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The 95th Annual Oscars: The Year of the Underdog Sophie Johnston


In the pageantry and pomp of the 95th annual Oscars held earlier this March, all the expected festivities could be predicted; celebrities attired in overwhelmingly large gowns, huddles of photographers gathering to snap good photos of famous passersby, lines of reporters shouting names of nominees walking on the carpet, to audiences sitting athome with their Oscar ballots confused as to why they haven’t heard of half the movies listed for Best Picture. But this is all standard practice. Every year, film buffs and sycophants alike feast their eyes on the cosmopolitan Oscar parade to be inspired and entertained. And with past Oscar ceremonies, especially with the iconic pop culture moment of the Will Smith slap of last year, it was only natural to guess that it couldn’t get any better. This year’s Oscars were not that of celebrity drama or even glamour– as many online fashion critics said it looked as if celebrities were dressed in “bedsheets” (à la Florence Pugh)– but rather a night characterized by redemption and historic wins; all by the underdog.


Perhaps it’s safe to say that the Oscars carpet got a downgrade from its signature red to a beige that writer Anthony Lane of The New Yorker describes, looking as if “a Starbucks truck had backed up to the entrance of the Dolby Theatre and hosed the place with Oat Milk Chai Tea Latte.” However, recessing glamour from traditional Oscars aside and the odd addition of a beige carpet, It’s safe to say the underdogs got their day in Hollywood on March 12, which left at-home viewers deeply moved and an equally large Dolby Theatre full of tearing celebrities, trying not to smudge their mascara.


The most remarkable win of this year’s Oscars was, undoubtedly, “Everything Everywhere All At Once,” winning an astounding 7 Oscars and crossing $100 million in global ticket sales– the first A24 movie to do so. Thegenius behind the directing and screenplay, Daniel Kwan and Daniel Scheinert (the “Daniels”), recently signed an exclusive five-year partnership with Universal Pictures. Chairman of the Universal Filmed Entertainment Group, Donna Langley, even went as far as to say, “Daniels are creators who have evolved their craft with a distinct vision and singular voice that is unmistakable across the spectrum of content vying for viewers’ attention.” And in their Oscar acceptance speech for Best Director, Daniel Kwan noted that “the genius emerges from the collective,” giving a sentimental note to the importance of diversity and the effort of group collaboration despite their unique niche style. “The Daniels,” having had minimal experience in film, Donna Langley notes that “their films are remarkably theatrical and with only two original projects under their belts.” The astounding ingenuity of the Daniels, garnering iconic wins for Asian-Americans in film, notably Michelle Yeoh in being the first Asian-American to ever win an Oscar for Best Actress, truly represents the American Dream in a spectacle of an Oscars sweep that many dubbed “inspiring.”

In the story of Ke Huy Quan, having had inconsistent work in Hollywood, recounts to Variety his trulyinspirational story. Having fled Vietnam as a child, he says he “was in a refugee camp surrounded with guards and police officers, and I was here for an entire year until we were granted political Asylum, and I got on a plane for the first time and landed in Los Angeles.” From there, having achieved recognition in movies like “Goonies” and “The Temple of Doom,” Quan remains grateful for all the work he’sbeen afforded, especially his Oscar win, but unsure of the future, adding, “I’m still really scared even though I just won an Oscar, but I’m still very fearful of what tomorrow brings. I had a conversation with my agent and I said, ‘I’m so worried that this is only a one-time thing.”


Another remarkable instance of an underdog story was Brendan Fraser winning Best Actor for his role, “The Whale.” Many often associate Brendan Fraser’s name with the 90s forgotten heartthrob. Fraser, for nearly a decade, has been absent from the spotlight. Having injured himself numerous times due to performing his own stunts in past roles, divorce, and mental health issues all led “The Mummy” actor to take a break from serious acting. Such hardships landed him more minor acting roles, leading to a downward career trend. However, Fraser thanked filmmakers for “throwing me a creative lifeline and hauling me aboard the good ship ‘The Whale'” in his Oscars acceptance speech, grateful for hisopportunity for a comeback to Hollywood in a surprising way.

The legacy the 95th annual Oscars left behind this year have genuinely inspired millions to persistently chase their dreams. The personal stories of actors like Ke Huy Quan and Brendan Fraser, who’ve remained some of Hollywood’s forgotten superstars, have now proven to audiences that despite hardship and tribulation, all is never lost. The creative genius of the Daniels and emerging philosophies on the creative genius have begun to trend the movieindustry in a better direction, all seeming to give satisfying redemption to Hollywood’s most rooted for and forever loved– the underdogs.

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