The 4 Biggest Surprises At The 2023 Academy Awards

For the most part, the 2023 Oscars went as expected. The film with the most nominations going into the night, Daniels’ Everything Everywhere All At Once, ended up being the event’s big winner, and nothing went down on stage that was anywhere near as dramatic as the Will Smith slapping incident that transpired last year. There were no outrageous snubs or massive speedbumps in the show. But all that being said, there has never been an Academy Awards ceremony completely lacking in surprises, and tonight’s was no different.

Between some surprise wins in a few categories and one of the terrific Best Song performances, not everything at the 2023 Academy Awards was wholly predictable. A majority of you probably had Everything Everywhere All At Once winning Best Picture on your Oscar ballots, but there are four things that we definitely didn’t see coming prior to the show.

Jamie Lee Curtis in Everything Everywhere All at Once

(Image credit: A24)

Jamie Lee Curtis Wins Best Supporting Actress For Everything Everywhere All At Once

As noted, Everything Everywhere All At Once winning Best Picture this year isn’t really a surprise, and, as a result, it’s not really surprising that it ended up winning Best Original Screenplay or Best Director. Ke Huy Kwan and Michelle Yeoh winning Best Supporting Actor and Best Actress isn’t at all surprising, as they were viewed as frontrunners for weeks prior to tonight. What is a surprise is that Jamie Lee Curtis won for Best Supporting Actress – and it’s a delightful one.

This year’s Best Supporting Actress category was stacked with talent, making it hard to say that any of the nominees were snubbed. Angela Bassett was viewed as a favorite to win going into the night, and the months of award season prior to this evening didn’t provide consistent results. The trophy really could have gone to anyone… but it’s amazing that we can now say that Jamie Lee Curtis, one of the great scream queens and genre legends, is an Academy Award winner.

Lady Gaga sings "Hold My Hand" at the Oscars

(Image credit: ABC)

Lady Gaga Delivers A Raw Performance Of Best Song Nominee "Hold My Hand" From Top Gun: Maverick

As a performer, Lady Gaga is well known for executing bold looks and making extreme fashion choices, but you wouldn’t know that if you were to just watch her on stage at the 2023 Academy Awards. The Oscar-winning singer showed up at the event wearing a black gown and bright red lipstick, and she walked the red carpet in that outfit, but she changed when it came time for her to sing “Hold My Hand” from Top Gun: Maverick. She took all of her makeup off and opted to wear a black T-shirt and shorts as she delivered an intimate and raw rendition of the nominated song.

There were plenty of flashy performances at the 2023 Academy Awards, with David Byrne sporting hot dog fingers while singing Everything Everywhere All At Once’s “This Is A Life,” and Rihanna appropriately belting Black Panther: Wakanda Forever’s "Lift Me Up" while on a rising stage, but what Lady Gaga did was both special and memorable. It perhaps would have been extra memorable had she also won the Oscar for Best Original Song, but that didn’t happen…

Ram Charan and N.T. Rama Rao Jr. both pumping their fists while dancing during Naatu Naatu in RRR.

(Image credit: DVV Entertainment)

Despite Competing Against Pop Star Nominees, M.M. Keeravani and Chandrabose Win Best Original Song For "Naatu Naatu" From RRR

Like Best Supporting Actress, the Best Original Song category at the 2023 Academy Awards was huge this year – as evidenced by the star power who showed up to perform the nominated tracks, including the aforementioned Lady Gaga, David Byrne and Rihanna as well as Diane Warren. That being said, it’s evident that star power didn’t ultimately hold too much sway when Academy members voted for the winner, because when it came time to open the envelope, it was M.M. Keeravani and Chandrabose who took the stage for "Naatu Naatu" from RRR.

Lady Gaga provided the most dramatic performance on stage during the event, but the rendition of "Naatu Naatu" delivered remarkable energy to the show, it was amazing to see the hit song win a much deserved award. Movie-goers still have a reason to gripe about RRR not being nominated for Best International Feature Film, but its win in its one nominated category definitely sooths the pain of that snub.

Sebastian Hülk in All Quiet on the Western Front

(Image credit: Netflix)

All Quiet On The Western Front Has A Terrific Night, Becoming Netflix’s Most Successful Title At The Oscars

Netflix has not struggled in getting attention from the Academy… though the streamer has mostly had to settle for using the old trope, “It’s an honor just to be nominated.” Alfonso Cuarón and Jane Campion both won Best Director prizes making movies for the subscription service, three Netflix films have won Best Documentary, and Laura Dern won Best Supporting Actress for her work in Noah Baumbach’s Marriage Story, but prior to 2023, only 16 Oscars have been won from 116 nominations. This year went quite swimmingly, however. Not only did Guillermo del Toro’s Pinocchio win Best Animated Film and Kartiki Gonsalves and Guneet Monga's The Elephant Whisperers win Best Documentary Short, Edward Berger’s All Quiet On The Western Front walked away from the event with a total of four wins.

Winning Best International Feature Film, Best Original Score, Best Production Design and Best Cinematography, All Quiet On The Western Front is now the Netflix original movie that has won the most Oscars, topping the record of three that was set by Roma in 2019. It didn’t win in all of the categories in which it was nominated (it lost Best Picture, Best Adapted Screenplay, Best Sound, Best Makeup and Hairstyling, and Best Visual Effects), but the filmmakers behind the war film can definitely be proud of the movie’s Academy Awards success.

For a full recap of all the trophies that were handed out during tonight’s ceremony, check out our 2023 Oscars Winners rundown, and check out our 2023 Oscars Streaming Guide to learn how to watch all of the films nominated for Best Picture. 

Eric Eisenberg
Assistant Managing Editor

NJ native who calls LA home and lives in a Dreamatorium. A decade-plus CinemaBlend veteran who is endlessly enthusiastic about the career he’s dreamt of since seventh grade.