The 95th Annual Academy Awards are happening at the Dolby Theatre in Hollywood on March 12, 2023. What happened before and during the telecast that fired up social media? What were the big surprises? Join us as we revisit the most talked-about moments of the night and their aftermath…
Oscars viewership reached a three-year high in 2023: An average of 18.7 million viewers tuned in to watch Ke Huy Quan, Michelle Yeoh, Brendan Fraser and Jamie Lee Curtis take home the top acting prizes during the 95th Academy Awards telecast, which was hosted by comedian Jimmy Kimmel, on ABC. That's an increase of 12% over the 2022 Oscars, Variety reported.
Keep reading for more of the most talked-about 2023 Oscar moments…
MORE: See all the stars arriving on the red carpet at the 2023 Oscars
Hugh Grant's divisive interview: Dry wit or just plain rude?
It appeared to some viewers that Hugh Grant didn't really want to be at the Oscars — and it was all based on a divisive red carpet interview (watch it here). While speaking with Ashley Graham — one of ABC's "On the Red Carpet Live" co-hosts — the actor seemed disinterested in their chat and in the show itself. He told Ashley he wasn't cheering for anyone in particular; said he was wearing "just my suit" but didn't name the designer; and said he "almost" had fun during his "three seconds" in the movie "Glass Onion." "And the Oscar for the guy who totally doesn't want to be there goes to Hugh Grant," one person tweeted. An array of people used profanity in describing Hugh's responses to Ashley's questions. Another said Ashley "just earned her paycheck on that interview with Hugh Grant," adding, "She was gracious and persistent through his obvious desire to not be there. Why agree to an interview if you have no interest in participating??"
But others on social media quite enjoyed Hugh's responses, citing his dry wit and deadpan delivery. Some pointed out how he graciously let it slide when, after Ashley embarrassingly misinterpreted one of his comments. (She asked him what he likes most about the Oscars and he replied, "It's fascinating … the whole of humanity is here, it's vanity fair" — a reference to the famed 1848 novel about shallow society — but she then started talking about Vanity Fair magazine's annual Oscar party.) "Let Hugh Grant host the Oscars, I am deeply serious," a pro-Hugh commenter tweeted, with another adding, "Hugh Grant wasn't rude like so many people have posted, I don't think the interviewer or the people who think he was rude know Hugh Grant. Ask a stupid question get a stupid answer."
Ashley was asked about their exchanges at, ironically, Vanity Fair's Oscar Party later in the night and told CNN she felt "very supported" after their interaction started trending on Twitter, adding, "My mother always told me to kill 'em with kindness."
Hugh seemed to have a better time during the telecast when he reunited with "Four Weddings and a Funeral" co-star Andie MacDowell to present an award during which he, in a self-deprecating move, praised her for using moisturizer over the years, saying she was "still stunning" while he was now "basically a scrotum," drawing raucous laughter.
Exes avoid one another
It was either a huge missed opportunity — or a serious diss. As Austin Butler, a best actor nominee for his performance in "Elvis," made his way down the Oscars red carpet, his final stop was ABC's official pre-show, "On the Red Carpet Live," where he chatted with co-host Ashley Graham — not co-host Vanessa Hudgens, the Disney actress whom he previously dated for nearly a decade. In January, Austin made headlines when he finally publicly credited Vanessa with being the person who "had this sort of clairvoyant moment" and urged him to play Elvis before their 2020 split. "I really, I owe her a lot for believing in me," he told The Los Angeles Times after previously telling the story but referring to Vanessa as simply an anonymous friend.
Social media was not happy. "Dear ABC producers… if you don't do everything in your power to make Austin Butler stop by Vanessa Hudgens' spot on the carpet then what is even the point of this pre-show?" one person tweeted. "If Vanessa Hudgens doesn't interview Austin Butler what was even the point of hiring her for the red carpet," wrote another. "They knew we wanted Vanessa Hudgens to interview Austin Butler on the red carpet. We were robbed," lamented yet another fan, while another, sharing the sentiments of many, tweeted, "[The] biggest upset of the Oscars is Austin Butler not getting interviewed by Vanessa Hudgens on the carpet wow."
