Box office hits ‘Everything Everywhere,’ ‘Elvis’ and ‘Avatar’ land Oscar nominations

FILE PHOTO: Michelle Yeoh poses with her award for Best Actress in a Musical or Comedy Motion Picture for "Everything Everywhere All at Once" at the 80th Annual Golden Globe Awards in Beverly Hills, California, U.S., January 10, 2023. REUTERS/Mario Anzuoni

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) -Dimension-hopping adventure “Everything Everywhere All at Once” topped the list of movies nominated on Tuesday for this year’s Oscars as Hollywood’s film academy chose several crowd-pleasing hits to compete for the best picture prize.

“Everything Everywhere,” a science-fiction flick about an exasperated Chinese immigrant struggling to finish her taxes, landed 11 nominations, including best picture and four acting nods.

Other films in the hunt for the top trophy at the Academy Awards included sequel “Avatar: The Way of Water,” James Cameron’s visual spectacle that currently ranks as the sixth-highest grossing movie of all time.

“Top Gun: Maverick” and “Elvis,” two of last summer’s biggest blockbusters, also made the cut alongside Steven Spielberg’s autobiographical coming-of-age drama “The Fabelmans” and dark comedy “The Banshees of Inisherin.”

“Tar,” “Triangle of Sadness,” “Women Talking” and a German remake of “All Quiet on the Western Front” rounded out the 10-picture list.

Winners of the industry’s highest honors will be unveiled at a March 12 ceremony hosted by comedian Jimmy Kimmel and aired live on Walt Disney Co’s ABC network.

The Oscars and other awards shows have been struggling to attract TV viewers, particularly younger ones who spend time on TikTok and YouTube.

Last year’s Academy Awards ceremony, when Will Smith slapped presenter Chris Rock before winning best actor, drew about 15.4 million TV viewers, the second-smallest audience ever.

Having widely seen films, rather than just lesser-known art house movies, may help boost Oscar ratings this year, said Scott Feinberg, awards editor at The Hollywood Reporter. The most-watched Oscars took place 25 years ago as megahit “Titanic” swept the honors.

“When the movies are popular with the public, the public feels invested and tunes in to see who wins,” Feinberg said. “This is setting them up for success as much as anything could.”

Sixteen of the 20 people who clinched acting nods were first-time nominees.

They included Austin Butler for his portrayal of rock legend Elvis Presley, and Colin Farrell, who starred as an Irish farmer obsessed with restoring a friendship in “Banshees.” “Top Gun” star Tom Cruise did not make it into the field.

Butler recalled the positive reaction to his performance from Elvis’s daughter Lisa Marie Presley, who died this month of cardiac arrest at age 54.

“I just wish she was here to celebrate today with us,” Butler told the Hollywood Reporter.

For best actress, Cate Blanchett, nominated for her portrayal of a manipulative orchestra conductor in “Tar,” will compete with “Everything Everywhere” star Michelle Yeoh and Michelle Williams of “The Fabelmans,” among others.

Winners will be voted on by the roughly 10,000 actors, producers, directors and film craftspeople who make up the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.

The academy added more women and people of color to its ranks after the #OscarsSoWhite uproars of 2015 and 2016, and it increased membership from outside the United States.

This year, seven of the 20 acting nominees were people of color. They included “Everything Everywhere” stars Yeoh, Stephanie Hsu and Ke Huy Quan, a child star in 1984’s “Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom” and now a front-runner for best supporting actor.

“Never in my wildest dreams could I imagine this moment,” Quan said in a statement.

Angela Bassett was nominated for best supporting actress for playing Queen Ramonda in “Black Panther: Wakanda Forever,” and Cuban-Spanish actress Ana de Armas received a nomination for her turn as Marilyn Monroe in “Blonde.”

Smith, who starred in slavery drama “Emancipation,” was not nominated. He was been banned from attending the Oscars for 10 years after slapping Rock, but he remains eligible for nominations and awards.

Traditional studios dominated this year’s nominations after recent inroads from streaming services. Apple TV+ nabbed best picture last year for heartwarming drama “CODA.”

This time, Disney received the most nominations, a total of 22, for movies including “Avatar,” “Banshees” and animated “Turning Red.” “Banshees” earned four acting nominations among nine overall nods.

“Massive thanks to the Academy. I think we’re going to have a fun night!” “Banshees” director Martin McDonagh, also a nominee, said in a statement.

Streaming service Netflix Inc released “All Quiet on the Western Front,” which tied “Banshees” with nine nominations.

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