Home Page Why Jamie Lee Curtis Totally Deserved Her Oscar Win
The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.
She’s a genre queen, a horror movie veteran and one of the most influential people in Hollywood. Everything Everywhere All at Once won everything, everywhere, and all the awards at the 2023 Oscars, sparking much celebration among fans of the multiverse drama.
It was a night of insanity, with the cast of the absurd sci–fi drama scooping up a record number of awards. The first self–identified Asian–American Woman to win Best Actress, Michelle Yeoh was undeniably the hero of the night. Reportedly, it’s been two decades since we’ve had a non–white best actress winner, the last time being when Halle Berry won in ’03.
However, some criticized Lee Curtis’ win for Best Supporting Actress as perhaps the least worthy of praise among her castmates. Insider Magazine even claimed the victory was undeserved just hours after the actress picked up the award for her comedic portrayal of IRS worker, Deidre Beaubeidre, in Everything Everywhere All at Once.
Of course, in true Hollywood style, everyone’s surprise at the revelation of the winner, was captured on camera, notably panning to Angela Bassett, one of the award’s forerunners, looking visibly disappointed with seemingly held–back tears and pursed lips upon hearing Curtis’ name declared.
Bassett’s role in Black Panther: Wakanda Forever was a moving and weighty portrayal of Queen Ramonda after the passing of fellow colleague Chadwick Boseman, who played her on–screen son. With Hollywood typically displaying the pattern of one step forward, three steps back, Bassett’s hurt reaction is arguably wholly justified.
Also in the running for Best Supporting Actress was Hong Chau (my personal favourite nominee) for her performance as the no–nonsense yet deeply affectionate best friend, Liz in The Whale. Though the film had its issues, its actors’ performances was not one of them, with Brendan Fraser taking home the oscar for Best Actor – the icing on the cake for Fraser’s stunning return to the big screen.
However, that is not to say we should not also be happy for Jamie Lee Curtis. Her portrayal of Laurie Strode in the Halloween franchise has spanned decades as stands in resistance to the industry trend of overlooking aging women, as she resurrected the role in 2018, at age 60.
The refusal to acknowledge or represent women over 40 in Hollywood is a known industry problem, as aging women have long received fewer opportunities for roles or merely been assigned “type” roles including, elderly mothers, miserly grandmothers and the like. As Curtis’ co–star Michelle Yeoh asserted in her acceptance speech, no one should ever let anyone ever tell them they are “past their prime,” which extends to Curtis and all female actresses over 40.
In a revealing study held by the Centre for Women in Film and Television, a slight uptick in women’s older or more mature roles in Hollywood was found in recent years. However, this number is still nowhere near as high as it is for their male counterparts, highlighting the perpetual inequalities women face as they age. It was found that only 6% of films featured a female character aged 60 or older… highlighting the ever–present need for better and more diverse female representation and acknowledgement that older women are valuable and worthy of being seen as much as their 20–something peers.
Curtis, portraying an IRS worker in the multiverse extravaganza Everything Everywhere All at Once , was adamant that she wanted to look as natural as possible. She wore an unflattering costume – saying she wanted to buck the industry trend of turning to fillers, cosmetic procedures, botox, personal trainers, body shapers and the like to erase any sign of aging. Not wanting to conform to youth–centered beauty standards and suck her belly in, she “let it all hang out”.
There is another side to this coin; Jamie Lee Curtis is perhaps best known for her work as a “scream queen”, a first lady (or final girl) of the horror genre. Thus, many see this award as more of a gesture toward and acknowledgement of Jamie Lee’s previous role as the star of the Halloween film saga
.After decades of striving and working tirelessly, she was right to celebrate her win; while the room erupted into applause and the crowd gave the actress a standing ovation, she thanked the hundreds of people she has worked with to get to this point (practically acknowledging that this was a career–recognition award as much as for Everything, Everywhere). It’s common practise for the academy to hand out awards that implicitly honor previous work; for instance, Anthony Hopkins, a highly deserving actor, somewhat controversially winning one of these awards for The Father.
Other than The Silence of the Lambs, horror films rarely receive due credit through awards and accolades, a chronic issue that some accredit to their inherently explicit content and others pin on industry snobbery. As a genre, horror is sorely misrepresented at most big awards ceremonies, and the Oscars (arguably the biggest of all) is one of the worst culprits. While winning an Oscar is not the be–all and end–all for those in the film industry, winning the award still comes with prestige and acknowledges actors, directors and film crews contributions to the field and culture as a whole.
One can only hope Bassett, Chau and other laudable actresses will receive an academy award soon. Still, their deservingness doesn’t negate Jamie Lee Curtis. In an industry that often unfairly pits women against each other, I hope that we can celebrate Lee Curtis for her achievement rather than tear her down!