2023 Oscar Nominations: Snubs and Surprises

It’s a record-setting year for performers of Asian descent. In the actress race, there’s room for Andrea Riseborough but not Viola Davis or Danielle Deadwyler.

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By Kyle Buchanan

The sci-fi hit “Everything Everywhere All at Once” led the Oscar nominations on Tuesday, but many other presumed contenders fell startlingly short. As your Projectionist, here’s my analysis of Tuesday morning’s biggest surprises and omissions.

A record-setting year for Asian actors.

Though two of the last three best-picture winners were directed by Asian filmmakers, the academy isn’t always as forward-thinking when it comes to nominating performers of Asian descent: Films like “Parasite” and “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon” failed to earn even a single nomination for their acclaimed actors. But Tuesday’s nomination haul, which saw “Everything Everywhere” cast members Michelle Yeoh, Ke Huy Quan and Stephanie Hsu all making the cut alongside “The Whale” supporting actress Hong Chau, set a record for the most actors of Asian descent ever nominated in a single year. The 60-year-old Yeoh became only the second Asian woman to be nominated for the best actress Oscar: The first, Merle Oberon, hid her Asian ancestry when she was nominated all the way back in 1935.

Andrea Riseborough crashes the party.

A single awards campaign can involve a monthslong gantlet of interviews, red carpets, screening Q&As and voter handshakes, and not every contender can charge all those appearances to a corporate credit card. You have to admire the actress Andrea Riseborough, then, for pioneering a brand-new, low-cost awards strategy: Though her microbudget indie “To Leslie” was underseen and her performance as a dissolute lottery winner was barely on the radar of most awards pundits, Riseborough relied on a network of famous friends — among them, Edward Norton, Gwyneth Paltrow and Sarah Paulson — to take to social media and tout the movie en masse just as voting for the Oscar nominations began. That strategy earned the 41-year-old British actress her first nomination, and proved that when it comes to Oscar season, it ain’t over till it’s over.

Viola Davis and Danielle Deadwyler miss out.

Riseborough’s rise brought the best-actress hopes of two other contenders to an abrupt end: “The Woman King” star Viola Davis and “Till” actress Danielle Deadwyler were both shut out of a best actress category that many pundits assumed would be mostly made up of women of color. Deadwyler’s deeply felt performance as the mother of Emmett Till had suffered a few notable snubs this season from the Independent Spirit Awards and Golden Globes, but Davis had cruised through the season so far, earning nominations from the Globes, Screen Actors Guild, Critics Choice Awards and BAFTA. Only Tuesday did the Oscar-winning actress fall short.

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