Belen Yudess ’25 and Frances Walton ’26
Social Media Manager and Copy Editor Intern
Get ready to see countless videos of Rihanna being asked about her newly announced pregnancy, a compilation of Jimmy Kimmel making fun of Meryl Streep just because he can, and several theories about Andrew Garfield’s budding relationship with the interviewer he constantly flirts with at awards shows; because the 2023 Oscars are here! The arrival of this year’s Oscars felt like a slap in the face (too soon?) as we realized how many of these films we hadn’t seen. Whether you have only kept up with the Oscar memes or have seen every movie on the list, here are our expectations vs. reality of a few of this year’s nominees.
Expectation: Everything, Everywhere All at Once
Everything, Everywhere All at Once is truly a once in a lifetime type of film. It handles difficult and often ignored topics such as generational trauma, unrealistic familial expectations, and the complexity of mother-daughter relationships. Additionally, the movie uses absurd and comedic scenes to explore the simpler questions. For example, do we even matter?
The film follows Evelyn Quan Wang as she experiences marital problems, a struggle to make her father proud, and her estranged relationship with her daughter, Joy, after refusing to acknowledge Joy’s girlfriend Becky. In a moment of crisis, Evelyn is confronted by Alpha-Waymond, a variation of her husband from the Alphaverse, and is told she is the only person who can save the multiverse from Jobu Tupaki (who winds up being Joy’s parallel in these other realities). Ultimately, Evelyn is able to save the Alphaverse and Joy by reconciling with her daughter and promising her that she would choose her in any universe.
Due to the film’s strong focus on nihilism, it is able to virtually do anything it wants and portray reality through any medium. After all, nothing has to make sense if nothing we do matters. Jobu’s eccentric and breathtaking costuming, the portrayal of Evelyn and Jobu in different creative lenses such as rocks, piñatas, and colored drawings harnessed unique elements of comedic and artistic genius.
The fluent bilingualism and unconventional uses of language such as the dialogue between rock Evelyn and Joy provides realistic examples of exchanges that occur within multilingual families and communities that is often not shown on the screen. Everything Everywhere All at Once is a beautiful and unique film that rebels against common movie tropes by diverting expectations every time you think you may understand what is going on.
Reality: The Fablemans
Expectation: Michelle Yeoh in Everything Everywhere All at Once
Trying not to wax poetic about Everything Everywhere All at Once is a feat in and of itself, but no one can deny that it deserves a full Oscars sweep this year. Yeoh’s performance left audiences with nothing to wish for; from her ability to cope with the eccentric film’s unique challenges to relaying complex emotional beats in quick moments, Yeoh cannot be beaten. She truly has it all: stunt abilities, acting chops, and a side of multilingualism to boot. She embodies Evelyn’s intensity and poignancy with such masterful care.
Michelle Yeoh’s performance in Everything Everywhere All at Once is nothing short of outstanding. She truly is a deserving candidate for Best Actress, and her performance in the film is the highlight of a movie full of memorable moments.
Reality: Cate Blanchett for Tár
Expectation: Austin Butler in Elvis
You just can’t help falling in love with Austin Butler’s electric rendition of Elvis Presley! As someone who was raised on Presley’s distinct yet powerful voice, it was uncanny how well Butler channeled the rock ‘n roll king’s magnetic yet vulnerable persona.
Although he was beloved by millions, Presley’s life was not as idyllic as people may have made it out to be. He was initially criticized for his overt sex appeal, gravity towards jazz music heavily associated with the Black community, and he eventually developed an addiction to medication that he was forced into taking by his manager, Parker. Butler nails every high and low of the singer’s life, easily switching from the humble swagger of Presely’s early years to the quiet suffering he endured at the hands of Parker in his final years.
Although Butler’s acting is strong, what showcases his star power are his musical performances. The way he channeled the ease and intensity of the late singer’s movements and his charismatic stage appeal were undeniable. Specifically, Butler’s reenactment of Presley’ s iconic and ground-breaking performance of “If I Can Dream” in response to the assassinations of Martin Luther King Jr and John F Kennedy blew audiences away.
It’s also impossible to ignore Butler’s ability to mimic Presley’s deep, soothing voice and it will “always [be] on my mind.” Overall, Butler’s performance was a proper tribute to Elvis that caught fans in a trap of Butlermania because they love him (or the many memes that have emerged) too much.
Reality: Austin Butler for Elvis
Best Supporting Actress
Expectation: Stephanie Hsu in Everything Everywhere All at Once
No one in the Marvel multiverse can compare to Stephanie Hsu’s dynamic performance in Everything, Everywhere All at Once. Hsu’s ability to depict the raw pain Joy experiences due to the effects of multi-generational trauma and then seamlessly switch to portraying the nihilistic and theatrical Jobu Tupaki leaves the audience seesawing between sympathy and astonishment.
The slight inflections in her voice and her vulnerable or shuttered facial reactions alternating with each character portrayal constantly keep viewers on their toes and showcased her outstanding acting abilities. She’s absolutely mesmerizing.
This was Hsu’s first major motion picture, but her maturity and confidence in playing such a complex role are those of a seasoned professional. Hsu’s character provides important and much-needed representation for the Asian American and queer community, a responsibility she carries graciously.
Reality: Jamie Lee Curtis for Everything Everywhere All at Once
Best Supporting Actor
Expectation: Ke Huy Quan for Everything Everywhere All at Once
When rewatching Everything Everywhere All at Once to write this review, it was exciting to examine how Ke Huy Quan takes on the role of Waymond now that he is being considered for an Oscar. As I watched his performance, I couldn’t help but be struck by the depth and authenticity he brought to the character.
Quan’s ability to challenge traditional masculinity in his role is profoundly moving and enjoyable. Did you know he hasn’t acted for around 20 years? Returning to the acting scene with a part like this is next to unbelievable, yet Quan did it.
Quan’s portrayal of Waymond was powerful, showcasing his incredible range as an actor even when portraying a supporting character. Quan’s performance in the action scenes were especially impressive, particularly the one with the fanny pack.
Reality: (fingers crossed) Ke Huy Quan… but maybe Judd Hirsch for The Fabelmans
Best Animated Picture
Expectation: Puss in Boots: The Last Wish
Going into Puss in Boots: The Last Wish with little to no expectations, the movie blew me away.
From an animation standpoint, Puss in Boots was impressive. It meshed a more Disney-esque character, Puss, with fight scenes that were animated in a comic book style reminiscent of Spiderman: Into the Spiderverse. Beyond the animation, the plot is captivating and the humor, surprisingly, landed.
As a sequel to an animated film, it would have been easy for Puss to fall into the category of a formulaic film. However, the dynamic animation, loveable characters, and interesting plot lines will put a smile on anyone’s face.
Reality: Guillermo del Toro’s Pinocchio
Image Source: WOODTV.com