We break down the 2023 Oscar Nominations : Pop Culture Happy Hour Nominations for this year's Oscars dropped today, and it's a big year for Everything Everywhere All At Once, The Banshees Of Inisherin, and All Quiet On The Western Front. We run down the nominees in the major categories, plus talk about some surprises and snubs. Subscribe to Pop Culture Happy Hour Plus at plus.npr.org/happyhour

We break down the 2023 Oscar Nominations

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Nominations for this year's Oscars dropped today, and it's a big year for "Everything Everywhere All At Once," "The Banshees Of Inisherin" and "All Quiet On The Western Front."

GLEN WELDON, BYLINE: The field also included some major surprises, especially in the acting categories. I'm Glen Weldon.

THOMPSON: And I'm Stephen Thompson. Today, we are talking about this year's Oscar nominations on POP CULTURE HAPPY HOUR from NPR.


THOMPSON: Here with Glen and me is our pal and fellow co-host Aisha Harris. Hey, Aisha.

AISHA HARRIS, BYLINE: Hello, friends. Good to be here.

THOMPSON: It's great to have you. So we are going to give an overview of the nominees in the major categories. We're not going to be able to get to everything. We're going to cover the Oscars more in the coming weeks. And we'll bring you our Oscar predictions in an episode that'll run closer to the ceremony in March. So let's get started.

First, a quick rundown. The most nominations went to "Everything Everywhere All At Once" - whoo (ph) - with 11, followed by nine nominations apiece for "All Quiet On The Western Front" and "The Banshees Of Inisherin." Now let's rundown the best picture nominees - "All Quiet On The Western Front," that's Edward Berger's German film about a young soldier facing the realities of war on the western front of World War I. There's "Avatar: The Way Of Water," that's James Cameron's science fiction epic. It tells the story of the Na'vi, the inhabitants of Pandora. It's a sequel to the 2009 film "Avatar." There's "The Banshees Of Inisherin," that's Martin McDonagh's film set during the Irish Civil War. It's about two lifelong friends who are at an impasse when one abruptly ends their relationship. "Elvis" is Baz Luhrmann's biopic starring Austin Butler as the king of rock and roll, as well as Tom Hanks as his infamous manager. "Everything Everywhere All At Once," the film from the Daniels, that's Daniel Kwan and Daniel Scheinert. It's a big-hearted science-fiction action adventure starring Michelle Yeoh as a Chinese immigrant who, while being audited by the IRS, learns she's the key to an expansive multiverse. There's "The Fabelmans," that's Steven Spielberg's semi-autobiographical and deeply personal film about a Jewish American boy who dreams of making movies. "Tar" is Todd Field's character study, in which Cate Blanchett plays a fictional world-famous composer and conductor. "Top Gun: Maverick," a sequel to the 1986 movie "Top Gun," starring Tom Cruise as the cocky fighter pilot, Maverick, who returns to train a new generation of pilots - Joseph Kosinski directs this one. "Triangle Of Sadness," that's Ruben Ostlund's satire set on a luxury yacht. And "Women Talking," writer-director Sarah Polley's film about a group of Mennonite women who gather to discuss the abuse they've suffered at the hands of the men in their lives.

That is a wide-reaching field. Aisha, why don't you hit me with your thoughts?

HARRIS: I can't help but kind of chuckle at the fact that "Top Gun: Maverick" is in here. I mean, people have been predicting it for a while, so it's not a huge surprise. But I'm also just kind of like, huh, this - I guess this is exactly what happens when you widen the field. And overall, I think that a lot of these picks I'm very excited about, especially "Everything Everywhere All At Once," which was my hands-down favorite movie of last year. So yeah, it's interesting. And of course, you've got your war film, which is almost always a given in the best picture race. Like, there's always one old war movie that's thrown in there. So we've got a bunch of movies here.

THOMPSON: (Laughter).

WELDON: Yeah, we do.

HARRIS: Some are really great and some, I'm kind of like, OK.

WELDON: We got a - kind of a surprise with "Triangle Of Sadness." I think some people will see that as taking the spot that might have gone to "Babylon" or to "The Whale." And I'll confess, when I was listening to them list the nominations and it went from "Triangle Of Sadness" to "Women Talking," I know the alphabet, and I was like, "The Whale" - no, "The Whale."


WELDON: And that was very - that made me very happy. It is a weird year, to Aisha's point. I mean, it's been two years where movie seats have been kind of largely buttless (ph). And two movies this year, "Avatar" and "Top Gun," got a lot of butts in seats, and that could be the Academy just kind of thanking these two movies for actually restarting or at least goosing the movie industry again.

THOMPSON: Well, you mention blockbusters. I mean, I don't think you can leave out "Elvis" or "Everything Everywhere All At Once" when you're talking...


THOMPSON: ...About movies that were very, very successful. And that is one of the things that jumps out to me about this field. I also - as Aisha said, by widening the field, you take it beyond just, like, five historical dramas, which, you know, you get that some years. You know, "Top Gun: Maverick," we can debate the merits of that film, but it's a very good "Top Gun" sequel. It is very good at being...

