From a strong Asian visibility in acting categories to queer representation, here are all the history-making nominations at this year’s Oscars.
Related: Surprises, Snubs, And Slaps: What Went Down During The 94th Oscars
Touted as Hollywood’s biggest night and the most highly-regarded award-giving body in the world of cinema, the Academy Awards, or simply, the Oscars, is one of the most-anticipated pop culture events of the year. Almost in its centennial anniversary, the Oscars put the spotlight on and hero the best artists in the film industry that we should be looking out for, be it well-respected veterans or promising fresh talents. And on January 24, nominations of its 95th edition were finally unveiled, much to the shock, disappointment, and joy of the Oscars’ devoted fans, especially of the online subculture and eternal ranting space, Film Twitter.
From the Dolly de Leon snub (that has to be dealt with, really) and shutting out Black actors (the disrespect for Danielle Deadwyler and Viola Davis) to the weirdly clutch Andrea Riseborough campaign (that worked!) and the love for indie multiverse movie Everything Everywhere All At Once, enthusiasts, cinephiles, or just general observers could not be tamed after the announcement that’s brought shocking snubs and surprises. But apart from these, it’s notable to highlight that this years’ Oscars have also seen numerous historic feats happen. From the first Asian best actress contender to the oldest nominee ever, here are some of the momentous moments that already make Oscars 2023 unforgettable.
ASIAN ACTING NOMINEES
It is a big year for Asian representation at this year’s Academy Awards with a record-breaking four acting nominations. This is the most number of recognition achieved by the oft-snubbed minority group in the Oscars. Michelle Yeoh, Ke Huy Quan, and Stephanie Hsu all got nods from the Academy for their performances in Daniel Scheinert and Daniel Kwan’s dimension-hopping indie darling, Everything Everywhere All At Once. Meanwhile, Hong Chau, who is of Vietnamese descent, is nominated for her supporting performance in Darren Aronofsky’s The Whale. All of them are first-time nominees.
Speaking of Michelle Yeoh, the 60-year-old actress just made history earlier this month as the first Malaysian to win a Golden Globe award for her performance as laundromat owner and mother Evelyn Wang in EEAO. And after the Oscars 2023 nomination announcement, Yeoh adds yet another historic feat on her belt as the first actress who openly identifies as Asian to be nominated in the lead actress category of the nearly a century-spanning history of the Academy Awards. Well, we can say that Yeoh is already a winner for that feat alone.
One of the only two Black acting nominees this year, Angela Bassett makes superhero movie history as the first actor playing a character in the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) to get an Oscars nod, thanks to her portrayal of Queen Ramonda in Black Panther: Wakanda Forever. The veteran actress also remains to be the frontrunner in the best supporting actress race, already winning trophies at the Golden Globes and Critics’ Choice Awards, and with nominations from the Screen Actors Guild (SAG) and the British Academy Film (BAFTA) awards. This is Bassett’s second Oscar nomination following her 1994 lead actress-nominated performance as the legendary Tina Turner in the biopic, What’s Love Got To Do With It.
You probably have seen Stephanie Hsu’s jaw-dropping audition tape online and have been amazed by her double performance as conflicted daughter Joy Wang and multiverse-destroyer Jobu Topaki in EEAO. Now, we can all call her Academy Award nominee Stephanie Hsu. Known for her award-winning stint at the comedy series The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel and Broadway musicals Be More Chill and The Spongebob Musical, Hsu not only gets her first-ever Oscar nom, but also becomes the first queer actor playing a queer character to be nominated since Ian Mckellen in the 1998 film Gods and Monsters.
ANA DE ARMAS
Also making history is Knives Out and Blade Runner 2049 star Ana de Armas, who is the first Cuban actress ever nominated for an Oscar. While Andrew Domnik’s divisive NC-17 adaptation Blonde has been widely panned by critics and audiences, de Armas’ compelling performance as Hollywood icon Marilyn Monroe proves to be worthy of recognition. This makes de Armas the fifth Latina to be nominated for best lead actress and will be the first winner should she be handed that golden statuette on March 13.