Later in the evening, Austin and Vanessa were spotted next to each other as they both exited the Vanity Fair Oscar Party in Beverly Hills and headed to the valet line, though it's unclear if they spent any time talking to each other. (See the photos here.)
Where was Tom Cruise? Fans were wondering why the movie star was a no-show on Oscar night despite six nominations for his film "Top Gun: Maverick" — including best picture. According to a March 13 report from DailyMail.com, Tom — who did attend the annual Oscar nominees luncheon a month earlier — chose to skip the Academy Awards themselves because he didn't want to see ex-wife Nicole Kidman, who was there with second husband Keith Urban. "Tom was not there because she was there, and he did not want a run-in," a source told the outlet. Tom famously left Nicole in 2001.
Sources close to Tom, however, told DailyMail.com that Tom's absence was "not personal" and had to do with scheduling difficulties as he's in Britain filming "Mission: Impossible – Dead Reckoning Part Two." That source said Tom watched the Oscars on TV and was "very pleased 'Maverick' got such recognition … he is very proud of the film," adding that Tom also "did not skip the show because he was not [personally] nominated … Tom worked very hard on the film and has supported in every way that he can, work permitting."
A bittersweet In Memoriam — plus all the stars who were left out of the tribute
The In Memoriam segment of the show started with a joke that soon shifted to a touching moment. Prior to the bittersweet segment, Jimmy Kimmel asked the crowd if Robert Blake — the actor who died a few days earlier and who was famously acquitted in a criminal trial of killing wife Bonny Lee Bakley — should be included. "Text Gimme a Blake," he joked. (Ultimately, the "Baretta" star was not included. Neither were Tom Sizemore, Anne Heche, Leslie Jordan, Paul Sorvino and Charlbi Dean (whose movie "Triangle of Sadness" was nominated for three awards including best picture), Entertainment Weekly reported, noting that other well-known stars including Gilbert Gottfried, Estelle Harris, John Aniston and Lisa Marie Presley also didn't make the Academy's cut.)
However, the mood changed when John Travolta officially introduced the segment, which featured a piano performance by Lenny Kravitz of his 2004 hit "Calling All Angels." With his voice cracking, John said of those lost, "They've touched our hearts, they've made us smile and became dear friends who we will always remain hopelessly devoted to." A clear reference to his friend and "Grease" co-star Olivia Newton-John's passing, John's words moved the crowd. Twitter was all up in its feelings too. "Oh, no. My heart was not ready for John Travolta introducing the #Oscars In Memoriam for Olivia Newton-John," one person wrote. Another said the Olivia reference was a "gut punch." Who's cutting onions over there??
Goonies never say die!
A Goonie has won Oscar gold! Ke Huy Quan took home the award for best supporting actor for his performance in "Everything Everywhere All at Once." In his moving speech, Ke thanked his mother, his brother and Jeff Cohen, whom he called his "Goonies brother for life." (Jeff — who's now an entertainment attorney in Hollywood — played Chunk opposite Ke's Data in the '80s classic.) "They say stories like this only happen in the movies. I cannot believe this is happening to me. This is the American dream!" Ke, a former child actor also known for his work in "Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom" said. The actor spent time thanking his wife, Echo, for imploring him to continue acting when times were tough. "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 said.
"The Goonies" co-stars Corey Feldman took to Twitter following Ke's win, captioning a video celebrating his old friend's win, "MY #GOONIE BROTHER #KEHUYQUAN JUST WON THE OSCAR GOLD LIKE I SAID HE WOULD! CUZ HE DESERVES IT! NOT JUST 4 A FANTASTIC PERFORMANCE IN #EEAAO BUT 4 THE PERSEVERANCE OF FOLLOWING HIS DREAM & NEVER GIVING UP! WATCH US WATCHING HIM HERE: #GOONIES #NEVERSAYDIE."
Michelle makes history
What an awards season it's been for Michelle Yeoh. Two months after taking home a Golden Globe for her performance in "Everything Everywhere All at Once," the actress is now an Oscar winner. The honor makes her the first Asian star to win best actress in the 95-year history of the Academy Awards. "Ladies, don't ever let anyone tell you that you are past your prime," Michelle, 60, said in her speech. "For all the little boys and girls who look like me watching tonight, this is a beacon of hope and possibility. This is proof that dreams, dream big, and dreams do come true." As the music played her off, Michelle offered these parting words: "Thank you to the Academy. This is history in the making."
