Will Smith will be remembered for his right hook, not his Oscar.
Where to even begin? What an evening! Hollywood’s biggest night did not disappoint.
Many dreams came true on the Oscar stage, and there was one moment that will have people talking about for some time.
First, let’s start with the hosts: Regina Hall, Amy Schumer, and Wanda Sykes were decent MCs. I had some concerns if they would flow with each other, but that was settled quickly. My only criticism is that we didn’t see more of them as some of their bits were funny. The only one that didn’t hit for me was Regina Hall’s ‘COVD Test gag,’ where she selected several men from the audience and said she had to "swab the back of the mouth with her tongue." Many cite that as one of the lows of the night, and if you look at it from the perspective of ‘what if a man had made that joke about women in the audience?’ Well, we would be having a different conversation.
The overall production of the show was a little odd. Eight awards were handed out before the telecast started because the producers wanted to save time, yet multiple award winners were played off during their acceptance speeches. I don’t mind if the show is longer if it’s entertaining. There was an odd moment when Jason Mamoa and Thanos, sorry Josh Brolin, were presenting an award, and they announced the nominees, then it cut to the winner coming on stage, and Mamoa and Brolin were gone? Sorry? What happened?
Also, there was a touching tribute to the James Bond franchise, but there was a missed opportunity of having former Bond actors reunite on stage. There was a tribute to The Godfather where director Francis Ford Coppola and actors Al Pacino and Robert DeNiro came on stage to a standing ovation, but the actors didn’t utter a word? Again, why did they cut eight awards from the show?
I predicted 21 out of 23 awards correctly. I missed Best Song; I wanted to see Lin Manuel Miranda get his EGOT (Emmy, Grammy, Oscar, and Tony). I also missed Animated Short, which is frustrating because I had the winner but changed my mind.
There were great moments like Troy Kotsur becoming the second deaf actor to win an Oscar—he won Best Supporting Actor for CODA. I have seen all his acceptance speeches this awards season, and his Oscar speech was the most touching. I am hoping we see more representation of the deaf community in films. Drive My Car winning Best International Film was another wonderful moment. The film is incredible.
I am still scratching my head on why Denis Villeneuve wasn’t nominated. No movie won more awards at this year’s Oscars than Dune–it won six. Again, I ask, did it direct itself?
I was thrilled to see Jessica Chastain win Best Actress. I couldn’t believe I lived in a world where she didn’t have an Oscar. Well, not anymore! Her performance in The Eyes of Tammy Faye was phenomenal, and I’m glad she was recognized. The term ‘well deserved’ doesn’t seem sufficient to capture this moment. Seeing her on stage with that trophy just made the world feel a little more right to me.
Can we talk about CODA? The movie wowed audiences at the Sundance Film Festival and took home Best Picture. Historically, the Best Picture is the Toronto International Film Festival winner, so the fact that CODA won is huge. It is an incredibly beautiful film and marks the third time in four years that my favourite movie of the year won Best Picture. I’ve yet to come across someone who didn’t enjoy CODA, and I am thrilled The Academy wasn’t the first.
Of course, the most talked-about moment of the night was the incident between Chris Rock and Will Smith. Chris Rock was presenting a documentary award and was poking fun at audience members as he does and referred to Jada Pinkett Smith being in GI Jane 2. (Pinket-Smith has a shaved head as she is dealing with alopecia. At first, Will Smith laughed at the joke, but Jada wasn’t laughing. Smith then took to the stage and walked up to Rock, who had his hands behind his back, and slapped him. He returned to his seat and screamed, “Keep my wife’s name out of your f’ing mouth.”
Rock said it was just a G.I. Jane joke and Smith repeated, “KEEP MY WIFE’S NAME OUT OF YOUR F’NG MOUTH.”
It was the most awkward moment of the night. Years ago, when Rock hosted the Oscars, he had a joke at Pinkett-Smiths expense, so there may have been some leftover anger. Some people feel Smith was wrong to attack Rock; some feel it was bad of Rock to have made the joke.
Regardless of your point of view, it’s sad that on the night where Will Smith became the fifth Black actor to win Best Actor (a feat that would have seemed entirely impossible when Sidney Poitier won it in 1964) that instead of the focus being on him winning it’s that altercation. At the time of writing this, Rock has declined to file charges against Smith.
The show's producers wanted this to be a great evening, and in some ways, it was, and in some, it wasn’t. It will be remembered for the wrong reasons. Many people will forget about the big winners of the night. Years from now, we may forget that the beautiful Drive My Car won Best International Film, but we will never forget ‘The Slap.’
And after all of that, the show still ran long. As a cinephile, I loved seeing the awards delivered to many worthy recipients. Dune may not have won or been nominated for Best Director, but the movie was the night's big winner. I was ecstatic that CODA won Best Picture. So many well-deserved recipients took home Academy Awards. I wish that were the focus.
The Academy Awards are always highly anticipated, but this year, I didn’t love the production of the actual show.
But if you thought the Oscars were boring, well, not this time.
Best Picture: CODA
Best Director: Jane Campion, The Power of the Dog
Best Actor: Will Smith, King Richard
Best Actress: Jessica Chastain, The Eyes of Tammy Faye
Best Supporting Actor: Troy Kotsur, CODA
Best Supporting Actress: Ariana DeBose, West Side Story
Best Original Screenplay: Belfast
Best Adapted Screenplay: CODA
Best International Feature Film: Drive My Car
Best Animated Feature Film: Encanto
Best Documentary Short Subject: The Queen of Basketball
Best Documentary Feature: Summer of Soul
Best Animated Short Film: The Windshield Wiper
Best Live Action Short Film: The Long Goodbye
Best Original Song: No Time to Die
Best Original Score: Dune
Best Production Design: Dune
Best Sound: Dune
Best Makeup and Hairstyling: The Eyes of Tammy Faye
Best Cinematography: Dune
Best Film Editing: Dune
Best Costume Design: Cruella
Best Visual Effects: Dune
IMAGE: AMPAS 2022