2023 Oscars: Dubs and Snubs

Staff writer Ally Werstler reacts to the Academy Awards


Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

The Academy Awards are handed out annually, often to a good deal of controversy.

Ally Werstler, Staff Writer

Another Academy Awards — another month of controversies. I’m here to break down my thoughts on this historic night’s winners and whether or not they deserved the award. To make matters simpler, I will not be discussing every award winner nor the nominee selection. I could write an entire article about all of the more than deserving films I wish were on this year’s ballot, but that will be for another time and place. So without further ado, the Oscar goes to… 

Actor in a Leading Role

Winner: Brendan Fraser, “The Whale”

Who Deserved the Oscar: Paul Mescal, “Aftersun”

Everyone knew that Brendan Fraser was this year’s Academy favorite, and I respect his unique performance in “The Whale.” However, the film itself is the definition of mediocre. It’s predictable, slow and even boring at some points. Fraser essentially carries the entirety of “The Whale,” and he does a good job at it, but do you know who did a better job? Paul Mescal in the emotionally gut wrenching film “Aftersun.” 

From beginning to end, Mescal’s performance is the definition of masterful. Don’t get me wrong, Fraser seems like a great person based on his interviews and reputation, but that shouldn’t guarantee an actor this prestigious award because, at the end of the day, it’s the quality of the performance that matters. 

Actor in a Supporting Role

Winner: Ke Huy Quan, “Everything Everywhere All at Once”

Who Deserved the Oscar: Ke Huy Quan, “Everything Everywhere All at Once”

Ke Huy Quan’s performance in “Everything Everywhere All at Once” demonstrates the actor’s incredible range. From kung fu fights to emotional resonant dialogue, Quan’s performance has it all. If you have not already, I would implore you to watch his acceptance speech — have your tissue box handy.

Actress in a Leading Role

Winner: Michelle Yeoh, “Everything Everywhere All at Once”

Who Deserved the Oscar: Michelle Yeoh, “Everything Everywhere All at Once”

Michelle Yeoh’s once-in-a-lifetime role in “Everything Everywhere All at Once” deserves all the hype. No one other than Yeoh could have pulled off this demanding performance, and for that alone, she deserves this title. 

Michelle Yeoh (right) and Jamie Lee Curtis (center) perform in a fight scene during “Everything Everywhere All at Once.” Both won Oscars for their performances. (Courtesy of IMDb)

Actress in a Supporting Role

Winner: Jamie Lee Curtis, “Everything Everywhere All at Once”

Who Deserved the Oscar: Angela Bassett, “Black Panther: Wakanda Forever”

Do I like Jame Lee Curtis? Yes. Did she do a good job in “Everything Everywhere All at Once?” Yes. Did she deserve the Oscar? Absolutely not. Again, she is a great person with a great acceptance speech, but not an Oscar-worthy performance. Like other film critics, I was surprised that she was even nominated in the first place, but when she won, I was stunned. You could say I made the “Angela Bassett face,” which was not very sportsmanlike of the former, but you really can’t blame her. 

Bassett was the best part of the mid “Wakanda Forever,” as she effortlessly controlled the screen in every one of her scenes. I really can’t say the same about Curtis’s performance. Sure, it was fun, but it was not on the same level as her aforementioned co-stars. If Curtis would have received some sort of lifetime achievement recognition, I would have been more than happy to see that win, but an award for this? As such, it’s easy to see how this was one of the most controversial awards of the night. 

Animated Feature Film 

Winner: “Guillermo Del Toro’s Pinocchio”

Who Deserved the Oscar: “Puss in Boots: The Last Wish

Okay, I know what you’re thinking, and yes, I am crazy, but hear me out. “Guillermo Del Toro’s Pinocchio” was the obvious choice, and it’s easy to see why. I have huge respect for the time and care put into stop-motion animated films along with the great storytelling and score that came with “Guillermo Del Toro’s Pinocchio.” 

Although ambitious, “Guillermo Del Toro’s Pinocchio” is not accessible to the average viewer. Even if I were to ignore the accessibility, it’s still not the best film on the ballot. Like I said, stop-motion is beautiful, however, because it has been around for decades, its room for development is slim to none. Hmmm, let me think…was there a movie that premiered in 2023 that improved upon a new type of animation? Was it emotionally compelling and witty? Oh right, it’s “Puss in Boots: The Last Wish”!

As expressed in my “Puss in Boots: The Last Wish” review, this is one of the best animated features that I have ever seen. This category is more of a personal preference, so I probably should have titled this section as “Who I Wanted to Win the Oscar” instead of “Who Deserved the Oscar.” I think we can all admit that “Guillermo Del Toro’s Pinocchio” is probably better technically, but I will still go to my grave expressing my undying love of “Puss in Boots: The Last Wish.” Also, if any Academy members are reading this, animation is a medium, not a category! 