Brendan beats them all
Sorry, Austin Butler, but it wasn't your night. Brendan Fraser, it turns out, had a whale of an evening. The affable actor fought through tears as he accepted the award for best actor for his performance as Charlie in "The Whale." "So this is what the multiverse looks like!" he said as he took the stage inside the Dolby Theatre and looked out into the audience. "I started in this business 30 years ago, and this – they certainly didn't come easily to me, but there was a facility that I didn't appreciate at the time until it stopped," he said, a reference to his career setbacks and time away from the Hollywood spotlight. "I just want to say thank you for this acknowledgement. It couldn't be done without my cast. It's been like I've been on a diving expedition and the air on the line to the surface is being watched over by some people in my life," he added, thanking his sons and girlfriend. Brendan Fraser is back, and the world is better for it.
Her Sally Field "You like me. Right now, you like me" moment
It takes a village. After Jamie Lee Curtis won the best supporting actress Academy Award for her performance in "Everything Everywhere All at Once," she proceeded to speak about all the people who helped her get there. "I'm hundreds of people," she said before naming those who've surrounded her (think cast and crew of her movies, her family – husband Christopher Guest and daughters Annie and Ruby, her management). She consistently said, "We just won an Oscar," refusing to take sole credit. In concluding her speech, Jamie got emotional and fought through tears while speaking about her movie star parents — Tony Curtis and Janet Leigh, telling the audience, "My mother and my father were both nominated for Oscars in different categories. I just won an Oscar," she said in disbelief.
The night's big winner
A certain film seemed to win everything, everywhere and all at once. "Everything Everywhere All at Once," which was the most nominated film of the evening, cleaned up at the Oscars, winning seven awards including best picture, best director, best editing and best original screenplay — all of this in addition to three individual acting awards for Michelle Yeoh (best actress), Ke Huy Quan (best supporting actor) and Jamie Lee Curtis (best supporting actress). One of the most endearing moments of evening came after Harrison Ford presented the best picture Oscar to the film's producers, filmmakers and cast. Cameras captured Ke excitedly hugging Harrison (pictured), who was his co-star in "Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom" back when Ke was just a little boy.
Lady Gaga earns a standing O
A makeup-free Lady Gaga brought the house down while performing "Hold My Hand," her song from "Top Gun: Maverick." Donning a T-shirt and ripped jeans, a makeup-free Gaga appeared starkly different than she did on the red carpet. Prior to her performance, the pop star introduced the song, saying it was "deeply personal." "I think that we all need each other, we need a lot of love to walk through this life. And we all need a hero sometimes," she said in the extremely quiet Dolby Theatre. "There's heroes all around us in unassuming places, but you might find that you can be your own hero even if you feel broken inside." Gaga received a standing ovation. Earlier in the evening while on the red carpet, Gaga went viral after she helped a photographer who'd fallen down. She might be considered a hero in an unassuming place.
Meet Colin Farrell's youngest son, Henry
Colin Farrell — a best actor nominee for "The Banshees of Inisherin" — brought his youngest son, Henry, as his date to the 95th Annual Academy Awards. The 13-year-old, whose mother is Colin's actress ex Alicja Bachleda-Curuś, sat next to his dad in the front row during the show and got plenty of camera time.
Elizabeth Banks and the bear
Elizabeth Banks had a day. First, the actress nearly tripped while walking on stage to present the award for best visual effects. She blamed the enormous bear that was trailing her for tripping her. (Elizabeth directed the hit movie "Cocaine Bear.") Then, while speaking about the importance of visual effects, Elizabeth's voice was noticeably scratchy. "I think Elizabeth Banks might need a throat lozenge," one person tweeted. Another said, "Tripping on her dress and having no voice, what kind of bad karma did Elizabeth Banks accrue to deserve this?!" Hundreds of social media users assumed she had COVID. "Elizabeth Banks sounds like she's about to be the first person to call in for a Paxlovid prescription live onstage at an awards show," another wrote. Yet another person referred to the animal standing next her. "Elizabeth Banks, you're clearly sick. Go home! Or ask your bear for some drugs."
