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everything everywhere

'We’re just so proud': Here's how the Oscars looked from inside the winners' room

Everything, everywhere – all at once: Here’s a full rundown of the night.

Aoife Barry reports from LA:

“THE OSCARS ARE predictable – we already know who’s going to win.”

Across the past few days in LA, film insiders were pretty convinced that we already knew how this year’s Oscars would turn out. Everything Everywhere All At Once, directed by the Daniels (as the film’s two creators are collectively known), would clean up. Ireland wasn’t about to win a sweep of awards despite being nominated for 14.

And yet. We held on to a bit of hope. Granted, those who know their Oscars stats weren’t making their predictions based on nothing. But hadn’t we seen Oscar shocks before? (And we don’t just mean Will Smith’s behaviour last year). We dared to dream: Could Ireland actually see a few surprise wins?

As The Journal sat in the winners’ press room in the Loews Hollywood Hotel, waiting for the winners to be announced, we wondered if there would be some unexpected wins for Ireland.

But in the end, the predictions were overwhelmingly correct, with a few minor surprises. But Ireland still got two Oscars – one for the Short Film An Irish Goodbye, and one for Richard Baneham, part of the Avatar: The Way of Water team for visual effects. There were no awards on the night for our highest-profile nominees – the likes of Colin Farrell, Kerrie Condon and Martin McDonagh – in the acting and directing categories. 

It’s a respectable haul, though two wins looks like a small number next to 14 nominations. And yet. To be in the running at all for a film like An Cailín Ciúin, for example, was a huge win in itself. The first Irish language feature film to be nominated for an Oscar – what an achievement for Colm Bairéad and Cleona Ní Chrualoi. Together, they’d done something no Irish filmmaker had before.

But it really was Everything Everywhere All At Once’s (EEAAO) night. Directed by Daniel Kwan and Daniel Scheinert (the aformentioned ‘Daniels), the US film stars Michelle Yeoh (who won Best Actress), Ke Huy Quan (who won Best Supporting Actor), Jamie Lee Curtis (who won Best Supporting Actress) and Stephanie Hsu (who was nominated for Best Supporting Actress). It won Best Director and Best Film, setting an Oscar record for major wins.

The directors, two friends in their 30s, started their career in music videos and EEAOO was their second feature. It’s a huge, layered, colourful, dreamlike (at times nightmarish) watch, full of rabbit holes and transformations, unexpected pivots and physical comedy.

It’s not, we might say, a ‘typical’ Oscars film. But in its sheer confidence in its vision, it wowed Academy voters.

It was also, notably, a film with a chiefly Asian-American cast which told a story about an Asian-American family. Michelle Yeoh’s win made her the first Asian woman to win the Best Actress statuette.

These are not small things – they’re steps towards achieving a mainstream film industry and awards season that encompasses the multiplicity of the landscape of film itself. EEAAO helped people be seen and feel seen.

“This is actually a historical moment,” Yeoh said afterwards in the winners’ press room, when asked about the importance of the film in terms of diversity and representation. (She got a big applause when she entered, as did the Daniels and Ke Huy Quan).

“I think this is something we have been working very hard towards for years, and tonight we frigging broke that glass ceiling.”

“We deserve to be heard, we deserve to be seen,” she added. 

Let’s not forget that it was only a handful of years ago that we had the campaign ‘#oscarssowhite’, a reckoning with the Oscars’ whiteness and lack of diversity. That’s not to say that the Oscars has been fixed or that this year is proof of ultimate change.

For example, there was no woman nominated for Best Director, (even though Sarah Polley, who wrote and directed Women Talking, won Best Adapted Screenplay and was nominated in the Best Film category, deserved inclusion in the directing category). Once again, the nominees and winners were overwhelmingly white.

But the EEAOO winners in particular called attention to their own identity and what it meant to be present on the stage. Michelle Yeoh said while accepting her award that it was “for all the little boys and girls who look like me watching tonight”.

Ke Huy Quan spoke about his journey to the US from Vietnam as a young boy – later, he jumped around the stage in the winners’ room in excitement.

Daniel Scheinert also made a small political statement on stage, thanking his parents for not stifling his creativity when he was younger, and saying that as a child he dressed in drag, “which is a threat to nobody”. He was drawing attention here to the concerning cracking down on transgender expression in the US.

Irish eyes

For the Irish, there will be jubilation and a smidge of disappointment. The short film An Irish Goodbye’s win was a great moment for young filmmakers in particular, given that directors Ross White and Tom Berkeley are only at the very beginning of their career.

But it would have been amazing also to see An Cailín Ciúin winning Best International Feature, and the huge support for it both at home and abroad has been a wonderful thing to witness. A Mexican journalist sitting near us spoke about how much he loved both it and An Irish Goodbye.

But it had very tough competition, particularly from the German film All Quiet on the Western Front, whose topic is sadly evergreen and which did an intense job of depicting the reality of war. (It won four awards and director Edward Berger told journalists he was going to “party heavily all night”.)

It was ultimately a disappointing night for Banshees of Inisherin in terms of statuettes won. It had nine nominations and some impressive early momentum, but as the weeks went on its chance of winning for the majority of them kept fading.

But again, nine nominations for Martin McDonagh’s feature was an excellent showing – particularly the fact its four lead actors were nominated across all acting categories.

Meanwhile, Paul Mescal’s deserved nomination for the gorgeous Aftersun was a sign of how rapidly his star has risen, and how Irish actors can get to such a high level just a few years into their career.

All of the Irish nominations taken together told a story about where Irish cinema is in 2023. They brought together industry veterans, newcomers, independents and Hollywood faces and showed that Irish film reaches across all levels of cinema.

To be recognised by the Academy is no small thing, even though such a large amount of nominations could almost seem ordinary if we didn’t stop to reflect on what they mean.

