2023 Oscar’s Choice of Best Picture


Vanity Fair

Four winners of the night were Michelle Yeoh, Everything Everywhere all at Once, Ke Huy Quan, and Brendan Fraser.

While the Oscars are mostly talked about for their shocking events (i.e. the Will Smith slap, the La La Land mishap, Travolta’s “Adele Dazeem” flub, etc.), there is much more to it. The Academy Awards started in 1929, during the golden era of MGM and RKO, to honor high-quality moving pictures. They have been used for decades to highlight the best of the best in cinema. Today, there is a lot of marketing and lobbying to win one, all films fit in the category of greatness.

To be nominated for an Oscar, a film must meet certain criteria including a running time of more than 40 minutes, a theatrical release in a commercial theater in Los Angeles, at least seven consecutive days of screening, at least three screenings daily, and at least 5 percent of number one ratings in critic reviews. Rules have changed over the years, but since 2011, five to ten films are nominated for the best picture each year. Then, over the course of a few days just before the ceremony, the 5,800 members of the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences vote online for their pick for Best Picture.

Gina Pence, lead of the series award strategy for Apple TV, has the job of promoting Apple’s productions to various award groups. Her job is to “create memorable and impactful campaign moments through the press and paid media, drawing attention to a series or film,” in order to connect the Academy’s voter with the content to keep it “in the zeitgeist and make sure it is top-of-mind for voters.” In her four years at Apple, she has noticed how much impact an Oscar nominee can have. Last year, when CODA was nominated for Best Picture (which it later won), she noticed how fast people started watching it. Pence sees the nomination as a stamp of approval in a world of rapidly expanding content.

This year, many incredible films were released, so the Academy nominated the max amount, of ten nominees. These included Triangle of Sadness, Women Talking, Avatar, Elvis, Tár, All Quiet on the Western Front, The Fabelmans, Top Gun: Maverick, The Banshees on Inisherin, and Everything Everywhere All at Once (EEAAO). Out of the 450 films released in 2022, these ten were supposedly the best.

The last five listed above were thought to be the most likely to win, so it was not a surprise that EEAAO won, but it was a surprise just how much they dominated on awards night. They won a total of seven Academy Awards, as many as Schindler’s List. The most notable part of the night for many viewers was the acceptance of Best Supporting Actor by Ke Huy Quan. A child actor in the 80s, Quan was seen and beloved in his roles in Indiana Jones and The Goonies. After nearly 40 years, he has made his comeback and as all can see, it was successful.

All of the movies nominated were contenders, but not all were heavily watched. In a poll of Pennridge staff and students, only 18.9 percent of respondents had watched EEAAO. Most people (48.6 percent) had watched Top Gun: Maverick with Elvis and Avatar tied for a close second at 24.3 percent. However, 32.4 percent of those polled said they hadn’t watched any of the films nominated for Best Picture. Out of those who had watched any nominated films, 32 percent said they preferred Top Gun, 24 percent for Avatar, and 20 percent for Banshees of Inisherin. Only 12 percent said their favorite was EEAAO.

When it comes down to it, says Pennridge film teacher Hannah Godshall, a good film is one where every aspect works together cohesively. “Theoretically if you remove an element (lighting, production design, etc.) the entire story collapses.” This is the sentiment of many Academy members as well. A good movie is one that looks good, evokes emotion, and makes the audience think.