Column: The Oscars present award sweeps, questionable jokes, jaw-dropping performances

Laura Emde, news staff

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences held its 95th annual Academy Awards ceremony, colloquially known as the Oscars, March 12 at the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles. Audiences around the world tuned in to see if their favorite films, such as “Everything Everywhere All At Once,” “The Banshees of Inisherin” and “Avatar: The Way of Water” would take home one of Hollywood’s most coveted prizes.

Fans of “Everything Everywhere All At Once” were likely the most content as the awards ceremony came to a close, as the film swept the awards with seven wins, taking home prizes for best picture, best actress in a leading role and more.

The A24 film was a favorite in the time in between the nominations and the actual ceremony, with many people correctly predicting that it would win multiple accolades.

Although many of its awards were well-received, such as Ke Huy Quan’s win for best actor in a supporting role, one award in particular was met with online backlash  — Jamie Lee Curtis’ triumph for best actress in a supporting role.

For some viewers, the controversy surrounding Curtis’ win may have given them a sense of déja vu — when Harry Styles won album of the year at the Grammys in February, many took to social media to express their disappointment over his win.

Among the social media backlash, these situations bring to light the reality that many award shows such as the Oscars are extremely lacking when it comes to cultural diversity. For example, in the 95 years the Oscars have existed, only two women of color have won the award for best actress in a leading role — Halle Berry in 2002 and Michelle Yeoh this year, showing how whiteness is embedded in the core of awards shows.

Jimmy Kimmel hosted this year’s awards ceremony, and the methods he used to entertain the audience between award presentations were … interesting, to say the least.

For starters, Kimmel asked Malala Yousafzai, a Pakistani activist who works towards education for all women and girls, if she thought that Harry Styles spit on Chris Pine during the infamous “Don’t Worry Darling” press tour last year. This felt both out of place and incredibly distasteful — who heard that the youngest Nobel Peace Prize winner in history would be sitting in the audience and decided the best way to feature her was to ask about a chaotic press tour that she had absolutely no connection to?

Kimmel also decided to make a quip about James Cameron’s absence from the ceremony. Cameron directed best picture nominee “Avatar: The Way of Water,”  but he did not receive a nomination for best director, prompting Kimmel to ask, “What do they think he is — a woman?”

This joke makes light of a different issue of representation at the Academy Awards, as female film directors are often overlooked when it comes to this category. In the Oscars’ 95-year-long history, seven women have been nominated for best director and only three of those women won and two of them were back-to-back (Chloé Zhao for “Nomadland”and Jane Campion for “The Power of the Dog”). A man making this joke about another man who won this award for “Titanic” and was nominated for the first “Avatar” minimizes and disrespects the work that female directors have put in to even get the chance of recognition at one of Hollywood’s biggest stages.

Many of Kimmel’s jokes quickly became derivative and annoying as the night progressed, making at least six references to the infamous Will Smith and Chris Rock slap incident at last year’s awards. Although the first joke or two might have made people laugh, by the fourth or fifth it felt as if Kimmel was beating a dead horse.

The Oscars’ saving grace were the performances of the best song nominees. Artists such as Rihanna, Lady Gaga and Rahul Sipligunj and Kaala Bhairava gave beautiful performances of songs from “Black Panther: Wakanda Forever,” “Top Gun Maverick” and “RRR,” the latter of which won the award.

One of the performances in particular came extremely late in the process — Gaga was not on the roster until the morning of the awards, giving producers little time to prepare, however it ultimately came together and Gaga gave an incredible performance.

Other than the songs and the awards “Everything Everywhere All At Once” received, the 2023 Oscars Ceremony was a night of Twitter controversies and jokes that left a poor taste in people’s mouths.