Keeping the Dream Alive: A Look Into the 95th Academy Awards

Racking up the highest viewership for any ceremony since 2020, this year’s Oscars broadcast contained notable moments and tear-jerking awards speeches


In the life of college students, spring break is often known for warm weather, sunburns that hopefully crisp into a tan, and high spirits. For film lovers, the third week in March represents the hallmark of cinematic celebration: the Academy Awards. This year, the Oscars rang in their 95th grand celebration on March 12, 2023, live from the Dolby Theatre in Hollywood. 

The host of the evening, Jimmy Kimmel, a Los Angeles late-night host, made a return to the Dolby stage for his third time hosting. Following Kimmel’s last appearance in 2018, the awards ceremony went without a traditional host for four years. After Hart’s selection as host for the 2019 ceremony, his homophobic tweets and “jokes” were brought to light, and resulted in him stepping down from the role of host. The 2019 award ceremony ended up having no host, and in 2020 and 2021 there were no hosts: the broadcast lost half of its usual audience. In last year’s ceremony, Regina Hall, Amy Schumer and Wanda Sykes hosted as a trio. This year marked a return to the single-host formula. 

The presenters were composed of past-nominees and rising stars, such as Halle Bailey, Jessica Chastain, John Cho, Andrew Garfield, Salma Hayek Pinault, Nicole Kidman and Florence Pugh. 

This year’s ceremony received higher viewership than past years, as it’s been reported that the 95th Academy Awards were watched by 18.7 million people in the U.S., which is a 12% increase from 2022. Preliminary ratings for this year’s Oscars were the highest for any show since 2020 according to market measuring firm Nielsen.

“Dreams are something you have to believe in. I almost gave up on mine. To all of you out there, please keep your dreams alive.” Ke Huy Quan

This increase in viewership may be attributed to a rise in cinephiles within Generation Z, as fan-favorites such as breakthrough film “Everything Everywhere All At Once” were honored and first time nominee Paul Mescal (“Aftersun”) made an appearance. “Filmtok,” a sub-genre of the social media platform TikTok, has made a mark on the younger generation and is inspiring people to branch out into independent film-watching. It can be concluded that along with popular artistic films and this subgroup’s popularity on social media, this year’s ceremony was discussed online more than usual.

The award ceremony garnered hold-your-breath moments as films such as when “Everything Everywhere All At Once,” the most-nominated picture of the evening with 11 nods, competed against the winner of the Golden Globe best picture, musical or comedy, winner “The Banshees of Inisherin.” Veteran actor Brendan Fraser (“The Whale”) also faced the Golden Globe winner for best actor, drama, winner Austin Butler (“Elvis”). 

The crown jewels of the night — best picture, best actor, best actress, best supporting actor and best supporting actress — were mostly taken home by creatives within the “Everything Everywhere All At Once” team, though Fraser snagged best actor. “Everything Everywhere All At Once” won seven of their 11 nominations, also taking home best director for Daniel Kwan and Daniel Scheinert, best original screenplay for the same pair, and best film editing for Paul Rogers.

An upset was felt among the general public due to Jamie Lee Curtis’ best supporting actress win for her role as Deirdre in “Everything Everywhere All At Once,” beating out fan-favorite and Golden Globe-winner Angela Bassett for her performance in “Black Panther: Wakanda Forever.” Bassett had been the predicted winner by Gold Derby and is the first actor nominated for a performance in a Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) film, making history for the superhero franchise. The historic win being just out of reach caused an uproar in the MCU film community. 

A24, the popular independent film studio and distribution company, garnered 18 nods for this year’s awards, which was the most of any studio. By the end of the evening, they took home nine awards. The studio was the first in Oscars history to win what are considered seven of the eight top awards celebrated at the ceremony — best picture, best director, best original screenplay and the four acting awards, missing only best adapted screenplay. This was given to Sarah Polley for her screenplay “Women Talking.”

Polley created a memorable moment in the evening when she won best adapted screenplay, sarcastically thanking the Academy for not “being too mortally offended by the words ‘women’ and ‘talking’ put so close together.”

Similarly, not a single female director was nominated for best director. In the last two years, Chloé Zhao (“Nomadland”) and Jane Campion (“The Power of the Dog”), not only garnered nods but took home the Oscar for this category. Polley’s win for her acclaimed film “Women Talking” celebrated the work of female directors through the screenplay category. 

Michelle Yeoh, Ke Huy Quan and Fraser’s speeches stood out, as did their acceptances at the prior Golden Globe awards. Quan marked the first Vietnamese-born actor to win an Oscar and opened his speech by exclaiming “Oh my god!” before kissing his Oscars gold statue onstage. He said, “My mom is 84 years old watching at home. Mom, I just won an Oscar!”

Yeoh made history as the first Asian best actress winner at the Academy Awards, as well as the first Malaysian actress to win the category, for her role as Evelyn in “Everything Everywhere All At Once.” She stated, “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 — dream big, and dreams do come true.

Fraser teared up throughout his best actor acceptance speech as he admired his gold Oscar statue, shouting out his sons as his support system, as well as his magnificent co-star in “The Whale” and fellow nominee, Hong Chau.

The Academy Awards proved to be an evening of celebration for the heart of cinema and those who use storytelling to give us a world to escape into. The evening can be best summarized with the closing sentiment of Quan’s speech: “Dreams are something you have to believe in. I almost gave up on mine. To all of you out there, please keep your dreams alive.”