Oscars 2023 Throwback to Upbeat Shows of Years Passed: Jimmy Kimmel Hosts An Actually Enjoyable Night
The Oscars are back.
Jimmy Kimmel hosted an actually enjoyable show that made light of Will Smith’s slap from last year but managed to showcase the upbeat side of Hollywood. The winners reflected the odd nature of post-pandemic film business in which strange movies like “Everyone Everywhere All at Once” and “The Whale” snatched victory from cinematic betters like “Tar,” “The Fabelmans,” “All Quiet on the Western Front” and “The Banshees of Inisherin.”
It was the year of nostalgic voting, where actors like Brendan Fraser and Jamie Lee Curtis elicited comeback sympathies from fans who grew up with them. And then were was Ke Huy Quan, whose own story of surviving Hollywood hit a nerve with every Academy voter, and Michelle Yeoh, who put in four decades and deserved a reward.
And then there was Netflix, which has spent millions over the last six or seven years but hasn’t come up with a Best Picture. This year they eked out Best Animated Feature and Best International Film, with a total of four statues going to “All Quiet on the Western Front.” But they were outplayed in the main categories.
What really made this year’s show: the musical performances. Lady Gaga’s last minute stripped down “Hold My Hand” was inspirational. David Byrne, Son Lux, and Stephanie Hsu brought avant garde genius to the proceedings. Diane Warren and Sofia Carson’s “Applause” was incrediby moving. Rihanna sang her heart out. The winner of Best Song, cast of “RRR,” lit up the Dolby Theater with “Naatu Naatu.”
The Oscars producers followed a path that’s turned up lately in awards shows. To streamline them and move it along, some presenters give two awards. This cuts down on introductions and people entering and exiting the stage. This works to the extent that it’s economical, but it also has a numbing effect. Some of the drama of opening the envelopes is lost, but maybe we can sacrifice it.
My only quibble with this year’s show is that other than Harrison Ford, the upper echelon of old Hollywood seems lost. I wish we’d see Jane Fonda, Dustin Hoffman, Robert Redford, Shirley Maclaine, Cher, Meryl Streep, Goldie Hawn, Michael Douglas, Michelle Pfeiffer, and so on presenting awards. There’s an ever encroaching feeling that the era of the movie star is over. This lack of real authority bears out in photos from after parties like Vanity Fair’s, which is now loaded with TV and reality stars, models, and tabloid subjects.
Still, last night’s show was a success for the Academy, a huge step back on the road to making the Oscars relevant. More tomorrow from the Governor’s Ball, a fizzy shindig filled with hot gossip and great food!
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