How host Jimmy Kimmel addressed "The Slap"
In the early part of Oscar host Jimmy Kimmel's show-opening monologue, he seemed to go a little easy on the celebrities. But he then addressed "The Slap," saying if anyone resorts to violence, you "will be the awarded the Oscar for best actor and permitted to give a 19-minute-long speech… Just do what you did last year, nothing. Maybe even give the assailant a hug." Jimmy then noted that a crisis team is in place to maintain order. "If any of you get mad at a joke and decide to want to come up here and get jiggy with it, it's not going to be easy," he said. The late night host began brilliantly pointing out actors and referring to their roles — "You're going to have to go through the heavyweight champ Adonis Creed to get to me," he said as Michael B. Jordan smiled on screen. He shouted out Spider-Man (Andrew Garfield) and The Mandalorian (Pedro Pascal) as well as actress and martial arts expert Michelle Yeoh as people who have his back. Hopefully the slap can be a thing of the past now.
Oscar winner discovers the fountain of youth
Marlee Matlin was 21 when she won a best actress Oscar in March 1987 for her work in "Children of a Lesser God." When she hit the red carpet at 57 for the Oscars ceremony in March 2023 — 36 years later — Marlee looked like she's barely aged. Twitter was stunned and impressed with her youthful appearance, with actress Jill Hennessy tweeting, "Not to be superficial, but @MarleeMatlin is absolutely SMOKIN' HOT," while another tweeter commented, "I don't know whether to thank Marlee Matlin's makeup artist or esthetician but she is looking great." Yet another summed up the sentiments of many on social media, writing, "Naturally stunning at 57."
The Rock's new look
Dwayne Johnson debuted a new look when he presented the first award of the night with "Jungle Cruise" co-star Emily Blunt: Clad in a peachy pink satin dinner jacket, The Rock revealed a new gray-and-white goatee. Commenters had some thoughts on Twitter, with one noting simply, "Dwayne Johnson is really rockin the pink and goatee tonight," while others had stronger opinions. "Dwayne Johnson absolutely rocking with no shame an absolutely petal pink, shiny [as f***] satin suit like nobody's business," tweeted another, with yet another fan adding, "Dwayne Johnson grew a goatee and idk how to feel about it."
COVID strikes again
Hours before the 2023 Oscars began, eight-time Academy Award nominee Glenn Close — who was scheduled to present the best picture prize with Harrison Ford, Deadline reported — pulled out of the telecast after testing positive for COVID. The news was confirmed by her rep, who told The Associated Press that Glenn was isolating and resting.
An epic birthday
Best day ever? "An Irish Goodbye" won the Oscar for best live-action short, which was certainly a happy moment for James Martin, one of the stars of the film. March 12 was also James's 31st birthday, which prompted the "An Irish Goodbye" team to lead the entire Dolby Theatre in a singalong of "Happy Birthday." James, who has Down's syndrome, happily gripped the Oscar as basically every A-lister in Hollywood serenaded him.
Why the Oscars red carpet wasn't red this year
In a break with 62 years of tradition, the 2023 Oscars red carpet isn't red. Instead, the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences chose a champagne hue for the 50,000-square-foot rug that greeted guests outside the Dolby Theatre in Hollywood — because organizers "wanted the rug to be mellow, like a beach at sunset," The New York Times reported. Oscars host Jimmy Kimmel joked at the red carpet unveiling on March 9 that the change was prompted by Will Smith slapping Chris Rock at the 2022 Oscars ceremony. "I think the decision to go with a champagne carpet rather than a red carpet shows just how confident we are that no blood will be shed," the late night host quipped.
"Top Gun: Maverick" controversy
"Top Gun: Maverick" was one of the most celebrated films of 2022 — hence its best picture nomination — but it's not without its controversy. In the final days of Academy Awards voting eligibility, a letter circulated calling for the Tom Cruise film to be stripped of its six nominations. The reason? The movie was partially funded by Russian oligarch Dmitry Rybolovlev, reports claimed. The letter, penned by the Ukrainian World Congress, alleged that there are "serious concerns over Russia's influence on the Hollywood film industry."
