2023 Academy Awards: The Snubs, Surprises, and Andrea Riseborough

Well, that’s over with.

The nominations announcement for the 2023 Academy Awards is officially in our rear-view mirror, and now that the dust has settled, let’s regroup, reassess, and see what these nominations tell us about where the rest of this awards season is headed. I don’t need to say anymore because I know you were all up at the crack of dawn with me to watch these unfold in real-time, so let’s just get right into it with what I believe to be the top twelve takeaways from today’s announcement.

Michelle Yeoh, Ke Huy Quan, and Stephanie Hsu in Everything Everywhere All at Once

  • Everything Everywhere All at Once remains the Best Picture frontrunner, maxing out its nominations and leading with 11 total
    • Most of us were predicting Everything Everywhere All at Once to land in categories like Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actress, Best Supporting Actor, Best Supporting Actress, Best Original Screenplay, and so on and so forth, but it did even better than anyone could’ve expected it to (especially after some tried to say its shortlist performance last month was “troubling”), showing up in Best Costume Design, Best Original Score, and Best Original Song too, which allowed it to lead nominations for the day with 11 total. It got everything it needed to and more, and let that be the nail in the coffin to anyone’s doubt that this is a real contender to win Best Picture (if not the frontrunner). Oh, and shoutout to Stephanie Hsu for managing the film’s second Best Supporting Actress nomination alongside category mainstay Jamie Lee Curtis.
  • Andrea Riseborough made it into Best Actress, and Michelle Williams remained in Lead, but Viola Davis and Danielle Deadwyler were left out 
    • She did it. She actually did it. After mobilizing half of Hollywood in a last-minute grassroots Oscar campaign, Andrea Riseborough actually broke through in Best Actress in the end, leapfrogging contenders like Viola Davis (who had made every precursor) and Danielle Deadwyler (who showed up at Critics Choice, SAG, and BAFTA). However, it is extremely unfortunate (to say the least) that Riseborough’s ascension came at the expense of the two major Black contenders in the race who also already had prior industry support, now leaving Michelle Yeoh as the only woman of color in the Best Actress line-up. Oh, and as for Michelle Williams? She not only got nominated, but in Lead after all, despite snubs at SAG and BAFTA and rumors of an impending switch.
  • No women in Best Director…
    • Sarah Polley, Charlotte Wells, and Gina Prince-Bythewood put out three of the best films of 2022 (and women killed it across-the-board last year, including Maria Schrader, Chinonye Chukwu, and Alice Diop), but, ultimately, Best Director was a sausage fest yet again, with Daniels, Todd Field, Martin McDonagh, Ruben Östlund, and Steven Spielberg making up the final five. These are great directors who made some great films, but they weren’t the only great directors who made the only great films in 2022, and with a surplus of female-directed film excellence in 2022, this outcome begs the question: what more do women have to do to get a fair shake in this category?
  • But Women Talking rebounded elsewhere!
    • However, despite Sarah Polley’s Best Director snub (and Women Talking‘s even more shocking Best Original Score snub), the film managed to ultimately break through in Best Adapted Screenplay and Best Picture, giving it a happy ending after an inconsistent season and making it a contender to win Adapted Screenplay again with this additional support.

