Behold, the 2023 Awards Season Awards!

Jimmy Kimmel will host his third Oscars this Sunday.
Jimmy Kimmel will host his third Oscars this Sunday. Photo: Rodin Eckenroth/Getty Images
Matthew Belloni
March 10, 2023

If it seems like the Oscar race has lasted a year, it kinda has. We’ve been talking about this year’s show pretty much since The Slap and its chaotic aftermath last March, making this season truly feel like a year-long slog. Last year I revived a tradition that I had at Hollywood Reporter of bestowing “awards season awards” honoring the highs and (mostly) lows of the death march to the Oscars. 

I got good feedback, so here again is my wrap-up of the whole ridiculous spectacle, acknowledging the cynical marketing campaigns, the awkward moments, the campy on-stage raps, and the doting awards media scrum that covers it all like this stuff actually matters. So enjoy these 23 categories, and feel free to tell me which ones should be booted to a pre-show next year.

The Lady MacBeth Award for Overzealous Spouse in a Supporting Role
Mary McCormack, wife of To Leslie filmmaker Michael Morris, who is said to have masterminded the Andrea Riseborough best actress campaign by harassing—sorry, contacting repeatedly—the high-profile stars that plugged Riseborough on social media and helped get her that nom.   

Best Forced Pivot
Netflix, which entered the season with guns blazing for Noah Baumbach’s White Noise and Alejandro G. Iñárritu’s Bardo, only to find that critics and voters rejected those films and instead liked a German adaptation of All Quiet on the Western Front from Edward Berger, a filmmaker that was barely on the awards team’s radar.

Worst Punt (aka the Missing Spine Award)
The Academy, which declined to punish anyone involved in the Riseborough campaign, or the others that pretty clearly broke rules, instead promising to “revisit” regulations after this season.  

Worst Campaign Move for a Film Not Really in Contention
Joey McFarland, the Emancipation producer, for proudly showing off the graphic 1863 slave photo known as “The Scourged Back”—part of his collection (!) of photos of enslaved people—on the red carpet of the premiere. He later apologized.

Fun fact: I’m told McFarland had already held up production until he was included as one of the three main producers, which ended up pushing director Antoine Fuqua to E.P. He was reportedly asked to leave the set due to bad behavior.

Worst Campaign Move for a Film Definitely in Contention
Michelle Yeoh, who, on the final day of voting, posted a photo on Instagram of a Vogue article that suggested Cate Blanchett doesn’t need a third Oscar, a big Academy no-no. She deleted it when called out.

Missing Persons Award
Mark Gustafson, the other director of Guillermo Del Toro’s Pinocchio, who was minimized to the point of banishment as G.D.T. traveled the world on Netflix’s all-stops-pulled campaign.  

Savviest Title
Calling the movie Guillermo Del Toro’s Pinocchio, Netflix ensured that a beloved Oscar winner’s name would be on the animated feature ballot (also distinguishing it from the Robert Zemeckis bust). 

Dreariest Assessment of Awards Season By a Publicist With a Client Actively Campaigning
Amanda Lundberg, rep for Tom Cruise, who shared these gems with the New York Times:

“Winning awards has become the guiding principle of our industry, and it’s what’s destroying it.”

“It’s like we’re award fetchers. Like you can just order that with me as if I’m 1-800-Oscar.”

“People are desperate to win awards. And we’ve guided it here because we’ve rewarded it with money and prestige. So what happens when people want something that’s limited? Do the math. It causes all sorts of behavior, and people lose where the line is.”

“This is not the Nobel Peace Prize.”

Heaviest Reaction to an Oscar Snub
“We live in a world and work in industries that are so aggressively committed to upholding whiteness and perpetuating an unabashed misogyny towards Black women.” –Till director Chinonye Chukwu 

Huge in France Award
Babylon ended up grossing almost as much in French theaters ($13 million) as it did in the U.S. ($15 million).

Cringiest Performance in a Leading Role
Ariana DeBose, channeling 1992 Billy Crystal in rap form by name-checking the best actresses in an instantly-memed BAFTAs routine. DeBose deactivated her Twitter account soon after.

Best Evisceration of a Trade in a Monologue Covered By That Same Trade
Hasan Minhaj, Spirit Awards host: “I can’t wait to hear about all these jokes on There’s nothing I love more than dogshit clickbait journalism… They literally ran a story about how Steven Spielberg doesn’t have an idea right now. You think I’m kidding? Breaking news out of Berlin!”  

Most Batshit Conspiracy Theory About Austin Butler’s Voice
An email I actually received about the Elvis star: “Lay off Austin, he burned his vocal chords during production and his voice is actually stuck that way.”    

Most Frustrated Voice of God
The BAFTAs announcer, who repeatedly admonished a group of post-show lurkers, including Netflix co-C.E.O. Ted Sarandos, to exit the stage area for the winners photo. “If you do not have a BAFTA in your hand, please get off the stage,” one attendee reports him saying. (Sarandos ended up in the photo.)   

Biggest Flex
Beyonce, showing up an hour late to the Grammys in which she broke the record for most-awarded artist. Heroic.

Most Effective Top Gun: Maverick Whisper Campaign
It’s a tie!

–   “You know, Jerry Bruckheimer is a hard-core Trump supporter.”

–   “You know, the movie was backed by the Russians.”

–   “You know, Scientology is fundraising off this movie.”

Worst Way to Get Covid
The Critics Choice Awards

Best Low-Key Shady Move
A24, which posted a cherry-picked quote from a trade roundtable about Everything Everywhere star Michelle Yeoh meant to look like an endorsement from her rival Cate Blanchett: “There’s something about her presence. She just has this aura.”  

Thanks for Playing Award (a.k.a. Best Self-Delusion by a Pedigreed Filmmaker)
Alejandro G. Inaritu, for continuing to campaign well into December and January despite his Bardo being rejected by critics.

Runner up: David O. Russell, for a late November campaign press piece in The Envelope, two months after Amsterdam was panned and flopped.     

Least Subliminal Messaging in a Phase 2 Campaign Slogan
Top Gun: Maverick
The slogan: Believe in Movies Again
What the studio means: You like your job, right? Vote for putting butts in seats.

Runner up:
Everything Everywhere All at Once
The slogan: Everything Has Led to This.
What the studio means: Michelle Yeoh is due, for Christ’s sake.

Second runner up:
Women Talking
The tagline: Imagine Another Future.
What the studio means: Yeah, we noticed the all-male directing nominees too.

Third runner up:
Banshees of Inisherin
The tagline: Let’s Just Be Honest
What the studio means: …Actually, I’m not really sure

Diciest Move by a Well-Meaning Cast That Probably Should Have Known How It Would Look
Team Everything Everywhere, which went ahead with a dinner in Monterey Park days after the mass shooting (and on the eve of Oscar noms), then made themselves available for an L.A. Times interview to talk about it.  

Most Tantalizing Longshot Possibility
If Searchlight’s Banshees is shut out, Everything Everywhere manages to top Avatar for Visual Effects, and Angela Bassett and her costumes come up short for Wakanda Forever, there’s a very slim chance that Disney’s only Oscar win could be for the animated short called My Year of Dicks.

Who Won the Season
The PCR test. (A two-time winner!)