The 2023 Oscar Nominations, by the Numbers
Another Oscar nomination morning has passed, with Allison Williams and Riz Ahmed confidently guiding us through a very un-quiet Western Front, past The Banshees of Inisherin, to take in Everything Everywhere All at Once on the Oscar ballot in this, our Year of Dicks. Now that we’ve had a second to peruse the ballot and take it all in, it’s time to shout out those Oscar milestones that were achieved yesterday.
It was a landmark year for first-time nominees, all while masters of their craft like Steven Spielberg, Cate Blanchett, and John Williams etched their names in the Oscar record books. If you’re an Oscar nerd—or if you simply like to sit back and watch Oscar nerds spin out with facts and figures—here’s where the ballot really comes alive.
With 10 nominated films that were released in six different months across the calendar, the 2022 best-picture field is the most calendar-diverse since 2009. Everything Everywhere All at Once hit theaters in March, Top Gun: Maverick premiered in May, Elvis opened in June; Tár, All Quiet on the Western Front, The Banshees of Inisherin, and Triangle of Sadness all debuted in October, The Fabelmans in November, and finally Avatar: The Way of Water in December. This bucks a trend of recent best-picture lineups that have been heavily weighted toward November and December releases. Eight of the 10 best-picture nominees last year, for example, opened in the last two months of the year.
Meanwhile, The Fabelmans’ nomination in best picture means that Steven Spielberg has tied the great William Wyler for directing the most best-picture nominees at 13.
In less-great but still notable news, Women Talking’s two total nominations is the fewest by a best-picture nominee since 2017’s The Post. On the bright side for Sarah Polley, The Post was directed by Steven Spielberg, so: good company.
Spielberg’s best-director nomination for The Fabelmans ties him with Martin Scorsese for second-most of all time, at nine nominations. They both trail William Wyler and his 12 best-director nominations.
The shared nomination for the Daniels, Daniel Kwan and Daniel Scheinert, marks the fifth time that a best-director nomination is shared by codirectors. The two most recent instances of that were when Joel and Ethan Coen were nominated for 2010’s True Grit and 2007’s No Country for Old Men. Prior to that, it had only been Robert Wise and Jerome Robbins for West Side Story and Warren Beatty and Buck Henry for Heaven Can Wait.
And with Elvis’s nomination in best picture—but not best director—Baz Luhrmann has now missed out on a best-director nod for a best-picture nominee twice. It happened before when Moulin Rouge! was nominated for best picture in 2002. Luhrmann joins the company of Joe Wright (Atonement and Darkest Hour), Frank Darabont (The Shawshank Redemption and The Green Mile), and Lawrence Kasdan (The Big Chill and The Accidental Tourist) for this frustrating achievement.
GENERAL ACTING-CATEGORY MILESTONES
One of the most striking things about the 2023 nominations is that there were 16 performers who received their first acting nominations. Only Cate Blanchett, Michelle Williams, Angela Bassett, and Judd Hirsch had ever been previously nominated. It’s been 56 years since that kind of wave for first-time nominees. The 1967 Oscars also featured 16 first-time nominees, including the first-ever acting nods for Michael Caine, Vanessa Redgrave, Steve McQueen, Alan Arkin, and Walter Matthau.
The five acting nominations for Irish performers this year also sets an all-time Oscar record. The four nominees from The Banshees of Inisherin—Colin Farrell, Brendan Gleeson, Barry Keoghan, and Kerry Condon—are joined by Aftersun’s Paul Mescal, and together they’ve obliterated the previous record of three Irish acting nominees that was set in 1990 by My Left Foot stars Daniel Day-Lewis and Brenda Fricker along with Henry V’s Kenneth Branagh.
Just one year after best actor featured zero first-time acting nominees for the first time since 1981, all five best-actor nominees this year are first-timers. Austin Butler (Elvis), Colin Farrell (The Banshees of Inisherin), Brendan Fraser (The Whale), Paul Mescal (Aftersun), and Bill Nighy (Living) are all new to feeling Oscar’s warm embrace. The last time this happened was 1935—88 years ago!—when the Oscars had just three best-actor nominees, all first timers: Clark Gable (It Happened One Night), Frank Morgan (The Affairs of Cellini), and William Powell (The Thin Man).
Michelle Yeoh’s nomination for her performance in Everything Everywhere All at Once marks the first time that an openly Asian woman has been nominated for best actress. If that sounds like a complicated record, it is—1936 best-actress Oscar nominee Merle Oberon hid her mother’s Sri Lankan ancestry. (More on Oberon’s fascinating story in this episode of You Must Remember This.) But Yeoh’s nomination is a landmark by any measure. The Malaysian-born star was joined on the ballot by her costars Stephanie Hsu and Ke Huy Quan, as well as The Whale’s Hong Chau, making for the largest lineup of Asian and Asian American acting nominees in Oscar history.