Military Movies Had a Mixed Night at the 2023 Oscar Ceremony –

“Everything Everywhere All at Once” swamped the 95th Academy Awards, taking home seven awards and almost shutting out military-themed movies in the major categories. “All Quiet on the Western Front” was a surprise success with four wins, but the biggest movie of the year (and the all-time box-office champ for military-themed films), “Top Gun: Maverick,” went home with just one trophy.
Here’s our breakdown of how the night went.
This German-language remake of the 1930 Best Picture winner follows a group of German soldiers in the trenches during World War I. Both the original Erich von Remarque novel and the 1930 movie focused almost exclusively on these troops, but the 2022 film opened up the tale and gave more context as to how the war was fought for 21st-century audiences.
Made for Netflix, the movie made a huge impression in the creative community and was considered the most likely candidate to upset “Everything Everywhere All at Once” as Best Picture.
“All Quiet on the Western Front” took home the trophy for Best International Feature. The movie also won technical awards for Production Design and Best Cinematography, and composer Volker Bertelmann, who said Led Zeppelin was an influence on his music for this film, won Best Original Score.
Nominated for six Oscars, including Best Picture, “Top Gun: Maverick” only managed to take home the award for Best Sound. When I first saw a screening of the film in April 2022, I was convinced that it was a lock for this award, but things looked shaky after “All Quiet on the Western Front” seemed to be gaining momentum.
Another Oscar that seemed like a lock was Best Cinematography, but cinematographer Claudio Miranda wasn’t even nominated by the technical branch. Since Miranda and his team had to invent a host of new camera techniques and adapt cutting-edge photographic gear to capture the thrilling flight scenes, it seems like a huge miss that the academy failed to recognize his work.
Other nominations were for Best Adapted Screenplay, Best Editing, Best Visual Effects and Best Song for Lady Gaga and BloodPop’s ballad “Hold My Hand.” Tom Cruise must have seen how the night was going to play out, because he stayed away from the event and kept working on “Mission: Impossible — Dead Reckoning Part Two.”
Related: The Navy and Tom Cruise Don’t Know How to Quit Each Other
How to say this? Austin Butler was robbed. The young actor transformed himself in a brilliant performance as Army veteran and 20th-century music icon Elvis Presley. Unlike certain other performers who recently won Best Actor Oscars for playing music icons, Butler did his own singing in a movie that brought Pvt. Presley to life.
In a year dominated by dubious fat suits, like the one Tom Hanks wore in “Elvis” and the more extreme one that helped Brendan Fraser win his Best Actor Oscar for “The Whale,” Butler gave 2022’s best fat-suit performance in the scenes late in the movie as an overweight Elvis struggled to fit into his flashy stage jumpsuits.
What may be the weirdest movie ever to win Best Picture might not be the crowd-pleasing winner that “Top Gun: Maverick,” “Elvis” or “Avatar: The Way of Water” would have been, but it is the first movie to win an Oscar for a Vietnamese refugee.
Related: Ke Huy Quan’s Journey from Vietnamese ‘Boat Person’ to Oscar Winner
Ke Hey Quan had a high-profile career as a child actor, appearing in “Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom” and “The Goonies,” but he had been off-screen for decades when he was cast in the sci-fi/action/comedy/drama mashup movie. He made sure to share his story during his acceptance speech, saying: “My journey started on a boat. I spent a year in a refugee camp. And somehow, I ended up here on Hollywood’s biggest stage.”
How will military-themed movies fare at the 2024 Oscars? We’re putting money on the World War II drama “Oppenheimer,” which will tell the story of physicist Robert Oppenheimer and the secret military program that developed the atomic bomb. It’s the latest from “Dunkirk,” “Inception” and “Batman” director Christopher Nolan, so we’ve got high hopes for the film.
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