Oscar nominations 2023 talking points: Blockbusters are back, first-timers rule, and a few notable snubs

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The 2023 Oscar nominations have now been revealed – and while a few were dead certs, there are some surprises too.

Madcap sci-fi Everything Everywhere All At Once leads the race with 11 nods – thanks to four nominations in the acting categories and making the cut for best picture – closely followed by dark comedy The Banshees Of Inisherin and German-language film All Quiet On The Western Front, with nine nods each.

You can see the full list of Oscar nominees here. Elsewhere, here are the main talking points from the 2023 Oscar nominations.

A big year for first-timers

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Bill Nighy in Living. Pic: Sony Pictures

In something of a coup, it was a particularly successful year for first-timers with 16 of the 20 actor nominations for those who had never been nominated before.

In fact, the best actor category was all newcomers (despite Bill Nighy being a spritely 73); all but two of the best actress nominees are first-time nominees (Cate Blanchett and Michelle Williams have both been nominated multiple times, and Blanchett has won twice), and in the supporting actor and actress categories only Angela Bassett and Judd Hirsch have made the list before.

US actor Brendan Fraser and Irish star Colin Farrell have already been pitted against each other in a “Fraser vs Farrell” showdown, with both men campaigning for a win in the best actor category.

And like Fraser, who’s coming back into the spotlight after a spell in the shade, Everything Everywhere star Ke Huy Quan – who starred in The Goonies and India Jones And The Temple Of Doom as a child and now has his first Oscar nod for best supporting actor – is enjoying a surge of public goodwill.

Meanwhile, British character actress Andrea Riseborough’s nod for little-known film To Leslie has caught the film world by surprise, after the movie gained a legion of A-List fans including Gwyneth Paltrow, Kate Winslet and Jennifer Aniston. Lest we forget, in Hollywood, it’s all about who you know…

Sequels make history

JENNIFER CONNELLY PLAYS PENNY BENJAMIN AND TOM CRUISE PLAYS CAPT. PETE "MAVERICK" MITCHELL IN TOP GUN: MAVERICK FROM PARAMOUNT PICTURES, SKYDANCE AND JERRY BRUCKHEIMER FILMS.
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Jennifer Connelly plays Penny Benjamin while Tom Cruise returned as Captain Pete ‘Maverick’ Mitchell in Top Gun: Maverick. Pic: Paramount Pictures/ Scott Garfield

It was a record-breaking year for sequels.

For the first time, the best picture category saw two sequels nominated – Top Gun: Maverick and Avatar: The Way of Water.

Only eight sequels have ever been nominated for best picture in Oscar history, and never before have two been chosen in the same year.

Those which have previously made the cut include follow-ups to The Godfather, The Lord of the Rings and Mad Max.

Popular films make an Oscars comeback

Kate Winslet (L) in Avatar. Pic: 20th Century Studios
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Avatar: The Way Of Water. Pic: 20th Century Studios

A frequent complaint about the Oscars is that the films which get selected by critics and industry insiders aren’t the movies we all love watching in real life.

However, this year, three big popular films have made it into the best picture category – Avatar: The Way Of Water, Top Gun: Maverick and Elvis.

Widely watched, they all performed well at the box office, with Avatar breaking box office records and taking more than $2bn (£1.6bn) worldwide, Top Gun taking $1.5bn (£1.2bn) and Elvis taking over $280mn (£230mn), making it the third highest-grossing music biopic since the 1970s.

So this year, when we finally roll around the star-studded ceremony in March, not only could we have seen the eventual best picture winner, we might even have enjoyed it.

Is streaming really the future?

Felix Kammerer in All Quiet On The Western Front. Pic: Netflix/ Reiner Bajo
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Felix Kammerer in All Quiet On The Western Front. Pic: Netflix/ Reiner Bajo

Despite forecasts that streaming giants could crowd out traditional cinema releases, and last year’s winner – Coda – coming from Apple TV+, this year’s top category only had one streamer in the mix – Netflix’s All Quiet On The Western Front.

