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Oscars 2023: Biggest Snubs And Surprises

It is the biggest night in the movie calendar, and the culmination of awards season, but somehow every year the Oscars seem completely incapable of avoiding controversy when it comes to those they have snubbed. Of course, the Academy Awards will never be perfect, and the discourse amongst film fans will always exist, but they could stand to tighten up their choices a bit more when it comes to who they choose to honor. This time around, they left films like "Nope," "Till," and "Decision to Leave" off the ballots completely, while numerous deserving actors — like Paul Dano for "The Fabelmans" and Viola Davis for "The Woman King" — were snubbed in the performance categories.

Going into the 2023 Oscars, there was no doubt that a few outcomes would not line up with what various media outlets were predicting. This was confirmed early in the ceremony when the Academy delivered a confusing choice in the best supporting actress category. Some great films were likely to go home without any hardware, while a few unlikely nominees could ruffle the feathers of audiences around the world by usurping the frontrunners. From questionable wins to award shutouts to shocking absences from nominees, let's take a look at the biggest snubs and surprises from the 95th Academy Awards ceremony.

Surprise: Jimmy Kimmel's monologue wasn't dreadful

As is custom with almost every iteration of the Oscars, the ceremony's host must open the show with a 10-minute monologue. Longtime late-night talk show personality Jimmy Kimmel — hosting the ceremony for the third time in his career — came out and did his thing, making jokes about everyone and everything. This included James Cameron and Tom Cruise's notable absences, the one-year anniversary of the infamous slap that dominated last year's ceremony, and the fact that no women were nominated for best director.

Kimmel's round of jokes could've so easily failed, but he was pretty funny for the most part. It's always a little awkward to watch the host single out attendees — and some take it better than others — but watching the A-listers squirm is all part of the fun. As well as ribbing Hollywood royalty, Kimmel also took the time to recognize Black-led films that were undeservedly snubbed during the nominations, like "Till" and "The Woman King." Oscar hosts are much more hands-off than other awards show hosts, and Kimmel made his short time onstage memorable before smartly getting off of it.

Surprise: James Cameron and Tom Cruise nowhere to be found

Oscar nominees miss the ceremony all the time — Katherine Hepburn notoriously was not present to pick up any of her four acting trophies. This year, James Cameron and Tom Cruise — the minds behind the two highest-grossing films of 2022, "Avatar: The Way of Water" and "Top Gun: Maverick" — were noticeably not in attendance. Host Jimmy Kimmel was sure to point that out in his opening monologue by jesting that, "the two guys who insisted we go to the theater, didn't come to the theater."

While Cruise did not receive a best actor nomination for "Maverick" and Cameron was shut out of the best director category for "The Way of Water," it's shocking that neither of them stopped by to see if their films won any of the other awards they were nominated for. Going into the ceremony, "Top Gun: Maverick" was a strong favorite to win best sound, and "Avatar: The Way of Water" was predicted to win best visual effects — replicating one of the awards its predecessor won in 2010. Both of these predictions proved correct on the night, making it even more of a shame that Cruise and Cameron weren't there to celebrate the success of the vital people who made their films possible.

Snub: The rest of the Best Supporting Actor field

The truth is, no other actor in this category was more deserving of the Oscar than Ke Huy Quan, who dazzled as Waymond Wang in "Everything Everywhere All at Once." After taking home a trophy at nearly every other major award show, Quan's victory was looking like a lock many months ago. He's the first Asian actor to win best supporting actor since Haing S. Nigor won the award in 1985 for "The Killing Fields," making the moment even more important. However, this was one of the strongest best supporting actor fields in recent memory.

Alongside Quan, Brendan Gleeson and Barry Keoghan were nominated for their turns in "The Banshees of Inisherin," and "Atlanta" star Brian Tyree Henry picked up a nod for his breakthrough dramatic role in "Causeway," while Hollywood veteran Judd Hirsch found a nomination for his memorable portrayal of Uncle Boris in "The Fabelmans." Both Gleeson and Keoghan were especially worthy of the award and, in any other year, it is likely one of them would've won it. It's not their fault that Quan gave the comeback performance of a lifetime and takes home the gold in this and every other multiverse.

Snub: Frontrunners Angela Bassett and Kerry Condon miss out to Jamie Lee Curtis

The Academy Awards are known for stirring up the drama and this year, they elected to get the ball rolling early. After Ke Huy Quan's emotional and well-deserved win, presenters Troy Kotsur and Ariana DeBose presented the best supporting actress award to Jamie Lee Curtis for her performance in "Everything Everywhere All at Once" — much to the dismay of a lot of people watching.

Angela Bassett's face upon the announcement said it all. Though Curtis is a legend and deserving of an Oscar in some capacity, this was not the best time to crown her — especially since Bassett's performance in "Black Panther: Wakanda Forever" and Kerry Condon's in "The Banshees of Inisherin" were the frontrunners. But Curtis' win at the SAG Awards gave her the momentum needed to take home the Oscar, despite Bassett and Condon arguably turning in much more emotional, nuanced performances.

