Jimmy Kimmel promised no nonsense at the 95th Academy Awards on Sunday (March 12) as Hollywood reconvened for a ceremony that will try to move past one of the most infamous moments in Oscar history.
In one of the nights first major awards, Ke Huy Quan, the former child star, capped his extraordinary comeback with the Oscar for best supporting actor. Quan, beloved for his roles as Short Round in Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom and Data in Goonies, had all but given up acting before being cast in Everything Everywhere All at Once. His win, among the most expected of the night, was nevertheless one of its most moving moments.
The audience including his Temple of Doom director, Steven Spielberg gave him a standing ovation as Quan fought back tears. “Mom, I just won an Oscar!” said Quan, whose family fled Vietnam in the war when he was a child. “They say stories like this only happen in the movies. I can’t believe it’s happening,” said Quan. “This is the American dream.”
Minutes later, Quan’s castmate Jamie Lee Curtis won for best supporting actress. Her win, in one of the most competitive categories this year, denied a victory for comic-book fans. Angela Bassett (Black Panther: Wakanda Forever) would have been the first performer to win an Oscar for a Marvel movie. It also made history for Curtis, a first-time winner who alluded to herself as a Nepo baby during her win at the Screen Actors Guild Awards.
She’s the rare Oscar winner whose parents were both Oscar nominees, something she emotionally referenced in her speech. Tony Curtis was nominated for The Defiant Ones in 1959 and Janet Leigh was nominated in 1961 for Psycho. The telecast, airing live on ABC, opened traditionally: with a montage of the years films (with Kimmel edited into a cockpit in Top Gun: Maverick) and a lengthy monologue.
Kimmel’s jibe at Will Smith slap moment
Kimmel, hosting for the third time, didn’t dive right into revisiting Will Smith’s slap of Chris Rock at last years ceremony. But after a number of jokes including one that noted two stars of Encino Man, Ke Huy Quan and Brendan Fraser are nominated Kimmel noted that there are numerous Irish actors up for Oscars, which means the odds of another fight on stage just went way up.
The late-night comedian struggled to find lessons from last year’s incident, which was followed by Smith winning best actor. “If anyone tried any violence this year,” he said, “You will be awarded the Oscar for best actor and permitted to give a 19-minute-long speech.” But Kimmel said anyone who wanted to get jiggy with it this year will have to come through a fearsome battalion of bodyguards, including Michael B. Jordan, Michelle Yeoh, Steven Spielberg and his shows security guard Guillermo Rodriguez.
The night’s first award went to another Guillermo: Guillermo del Toros Pinocchio for best animated film. After several days of rain in and around Los Angeles, the sun is out again for a ceremony the film academy is hoping will be less stormy than last year. The usually red carpet, as part of the make-over, was champagned colored. Kimmel, the shows first solo emcee in five years, is hosting for the third time. He last hosted in 2018. “Nobody got hit when I hosted the show,’ Kimmel bragged tongue-in-cheek Thursday on Good Morning America. “Everybody was well-behaved at my Oscars.”
Kimmel presides over a ceremony that could see big wins for the best-picture favorite, Everything Everywhere All at Once. Daniel Kwan and Daniel Scheinerts action-comedy indie hit comes in with a leading 11 nominations, including nods for Michelle Yeoh and Ke Huy Quan. There were surprises before the show even got started. “Just days after producers had said Lady Gaga wouldn’t be performing her nominated song Hold My Hand from Top Gun: Maverick,” a person close to the production with knowledge of the performance confirmed Sunday afternoon that the pop superstar would perform, after all.
Tom Cruise, James Cameron absent
Some big names weren’t in attendance, though. Neither Tom Cruise, whose Top Gun: Maverick is up for best picture, nor James Cameron, director of best-picture nominee Avatar: The Way of Water appeared to be at the ceremony. Both have been forefront in Hollywood’s efforts to get moviegoers back after years of pandemic. “The two guys who asked us to go back to theater aren’t in the theater,” Kimmel said.
And presenter Glenn Close told The Associated Press that she would no longer present at the show because she had tested positive for COVID-19. But the academy, still trying to find its footing after several years of pandemic and ratings struggles, is also hoping for a smoother ride than last year. A crisis management team has been created to help better respond to surprises. The academy has called its response to Smith’s actions last year inadequate. Neither Rock, who recently made his most forceful statement about the incident in a live special, nor Smith, who’s been banned by the academy for 10 years, are expected to attend.
Indian contingent stun at Oscars
The team of RRR and Bollywood actor Deepika Padukone led the Indian contingent at Oscars where India is vying for three trophies. This year, India-made productions have earned three nominations at the Academy Awards – Naatu Naatu has been shortlisted for Original Song, All That Breathes is in the running for Documentary Feature and The Elephant Whisperers for Documentary Short.
RRR director SS Rajamouli represented the country at the global stage wearing a traditional dhoti with mauve-coloured silk kurta. His leading men Ram Charan and Jr NTR wore black velvet bandhgalas with statement embroidery reminiscent of their characters in RRR.
“The RRR at the #OSCARS!!! #Oscars95 #NaatuNaatu #RRRMovie,” the official Twitter page of RRR shared the pictures from the red carpet.
Charan – whose character Alluri Sitarama Raju was described as a soldier in the British Indian Army – sported a medal-like brooch on his bandhgala. He was accompanied by his wife and entrepreneur Upasana Konidela, who looked resplendent in white. Jr NTR’s sherwani celebrated the majestic tiger with whom his character Komaram Bheem has a face off in RRR.
RRR (Rise Roar Revolt), a pre-independence fictional story, follows two real-life Indian revolutionaries Alluri Sitarama Raju (Ram Charan) and Komaram Bheem (Jr NTR) in the 1920s.
Padukone, who will be presenting an award at the Oscars, channelled Hollywood icon Audrey Hepburn for her maiden appearance at the Academy Awards. She wore a custom Louis Vuitton black gown with matching satin gloves and completed her look with a statement neckpiece from Cartier. The Indian star tied her hair in a neat loose bun.
Naatu Naatu singers Rahul Sipligunj and Kaala Bhairava, who will perform the Telugu chartbuster at the Oscars stage, also walked the red carpet along with choreographer Prem Rakshith. Sipligunj wore a metallic grey kurta with cigarette pants and blingy white shoes, Bhairava and Rakshith donned black attire.