All of the other best picture contenders were released in cinemas, although some have since become available on streaming platforms.

Despite Netflix putting plenty of campaigning heft into Glass Onion and Pinocchio, both movies scored just one nomination each.

In total, streaming services received about half the number of nominations they did a year ago, with Netflix, Apple and Amazon getting a total of 19 nominations, down from 37 last year, according to Deadline.

Death of the cinema, it seems, has been somewhat exaggerated – or at least postponed – with the lifting of pandemic restrictions helping fuel a return.

All male directors (yawn)

Speaking at the UK premiere of the film, The Fabelmans, the legendary director told Sky News it's an issue that isn't going anywhere.
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Steven Spielberg is among the all-male best director line-up for The Fabelmans

There are more men called Daniel in the best director nominations list than women, after female filmmakers were completely shut out of the category.

While directors Charlotte Wells (Aftersun), Sarah Polley (Women Talking) and Gina Prince-Bythewood (The Woman King) were all overlooked, it was six men (Steven Spielberg, Martin McDonagh, Todd Field, Ruben Ostlund, Daniel Kwan and Daniel Scheinert) who made the cut.

So, one thing we know for sure is that despite women winning the category two years running (Chloe Zhao in 2021 for Nomadland and Jane Campion in 2022 for The Power Of The Dog) it will not be a woman taking home the gong this year.

A disappointing result in a category which until 2021 had only ever had one female winner in the Oscars’ then 93-year-history (Kathryn Bigelow for The Hurt Locker in 2010). Not very impressive.

A great year for Irish stars…

Brendan Gleeson and Colin Farrell reunite in The Banshees of Inisherinin. Pic: 20th Century Studios
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Brendan Gleeson and Colin Farrell reunite in The Banshees of Inisherin. Pic: 20th Century Studios

Just as it played out with the BAFTA nominations, Irish stars are having a moment at this year’s Oscars – with Culture Minister Catherine Martin hailing the success a “testament to the talent here in Ireland”.

Colin Farrell and Paul Mescal are both up for best actor award, for The Banshees Of Inisherin and Aftersun respectively, while in the supporting categories, Farrell’s co-stars Brendan Gleeson, Barry Keoghan and Kerry Condon are all in the running, too.

In fact, Martin McDonagh’s dark comedy The Banshees Of Inisherin, a story about dealing with a friendship that is falling apart, picked up nine nods in total – beaten only by sci-fi thriller Everything Everywhere All At Once.

Normal People’s Mescal is nominated for the first time for his portrayal of young father Calum in Aftersun, which follows him and his daughter Sophie, played by newcomer Frankie Corio, on holiday in Turkey, with Celia Rowlson-Hall portraying an adult Sophie looking back at the trip 20 years on.

Elsewhere, The Quiet Girl has become the first Irish language feature film to be nominated for an Academy Award, shortlisted for best international feature film along with All Quiet On The Western Front, Argentina, 1985, Close and EO.

… but not so good for British actors

Cast member Andrea Riseborough arrives at the premiere for 'Matilda the Musical' in London, Britain, November 21, 2022.
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Andrea Riseborough is a welcome surprise addition to the best actress shortlist, for her performance in To Leslie

Only two of this year’s acting nominees are British – Bill Nighy, for Living, and Andrea Riseborough, for To Leslie – the lowest number of British nominees in the categories in a decade.

Last year, five of the 20 nominees were British, and the year before that, the number stood at eight.

British stars who could have been in with a shot?

Olivia Colman and Eddie Redmayne, both previous Oscar winners who have been recognised throughout this awards season, missed out on nominations for their performances in Empire of Light and The Good Nurse respectively.

Having been nominated for a BAFTA for her performance in Good Luck To You, Leo Grande, Emma Thompson might also have been in with a chance.

Snubs

Jalyn Hall and Danielle Deadwyler (L-R) in Till. Pic: Lynsey Weatherspoon/Orion Pictures
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Jalyn Hall (left) and Danielle Deadwyler in Till. Pic: Lynsey Weatherspoon/Orion Pictures

Every year, there are some films and stars inevitably left out of the Oscars cut. Sadly, that’s showbiz.

