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Oscar Surprises: Record Number Of Asian Actors, The Oldest Nominee Ever And First-Time Nods For Yeoh, Rihanna And Many More

Topline

This year’s Oscar nominees made history: The Academy recognized a record number of Asian actors, plenty of first-time nominees and the oldest Oscar nominee ever.

Key Facts

The Academy unveiled nominations Tuesday for the 95th Oscars ceremony, which is set to take place on March 12.

This year’s slate of nominees was filled with surprises — like Andrea Riseborough’s shock Best Actress nod — and plenty of notable superlatives, like Michelle Yeoh’s history-making nomination.

The vast majority of this year’s acting nominees — 16 out of 20 — are celebrating their first nominations, and there are many other first-timers in other categories, like Rihanna for Best Original Song.

Fresh off last year’s nomination for West Side Story, Steven Spielberg is again up for Best Director with The Fabelmans — and he’s now tied as the second-most nominated director in history.

It was a big year for box office hits at the Oscars: this year’s Best Picture nominees have the highest total gross in more than a decade.

Notable First-Timers

  • The entire Best Actor category consists of first-time nominees: Austin Butler (Elvis), Colin Farrell (The Banshees of Inisherin), Brendan Fraser (The Whale), Paul Mescal (Aftersun), and Bill Nighy (Living).
  • Michelle Yeoh (Everything Everywhere All At Once) is the first Best Actress nominee to openly identify as Asian (Merle Oberon was nominated in 1936 but passed as white), and is joined in the category by Ana de Armas (Blonde) and Andrea Riseborough (To Leslie) as first-time nominees.
  • Brendan Gleeson and Barry Keoghan are both first-time nominees for their supporting turns in The Banshees of Inisherin; they’re joined by first-timers Brian Tyree Henry (Causeway) and Ke Huy Quan (Everything Everywhere All At Once) in the supporting actor category,
  • Hong Chau (The Whale), Kerry Condon (The Banshees of Inisherin), Jamie Lee Curtis and Stephanie Hsu (both for Everything Everywhere All At Once) are all first-timers for supporting actress.
  • Rihanna is up for Best Original Song for “Lift Me Up” from Black Panther: Wakanda Forever, her first nomination.
  • Co-writers and directors of Everything Everywhere All At Once Daniel Kwan and Daniel Scheinert earned not just their first nomination, but their first three: they’re up for Best Picture, Director, and Original Screenplay.

Superlatives

  • Steven Spielberg ties Martin Scorsese for the second-most nominations for the Best Director Oscar with 9 career nominations, this time for The Fabelmans, only behind William Wyler’s 12.
  • Angela Bassett rode the momentum from her Golden Globe and Critics Choice victories to land a Best Supporting Actress nomination for Black Panther: Wakanda Forever, becoming the first acting nominee from a Marvel movie.
  • This year’s Best Picture nominees have grossed about $4 billion at the global box office — led by blockbusters Avatar: The Way of Water and Top Gun: Maverick — the highest combined gross since 2010, Axios reported.
  • Four Asian nominees were recognized in the acting categories — Yeoh, Quan, Chau, and Hsu — the most ever in a single year, according to Variety.
  • Ireland had a record showing with this year’s nominations: one-fourth of the acting nominees are Irish (Farrell, Gleeson, Keoghan, Condon and Mescal), The Banshees of Inisherin is the second-most nominated film with 9, and Ireland’s The Quiet Girl and An Irish Goodbye were nominated in Best International Film and Best Live Action Short, respectively.
  • At 87, Judd Hirsch nearly broke the record for oldest-acting Oscar nominee for his turn in The Fabelmans, coming up just short behind Christopher Plummer, who was nominated for Best Supporting Actor in 2018 at age 88.
  • John Williams extended his record as the most-nominated living person in Oscars history, earning his 53rd nod for his score for The Fabelmans — and he’s now the oldest Oscar nominee in history at 90.

Surprises

  • Andrea Riseborough stunned by earning a Best Actress nod for the little-seen drama To Leslie after a last-minute grassroots campaign from fellow actors proved successful.
  • Triangle of Sadness exceeded expectations with nominations for some of the Academy’s biggest prizes: Best Picture, Director for Ruben Östlund, and Original Screenplay.
  • Brian Tyree Henry was nominated for Best Supporting Actor for Causeway despite other awards overlooking his performance.
  • The Woman King was completely shut out of nominations, despite being a box office hit and Viola Davis looking like a safe bet for her performance — she was nominated by important precursor awards bodies including the Golden Globes and Screen Actors Guild.
  • Other notable snubs include Danielle Deadwyler (Till) for Best Actress, South Korean film Decision to Leave, and women in the Best Director category (like Sarah Polley for Women Talking or Gina Prince-Bythewood for The Woman King).

Further Reading

Oscar Nominations 2023: ‘Everything Everywhere All At Once’ Leads Pack (Forbes)

How Andrea Riseborough Scored An Oscar Nomination: Grassroots Campaign By Paltrow, Winslet, Blanchett And Others Built Momentum For Actress In Little-Seen ‘To Leslie’ (Forbes)

2023 Oscar Nominations: Snubs and Surprises (The New York Times)

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