Metro Weekly

6 Historic Firsts in the 2023 Oscar Nominations

We've assembled a handful of the most high-profile and most incredible firsts in Oscar history happening this year.

Photo: Dimitris Barletis

When the Academy Award nominations are revealed, it’s a time to celebrate for countless actors, directors, producers, writers, and many other talented people who are connected to the films that receive love. Some years, history is made with the nominations, and 2023 may be remembered as a landmark roundup of nods, as the list of possible winners is chock full of firsts.

There are too many to describe — and surely some that haven’t even been reported on — but below are a handful of the most high-profile and most incredible firsts in Oscar history.

Michelle Yeoh

Everything Everywhere All at Once rules the 2023 Academy Awards, earning 11 nominations, the most among all the films. Perhaps the film’s best chance to win is in the Best Actress category, as Michelle Yeoh already appears to be one of the frontrunners for the highly coveted prize.

Yeoh earns her first nomination this year, and she is the first Asian talent to be included in the Best Actress category. There is a small asterisk next to this accomplishment, as actor Merle Oberon was nominated back in 1936, but at the time she did not speak about her cultural heritage, so there’s some question as to how she self-identified. 

Whether she’s actually the first or not, Yeoh’s nomination is still a major milestone, and should she win, it will be an incredible moment for the community. 

The Most Asian Actors Ever

Yeoh is one of four Asian actors who earned nominations at this year’s Oscars, which is a first. In fact, Asian talents have long been overlooked at the Academy Awards, and any year with even one nominee who identifies as Asian is momentous, so seeing four different people snag chances to win is massive.

In addition to Yeoh, her Everything Everywhere All at Once co-stars Stephanie Hsu and Ke Huy Quan are also competing for trophies. And Hong Chau is also up for Best Supporting Actress for her work in The Whale.

RRR

In a somewhat odd move, India did not submit RRR as its choice for Best International Feature. That’s shocking, as the title became a breakout global hit, and there were some who even suggested it might collect a Best Picture nomination, though that didn’t end up happening.

Instead, the title snagged a Best Original Song nomination for the tune “Naatu Naatu,” which has already collected the Golden Globe in the same category.

​​”Naatu Naatu” marks the first time a track in an Indian film has been nominated for Best Original Song. It’s worth mentioning that at least two Indian songwriters and producers have won this category, as both A. R. Rahman and Gulzar were given the trophy for their single “Jai Ho!” from Slumdog Millionaire.

First-Timers In The Acting Categories

Of the 20 actors nominated for Oscars this year in the four acting categories, an incredible 16 of them are first-timers. Here’s how that breaks down:

  • Best Actress – While ​​Cate Blanchett has won twice before and Michelle Williams has now been nominated five times, Ana de Armas, Andrea Riseborough, and Michelle Yeoh have never been nominated.
  • Best Actor – Amazingly, all five men competing for the honor – Austin Butler, Colin Farrell, Brendan Fraser, Paul Mescal, and Bill Nighy – are first-time nominees.
  • Best Supporting Actress – Four of the five women nominated in this field – Hong Chau, Jamie Lee Curtis, Stephane Hsu, and Kerry Condon – have never been up for a trophy before, while Angela Bassett was several decades ago  (but didn’t win).
  • Best Supporting Actor – Just as is the case with Best Supporting Actress, all but one nominee – Judd Hirsch – haven’t yet had the honor of being nominated. He’s up against Brendan Gleeson, Brian Tyree Henry, Barry Keoghan, and Ke Huy Quan.

Judd Hirsch

Speaking of Judd Hirsch, the actor makes history with his second career nomination. According to Yahoo, the span of time between his two nods – 42 years – is the longest in between trips to the Oscars. He was first up for a trophy in 1980 for Ordinary People.

Tems

The past year or two has been huge for Tems, who seemingly appeared out of nowhere and has been racking up hits and accolades ever since. Now, she can add one bit of history to her long list of accomplishments, as she has reportedly become the first Nigerian to be nominated for an Oscar. Tems is credited as a songwriter on “Lift Me Up” from Black Panther: Wakanda Forever alongside Rihanna, Ryan Coogler, and Ludwig Göransson.

John Williams

The beloved composer was nominated again for his musical work on The Fabelmans, which continues his long-running relationship with Steven Spielberg. At 90 years old, he now holds the record as the oldest living Academy Award nominee. Williams has racked up an astounding 53 nominations – the second-most among all people, behind only Walt Disney – and he’s the first to earn nods in seven different decades, according to Yahoo.

The 95th Annual Academy Awards will be presented on Sunday, March 12, at the Dolby Theatre at Ovation Hollywood. ABC will broadcast the ceremony, which starts at 8 p.m., live. Visit www.oscars.org.

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