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Close-Up with Camenker Volume L: Post-Oscars, New Hampshire Jewish Film Festival, and Farewell

March 20, 2023

What a night it was at the 95th Academy Awards! After the notorious “slap” last year and the challenges of the pandemic, March 12 was a return to normal in Hollywood and the ceremony itself was full of good vibes.

2023 Oscar Pary WeekendIf you paid attention to my predictions, you’ll note that I was 18 for 23, which is about as strong as I’ve ever performed. The closest to that was when I went 19 for 24 in both 2012 and 2013 (the extra category was due to what is now “Best Sound” being divided into Sound Editing and Mixing). For the ninth time in my 15 years of guessing Best Picture, I was correct. And what a night it proved to be for EVERYTHING EVERYWHERE ALL AT ONCE (EEAAO)!

Jimmy Kimmel’s opening monologue, though too long, was filled with many laughs, highlights of the year in cinema, and the perfect amount of jokes targeted at James Cameron. A great way to kick off the evening! Despite the length of the ceremony and the middle feeling a bit less exciting than the first hour and final hour, I honestly cannot think of any speeches that were insufferable. Typically, there are one or two, but weakness was hard to find from any of the victors. If anything, a few were delivered with less enthusiasm. But many were filled with excitement, hope, and deep thanks to family and friends, including the technical award victors.

While Hugh Grant evidently did not want to be there, many of the other nominees and presenters seemed thrilled to watch Hollywood back in action. James Hong’s bowtie, Angela Bassett’s stunning dress, Michelle Yeoh’s regal look, and Samuel L. Jackson’s killer suit were among some of the fashion highlights for me.

Above all else, it was a night of glass ceilings being shattered. EEAAO became only the third movie to win three acting trophies behind giants like A STREETCAR NAMED DESIRE and NETWORK. It surpassed both of those films in number of Oscars and won Best Picture, which neither of them did. The seven trophies that EEAAO earned were among the highest amount for any Best Picture winner in recent memory. Daniel Kwan and Daniel Scheinert are only the third duo to win directing Oscars behind Robert Wise and Jeremy Robbins for WEST SIDE STORY and the Coen Brothers for NO COUNTRY FOR OLD MEN. Wow.

Of even greater magnitude was the significance of Ke Huy Quan and Michelle Yeoh’s wins. Only four Asian performers have won Oscars prior to 2023: Miyoshi Umeki for the 1957 film SAYONARA, Ben Kingsley (whose father was Indian) for the 1982 film GANDHI, Haing S. Ngor for the 1984 film THE KILLING FIELDS, and Yuh-jung Youn for the 2020 film MINARI. Quan and Yeoh are now the fifth and sixth in the crowd that will only continue to grow as opportunities for Asian actors do too. It’s a far cry from the days of Anna May Wong losing out on opportunities and white actors playing Asian roles.

Michelle Yeoh’s win was especially significant because it is only the second time that a woman of color won Best Actress. Halle Berry’s win was over 20 years ago and the fact that she was there with Jessica Chastain to present it to Yeoh was the icing on the cake.

Quan’s speech was one of the best of all time and showed the truly marvelous comeback that he has made. His gratitude, enthusiasm, and message of remaining patient and following one’s dreams are good reminders for all of us. Harrison Ford presenting Best Picture to EEAAO, Steven Spielberg being nominated for Best Director, and former co-star Brendan Fraser making his comeback win too added a whole other layer to Quan’s thrilling achievement.

Overall, the four acting winners all gave outstanding speeches, not always the case. Yeoh and Jamie Lee Curtis represented victories that were long overdue while Fraser and Quan were the comeback kids of the season. Bravo to all!

If you’re looking for some film fun in the “post-Oscar slump” ahead, then please join me at the 15th Annual New Hampshire Jewish Film Festival, which has already begun! Our in-person events continue at Red River, who have been our partners since we began. We will be showing three outstanding films to round out the Festival.

Thursday night, the French drama THE MAN IN THE BASEMENT will screen at 7 PM. A timely piece about standing up to hate and intolerance, it is my favorite of the 16 films that we are showing this season.

On Sunday, the Israeli drama AMERICA will screen at 1 PM. This was another of my favorites in our line-up and showcases an entirely different set of themes in a highly engaging story. At 3:30 PM, we will close our Festival with a screening of DEDICATION, a powerful documentary told by Roger Peltzman, who will join us in person for a discussion after.

All three films represent diverse topics, genres, and themes and are a reminder of the power of our highly unique and engaging Festival. Feel free to also check out our virtual offerings, which continue until April 16, by visiting

On a personal note, this is my 50th edition of “Close-Up with Camenker.” With mixed emotions, I am announcing it will also be my last. I am bidding my readers a “fond farewell” after more than two years of writing for my favorite cinema. Between my day job, volunteer efforts, and life in general, it is time to move on. I will continue to devote a lot of time to the Jewish Film Festival and also supporting Red River in many other ways. 

What began as a biweekly column to help with the virtual library at Red River during the pandemic morphed into a frequent review of great movies and awards season predictions for all to enjoy. I appreciate the team’s support of my endeavor and will miss writing pieces for you all! 

I am not going away from the world of film! If anything, this has been a great vehicle to continue sharing my love of movies. This summer, I hope to launch a Facebook Live series that may eventually become a podcast of sorts. 

Stay tuned and as always, thanks for your support.


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