HARRIS: It was fun.

THOMPSON: ...What it is supposed to be. And I...


THOMPSON: ...Appreciate that the Oscars are kind of fanning out beyond, again, like, there's more than one kind of great movie. Something does not have to have an impersonation of a major historical figure to be a great film.


THOMPSON: And so...


THOMPSON: ...I appreciate that. But when we're talking about movies that didn't make the cut, "Babylon" did not get a best picture nomination - it got just three nominations for production design, costumes and score - complete shutouts for movies I loved, like "She Said" and "The Woman King." "Nope" didn't get any nomination.



THOMPSON: There was some talk that "Black Panther: Wakanda Forever" might slip into the field for best picture. It didn't. So, you know, as always, it's a mixed bag. Everybody's got favorites that didn't make the cut. Everybody's got movies they wish were or weren't in this field, but this is the field we've got. Not a ton of huge surprises.

All right. Let's move on to actress in a leading role. The nominees are Cate Blanchett for "Tar," Ana de Armas for "Blonde," Andrea Riseborough for "To Leslie," Michelle Williams for "The Fablemans" and Michelle Yeoh for "Everything Everywhere All At Once" - a couple of pretty major surprises and exclusions, no?

WELDON: Yeah. No Viola Davis for "The Woman King," no Danielle Deadwyler for "Till," no Margot Robbie for "Babylon" - instead, we get Andrea Riseborough for "To Leslie," a very small film that not a lot of folks have seen. We do also get Michelle Williams here - good for her. She submitted herself for lead actress, which she should've. I think if she had submitted herself for supporting actress, as many people were telling her to do, she might've walked away with it. And, you know, it's great to see Michelle Yeoh in here. Twenty-three years after "Crouching Tiger," she becomes the first actor who identifies as Asian to get a best actress nom.

HARRIS: Yeah. I also think, like, the Ana de Armas of it all is not at all surprising, even though I completely blocked that movie from my memory for reasons that you can go back and listen to our episode about. But, you know, this was a Netflix movie. A lot of these performances get pushed very hard by Netflix. And also, you know, she - this is her playing a classic movie star. And the Oscars love a performance that honors or, you know, is supposed to honor a classic movie star, a performance like that. So not surprised here.

THOMPSON: Yeah, I think the big takeaway here is the surprise exclusion of Viola Davis and Danielle Deadwyler. Both of those are great performances that were really expected to be honored here. I think Ana de Armas slipping in was kind of coming to be expected in the run-up to the announcement of these nominations. But Andrea Riseborough is kind of, I think, for a lot of people, one of the biggest surprises overall in this entire field, in terms of nominations. And it is worth noting here this performance was very, very heavily hyped by her fellow actors in the run-up to these nominations. Cate Blanchett shouted out this performance in a victory speech. There has been a lot of tweeting and Instagram posts from famous actors talking up this performance in this film. I'm looking forward to tracking down the movie. I've heard it's a great performance. Full disclosure - I - this movie...


THOMPSON: ...Was not on my radar at all. And that's one of the fun things about this process, is we get to sit down and watch movies we might not otherwise have watched. And so as disappointed as I was about Deadwyler and Davis not getting nominated, I'm curious to check out "To Leslie." Let's move on to actor in a leading role. We've got Austin Butler for "Elvis," Colin Farrell for the "Banshees Of Inisherin," Brendan Fraser for "The Whale," Paul Mescal for "Aftersun" and Bill Nighy for "Living." Let's talk through this field - Tom Cruise, not nominated.

HARRIS: (Laughter) No, he was not. But I think, you know, of all of these, the one shoo-in was Austin Butler. Even though that movie is chaotic, he's kind of a stable force within it, and he's had the momentum over the past few months for that performance - so not surprised by that. Brendan Fraser - of course, like, this was also kind of a shoo-in. I haven't seen "Living" yet, so I'm curious to check it out. But I like Bill Nighy, and so I - like you said, Stephen, this is an opportunity for us to be able to check out things we might not have otherwise seen.

WELDON: Yeah, many of these acting categories offered some surprises. This one didn't.

THOMPSON: Yeah, I mean, I think Paul Mescal was kind of seen as on the bubble. I've heard nothing but great things about "Aftersun." It's another one that's kind of a movie I might not have seen were it not for the Oscars, and...

WELDON: Oh, Stephen, you're going to love it. It's such a you movie. You're going to love it.


THOMPSON: So what you're saying is, it's going to make me cry.


WELDON: Uh-huh. Yep. That's what I'm saying.

THOMPSON: I can't wait. All right. We'll move on. Actress in a supporting role - Angela Bassett for "Black Panther: Wakanda Forever," Hong Chau for "The Whale," Kerry Condon for "The Banshees Of Inisherin," Jamie Lee Curtis for "Everything Everywhere All At Once," and Stephanie Hsu for "Everything Everywhere All At Once" - kind of played out more or less as expected?

WELDON: More or less. But I just want to note here, me being me, that Angela Bassett is the first actor from an MCU film to get a nomination. Somewhere in Malibu right now, Glenn Close is staring morosely into her...


