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A Resounding Slap and Other 2022 Academy Awards Highlights

March 27, 2022, Hollywood, California. With the pandemic starting to recede into the background, the Academy Awards ceremony aired at its customary date in late March. Returning to having hosts in the house, Hollywood tried to emulate the historical formula of having a triad of women play important roles like the Three Fates of Greek mythology, the Three Norns of Norse folklore, and the Three Witches in Shakespeare’s Macbeth. In this instance, we get three film actors–Amy Schumer, Wanda Sykes, and Regina Hall. Not very scary but as this long show trudged onward, not all that funny either.

By far, the most moving speech of the night was the one signed by Troy Kotsur, CODA’s deaf actor, who praised his father—his “best signer” until an accident rendered him quadriplegic and unable to sign.  This was closely followed by writer-director Sian Heder’s thank-you’s for her CODA Oscar for Best Adapted Screenplay. But it was Will Smith who stole the moment with his emotional acceptance of the Best Actor Oscar. This was in sharp contrast to what happened earlier when he went up to the stage and slapped presenter Chris Rock on the face for making an insensitive reference to his wife Jada Pinkett who has alopecia by referring to her as “G.I. Jane 2.” The network wisely blocked the verbal exchange until peace was restored. The supreme heartstrings moment had to be when Lady Gaga brought a frail Liza Minelli on stage in a wheelchair who, with LG’s help, introduced the nominees for Best Picture Oscar and proclaimed “CODA” the winner.

Below are listed the results for each award category:

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 actor in a supporting role
Troy Kotsur, “CODA”

Best actress in a supporting role
Ariana DeBose, “West Side Story”

Best international feature
“Drive My Car”

Best original screenplay
“Belfast”

Best adapted screenplay
“CODA”

Best cinematography
“Dune”

Best production design

“Dune”

Best sound
“Dune”

Best visual effects
“Dune”

Best film editing
“Dune”

Best original song
“No Time to Die”

Best original score
“Dune”

Best animated feature
“Encanto”

Best documentary short subject
“The Queen of Basketball”

Best documentary feature
“Summer of Soul (… Or, When the Revolution Could not be Televised)”

Best live action short film
“The Long Goodbye”

Best animated short film

“The Windshield Wiper”

Best costume design
“Cruella”

Best hair style and makeup

“The Eyes of Tammy Faye”

The various flashbacks with clips from legendary film franchises like the 50th anniversary of “The Godfather” or the 60th anniversary of the James Bond films might be sentimental trips down memory lane but these and other similar reminiscences extended what was an already long evening. This was counterbalanced by a concise yet sensitive In Memoriam segment remembering the members of the film community who had passed away during the last year.

The evening’s big winner in terms of number of Oscars was “Dune” that took home six out of the ten awards for which it was nominated—most of which, excepting Best Film score, were for technical achievements, not surprising for a big budget sci-fi extravaganza. The two biggest surprises of the evening were “CODA” which nabbed all three awards for which it was nominated and “The Power of the Dog” which managed only one Oscar out of the dozen nominations it had received.  Parenthetically, Netflix Studios had received 27 nominations but managed only one major award, Jane Campion’s Oscar for Best Director. As was the case last year, it was encouraging to see increasing diversity among those representing Hollywood’s best and I hope this trend in the motion picture industry will continue to receive support. But perhaps there needs to be a wake-up call to this show’s producers regarding the barbs tossed at the attendees by the hosts and award presenters, following the Will Smith-Chris Rock incident.  This is an awards event not a roast but rather a celebration of accomplishment and should at least be a modicum of decorum present.

As a very long evening concluded, the three co-hosts, clad in their pajamas, waved goodnight to those hardy viewers who managed to stay awake for nearly four hours. I do hope that the AMPAS and the ABC Network consider returning to the single host format for next year, so the attempts of multiple hosts to outdo one another is eschewed and we all get to go to bed sooner.

 

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