The Biggest Moments from the 95th Oscars Ceremony

Kayla Katounas

On March 12, 2023, the 95th Oscars ceremony was held at the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles, California. The ceremony was hosted by late night host Jimmy Kimmel for the third time. Some of the most popular films of the year, including Everything Everywhere All At Once, Top Gun: Maverick, and Avatar: The Way of Water were honored at this year’s ceremony.

The Oscars have always been a breeding ground for pop culture, and this year was no different. In the past, moments from the ceremony have been countlessly reposted and revisited for years to come. Previous Oscars ceremonies brought Jennifer Lawrence’s fall up the stairs while going to accept her award for Best Actress in 2013, La La Land mistakenly being named Best Picture in 2017, and of course, Will Smith’s 2022 slap. This year’s ceremony delivered heartwarming speeches, controversial wins, and a push forward for diversity among award winners.

The ceremony opened with host Jimmy Kimmel being lowered onto the stage via parachute, an homage to the Best Picture nominated Top Gun: Maverick. Kimmel’s opening monologue did not hold back from referencing the biggest moment from the previous Oscars, saying “we have strict policies in place: If anyone in this theater commits an act of violence at any point during the show, you will be awarded the Oscar for Best Actor, and permitted to give a 19-minute long speech,” referencing Will Smith’s lengthy Best Actor acceptance given moments after slapping Chris Rock.

The first acting category of the night was Best Supporting Actor/Actress, presented by last year’s winners in the category, Troy Kotsur (for CODA) and Ariana DeBose (for West Side Story). Fan favorite Ke Huy Quan took home Best Supporting Actor for Everything Everywhere All At Once. Quan began acting as a child, in films like The Goonies (1985) and Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade (1989), but stopped acting for much of his adulthood. 

Quan’s speech started by addressing his mother, winning hearts by saying “Mom, I just won an Oscar!” He continued the speech by saying, “My journey started on a boat. I spent a year in a refugee camp, and somehow I ended up here, on Hollywood’s biggest stage. They say stories like this only happen in the movies. I cannot believe it’s happening to me. This is the American Dream.”

Immediately following was the award for Best Supporting Actress, which went to Jamie Lee Curtis for Everything Everywhere All At Once. It is her first Academy Award and nomination. Curtis referenced her Oscar-nominated parents in her speech, saying “my mother and my father were both nominated for Oscars in different categories. I just won an Oscar.” Her parents were Janet Leigh, star of Psycho, and Tony Curtis, who acted in Some Like It Hot

Curtis’s win has sparked some controversy among Oscar viewers, who think others in the category deserved it more, namely Stephanie Hsu for Everything Everywhere All At Once or Angela Bassett for Black Panther: Wakanda Forever. Critics think that Hsu and Bassett gave more impactful performances in their respective films, and that Hsu’s character specifically did more for Everything Everywhere All At Once than Curtis’s. While many believe that Curtis’s award is a long time coming after so many years acting, fans were quick to point out that Bassett has been acting for nearly as long as Curtis and had also never won an Oscar, though she was nominated for Best Actress in 1994.

The Oscars are infamous for their lack of diversity, though this year there were some historic successes, although it left viewers wondering why it took so long. Four Asian actors were nominated in acting categories, three from Everything Everywhere All At Once (Michelle Yeoh, Ke Huy Quan, Stephanie Hsu), along with Hong Chau (The Whale). Michelle Yeoh is the first Asian Best Actress nominee, and Ana de Armas is the first of Cuban descent in the same category. This year’s Best Supporting Actress race was the first time two Asian women have been nominated in that category in the same year. There were two Black actors nominated in acting categories (Angela Bassett and Brian Tyree Henry), though many were quick to point out that neither Danielle Deadwyler (Till) nor Viola Davis (The Woman King) were nominated this year. Additionally, Ruth E. Carter became the first Black woman to win two Oscars, after winning Best Costume Design for her work on Black Panther: Wakanda Forever (her first award was for the first Black Panther film). 

Perhaps one of the most significant moments of the night was Michelle Yeoh’s Best Actress win, making her the first Asian actress and the second woman of color to win Best Actress. The award was presented to her by Halle Berry, who was the first woman of color to win the award in 2002. Best Actor went to Brendan Fraser for The Whale

Though the awards for Best Actor/Actress are typically presented by the previous year’s winners, adjustments had to be made this year. Last year’s winners were Jessica Chastain and Will Smith, but after being banned from the Academy Awards for ten years for slapping Chris Rock, Will Smith was replaced by Halle Berry.

Everything Everywhere All At Once sweeped the ceremony, nabbing seven of their eleven nominations. Netflix found multiple successes, including All Quiet on the Western Front, a World War I drama adapted from the 1929 novel, which took home four awards including Best International Feature Film, and Guillermo Del Toro’s Pinnochio, which won Best Animated Feature. Netflix’s influence at the Oscars shows the vastly increasing impact of streaming services on the entertainment industry. The 95th Oscars ceremony, though maybe not as interesting as last year’s ceremony, proved to be an exciting watch for film lovers and pop culture enthusiasts.