Winner: “All Quiet on the Western Front”

Who Deserved the Oscar: “Tár” 

How many times have we seen basic war movies get nominated and win an obscene amount of Oscars? Yeah, I also have no idea, but I do know that it’s too many times to count. Recently, the Academy Awards have been criticized for awarding films that no one sees, and “All Quiet on the Western Front” definitely does not help the former’s goal of modernization. 

Other than myself, the only people I have met who have seen this movie are over the age of fifty, and they did not even like it. There was, however, a war-less movie that was new, different and interesting with great cinematography. The cinematography of “Tár” perfectly encapsulates the title character’s fall from grace, which is a lot more than I can say about the stale story that is “All Quiet on the Western Front.” Academy, if you want people to actually care about the Oscars, then nominate and give awards to films people actually watch! 


Winner: “Everything Everywhere All at Once”

Who Deserved the Oscar: “The Fabelmans

Like my opinion expressed in the Animated Feature Film category, many of you are going to disagree with this take. If you’ve read my “The Fabelmans” review, then you know that this was one of my top movies of 2022, with it scoring a perfect 10/10. The directing in “Everything Everywhere All at Once” was also great, but Speilberg’s beautifully captivating film exemplifies a better job done. This film made you feel the magic of the movies. 

Daniel Kwan and Daniel Scheinert definitely entice the audience’s interests in “Everything Everywhere All at Once,” but it’s simply not as raw as Speilberg’s picture. This rawness is flawlessly encapsulated in young Sammy Fabelman’s (young Speilberg’s) response to seeing his first film. You can see yourself in Sammy’s seat, remembering the first time you saw a movie, making you feel like a kid again. All I can say is that, for me, making an emotionally vulnerable film leads me to strongly believe that Speilberg should have taken home the win for his work in “The Fabelmans.”

“Navalny” is a documentary that follows Russia’s leader of the opposition, Alexei Navalny. (Courtesy of IMDb)

Documentary Feature Film 

Winner: “Navalny”

Who Deserved the Oscar: “Navalny”

As a history major, it’s safe to say that the Documentary Feature Film category is one of my most anticipated awards of the night. I adore documentaries, and my favorite one of the year, “Navalny,” just so happened to be this year’s Academy Award winner. This is not only one of the best documentaries of last year, but one of the best documentaries ever made.

If you care about the preservation of democracy, then I highly recommend watching “Navalny,” as it masterfully and honestly takes you through the highs and lows of Russia’s opposition leader, Alexei Navanly. You don’t necessarily have to be a raging fan of the man himself, but, without too many spoilers, you learn to appreciate his fight for justice in a country that he deeply loves. 

Audience members can truly feel Navanly’s struggle, one on which he never intends on giving up. Furthermore, you get a great understanding of the impact that his career has had on his wife, Yulia Navalnaya, and their two children. This film also gives well deserved recognition for the seemingly impossible work that journalists do across the world. I can safely say that “Navalny” is a work of history, and will be used as a primary source of study for decades to come. FREE RUSSIA!  

Music (Original Score)

Winner: “All Quiet on the Western Front”

Who Deserved the Oscar: “The Fablemans”

I won’t force you to read about my hatred of run-of-the-mill war films again, so I’ll keep this one short. Who is the best film composer of all time? John Williams. What movie did he compose this year? “The Fablemans.” Was it spectacular? Yes, and it easily beat out its competition, thus making me strongly believe that he should have won the Oscar. See, I told you I would keep this one short and sweet!

Music (Original Song) 

Winner: “Naatu Naatu”

Who Deserved the Oscar: “Naatu Naatu”

This song is a banger. Every time I listen to “Naatu Naatu”, I feel the sudden urge to get up and have myself a little dance party. More than four minutes long, this catchy tune never gets old; in fact, it just keeps on getting better and better. I know that the choreography is not taken into account in this category, but oh my gosh how do Ram Charan and N. T. Rama Rao Jr. do it? 

If you haven’t already, please give this performance a chance, and while you’re at it, just watch the entirety of “RRR!” It’s truly an epic tale that you will never forget. If I haven’t convinced you already, my review of “RRR” will surely get you on the Tollywood train. After reflecting on how good this song is, I’m going to take a quick break to listen to “Naatu Naatu” for the 1000th time. 

Best Picture

Winner: “Everything Everywhere All At Once”

Who Deserved the Oscar: “Everything Everywhere All At Once”

You’ll be relieved to know that I will not finish this article on a rant, as I agree that “Everything Everywhere All At Once” deserved this Oscar win. Should it have won as many awards as it did? Well, that’s debatable, but what I can say is that the creativity in “Everything Everywhere All At Once” makes this once-in-a-lifetime film all the more worthy of Best Picture.  The film demonstrates the positive changes that Hollywood so desperately needs, as it proves that originality is still the best policy. Congratulations to the Daniels and the cast of “Everything Everywhere All At Once” — you’ve truly revolutionized the Academy Awards for the better.