Everything Everywhere All At Once’s Michelle Yeoh among historic firsts for 2023 Oscar nominations
The Oscar nominations are here, and the list is gratifyingly full of firsts. Quite literally: 16 of the 20 acting nominees are first-timers. But many of the nominations represent firsts not just on an individual basis, but also on a larger scale. Among the year’s historic firsts and record-breakers are cinema mainstays like John Williams, Angela Bassett, and Michelle Yeoh.
Yeoh’s Best Actress nomination is not just the culmination of a triumphant campaign for Everything Everywhere All At Once and an incredible career; it’s the first time that an Asian actor has ever been nominated in a historically white category. (Halle Berry remains the only woman of color ever to have won Best Actress.) There are some possible discrepancies—Merle Oberon (Dark Angel, 1936), who reportedly hid her Asian ancestry, or nominees like Salma Hayek, Cher, and Natalie Portman who “have claims to some western Asian heritage” per The Hollywood Reporter—but Yeoh is the first nominee in the category who actually identifies as Asian. Yeoh is joined in the acting categories by co-stars Ke Huy Quan and Stephanie Hsu as well as Hong Chau, marking the most-ever Asian actors nominated in a single year.
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Angela Bassett, a previous nominee for What’s Love Got To Do With It, became the first actor to be nominated for a Marvel Studios film for her role as Queen Ramonda in Black Panther: Wakanda Forever. If she wins she’ll not only be the MCU’s first, she’ll join the small group of performers who have won for comic book movies (which so far consists of two Jokers: Heath Ledger and Joaquin Phoenix).
According to THR, the country of Ireland received its first-ever nomination for Best International Feature Film for An Cailín Ciúin or The Quiet Girl, written and directed by Colm Bairéad. Incidentally, the Irish already have had quite a good turnout at the 2023 Oscars; in addition to a host of nominations for The Banshees Of Inisherin, An Irish Goodbye was nominated for Best Short Film (Live Action) and Paul Mescal was nominated for his role in Aftersun. If Mescal or Colin Farrell take home the Best Actor trophy, they’ll be the only other Irish actor to have done so besides Daniel Day-Lewis, who holds both British and Irish citizenship. In another international first, “Naatu Naatu” from RRR became the first number from an Indian film to be nominated for Best Original Song, according to Variety.
At 90 years old, famed composer John Williams has become the oldest-ever Oscar nominee (excluding honorary awards), per Deadline. His nomination for The Fablemans broke Williams’ own record for Best Score nominations at 48. With 53 nominations total, he is also the most nominated living artist–surpassed only by Walt Disney with 59.
Some other Fablemans fun facts: Best Supporting Actor nominee Judd Hirsch, 87, becomes the second-oldest ever acting nominee after Christopher Plummer, who was 88 years old when he won for Beginners. According to Deadline, the 42 years that elapsed between Hirsch’s nominations for Fablemans and Ordinary People is the longest gap between Oscar acting nominations, a record previously held by Henry Fonda.
Meanwhile, director Steven Spielberg continues to make history, extending his record as the only person nominated for Best Director in six different decades and tying Martin Scorsese for the second-most nominations in the category with nine each (trailing William Wyler with 12). Per The Wrap, Spielberg has tied Wyler for directing the most Best Picture nominees (13) and broken his own record for most individual Best Picture nominations as a producer (12).
With all the record-breaking nominees teed up, it could be a very historic Academy Award ceremony come March 12. A full list of nominees can be found here, and The A.V. Club’s list of snubs and surprises can be found here.
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