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Columns Eleanor Ringel Cater

2023 Academy Awards seeks to overshadow last year’s slap

Will Smith slaps Chris Rock at the 2022 Academy Awards show (Special: Twitter)

By Eleanor Ringel Cater

Let’s talk Slap.

Or maybe let’s not.

We’ve had a year to consider what could possibly happen at this year’s Oscars that could compare with last year’s OMG Moment when Will Smith, apparently defending the (questionable) honor of his wife, Jada Pinkett Smith, smacked Chris Rock across the face.

Uproar ensued. What should Rock have done?  What should the Academy have done?  What should be done to Smith?  Well, he’s been banned from Academy Award events for 10 years.

As for Rock, he tackled the confrontation last weekend in his new comedy show on Netflix.  “Did it hurt?” he asked rhetorically. “It still hurts. I got ‘Summertime’ ringing in my ears.”

What could we possibly see this year?  A knee in the groin? A kick to the shin? A Mike Tyson ear bite?

Maybe host Jimmy Kimmel will settle for a montage of Famous Film Slaps. You know, Cher lets Nicolas Cage have it, then yells, “Snap out of it!” (“Moonstruck”) Or Sidney Poitier gives it to this overly privileged Old South Bigot (“In the Heat of the Night”) who slaps him first.

And, of course, the Sultans of slap: the Three Stooges.

Eleanor’s prediction  for Best Picture – Musical or Comedy – “Everything Everywhere All at Once”

Well, at least the Oscars proved they can still be unpredictable – something those of us paid to make predictions about eventual winners have known for years. In January, I made some vague guesses about the Best Picture winner and concluded it would be the Jews (“The Fabelmans”) vs. the Irish (“The Banshees of Inisherin”).

Now I think both are also-rans.  “Everything Everywhere All at Once” is the likeliest Best Picture (fine with me). Possible spoilers: “Top Gun: Maverick,” or “All Quiet on the Western Front.”

For Best Director, I figured it would be a Spielberg Love Fest. He’s old. He’s loved. He’s Spielberg. He’s old…

2023 ABest Actress looked like a lock for Cate Blanchett (“Tar”), giving her a third Academy Award and putting her in the rarified company of Daniel Day-Lewis, Meryl Streep, Jack Nicholson, Ingrid Bergman, Walter Brennan and Frances McDormand. But there could be an upset. Michelle Yeoh (“EEAAO”) is closing fast.  My money – and hopes – are on her.

A scene from “Everything Everywhere All at Once” starring Michelle Yeoh, Eleanor’s pick for Best Actress

I was certain Colin Farrell (“Banshees”) would take home Best Actor. But his chances have melted quicker than the Wicked Witch of the West. The new front-runners are Brendan Fraser (“The Whale”) and Austin Butler (“Elvis”). And Fraser, having been anointed by SAG, may have the edge.

Best Supporting Actor looks like the only sure thing next Sunday – Ke Huy Quan (“EEAAO”). He played the little kid, Short Round, in Spielberg’s “Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom,” and he has been getting all the love everywhere all at once. Plus, his win would be a way to say we all still love Spielberg, old or not.

Which brings us to the, well, most up-in-the-air race: Best Supporting Actress. Angela Bassett (“Black Panther: Wakanda Forever”) is so deserving. In a sense, she came along 10 years too early, and Viola Davis, another fine performer, has benefited from the trail Bassett blazed. I’d really like to see her win. But…. I’d also like to see Jamie Lee Curtis (“EEAAO”) win because she’s been at it even longer than Bassett, and she’s spoken up for women and people of color all along the way.

Maybe there’ll be a tie. After all, it’s happened before. Katharine Hepburn and Barbra Streisand split Best Actress honors way back in 1968.

Of course, Kate stayed home…

Eleanor Ringel

Eleanor Ringel, Movie Critic, was the film critic for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution for almost 30 years. She was nominated multiple times for a Pulitzer Prize. She won the Best of Cox Critic, IMAGE Film & Video and Women In Film awards. An Atlanta native, she graduated from Westminster and Brown University. She was the critic on WXIA’s Noonday, a member of Entertainment Weekly's Critics Grid and wrote TV Guide’s movie/DVD. She is member of the National Society of Film Critics and currently talks about movies on WMLB and writes the Time Out column for the Atlanta Business Chronicle.


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