On top of that, you could argue that Curtis wasn't even the best nominee from "Everything Everywhere All at Once" in this category, with her co-star Stephanie Hsu turning in a much stronger portrayal in the powerhouse A24 movie. Though it's good to see Curtis finally get her due after a great 40-year career, her win will likely be one of the most controversial of the night.

Surprise: Mitski's absence

Every year, most of the nominees for best original song perform their work in intervals across the ceremony, providing some welcome entertainment for those in attendance and us watching at home. Some incredible songs were nominated this year, including "Naatu Naatu" from "RRR," Rihanna's "Lift Me Up" from "Black Panther: Wakanda Forever," and Lady Gaga's "Hold My Hand" from "Top Gun: Maverick." "This Is a Life" — the gorgeous credits song from "Everything Everywhere All at Once" — also scored a nomination, and found experimental electronic group Son Lux collaborating with indie darling Mitski and rock legend David Byrne.

"This Is a Life" was performed at the ceremony, but Mitski did not make an appearance to sing her duet with the former Talking Heads frontman. Instead, "Everything Everywhere All at Once" star and Oscar nominee Stephanie Hsu took Mitski's place and delivered an average performance. The reason for Mitski's absence is unknown, but it would have been a great moment to see her grace the stage after the release of her 2022 album, "Laurel Hell."

Surprise: The Whale wins for Best Makeup and Hairstyling

According to Variety, "The Whale" was not even on the radar for a win in this category, despite Annemarie Bradley-Sherron and Judy Chin transforming star Brendan Fraser into a 600-pound man with extensive prosthetics. The favorite was "Elvis," led by the team of Mark Coulier, Jason Baird, and Aldo Signoretti, while the German war epic "All Quiet on the Western Front" had some odds to spoil the party. Even "The Batman" seemed like a surer thing than "The Whale."

Despite Fraser's lauded performance as Charlie — for which he earned a best actor nomination — "The Whale" has been the subject of many conversations around its use of prosthetics and its depiction of binge-eating disorders. The film was even criticized for perpetuating fatphobic tropes by putting Fraser in a fat suit instead of casting an actor who was closer to the size required. With all of that surrounding "The Whale," it's shocking to see it take home the Oscar over "Elvis."

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Snub: Babylon and Elvis lose out on Best Production Design

The fact that "All Quiet on the Western Front" won best production design is not an issue. Christian M. Goldbeck and Ernestine Hipper created an incredible wartime set that truly was the heart and soul of the film. However, it's surprising that it toppled two of the most egregious and extra films of 2022, "Babylon" and "Elvis."

While "All Quiet on the Western Front" was often dark and muted, Goldbeck and Hipper's sparse use of light and beauty brought the grim realities of World War I to life, transporting audiences back 100 years. But, heading into the ceremony, "Babylon" was the favorite according to Variety, while "Elvis" had some momentum behind it as well. No one saw this win for "All Quiet on the Western Front" coming. Even more so, "Elvis" not winning anything from the makeup, hairstyling, costume, and production categories is easily one of the biggest surprises of the night.

Surprise: Justin Hurwitz and John Williams lose Best Original Score

Oscar veterans Justin Hurwitz and John Williams — who have seven wins combined – were the two clear favorites to win best original score. Even Carter Burwell — who scored "The Banshees of Inisherin" — could have very well eked out a victory here. Instead, Volker Bertelmann took home the hardware for "All Quiet on the Western Front."

Williams has many more nominations than wins — as Jimmy Kimmel pointed out in his opening monologue — but his collaboration with Steven Spielberg for "The Fabelmans" felt as sure of a thing as you could get. To the same degree, Hurwitz teaming up again with Damien Chazelle on "Babylon" seemed like a winning combination too. Bertelmann's score for "All Quiet on the Western Front" was tremendous and, much like Christian M. Goldbeck and Ernestine Hipper's production design, perfectly mirrored the brutality of World War I. His victory wasn't a surprise so much as Hurwitz and Williams losing was.

Surprise: The Fabelmans, The Banshees of Inisherin, and Elvis get shut out

In a ceremony truly dominated by "Everything Everywhere All at Once" and "All Quiet on the Western Front," it's shocking that heavyweight and beloved films like "The Fabelmans," "The Banshees of Inisherin," and "Elvis" all went home without any awards. Surely, they could have mustered up one victory between the three of them, right?

At various points in the months leading up to Oscars night, it looked like "The Fabelmans" could secure Steven Spielberg a best director win, while "The Banshees of Inisherin" was one of the favorites to win best original screenplay on the big night. The best actor race was a bit more undecided, as Austin Butler won a Golden Globe and a BAFTA but with Brendan Fraser cleaning up at most of the ceremonies on the awards circuit, he ended up nabbing the Oscar. In the end — and as many had anticipated — "Everything Everywhere All at Once" spoiled everyone else's plans, taking home seven Oscars in total.