In the last few minutes, President Higgins has released a statement congratulating the two Irish winners and the nominees from An Cailín Ciúin and The Banshees of Inisherin. 

“This has been a remarkable year for the Irish film industry and is a testament to the hard work of so many people over recent decades,” his statement said. 

And Banshees wasn’t the only film shut out – Elvis, despite expectations, didn’t perform well. Tár and Cate Blanchett failed to get gongs. Angela Bassett didn’t win a Best Supporting Actress award for her role in Black Panther: Wakanda Forever, despite hope that it would be a shoo-in for her – instead, Jamie Lee Curtis racked up yet another gong for EEAAO.

richard-baneham-from-left-winner-of-the-award-for-for-best-visual-effects-for-avatar-the-way-of-water-ashling-baneham-and-bailey-bass-attend-the-governors-ball-after-the-oscars-on-sunday-march Richard Baneham, left, winner of the award for best visual effects for Avatar: The Way of Water. Alamy Stock Photo Alamy Stock Photo

Inside the winners room

Tonight, The Journal watched it all unfold from within the Oscars winners’ room. That’s where the winners go to be interviewed by the international and US press after picking up their statuette.

The night was a curious but interesting mix of business and glamour. All of the journalists present had to dress up for the event – and some really went for it, wearing brightly coloured tulle and glittery gowns. 

Multiple tables were laid out across the room, at which journalists sat at laptops, filing stories, recording audio, and watching the live feed of the event. 

Outside the main room, catering put on quite a spread – unlike the poor, half-starved nominees and other guests in the Dolby Theatre, we were able to stuff ourselves with sandwiches, pasta, cookies, cake, salads, tea, coffee and soda. Security was, naturally, tight. Each reporter had ID which had to be scanned to allow entry to the press section.

After the winners were announced on stage, they would appear in the winners’ room around half an hour to an hour later. Each reporter was given a number, and when a winner we wanted to ask a question of appeared in the room, hands would go up holding their number.

Some of those holding numbers would be called on – we got lucky when An Irish Goodbye directors Berkeley and White made their appearance. 

The jubilant pair saw their short beat stiff competition from across the globe. Plus, they got the assembled celebrities at the Dolby Theatre to sing Happy Birthday to one of their actors, James Martin. Quite the birthday celebration.

Afterwards, The Journal asked them if their collaboration will resonate with people in Ireland, Northern Ireland and Britain. Berkeley said as the English part of the English-Irish duo, he would defer to White.

“I come from Northern Ireland,” White said. “Identity is a complex thing for us in Northern Ireland. Our peace is an adolescent peace, it’s a fragile peace always but we are so proud of the peace and everyone I know wants to ensure that is protected.

“Look, I think, our crew who came together to make this film were from the Republic of Ireland, from Britain, from Northern Ireland and we’re just so proud to have this collaborative way of making this film together.

“Hopefully there’s a bit of legacy there but we’re just really proud to be representing Northern Ireland and the message and the project that is Northern Ireland and what that means to people.”

When Brendan Fraser made his visit to the room, most of the reporters stood up and clapped. When Michelle Yeoh was named as Best Actress winner, a big round of applause could be heard. It was hard not to get swept up in it, because everyone in the room was there due to the fact that, well, they love movies.

Getting to celebrate the cream of Hollywood in the flesh was a privilege, and a lot of fun.

beverly-hills-usa-12th-mar-2023-brendan-fraser-arriving-at-the-vanity-fair-oscar-party-held-at-the-wallis-annenberg-center-for-the-performing-arts-on-march-12-2023-in-beverly-hills-ca-oc Alamy Stock Photo Alamy Stock Photo

Veterans of Oscar reporting were there alongside newbies like The Journal, learning the ropes as the afternoon unfolded.

Once the ceremony began, it was an intense few hours of seeing what would unfold. And then, almost before we knew it, the Oscars were over. All that was left was to wonder what after parties the celebrities went to – where any sorrows could disappear in a sea of celebrity and praise.

All of the Oscar winners:

Best Picture

Everything Everywhere All at Once

Best Directing

Daniel Kwan and Daniel Scheinert for Everything Everywhere All at Once

Actress in a Leading Role

Michelle Yeoh for Everything Everywhere All at Once

Actor in a Leading Role

Brendan Fraser, The Whale

 Supporting Actress

Jamie Lee Curtis for Everything Everywhere All at Once

Supporting Actor

Ke Huy Quan for Everything Everywhere All at Once

Original Screenplay

Daniel Kwan & Daniel Scheinert for Everything Everywhere All at Once

Adapted Screenplay

Sarah Polley for Women Talking

Film Editing

Paul Rogers for Everything Everywhere All at Once

Cinematography
Jame Friend, All Quiet on the Western Front

Animated Feature
Guillermo del Toro’s Pinocchio

Documentary Feature

Navalny

International Feature Film

All Quiet on the Western Front

Live-Action Short

An Irish Goodbye

Documentary short

The Elephant Whisperers

Animated Short

The Boy, The Mole, The Fox and The Horse

Original Score

Volker Bertelmann for All Quiet on the Western Front

Original Song

Naatu Naatu from RRR – music by M.M. Keeravaani and lyrics by Chandrabose

Visual Effects

Joe Letteri, Richard Baneham, Eric Saindon and Daniel Barrett for Avatar: The Way of Water

Sound

Mark Weingarten, James H. Mather, Al Nelson, Chris Burdon and Mark Taylor for Top Gun: Maverick

Costume Design

Ruth Carter, Black Panther: Wakanda Forever

Production Design

Christian M. Goldbeck and Ernestine Hipper for All Quiet on the Western Front

Makeup and Hairstyling

Adrien Morot, Judy Chin and Annemarie Bradley for The Whale

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