- Jamie Lee Curtis won the Oscar for best supporting actress for “Everything Everywhere All at Once.”
- But the Oscar should gave gone to another deserving nominee: Angela Bassett.
- Curtis is a talented actor, but her role in “Everything Everywhere All at Once” wasn’t Oscar-worthy.
When Jamie Lee Curtis’ name was announced for best supporting actress at the Oscars for her performance in “Everything Everywhere All at Once,” instead of looking to Curtis, who was beaming with shock and happiness on my television screen, I sought out Bassett’s face. The actor, who was up for the same award, looked physically pained, and unlike the other nominees who were either genuinely happy for Curtis — or at least faked it — she didn’t bother clapping.
For a ceremony shrouded in glamour, smiles, and rapturous applause, it was perhaps the most honest moment of the three-and-a-half hour telecast: a frontrunner nominee who was massively disappointed they had lost and wasn’t afraid to show it.
There were more deserving nominees in the best supporting actress category, to be sure. Stephanie Hsu, who also starred in “Everything Everywhere All at Once” had more screen time and explored a wider emotional spectrum in her dual roles as Joy Wang and Jobu Tupaki; Hong Chau’s pain and distress in “The Whale” was almost palpable as her character Liz watched helplessly as Brendan Fraser’s character died from congestive heart failure.
But it was Bassett, for her powerful performance as Queen Ramonda in “Black Panther: Wakanda Forever,” who seemed destined to win. She had already made history by earning Marvel its first-ever acting nomination, and she had also won the Golden Globe for best supporting actress. She’d surely make history again for also winning an Oscar, right?
Curtis, who has been acting for 46 years, is a talented actor in her own right: one of the greatest scream queens of all time who can make people chuckle and howl in films like “True Lies” and “Freaky Friday” or jump in their seats during the “Halloween” films. Her role as disgruntled IRS tax collector Deirdre Beaubeirdre provided moments of comic relief in “Everything Everywhere All at Once,” but it wasn’t Oscar-worthy — not because Curtis is a lesser actor than Bassett, but largely because the role was inferior.
Bassett’s reaction has gone viral, eliciting sympathy from viewers who thought the actor was snubbed for being a Black woman — the Oscars are not exactly known for their diversity — and understood her reaction of disappointment.
“I’m glad she didn’t fake a reaction to entertain idiots telling us how a Black woman should handle Hollywood once again throwing awards at White women,” one Twitter user wrote.
—Spencer Althouse (@SpencerAlthouse) March 13, 2023
You could make the argument that Curtis’ Oscar isn’t just for “Everything Everywhere All at Once” but also recognition of her substantial body of work. The Academy, from time to time, likes to unofficially recognize career achievement, with some competitive wins seemingly the result of the question, “How has this person not won yet?” This logic arguably applies to previous winners like Leonardo DiCaprio, who won the Oscar for best actor in “The Revenant” (2016), Julianne Moore, who earned an Oscar for best actress in “Still Alice” (2015), and Christopher Plummer, who won for best supporting actor for “Beginners” (2012).
But applying this rule to this year’s best supporting actress just doesn’t hold up. During her acting career, Bassett has portrayed a wide range of characters, from Katherine Jackson in the TV miniseries “The Jacksons: An American Dream” and Bernadine in “Waiting to Exhale” to Stella in “How Stella Got Her Groove Back.” She was nominated for an Oscar in 1994 for best actress for her knockout performance as music icon Tina Turner in the biopic “What’s Love Got to Do With It” but lost that year to Holly Hunter. (Some at the time thought the Academy had snubbed the actor.)
Surely, if anyone in the best supporting actress category this year should have been rewarded this year for career achievement, then it should have been Bassett.
“Of course, in the moment you’re hoping and praying and wishing [you’ll win],” Bassett told CBS Mornings last week of her Oscar loss in 1994. “But I never… I don’t walk away thinking ‘I’ve been robbed.'”
Sadly, this year, Angela, you were — and this time, we both know it.