This year, notable absences once again raise questions about diversity; they include Till, a biographical film based on the true story of Mamie Till-Bradley, who pursued justice after the racist murder of her 14-year-old son Emmett Till in 1955 – for which star Danielle Deadwyler has been universally praised for her performance – and Gina Prince-Bythewood’s The Woman King, which at one time had many predicting a best actress nod for Viola Davis.

And while Angela Bassett is nominated in the supporting actress category – marking Marvel’s first acting nomination – Black Panther: Wakanda Forever missed out on a nod for best film, despite a strong showing at the box office and critical acclaim.

Damien Chazelle’s Babylon, an ode to the wild days of silent film, did receive three nominations – for costume, music and production design – but didn’t make the cut in the acting or directing categories, and missed out on best film.

The film, which had a budget of $80m (about £65m), has made less than $30m (about £24m) at the box office so far and divided critics, so perhaps this one isn’t too surprising.

The Brenaissance

Brendan Fraser in The Whale. Pic: A24
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Brendan Fraser in The Whale. Pic: A24

Brendan Fraser’s Oscar nomination comes after a flurry of other nods and awards for his performance in The Whale, marking a comeback in his first lead role in a major film for 12 years.

In the film, Fraser, who starred in The Mummy and George Of The Jungle, plays an obese man trying to reconnect with his daughter, and has received standing ovations at film festivals for his emotive performance.

The star said he was “overjoyed” to be nominated and that playing his character, Charlie, had “profoundly changed my life”.

“I wouldn’t have this nomination without [director] Darren Aronofsky, [writer] Samuel D Hunter, [producers] A24 and the extraordinary cast and crew who gave me the gift of Charlie,” he said.

“A gift I certainly didn’t see coming, but it’s one that has profoundly changed my life. Thank you!”

Music

Singer Rihanna attends a premiere for the film Black Panther: Wakanda Forever in Los Angeles, California, U.S., October 26, 2022. REUTERS/Mario Anzuoni
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Rihanna

It’s not just the A-list film stars you need to watch out for at this year’s Oscars ceremony, as musicians including Rihanna and Lady Gaga could be there on the red carpet, too.

Who could forget Lady Gaga’s rendition of Shallow alongside her A Star Is Born co-star Bradley Cooper on Oscars night 2019, the performance that sparked a million romance rumours? More of this, please.

This year, she’s nominated in the best song category for Hold My Hand, from Top Gun: Maverick, while Rihanna is in the running for Lift Me Up from Black Panther: Wakanda Forever.

So could this be a year for two pop powerhouses to shine? It could even have been three, but Taylor Swift’s Carolina, from Where The Crawdads Sing, didn’t make the cut.

Naatu Naatu from RRR, This Is A Life from Everything Everywhere All At Once, and Applause from Tell It Like A Woman are also nominated.

And proof that even Oscar-winning stars love a “Dick” joke

My Year Of Dicks. Pic: Cat's Pyjamas / Wonder Killer
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My Year Of Dicks. Pic: Cat’s Pyjamas / Wonder Killer

The highlight of the nomination announcements – which, let’s face it, can often be a dull affair – was Oscar-winning actor and producer Riz Ahmed and M3GAN star Allison Williams talking about Dick.

My Year Of Dicks to be precise, a psychedelic 25-minute long film about an American teenager trying to have sex for the first time in the early 1990s, created by Pamela Ribon and directed by Sara Gunnarsdottir.

The normally composed Ahmed had to take a long breath after saying the film’s X-rated title, with the audience laughing as he did so.

Co-host Williams – used to sexy scenes from her time in Girls – could also be seen giggling.

Cue numerous Google searches for the previously little-known short film across the world – which is very much NSFW (not safe for work).

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You can watch the Oscars exclusively on Sky Showcase on Sunday 12 March from midnight. Sky News will be live on the red carpet at the ceremony in Hollywood and be live with the winners at the Vanity Fair party on Breakfast with Kay Burley, Monday 13 March

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