Hollywood and the Academy of Motion Pictures and Sciences have finally woken up and acknowledged that woke programming doesn’t resonate with their audience. After delivering politically charged, yet snooze-inducing Oscar award ceremonies to a declining viewership for many years, the powers that be have finally realized that the public has no interest in watching political protest speeches, agenda-driven musical performances, or the best actor nominee physically assaulting the evening’s master of ceremonies.
The 95th Academy Awards was an unexpectedly entertaining and uplifting awards ceremony punctuated by gratitude and glamor. Everything Everywhere All at Once was the big winner of the night, taking away seven awards, including best picture, best director, best actress, best supporting actor, and best supporting actress. The acceptance speech from the best supporting actor winner, Ke Huy Quan, set the tone for the evening. Quan, a 51-year-old former child actor who had experienced early fame with films including Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom and The Goonies before his opportunities dried up, was profoundly grateful for his second chance in Tinsel Town. “My journey started on a boat,” he said. “I spent a year in a refugee camp and somehow I ended up here on Hollywood’s biggest stage. They say stories like this only happen in the movies. I cannot believe it’s happening to me. This is the American dream.” He continued, saying, “Dreams are something that you have to believe in, I almost gave up on mine. To all of you out there, please keep your dreams alive.”
The best actress recipient was 60-year-old Michelle Yeoh, the first Asian woman to be recognized in this category; she also delivered a crowd-pleasing speech. “For all the little boys and girls who look like me watching tonight, this is a beacon of hope and possibilities. This is proof that dreams do come true,” she said. Moreover, she also commented, “And ladies, don’t let anybody tell you that you are ever past your prime. Never give up.” Her comment was an obvious jab at CNN commentator Don Lemon, who recently dismissed 51-year-old presidential candidate Nikki Haley as being past her prime.
The Oscars’ biggest night also represented a return to the days of old Hollywood, with actors and actresses across the age spectrum exquisitely attired. The production numbers were also tastefully presented and performed without any obvious political messaging. Lady Gaga’s performance of the Oscar-nominated song “Hold My Hand” from the film Top Gun: Maverick was spell-binding, particularly because she elected to replace the dramatic gown and elaborate makeup she was sporting on the red carpet with jeans and a freshly scrubbed face.
And what about last year’s infamous slap? While master of ceremonies Jimmy Kimmel was expressly told by the Academy to not make any jokes about the attack that last year’s best actor Oscar winner, Will Smith, bestowed on emcee Chris Rock, he threw out those instructions the minute he got on stage. “If anyone in this theater commits an act of violence at any point during the show, you will be awarded the Oscar for best actor and permitted to give a 19-minute-long speech,” he commented. But given that the joke was funny and not mean-spirited, as were all the other ones that followed, he was probably forgiven. After all, isn’t that the reason why we hire a comedian to headline an awards ceremony? We want to laugh.
The 2023 Oscars was a throwback to the days when people tuned into the big event to witness the apogee of entertainment, glamor, and above all excellence in filmmaking. Hopefully, last night is a sign that Hollywood is finally listening to the people and giving them the really great show that they deserve.