2023 Academy Awards: Snubs, Surprises, and Everything Else All at Once

The cast and crew of Everything Everywhere All at Once with their Oscars

Another awards season is over. After seven long months (or twelve actually, going off of when our new Best Picture winner was originally released), the 2022-2023 Oscar race has finally reached its end, with Everything Everywhere All at Once expectedly coming out on top, but with an even larger win haul than anticipated – and one that included a history-making Best Actress win for Ms. Michelle Yeoh, as the first Asian woman to ever triumph in the category. In fact, EEAAO led the night’s wins with seven, with All Quiet on the Western Front right behind it taking home four, and The Whale behind that taking home two, while no other film received more than one award (Avatar: The Way of WaterBlack Panther: Wakanda ForeverThe Boy, the Mole, the Fox and the HorseThe Elephant WhisperersGuillermo del Toro’s PinocchioAn Irish GoodbyeNavalnyRRRTop Gun: Maverick; and Women Talking).

Still, though the night played out as expected for some films, there were a surplus of surprises in store for us, especially in the categories that had been hotly contested right up until the last second, like Best Actor, Best Supporting Actress, and even Best Costume Design. So, below, I’ve summed up the biggest snubs and surprises from the ceremony, before we say bye to this season for good.

SURPRISE: Jamie Lee Curtis wins Best Supporting Actress (and Everything Everywhere All at Once wins the most above-the-line Oscars in Academy history)

Jamie Lee Curtis and her Oscar

All Jamie Lee Curtis needed to close the deal on her Best Supporting Actress campaign was a SAG win, a stupendous acceptance speech, and an indomitable Best Picture frontrunner. Yes, the acting category that seemed to be the most chaotic on the outside ended in the most obvious manner, and we all overthought it (or most of us – including yours truly – at least). Though, “most obvious” doesn’t mean “undeserving,” as it is wonderful to see a screen legend like Curtis receive industry recognition after all these years, especially for her contributions to genre cinema. And with Curtis’ win, Everything Everywhere All at Once broke the record for winning the most above-the-line Oscars (picture, acting, writing, directing) in Academy history – 95 years! Though many had it predicted for five – Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actress, Best Supporting Actor, and Best Original Screenplay – Curtis put the film over the edge for six, making EEAAO only the third movie to ever win three acting awards (after A Streetcar Named Desire and Network) and the first to win Best Picture as well.

SNUB: The Banshees of Inisherin goes home empty-handed

Colin Farrell and son Henry at the Oscars

After Jamie Lee Curtis won Best Supporting Actress, The Banshees of Inisherin saw its Oscar hopes dwindle, as Kerry Condon was widely predicted to be the victor there, and it’s only other chance to win was in Best Original Screenplay (after winning the Golden Globe and BAFTA), but Curtis’ triumph clearly signaled that almost everyone in The Academy had come down with EEAAO fever. And so, despite its nine nominations, Banshees went home empty-handed at the end of the day.

SURPRISE: Brendan Fraser wins Best Actor and The Whale wins Best Makeup and Hairstyling

Brendan Fraser and his Oscar

He actually did it. Brendan Fraser broke several stats – and overcame his film’s divisiveness – to win Best Actor, powered by a transformative and affecting performance and an almost undeniable narrative. Heading into the Oscars, The Whale was not seen as the frontrunner for Best Makeup and Hairstyling after losing several precursors, but once it won there, it was clear where things were headed. And not only did it overtake Elvis in that category, but as Fraser overtook that film’s lead Austin Butler in the Best Actor race as well, he became the first Best Actor winner since Crazy Heart‘s Jeff Bridges in 2009 to win without a Best Picture nomination, and he represented a win for the “comeback narrative” that has failed so many other Oscar hopefuls (Eddie Murphy, Mickey Rourke, Michael Keaton, Sylvester Stallone, etc.). I truly thought the odds would be too mighty for Fraser to overcome, but he did that and more.

SNUB: Elvis goes home empty-handed

Austin Butler at the Oscars

Yes, Brendan Fraser’s Best Actor victory – and The Whale‘s win for Best Makeup and Hairstyling – meant Austin Butler and Elvis missed out on those Oscars. But that wasn’t all. Additionally, it lost Best Costume Design (another category where it was seen as the frontrunner) to Black Panther: Wakanda Forever (which made costume designer Ruth E. Carter the first Black woman to ever win two Oscars). And though some anticipated an upset for the film in Best Production Design (due to Catherine Martin’s history of wins), it missed there too, and ultimately, Elvis shockingly went home empty-handed after earning eight nominations (and doing quite well in the precursors).

SURPRISE: All Quiet on the Western Front overperforms

James Friend with his Oscar

All Quiet on the Western Front was almost unanimously predicted to win Best International Feature Film, and it was the frontrunner in Best Cinematography and Best Original Score too, though it was still contested in those two by Elvis and Babylon, respectively. Ultimately, it did win all three awards… and Best Production Design?! That was a race where it truly came from behind and out of nowhere, as Babylon was out ahead (after winning CC, ADG, and BAFTA) and Elvis was viewed as its closest competition. When it won, many started to fear it would suddenly upset in Best Picture too, but the trophies did stop there.

SNUB: Babylon goes home empty-handed

Diego Calva at the Oscars

The only two categories Babylon was win-competitive in – Best Original Score and Best Production Design – went to All Quiet on the Western Front (with the latter being an aforementioned shocker), and since Best Costume Design went to Black Panther: Wakanda Forever, that meant Babylon went home with zero Oscars at the end of the day, an unfortunate result for an audacious work of art that will be remembered – and likely, reevaluated – in years to come. Oh well, at least we’ll always have “Voodoo Mama.”

SURPRISE: Sarah Polley wins Best Adapted Screenplay

Sarah Polley and her Oscar

One category All Quiet on the Western Front was close to winning but did not was Best Adapted Screenplay. Though Women Talking won the Critics Choice Award, the USC Scripter, and the WGA Award (a combo that has only ever failed one film, 2009’s Up in the Air), All Quiet had the BAFTA Award, where Women Talking wasn’t even nominated. Still, Sarah Polley came out on top in the end, winning even though her film was nominated for only two Oscars and All Quiet, with nine nominations, was far more beloved across the entire Academy. Her acceptance speech, including her citation of the final line from Women Talking, “your story will be different from ours,” summed up the theme of the evening, and signaled a a new future for the industry – as did all of Everything Everywhere‘s historic wins, too.

Written by
Though Zoë Rose Bryant has only worked in film criticism for a little under three years - turning a collegiate passion into a full-time career by writing for outlets such as Next Best Picture and Awards Watch - her captivation with cinema has been a lifelong fascination, appreciating film in all its varying forms, from horror movies to heartfelt romantic comedies and everything in between. Born and raised in Omaha, Nebraska, she made the move to Los Angeles in 2021 after graduating college and now spends her days keeping tabs on all things pop culture and attempting to attend every screening under the sun. As a trans critic, she also seeks to champion underrepresented voices in the LGBTQ+ community in film criticism and offer original insight on how gender and sexuality are explored in modern entertainment. You can find Zoë on Twitter, Instagram, and Letterboxd at @ZoeRoseBryant.

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