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The 95th Academy Awards: A Star Is Re-Born

The poster for the 95th Annual Academy Awards
The poster for the 95th Annual Academy Awards By Courtesy of EPK.TV
By Avery Britt, Crimson Staff Writer

To understand the trend of the 95th annual Academy Awards, we must first go back to the 27th Academy Awards, when Judy Garland, a fading child star, sat in her hospital room. Garland’s new film, “A Star Is Born,” was her last chance to reclaim the spotlight — a task which seemed reachable, as she was not only the favorite to win Best Actress in 1955, but seemed so guaranteed to win that NBC cameras filed into her room to capture the moment. However, another name was read and a new star was born: Grace Kelly. With that, the camera crew left and closed the door of Judy Garland’s major acting career — out with the old and in with the new.

After 68 years, the same trend has seemingly arrived again. Michelle Yeoh, at 60 years old, is one of the oldest actresses in her category, but was again a favorite for best actress. Seated in the first row, with her category being announced by historic winner Halle Berry, auspicious signs presented familiar circumstances, but, this time, the narrative changes: She won. Not out with the old, but not out with the new either.

From the Cocaine Bear to a star-studded rendition of “Happy Birthday,” the 95th annual Academy Awards were full of new surprises — but the greatest part of this year’s honors were the seemingly predictable wins giving way to new representation. “Everything Everywhere All At Once” has been both a critic and fan favorite since its release as a summertime blockbuster. All the major media outlets forecasted its Oscar dominance, but not even the seemingly most certain prediction is guaranteed.

As seen in the dominance of the OscarsSoWhite hashtag over the last decade, the Oscars have a persistent problem with diversity. So when a film with abundant representation is nominated for an Academy Award, it has the potential to go the way of Judy Garland — making all the top ten Oscar snubs lists rather than walking away with the big prize. However, this year’s Oscars allowed “Everything Everywhere All At Once” to fulfill the predictions and make history while doing it.

The success of “Everything Everywhere All At Once”’s success is a win for Asian representation. This is the first time that multiple actors of Asian descent have won in one year, and, of course, Michelle Yeoh’s historic victory makes her the first Asian American actress to ever win Best Actress. While Asian people finally being recognized is the most important accomplishment of the night, something that Yeoh noted in her acceptance speech establishes another evident 2023 Oscar’s thread: The old can never be out.

In her speech, Yeoh said, “Don’t let anyone tell you you are past your prime,” a mantra she and Jamie Lee Curtis have clearly both adhered to. With their wins, the 95th Academy Awards awarded actors who have been working for decades to gain their footing or be respected in the industry.

Moreover, while Michelle Yeoh aimed her directive to the older women in the audience who, like Judy Garland, have consistently been passed over for younger women in Hollywood, Oscars’ night saw men claiming that narrative as well. Ke Huy Quan, a former child actor won best supporting actor, and Brendan Fraser, a since forgotten ’90s heartthrob, made his leap back into prominence by winning best actor for his role in “The Whale,” beating early favorite “Elvis”’s Austin Butler, a comparatively young actor.

The big winner of the night teaches us what success Hollywood can find when it embraces its originality again; but in a world where two of the best picture nominees are sequels and lackluster remakes reign supreme, how can you make a classic into something inventive and relevant? The answer might lay in the second most popular winner of the night, “All Quiet on the Western Front.”

While the film is very different from both its book and the original 1930 production, “All Quiet on the Western Front” deserves its own praise for bringing this story to a modern audience. The original film was a sensation in its time because of its innovative techniques to showcase the horror of war, including the use of sound, but a modern audience watching the original picture with a knowledge of contemporary amenities like visual effects would find it difficult to understand the visceral, shocking nature of the original picture. Thus, the movie’s intention is lost with age. It is for reasons like this that remakes should be considered. While the film does not share many similarities with its original source material, it is a successful example of how modern technology can help recontextualize timely classics for a modern audience.

Overall, the 95th Annual Academy Awards appear to have been the perfect amalgamation of the old and the new. It avenged Judy Garland’s loss by giving old-guard actors waiting for deserved success their wins. It also offered a needed reimagination of a classic Hollywood success. As the Academy nears its 100th year, the appreciation for what has come before and what Hollywood’s past could lend to its future is more important than ever.

—Staff Writer Avery Britt can be reached at avery.britt@thecrimson.com

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