In some ways, spreading nominations widely reflected the jumbled state of Hollywood. No one in the movie capital seems to know which end is up, with streaming services like Netflix hot then not, and studios unsure about how many films to release in theaters and whether anything but superheroes, sequels and horror stories can succeed. Over the weekend, “Scream VI” was the top movie at the North American box office, with an estimated $44.5 million in ticket sales.
First-time nominees filled 16 of the 20 acting slots, with new stars like Austin Butler (“Elvis”), Barry Keoghan (“The Banshees of Inisherin”), Brian Tyree Henry (“Causeway”), Paul Mescal (“Aftersun”) and Stephanie Hsu (“Everything Everywhere All at Once”) honored for breakthrough roles.
But first-time acting nominations also went to Hollywood stalwarts like Curtis, Yeoh and Brendan Fraser. To some degree, the inclusion of Quan, Curtis, Fraser and Yeoh was seen as redemption for Hollywood: All had somehow been cast to the side at some point over their careers.
An overcome Fraser, who won the Oscar for best actor for his performance as an obese professor in “The Whale,” thanked Darren Aronofsky, the film’s director, “for throwing me a creative lifeline.”
The academy was also trying to balance old and new in the Oscars ceremony itself. The academy’s chief executive had promised a return to the polished, glamorous Oscar ceremonies of the past to recover from last year’s chaotic telecast, when an angry Will Smith walked onstage and slapped Chris Rock. In a change from last year, when eight categories were scuttled to a nontelevised portion, all 23 Oscars were handed out live on air.
As host, Jimmy Kimmel arrived on the Oscars stage by parachute, moments after a pair of “Top Gun”-style fighter jets flew over the Dolby Theater in Los Angeles at 345 miles per hour. He then breezed through a self-assured monologue that left the A-listers seated before him cheering in support. He teased Steven Spielberg — gently — for his lack of recreational drug use and Fraser and Quan for once appearing together in “Encino Man.” It was the kind of affable ribbing that once made Billy Crystal the king of the Oscar M.C.’s.