WELDON: ...Cafe Vienna General Foods International Coffee. But yes, it's true.

HARRIS: Yeah. Speaking of snubs and "Nope" not getting any nominations, which I think is just criminal, but I would have loved to see Keke Palmer have eked out a nomination...


HARRIS: ...Here. I think she does some really great work in that movie that we're going to look back on years from now and be like, this was one of the great performances of that year. And overall, I wasn't surprised at all to see Jamie Lee Curtis and Stephanie Hsu both get nominated for "Everything Everywhere All At Once." And I'm happy they're there.

WELDON: Yeah. And Kerry Condon has been talked about a lot. But I mean, you got to realize that, I mean, she gives what is largely an underwritten role in "The Banshees Of Inisherin." She kind of gives that character a roundedness that might not be in the script.

THOMPSON: I loved Carey Mulligan in "She Said" and was really hoping that might slip in. There are a couple other performances that were on the outside, looking in. I did not like "The Whale" at all.


THOMPSON: Really don't get this...

WELDON: Yeah. Same, same.

THOMPSON: ...Inclusion at all. But this is a positive podcast. Let's move on.


HARRIS: Oh, Stephen.

THOMPSON: Hong Chau has been great in other movies, just not this one.


THOMPSON: Actor in a supporting role - Brendan Gleeson for "The Banshees Of Inisherin," Brian Tyree Henry for "Causeway," Judd Hirsch for "The Fablemans," Barry Keoghan for "The Banshees Of Inisherin," Ki Huy Quan for "Everything Everywhere All At Once."

WELDON: OK. So no Paul Dano for "The Fablemans," which is the biggest surprise, maybe of this entire nomination, wrapped...


WELDON: ...No Eddie Redmayne for "The Good Nurse," no Brad Pitt for "Babylon." In their place, a very surprising and very happily surprising Brian Tyree Henry for "Causeway," which a lot of people didn't see coming, including me.

HARRIS: Yeah, I was looking at some of the predictions that the, quote-unquote, "experts" on the Gold Derby and everything were pointing out, and he actually popped up in a lot of them. So I kind of had a sense that this is going to happen, but I'm still kind of surprised - but also pleasantly happy because I did see this movie, and it's fine. It's a fine movie. There are some really great moments, and all of them come from Brian Tyree Henry, who is great. So I'm happy that is - his first nomination is for a really good role, even if it's not the most memorable movie of all time. Judd Hirsch for "The Fablemans" - saw it coming, but again, the fact that Paul Dano didn't eke in there is surprising, in a way.

THOMPSON: Stupefying to me - I mean, Paul Dano is, in many ways, the heart of that movie. You know, like, he's certainly a heart of that movie. And Judd Hirsch, to me, felt a little more like a glorified cameo. So I certainly would have swapped those. As much as I have loved Judd Hirsch's work over the years, I was very surprised to see Dana left out. Finally, we are going to run down best director - Martin McDonagh for "The Banshees Of Inisherin," Daniel Kwan and Daniel Scheinert for "Everything Everywhere All At Once," Steven Spielberg for "The Fablemans," Todd Field for "Tar," and Ruben Ostlund for "Triangle Of Sadness."

HARRIS: So no women...

THOMPSON: No women.

HARRIS: ...No Sarah Polley. No Jordan Peele, again, for "Nope" - we do get Daniel Kwan as half of Daniels for "Everything Everywhere All At Once," so we have one person of color in here. But yeah, overall, even with all of that, this group of people is not that surprising, especially when you start with the best picture race. I guess maybe James Cameron is the big snub here?

WELDON: I mean, "All Quiet On The Western Front" had a really good showing elsewhere in the nominations, not here. And I think that slot was probably taken up by "Triangle Of Sadness." But yeah, no Cameron for "Avatar," no Sarah Polley for "Women Talking." But it is possible, let's remember, for your film to win best picture even if your director isn't nominated. You'll be joining such company as "Argo," "Green Book," "Driving Miss Daisy," not August company. But if you love Sarah Polley and you love James Cameron, it could happen.


THOMPSON: All right. That is our rundown. Obviously, we could not get to everything. We're going to have a lot more Oscars coverage in the weeks leading up to the ceremony, including our annual Oscars predictions episode. We always love that one. We want to know what you think about this year's Oscar nominations. Find us at facebook.com/pchh. That brings us to the end of our show. Aisha and Glen, thanks so much to both of you for being here.

WELDON: Thank you.

HARRIS: Thank you.

THOMPSON: We want to take a moment to thank our POP CULTURE HAPPY HOUR+ subscribers. We appreciate you so much for showing your support of NPR. If you haven't signed up yet, want to show your support and listen to this show without any sponsor breaks, head over to plus.npr.org/happyhour or visit the link in our show notes. This episode was produced by Mike Katzif and edited by Jessica Reedy. Hello Come In provides our theme music. Thank you for listening to POP CULTURE HAPPY HOUR from NPR. I'm Stephen Thompson, and we will see you all later this week.


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