me and thousands of other viewers in tears. Jumping up and down while hugging his cast mates and taking the stage with tears in his eyes, Quan’s exclamation “Mom, I just won an Oscar!” was the most heartwarming speech to come out of the ceremony. 

Tailing close behind “Everything Everywhere All At Once” was Netflix’s German war flick “All Quiet on the Western Front’’’ and the story of two Irish best friends in “The Banshees of Inisherin,” both getting nine nominations each. “All Quiet on the Western Front” took home four awards that night, including Best Original Score, Best International Feature Film, Best Cinematography and Best Production Design. Unfortunately, the Irish drama-comedy didn’t take home any Oscars, but it was recognized by the Golden Globes, BAFTA awards and other industry honors. 

The award for Best Actor was widely discussed on the internet leading up to the ceremony. Many thought the shoo-in winner would be Austin Butler for his portrayal in “Elvis” or Colin Farrell for his role in “The Banshees of Inisherin.” However, the Academy presented the award to Brendan Fraser, who played the lead role in Darren Aronofsky’s “The Whale.” He accepted the honor with another teary-eyed speech of the night, exclaiming, “So this is what the multiverse looks like!” Nominated alongside Butler, Farrell and Fraser was Paul Mescal for his heart wrenching performance in “Aftersun” and Bill Nighy for his work in “Living.” 

The ceremony featured performances by all of the Best Original Song nominees. Lady Gaga took the stage with a very raw performance of her song “Hold my Hand” from the Best Picture nominee “Top Gun: Maverick.” Wearing no makeup and just a plain t-shirt and jeans, Gaga’s solo was a beautifully meaningful performance for her. Another notable performance was given by Rihanna, where she sang the ballad “Lift Me Up” from “Black Panther: Wakanda Forever.” She stood in the middle of a beautiful stage design and wore a shimmery black mesh get up. Another extremely fun and spunky performance was a song from “RRR” titled “Naatu Naatu.” This exhibition included an entertaining dance number and ended up taking home the Oscar for Best Original Song. The in memoriam tribute to the industry’s losses this past year was done by Lenny Kravitz, as he sang his song “Calling All Angels.”

The not-so-red red carpet this year had few standout looks. Many women, like Mindy Kaling, Zoe Saldana and Gaga, took part in wearing different styles and incorporations of the corset trend. Others went with extravagant ball gowns, like Cara Delevingne, Nicole Kidman and Michelle Yeoh. The men stuck to their usual all black suits, with few exceptions from Harry Shum Jr., Samuel L. Jackson and Mescal. My personal favorite looks of the night came from Rihanna’s carpet look, a black mesh gown showcasing her baby-bump, and Ana de Armas in a glittering sequin-encrusted silver gown. 

Many people still wonder why, today in 2023, there are still gendered categories at the Oscars. The answer is unfortunately simple. Even with the plethora of talent in Hollywood, there will always be a bias benefitting men, white men specifically. The continuation of gendered categories gives women their own time to shine and be recognized for their work when they could otherwise be overlooked simply because of their gender or race. This year specifically was seen as such a win for the Academy because of its recognition of “Everything Everywhere All At Once.” An emotional film about the Asian-American experience with a cast packed full of brilliant Asian actors getting the amount of attention it did was a big step for diversity within the industry. In fact, Yeoh was the first ever Asian woman to be awarded the Oscar for Best Actress. In the future, it is my hope that this trend continues, and we stop systematically overlooking outstanding talent because of race or gender.