OLDEST OSCAR NOMINEE
At 90 years old, decorated composer John Williams becomes the oldest nominee to compete in the Academy Awards history. Steven Spielberg’s collaborator for 50 years now, Williams gets his most recent—and 53rd—Oscar nomination this year for his original score in The Fabelmans, Spielberg’s coming-of-age drama based on the filmmaker’s childhood. With 48 Best Original Score and five Original Song nominations thus far, Williams has the most Oscar nominations ever of any living person and holds the record for the second-most nominations of any artist (just behind Walt Disney, who had 59 nominations).
Bollywood is surely rejoicing for the historic nomination of Naatu Naatu, an original song from S. S. Rajamouli’s Telugu-language comedy-action movie RRR. Composed by M.M. Keeravani, Naatu Naatu is the first song from a homegrown Indian production to be nominated in the Oscars’ Best Original Song category. It’s also proved to be a hit among audiences and critics alike, having already won accolades from the Golden Globes and Critics’ Choice Awards. India’s representation at this year’s Oscars is present across other categories as well, with documentaries All That Breathes and The Elephant Whisperers getting nods in the Best Documentary Feature Film and Best Documentary Short Film categories, respectively.
LEAD ACTOR NOMINEES
Usually, the Academy lauds veteran artists and former nominees in its acting categories. So, it is noteworthy that for the first time in decades, all of the actors nominated in the Lead Actor category are first-timers. This year’s Oscars lineup includes respected industry heavyweights Brendan Fraser (The Whale), Colin Farrell (The Banshees of Inisherin), and Bill Nighy (Living), whose nominations are, to be honest, long overdue. Younger breakouts Paul Mescal (Aftersun) and Austin Butler (Elvis) also join the star-studded bunch for their breakthrough performances.
ALL QUIET ON THE WESTERN FRONT
After stacking up an astonishing 14 BAFTA nominations last week (the most this year), German feature All Quiet on The Western Front continues its strong momentum in the festival circuit with nine nominations at the 95th Academy Awards. An adaptation of Erich Maria Remarque’s anti-war novel, the Netflix-backed film becomes the first German-language movie to be nominated for Best Picture at the Oscars.
British-Japanese novelist and Nobel Prize for Literature winner Sir Kazuo Ishiguro becomes the first Asian ever to be nominated in the Academy Awards’ Best Adapted Screenplay category. Ishiguro penned the screenplay for Oliver Hermanus’ Living, an adaptation of Akira Kurosawa’s 1952 philosophical film, Ikiru. For his nomination, the Never Let Me Go and Remains of the Day author is also the sixth Nobel Laureate to be an Oscar nominee.”So honored to be nominated alongside people of such lavish talent!” celebrates Ishiguro. “For a life-long movie fan like me, this news has been just as thrilling as the time I heard I’d won the Nobel Prize!”
Best Cinematography is the Oscar category that is unfortunately, still always dominated by men. But this year, breaking the mold and representing female power proudly is Australian cinematographer Mandy Walker for her work in Baz Luhrmann’s Elvis. Take this, for 95 years, Walker is only the third woman recognized in the category after Rachel Morrison (for Mudbound in 2017) and Ari Wegner (for The Power of the Dog in 2021). We’re looking at you, the Academy.
BEST PICTURE NOMINEES
For the first time in the history of Oscars, more than one best picture contender has grossed more than $1 billion globally. This is courtesy of two tentpole sequels: Top Gun: Maverick and Avatar: The Way of Water. The Tom Cruise-starrer, which has also nabbed five other nominations, has earned nearly $1.5 billion worldwide. Meanwhile, the four-time nominee James Cameron blockbuster has already passed the $2 billion mark, making it the fifth highest-grossing film of all time. This is a promising sign for the Oscars if we’re talking about show ratings and viewership which, unfortunately, has been in a decline in recent years.
Continue Reading: Fave Film Got Snubbed At The Oscars? You Can Now Vote For Your Pick On Twitter