The Russian billionaire is reportedly a silent investor in Los Angeles-based New Republic Pictures, which partnered with Paramount for "Top Gun: Maverick." "Rybolovlev's funding of Top Gun: Maverick was not publicly disclosed and there is good reason to believe that his involvement may have led to censorship on behalf of the Kremlin," the letter said. "Contrary to the original film, Top Gun: Maverick makes no direct or indirect reference to Russia. This is hardly a coincidence. Hollywood must be vigilant and transparent of Russian money being used to further pro-Kremlin censorship."
Designer triumphs after flood damage
The gowns were saved after all! With just days to go before the Academy Awards, a pipe burst in designer Christian Siriano's New York studio and a few dresses were soaked. After the water damage was discovered, the former "Project Runway" winner noted that only one room in his studio had power and he cheekily started a #SaveTheGowns hashtag on social media. Then on March 11, Christian revealed that all the dresses and ensembles he'd designed for stars (including Harvey Guillen, pictured) to wear on Oscar night had been salvaged and made it onto airplanes headed for Hollywood. "A flood won't stop us," Christian said on Instagram in a video showing him boarding a plane with the last dress to make the trip.
First Oscars at 94
There's a first for everything! James Hong has been acting since the 1950s, but he'd never been to an Academy Awards… until now! At 94, the "Everything Everywhere All At Once" star is finally at an Oscars ceremony. "It's a great pleasure to be here, the first time to be at the Academy Awards," he told ABC's "On the Red Carpet" preshow. "Here I am, after 70 years, I'm here. Actually, I'm 94!" The wait might be worth it too, as "Everything Everywhere All At Once" is the odds-on favorite to win best picture. "It shows if you wait long enough, you'll make it," he said. "I'm very happy my mother fed me those bitter herbs. It carried me to 94 and 1 month — I've got to count it by month now." James is hoping this won't be his last Oscars either. "It takes perseverance though all these years to make it. And through my 500 movies and TV [shows], I'm here. I hope to be here next year and the year after," he said. "When I'm 100, I'll come back and say hello to everybody."
Drip… drip… drip…
Rain or shine! Oscars organizers kept their eyes on the clouds over the red carpet (which is a champagne color this year) over past few days. Amid unusually rainy weather in Los Angeles and Hollywood, puddles could be seen forming on the red drapes and curtains covering the red carpet just two days before the Academy Awards, according to WABC. In fact, the inclement weather forced the Academy to form a "drip control team" to handle puddles and leaks (see the water droplets coming down in the center of this pic?). "Members of the drip control team could be seen with giant poles poking the puddles forming on the red drapes acting as the roof for this year's champagne carpet. The red drapes are beginning to leak as well," WABC reported. The Oscars gods were with us on Sunday, though, as the sky was clear.
A decade after she last attended the Academy Awards, Chinese actress Fan Bingbing showed up at the 2023 ceremony. Her appearance comes five years after she essentially disappeared from the public eye. During her Hollywood hiatus, the "X-Men: Days of Future Past" star was the subject of a tax evasion case in China. Movie buffs grew increasingly worried in 2018 after Fan suddenly stopped attending events and went radio silent on social media. Fan, who is attending the Oscars for the first time since 2013, is now clearly back in the spotlight.
Famed filmmaker highlights lack of female best director nominees
Patty Jenkins thinks the Academy Awards have a gender problem, and she's not staying silent about it. At a pre-Oscars dinner on march 11, the "Wonder Woman" and "Monster" director took issue with the fact that no women were nominated in the best director category in 2023. "I give up, I give up," she told Variety. "I say that even with all of their push to have diversity. The numbers are just hugely imbalanced of who votes for these things. I sort of just stopped paying attention to it." Several female-helmed films were up awards — including "Aftersun," "She Said" and "Women Talking" — but none of them nabbed a nomination in the best director category. "[There's] still … a long ways to go," Patty said. "It's going to take a lot more to really see truly more diverse awards. I really appreciate the efforts that they're making but we have a long way to go."
The men nominated for best director in 2023 include Martin McDonagh for "The Banshees of Inisherin"; Daniel Kwan and Daniel Scheinert for "Everything Everywhere All at Once"; Steven Spielberg for "The Fabelmans"; Todd Field for "Tár"; and Ruben Östlund for "Triangle of Sadness."