Michelle Yeoh and Angela Bassett make Oscar history, because in 2023 there will be big firsts


Michelle Yeoh in Everything everywhere at once; Angela Bassett in Black Panther: Wakanda Forever; Colin Farrell in The Banshees of Inisherin

The broadcast of the Academy Awards in March will mark the 95th Academy Awards. But as every year, “firsts” were plentiful from Tuesday’s nominations — including a whopping 16 of the 20 first-time acting nominees.

But first let’s start with some history.

Everything everywhere at once star Michelle Yeoh became the first ever Asian woman to be nominated for Best Actress. (There’s some complexity in that designation, though: Merle Oberon, a 1936 nominee for The dark angelreportedly hid her Asian heritage and thus identified as white why some outlets listing Yeoh as the first nominee “who identifies as Asian”). And Yeoh has a good chance of winning an Oscar on her first nomination: She and tar’s Cate Blanchett are considered neck-and-neck in the category, which also includes Michelle Williams (The Fables), Ana de Armas (Blonde) and surprise nominee Andrea Riseborough (To Lesley).

Also noteworthy: the nominations of Yeoh, her Everything everywhere co-stars Ke Huy Quan and Stephanie Hsu, and Hong Chau (The whale) mark the highest number of Asian actors ever recognized in one year out of four. Life screenwriter Kazuo Ishiguro, meanwhile, became the first Asian ever to be nominated in the Best Adapted Screenplay category.

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Angela Bassett’s swan song as Queen Ramonda in Black Panther: Wakanda Forever earned her a Best Supporting Actress nomination, becoming the first Marvel Cinematic Universe actor ever to be nominated for an Oscar. The only other two actors ever previously nominated for superhero films, Heath Ledger (The dark knight) and Joaquin Phoenix (joker), both in DC properties for playing the same character, won the Oscar. Bassett also makes a great shot. She opens as early heavy favorite against Chau, Kerry Condon (The Banshees of Inisherin), Jamie Lee Curtis and Hsu.

Here’s a feat that probably won’t be matched often: Catherine Martin (Elvis) became the first person to score nominations for Best Costume Design, Best Production Design, and Best photo. (Martin, along with husband and Elvis director/co-writer Baz Luhrmann, are producers of the film.)

On the international front: While the Bollywood sensation on social media RRR missing out on Best Picture, the nomination for Best Original Song (early front-runner “Naatu Naatu”) was the first time an entry in the category had come from India. The silent girl became Ireland’s first-ever nominee for Best International Film.

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Jamie Lee Curtis in Everything Everywhere at Once (A24)

Jamie Lee Curtis in Everything everywhere at once (A24)

As mentioned earlier, 16 of the 20 acting nominees — and an astonishing 80 percent — are first-timers, including some names that might surprise you (ahem, Jamie Lee Curtis and Colin Farrell), and including, remarkably, every nom in the Best Actor race. They are:

BEST ACTRESS: Ana de Armas (Blonde), Andrea Riseborough (To Lesley), Michelle Yeoh (Everything everywhere)

BEST ACTOR: Austin Butler (Elvis), Colin Farrell (The Banshees of Inisherin), Brendan Fraser (The whale), Paul Mescal (After sun), Bill Nighy (Life)

BEST ACTRESS IN A SUPPORT: Hong Chau (The whale), Jamie Lee Curtis (Everything everywhere), Stephane Hsu (Everything everywhere), Kerry Condon (banshees)

BEST ACTOR IN A SUPPORT: Brendan Gleeson (banshees), Brian Tyree Henry (Elevated road), Barry Keoghan (banshees), Ke Huy Quan (Everything everywhere)

The four returning actors: Cate Blanchett (now an eight-time nominee who won for The kite and Blue Jasmine), Michelle Williams (now a five-time nominee whose last nod came in 2017 for Manchester by the sea), Angela Bassett (now a two-time nominee whose previous nomination came in 1994 for What Does Love Have To Do With It?) and Judd Hirsch (now a two-time nominee whose previous nomination came in 1981 for Ordinary people). At 42 years, Hirsch’s nomination broke Henry Ford’s record for the longest gap between acting nods (Ford was 41 with noms in 1940 and 1981).

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HOLLYWOOD, CALIFORNIA - OCTOBER 26: Rihanna attends Marvel Studios';

Rihanna attends Marvel Studios Black Panther 2: Wakanda Forever premieres at Dolby Theater on October 26, 2022 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Axelle/Bauer-Griffin/FilmMagic)

In addition to the acting races, there were a few other high-profile names making the Oscars vote for the first time in their lives.

Jerry Bruckheimer, the 79-year-old super producer behind box office hits like Beverly Hills agent, The Rock, Armageddon, Pearl Harbor, pirates of the Caribbean, Bad boys and National Treasure, was nominated for a first time for producing Top gun: Maverick. He shares the nomination with star Tom Cruise and fellow producers Christopher McQuarrie and David Ellison.

R&B superstar Rihanna was also nominated for Best Original Song for the first time for her performance of the Black Panther: Wakanda Forever single “Raise Me.” She shares the nomination with writer-director Ryan Coogler, composer Ludwig Göransson and co-performer Tems, who was also the first Nigerian ever nominated for an Oscar.

According to Variety, Rihanna is already set to perform “Lift Me Up” at the March 12 ceremony, exactly one month after her February 12 Super Bowl halftime show. Not a bad piece.


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