They wept, they self-sabotaged and they emailed every influential person in their address book … so as the long road to the Oscars finally approaches its end, THR acknowledges the unsung success stories of the FYC season.
California’s new pay transparency law went into effect Jan. 1, and the Golden Globe Awards host celebrated by roasting his bosses for the night and telling the world that he was paid $500,000 for his services. Not only did the declaration raise eyebrows — it’s 30 times the typical pay for emceeing the Oscars — but it undoubtedly angered anyone involved with keeping these pricey telecasts going amid steep ratings declines. Comedy reps will be quoting Carmichael’s alleged payday in hosting negotiations for years to come.
Brendan Fraser and Ke Huy Quan
What was in the water on the set of Encino Man? In an awards cycle where acceptance speeches bounced from sincere to silly to crass, these onetime co-stars stayed the course with wet, wet gratitude. And it’s not like anybody begrudges them! Fraser’s comeback in The Whale and Quan’s return for Everything Everywhere All at Once have been the feel-good narratives of the season. But, as category frontrunners, there’s genuine concern they might be all dried out by Oscar night.
The supermarket checkout tabloids were right all along. Elvis Presley is still alive, conveniently hiding in the 31-year-old actor who brought him to the big screen in the Baz Luhrmann movie about the legendary singer’s life. Butler’s inability to shed the deep voice he took on to play the King started as a charming awards season bit and has since become a tedious cause for concern, but perhaps the real reason he remains hoarse two years after filming wrapped is because he keeps being forced to talk about it.
Not since Jesse Eisenberg stepped into Mark Zuckerberg’s “fuck-you flip-flops” has the internet done more for an Oscar campaign. Andrea Riseborough’s A-lister-endorsed best actress nomination for little-seen To Leslie made her the most talked-about individual in any race. And while Jennifer Aniston and Charlize Theron got tied up in these knotted grass roots, it was McCormack (To Leslie director Michael Morris’ wife) who truly rallied the voting troops. She may have a future as a strategist.
Say what you want about Blonde, his much-maligned movie about Marilyn Monroe, but it was always in the awards conversation. The film could have done better than its lone Oscar nomination for star Ana de Armas. But Dominik, who displayed little sympathy for his tragic heroine in the film or its press tour — going so far as to call Monroe a “well-dressed whore” in one interview — shot himself in the foot every time he got the chance. Godspeed to the next studio to finance this bro.
Other than New York’s August Wilson Theatre, where Lea Michele may be belting “Don’t Rain on My Parade” at this very moment, nowhere are you likely to find a better example of unchecked theater kid enthusiasm than DeBose’s bizarre BAFTA-opening rap. The reception was politely mixed — except in Britain, where the number sparked a rare deviation in manners — but it’s a reminder to everyone that you should never break into original song unless your lyrics have been rigorously focus-grouped.
The lobbyists for Big Donkey earned their keep in 2022. Filmmakers were casting the diminutive equines like they were going extinct — appearing in best picture nominees The Banshees of Inisherin and Triangle of Sadness, as well as starring in Poland’s international feature nominee EO. Now, instead of the glue factory, these screen vets will be competing for overalls at Netflix.
Let’s get this straight: In the wake of The Slap and his resulting decade-long Oscar ban, Will Smith appeared in public only three times in a year, barely campaigned for his starring role in Emancipation and still won two awards — the NAACP Image Award and the AAFCA Beacon Award. Most people pound the pavement and glad-hand for months for far less, so consider this the season’s most unlikely master class.
This story first appeared in the March 8 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. Click here to subscribe.