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Grownups triumphed at the Oscars Sunday night — all four acting Oscars were won by people over 50, all of them in dramatic career comebacks.
The 2023 Oscars also owed a big debt to the 50-plus audience, which propelled the success of the smart, arty movies Oscar voters (who skew toward the AARP demographic) love. Pre-COVID, grownups constituted 75 percent of art-house movie visits. This year, blockbusters like Elvis and Top Gun: Maverick — whose success saved the film industry, as Steven Spielberg told Tom Cruise — were driven by viewers over 50.
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Here are some of the highlights of the show:
Jimmy Kimmel, 55, beats the Oscar-host curse
Oscar hosts have flopped so often in recent years that everyone was relieved by Kimmel, whose gags mostly came off with charm and wit. He deftly dealt with the audience’s still-painful memory of Will Smith slapping Chris Rock at last year’s ceremony: “We want you to have fun, feel safe and, most importantly, we want me to feel safe. So, we have strict policies in place. If anyone in this theater commits an act of violence at any point during the show, you will be awarded the Oscar for best actor and permitted to give a 19-minute-long speech.”
Then he razzed anyone who might resort to fisticuffs over a joke, mock-threatening to sic celebs on them: Michael B. Jordan as Adonis Creed, Everything Everywhere All at Once martial artist Michelle Yeoh, The Mandalorian’s Pedro Pascal, Andrew Garfield’s Spider-Man and Steven Spielberg’s "Fabelman."
He made The Fabelmans composer John Williams smile by joking that he’s “91 years old last month and he’s still scoring, if you know what I mean. Only Walt Disney has been nominated for more Oscars than John Williams. He’s been nominated 53 times. He’s only won five, which is honestly not that great.” He also ribbed Tom Cruise and James Cameron for not attending the Oscars ceremony honoring their films: “The two guys who insisted we go to the theater didn’t come the theater!” Later, ribbing Avatar: The Way of Water’s 3-hour, 12-minute running time and the Oscars’ reputation for being even longer, he said, “You know a show is too long when even James Cameron can’t sit through it.”
Michelle Yeoh, 60, becomes first Asian to win best actress
Yeoh, who proved that at 60 she still has the martial-arts moves that made her famous at 37 in Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon — plus a gift for comedy we never suspected before — has been winning everywhere this season, from the AARP Movies for Grownups Awards to the Oscars. It’s her first lead role, and she’s the first Asian to win best actress, and the first woman of color since Halle Berry 21 years ago.