The cast of Women Talking

  • BRIAN. TYREE. HENRY.
    • The second most shocking acting nomination of the day (after Andrea Riseborough) was Brian Tyree Henry in Best Supporting Actor for Apple TV+/A24’s Causeway, a film that hadn’t made much noise with industry awards bodies aside from Henry’s Critics Choice nomination (though he did receive mentions from the Gothams and Indie Spirit Awards). This is a huge show of strength for Henry has a performer – someone who already has two Emmy nominations under his belt and will now be an even bigger name following this boost for his profile.
  • Judd Hirsch Judi Dench’d Paul Dano
    • Remember last year when Judi Dench – the second Best Supporting Actress priority for Belfast, after Caitríona Balfe (who made all precursors, even when her film underperformed) – ended up getting an Oscar nom over Balfe when all was said and done? It initially came as a shock, but upon further consideration, it made a lot more sense; voters simply namechecked the veteran over the newbie. And now, oddly enough, that same thing happened this year, with Paul Dano – a Critics Choice and SAG nominee in Best Supporting Actor for The Fabelmans – being usurped by Judd Hirsch in the end, the former nominee and “living legend.” Hirsch at least had a CC nomination prior to this (Dench had nothing), but still, this was a significant surprise.
  • Ruben Östlund made Best Director with no precursors (not even a BAFTA longlist mention)
    • Many were assuming All Quiet on the Western Front‘s Edward Berger would be the “international” nominee in Best Director this year after he scored a BAFTA nomination and All Quiet continued to overperform during this critical voting period. And despite some predicting Triangle of Sadness for a Best Picture nomination, few were considering Ruben Östlund to receive individual consideration outside of Best Original Screenplay due to the fact that he wasn’t even longlisted for Best Director at the BAFTAs even though his film did well there. And let, lo and behold, his standing in the international film community (and two Palme d’Ors) proved to be enough, as he worked his way into the final line-up in the end, BAFTA longlists be damned.
  • Top Gun: Maverick, “the Best Cinematography frontrunner,” isn’t even nominated
    • Ever since Avatar: The Way of Water failed to gain a foothold in the Best Cinematography race and Top Gun: Maverick conversely “took off,” the latter has been seen as the frontrunner to win this Oscar. And yet, today, it wasn’t even nominated for this award, with the line-up instead consisting of All Quiet on the Western FrontBardoElvisEmpire of Light, and TÁR. Now, no one really knows what’s winning (though my money’s on All Quiet, as it fits the mold of a winner best in my opinion and could come out on top at BAFTA). It’s also odd that Top Gun showed up in a category like Best Adapted Screenplay but not here.

Brendan Fraser in The Whale

  • The Whale underperforms
    • After its surprise PGA nomination, the solidification of Hong Chau as a surefire Best Supporting Actress nominee, and its potential as a Best Adapted Screenplay winner, The Whale shot up many pundits’ Best Picture predictions, including in yours truly’s. However, at the end of the day, it turned out to be what many of us predicted it’d be from the beginning – The Wrestler 2.0 (Best Actor + Best Supporting Actress nominations) + a Makeup nod. This likely tanks Brendan Fraser’s chances to win Best Actor, as he’s going up against two competitors in Best Picture nominees now (between Austin Butler and Colin Farrell), and Butler is also “transforming” and starring in a film set to possibly win Best Makeup and Hairstyling, an award commonly tied to acting wins.
  • All Quiet on the Western Front overperforms (as somewhat expected)
    • Can we still call All Quiet on the Western Front‘s nomination haul an “overperformance”? I think it fits, simply because its rise in the awards race has been one of the most organic, exciting, and unexpected ascensions we’ve seen in quite some time, growing its nomination potential based on sheer quality and rave word-of-mouth alone as its distributor prioritized 2-4 other titles over it. And in the end, it tied with The Banshees of Inisherin to earn the second-most nominations overall, with nine total. It’s only real “miss” was in Best Director, though that can easily be waved away with the understandable explanation that Edward Berger isn’t yet as big a name as someone like Ruben Östlund (who likely took his “place”)
  • Pinocchio only nominated for Animated Feature
    • Heading into today’s nomination announcement, most pegged Guillermo del Toro’s Pinocchio for three nominations: Best Animated Feature, Best Original Score, and Best Original Song. However, Everything Everywhere All at Once‘s surprise nominations in those latter two categories meant that Pinocchio was pushed out, leaving it with only one nomination total in Best Animated Feature. It’s likely still strong enough to win thanks to its current status as “the frontrunner” and its weak competition, but this is an odd and slightly alarming stumble for the critically acclaimed film.
  • Decision to Leave left off of Best International Feature line-up
    • Can The Academy give Park Chan-wook a break? Even though Decision to Leave made every precursor possible, that still wasn’t enough to convince Oscar voters to throw it a bone in their Best International Feature Film line-up, opting for the likes of EO and The Quiet Girl over it, along with other widely nominated contenders All Quiet on the Western FrontArgentina 1985, and Close. Some had even predicted Park to show up in Best Director after his BAFTA nomination, though I guess this means “better luck next time” – or better luck never, with the way The Academy has historically treated his films.
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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