Oscars 2023: First reactions to the nominations

January 25, 2023

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Greetings from Los Angeles! I would like to have a word with whoever decided we needed to have the Oscar nominations and the Sundance Film Festival at the same time.

By the way, the market at Sundance is heating up big time, despite all the anxieties about indie box office and streaming profits.

John Carney’s latest musical charmer “Flora and Son” just sold to Apple for somewhere in the ballpark of $20 million (more or less, depending on whom you ask).

That follows big checks written by Netflix ($20 million for “Fair Play”) and Searchlight Pictures ($8 million for “Theater Camp”).

Anyway, the nominations for the 95th Oscars are here, and there’s a lot to talk about.

The headline is that A24’s “Everything Everywhere All at Once” came in strong (11 noms), followed by Searchlight’s “The Banshees of Inisherin” and Netflix’s “All Quiet on the Western Front” (nine for each.) Here are some initial thoughts.

  • Big $$$: Can we finally stop saying that no one watches the Oscar-nominated movies? Best picture nominees “Avatar: The Way of Water” and “Top Gun: Maverick” are certified blockbusters, grossing $2 billion and $1.5 billion, respectively. “Everything Everywhere All at Once” and “Elvis” were popular as well. People may quibble and say, “What about ‘Tár’ and ‘Women Talking?’” But that’s splitting hairs. If the ratings aren’t up this year, don’t blame the movies.
  • Andrea Riseborough! Okay, the campaign to get her a lead actress nomination for the obscure “To Leslie” may not have been totally organic, but it’s hard to argue that it didn’t work. There’s already an online backlash forming, so this is going to be a fun few weeks.
  • A24 surges. The New York hipster studio scored 18 nominations for six different pictures, a record for the company. Its previous best was 10 in 2017. Not only did it have “Everything Everywhere,” but also an animated film (“Marcel the Shell With Shoes On”) and an international offering (“Close”).
  • Streaming slides. The big three streaming companies — Netflix, Apple and Amazon — nabbed a total of 19 nominations for their films (Netflix got 16), a notable stat coming after a year when Netflix had 27 nods on its own and Apple won best picture (“CODA”). The streamers didn’t exactly sit out the campaign, with Netflix backing “Glass Onion,” “Bardo” and “White Noise,” none of which really took off. Apple’s “Emancipation” sputtered after the whole Will Smith “slap” debacle and a lukewarm critical reception. But a late surge from “All Quiet” got Netflix in the mix, avoiding a shutout in the top category.
  • Sure, but what will win best pic? Honestly, I’m done predicting stuff (for now). “Everything Everywhere All at Once” seems to be the front-runner, though “Banshees” is going to have considerable support from the actors branch. Also, “Top Gun: Maverick” got a surprise nomination for adapted screenplay. I don’t want to read too much into that fact (“All Quiet” was also recognized in the category), even though one certainly could do so.
  • Female directors snubbed. Ugh. No surprise here, but still.

Baldwin charged in ‘Rust’ shooting

New Mexico prosecutors on Thursday announced felony criminal charges against Alec Baldwin and the armorer of the low-budget western “Rust” following the fatal shooting of the film’s cinematographer, Halyna Hutchins, more than a year after the accident involving a firearm that was being used as a prop.

Baldwin is charged with two counts of involuntary manslaughter in Hutchins’ death. Weapons handler Hannah Gutierrez Reed, who loaded the gun, also faces manslaughter charges, which are punishable by up to 18 months in jail and a $5,000 fine. Assistant director David Halls reached a plea agreement on a misdemeanor charge in connection with the fatal shooting, which also wounded director Joel Souza.

Baldwin’s attorney, Luke Nikas of Quinn Emanuel, said the decision “distorts Halyna Hutchins’ tragic death and represents a terrible miscarriage of justice.”

The case against Baldwin won’t be easy to prosecute, given his celebrity status, and some Hollywood actors are questioning the decision to charge him, calling it an act of scapegoating. There’s also the usual pile-on from people who already hate him.

More coverage:

Stuff we wrote

Illustration of a bear wearing a Ticketmaster sash and mauling fans. a crowd of fans fight for concert tickets.

(Andrew Rae / For The Times)

Netflix did succession planning. Co-founder Reed Hastings is leaving his co-CEO role and will stay on as executive chairman. Greg Peters, chief operating officer, has been promoted to co-CEO and will share that title with Ted Sarandos. Bela Bajaria is upped to chief content officer and Scott Stuber gets a title bump to film chair.

Chief Content Officer (and podcast strategy architect) Dawn Ostroff is out. Spotify says it is cutting staff (by 6%), as it focuses on improving efficiency in a challenging economic environment, according to CEO Daniel Ek.

Everyone hates Ticketmaster. Is everyone wrong? Fans, politicians and even artists were complaining about Ticketmaster long before Taylor Swift filled stadiums. But experts say the anger may be misplaced.

Have celebs learned their lesson from the FTX debacle? The spectacular collapse of crypto trading platform FTX has implicated not just tech evangelists but celebrities too. A class-action lawsuit now seeks to hold some A-listers accountable.

Disney blasts activist shareholder campaign. Marvel chair played a role in board fight. Disney came out swinging against hedge-funder Nelson Peltz, who is waging a proxy fight to join the company’s board. Marvel’s Isaac “Ike” Perlmutter lobbied Disney leaders to consider his entreaties.

ICYMI. L.A. film shoots dive 20% in final quarter of 2022. CW Network will air Saudi-funded LIV Golf events because, sure, why not? Cecilia Vega leaves ABC News to join CBS and ‘60 Minutes.’ Time’s Up to halt operations and shift resources to legal fund. Regal to close six theaters in Southern California. LAPD chief apologizes to family of former TV exec who accused ex-CBS boss of assault.

Number of the week

one percent

Some good news for Peacock in Nielsen’s monthly gauge of TV and streaming viewership.

The NBCUniversal-owned streaming service hit 1% of total viewing on U.S. television screens during the month of December, thanks to programming such as “The Best Man: The Final Chapters,” a followup to the popular Black ensemble film series.

Look, no one’s saying that scoring 1% of all viewing on American TV sets means Peacock is a soaring success yet, but it does mark a milestone of sorts. Nielsen doesn’t break out viewing for outlets until they hit the 1% threshold.

For comparison’s sake, Netflix accounted for 7.5% of total TV consumption, while Hulu and HBO Max accounted for 3.4% and 1.4%, respectively.

Runner-up: $2 billion

Only six movies have ever made this much money at the box office. James Cameron has directed half of them.

Best of the web

— Yale corporate governance expert Jeffrey Sonnenfeld has an unsparing take on the track record of Nelson Peltz, now Iger’s foe. (Fortune)
How PR chief Geoff Morrell ended up making $119,505 a day during his brief time at Disney. (Wall Street Journal)
— On the bizarre A-lister campaign to get Andrea Riseborough an Oscar for a movie no one’s seen. (The Guardian)
— A column argues that the producers of “Rust” have “escaped accountability.” (Hollywood Reporter)

Film shoots

Shoot days in Los Angeles recovered from the holiday doldrums last week, but didn’t match the same period of time last year.

film tracker weekly
film tracker yoy

Finally ...

We’ve launched an L.A. Times special project in the lead-up to the 40th edition of the Sundance Film Festival in 2024, following the lives and careers of seven independent filmmakers from this year’s festival class. Meet our filmmakers at the link below.

The Independents: We’re following a year in the life of 7 Sundance filmmakers

Bonus track: “SNL” did “The Black Lotus.”

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