Arts, Culture & Entertainment

USC students react to historic firsts for Oscar nominations

Students share mixed reactions to this year’s Academy Awards nominees.

Golden statues of the oscars throphies.

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences revealed its full list of nominees for the 95th Oscars on Tuesday and USC students weighed in on the historic nominations.

The 95th Annual Oscar nominations are bringing many firsts, with 16 of the 20 actors being nominated for the first time. In the Best Actor category, for once, all those nominated are first time nominees, with names like Austin Butler for “Elvis,” Paul Mescal for “Aftersun” and Brendan Fraser for “The Whale.”

“I think it’s super awesome that there’s so many first time nominees, especially the actors, like leading actor,” said Aisha Yamamoto, a biomedical engineering student. “I think that’s really cool to see, like new names up there because it’s usually like[a] repeat, every year the same name.”

Among these first-timers is USC alum Ke Huy Quan, who graduated from USC’s School of Cinematic Arts in 1999 and is nominated for Best Actor in a Supporting Role. His nomination comes after years of struggling to find work in the nearly 40 years that followed his appearance in Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom, according to Vanity Fair.

Quan is nominated for his portrayal of Waymond Wang in “Everything Everywhere All at Once,” a film that dominated with 11 nominations, the most of any other film this year. But Academy members are not the only ones who consider this film one of 2022′s best.

Aya Obeid, a junior majoring in International Relations, considered the film “one of the best movies [she’d] seen in a really long time.”, saying, ”I feel like it was a great, [the] representation and [the] reflection of how right now we’re fed so much media and so we get really bored really easily.” Obeid added, “But I also just felt so emotionally connected with the main character.”

Even those who do not include the film in their list of favorites consider the film a notable success, like in the case of Isabelle Leonard, a junior majoring in Film and TV production. “I am happy from an independent film perspective because independent films like even if it wasn’t my cup of tea, I can see that the film is important and it clearly impacted a lot of people,” said Leonard.

Beyond the plot, Michelle Yeoh’s performance was also praised by students.

“She is really good and I think like her range in that role, I think that’s deserving,” said Leonard. Yeoh is also the first Asian actress nominated in the Leading category in 88 years, since Merle Oberon’s nomination in 1935.

But while Oscar night has the potential to gain historic winners, many people might not even tune in, as viewership numbers over the years suggest the ceremony is losing its touch with the general public. With a recent high of 43.7 million viewers in 2014 to a low of 10.4 million in 2021, a sentiment that can be reflected by the opinion of USC students.

“I think it’s probably not that relevant to most people. I think most people are not watching it. I think the biggest problem with the Oscars, other than it being way too long, is that a lot of the movies are not relevant to normal people,” said Graham Bertoni, a junior studying Film and TV Production.

Many USC students admitted to not paying attention to the Oscars at all and were not informed about the nominees.

Even film students like Leonard felt disenchanted with the awards show, particularly this year.

“[The nominations] made me reflect on the year and how for me, at least this year, [it] didn’t hit that hard in terms of the movies that came out. There’s still some on the list that I haven’t seen,” said Leonard. “I haven’t seen ‘The Whale’ yet, and I haven’t seen ‘Women Talking.’”

Despite this, another first of this year’s nominees that might provide some aid to lower viewership is that for the first time in history, more than one Best Picture nominee has grossed more than $1 billion globally, with “Avatar: The Way of Water” and “Top Gun: Maverick.”

Just how many first-times the 2023 Academy Awards will have is yet to be seen.

The 95th Academy Awards will take place on March 12.