Everything you need to know about the 2023 Oscars

The 95th Academy Awards ceremony will take place on Sunday, highlighting artists like Michelle Yeoh and Austin Butler.

The famous golden Oscar statue
Sunday's Oscar ceremony is expected to draw millions of viewers as films such as Everything Everywhere All at Once and All Quiet on the Western Front compete for some of the most prestigious awards in filmmaking [File: Matt Sayles/Invision/AP]

Millions of people are expected to tune in on Sunday to the Academy Awards, one of the most prestigious awards ceremonies in the world of filmmaking.

What are the Oscars? When and where will they take place? Who are this year’s nominees? Are there any controversies? We take a look at those questions and more.

What are the Oscars?

The Oscars are presented in Los Angeles at a ceremony celebrating creative and technical excellence in the film industry. Given out by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, the awards are widely considered one of the highest honours in the world of film and entertainment. Winners are given a golden statuette known as an Oscar.

When are the Oscars?

This year’s ceremony will be the 95th in the history of the academy and will take place on Sunday at the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles, California.

The awards will begin at 5pm (00:00 GMT on March 13) and will be broadcast live in the United States on the TV network ABC.

Can I watch the awards on a streaming service?

The Oscars can be streamed live from the US with a subscription to Hulu Live TV, YouTubeTV, AT&T TV and Fubo TV, some of which offer free trials.

Who is the host?

The late night American TV personality Jimmy Kimmel will host this year’s Oscars, his third time doing so. His last time as host was in 2018, and the awards have not had a solo host since. Last year’s awards, for example, were hosted by a comedy trio of Regina Hall, Amy Schumer and Wanda Sykes.

In a video skit mimicking the 2022 film Top Gun: Maverick, Kimmel jokes, “I have to admit I wasn’t expecting to be asked to host again.” US actor Jon Hamm replies, “Let me be perfectly clear, you were not my first choice. Or my second choice. Or my third, fourth, fifth or 11th choice. In fact, we asked a lot of people before you.”

What are the different categories?

Awards are given out in 23 categories, including film editing, directing, cinematography, acting, music, costume design, and makeup and hairstyling.

The most anticipated award tends to be the title of best picture, with 10 films competing this year for one of the most prestigious distinctions in filmmaking. CODA won best picture in 2022, and films such as Parasite, Moonlight and The Shape of Water have claimed the award in recent years.

A full list of nominations can be found here.

Which films are nominated for best picture?

The films nominated for best picture this year are All Quiet on the Western Front, Avatar: The Way of Water, The Banshees of Inisherin, Elvis, Everything Everywhere All at Once, The Fabelmans, Tar, Top Gun: Maverick, Triangle of Sadness and Women Talking.

Posters of various films nominated for Best Picture
Posters for the nominees competing for this year’s best picture award [Netflix/Disney/Searchlight/Warner Bros./A24/Universal/Focus/Paramount/Neon/Orion-United Artists via AP]

What are the predictions?

The indie sci-fi film Everything Everywhere All at Once has the most nominations with 11 in total. Not far behind is The Banshees of Inisherin with nine, the same number as the Netflix film All Quiet on the Western Front, based on the World War I novel.

For high-profile categories such as best actor, best actress and best director, the competition is fierce. Michelle Yeoh is a favourite for best actress, following her shape-shifting role in Everything Everywhere All at Once. But Cate Blanchett is also a strong contender for the classical music drama Tar.

In the best actor category, Brendan Fraser is a frontrunner for his role in The Whale, but he faces stiff competition from Austin Butler, nominated for bringing to life the title character in the biopic Elvis.

Are there any controversies, scandals or notable firsts?

This year’s awards take place in the shadow of last year’s infamous “slap” incident, when actor Will Smith walked on stage and smacked comic Chris Rock after the comedian made a joke about Smith’s wife, Jada Pinkett Smith.

Smith will not be at this year’s event after being banned from attending for 10 years.

The Oscars have also faced declining viewership, with slightly more than 15 million people tuning in last year, compared with nearly 30 million in 2019 and more than 46 million in 2000, according to the data firm Statista.

Allegations that the ceremony is biased against actors and filmmakers of colour have also resurfaced ahead of 2023’s ceremony.

Some saw discrimination when Danielle Deadwyler and Viola Davis did not receive best actress nominations for their respective roles in Till and The Woman King.

However, Michelle Yeoh became the first Asian woman nominated for best actress, joining a record number of Asian actors and actresses to earn nominations this year.

Actress Andrea Riseborough’s surprise nomination for best actress has been a subject of debate, particularly in the absence of any Black nominees in the category.

Riseborough’s film, the indie drama To Leslie, was not widely viewed and netted a minuscule $27,322 in ticket sales, according to the revenue-tracking website Box Office Mojo. However, Riseborough’s nomination was boosted by a social media campaign that included celebrities such as Edward Norton, Gwyneth Paltrow and Sarah Paulson.

No women were nominated for best director, contributing to what critics see as a trend of persistent sexism in the awards and spurring the hashtag #OscarsSoMale to go viral.

Three films from India have won nominations, with RRR getting attention for a catchy musical number Naatu Naatu, which was nominated for best original song.

Two Indian-made documentaries also received nominations, with All That Breathes competing for best documentary feature film and The Elephant Whisperers for best documentary short.

Source: Al Jazeera, The Associated Press