Los Angeles: Actor Will Smith slapped comedian Chris Rock on live television minutes before winning the best actor Oscar, a moment that will go down as one of the most shocking in the 94-year history of the Academy Awards.
Rock had joked that Smith’s wife, Jada Pinkett Smith, could be in the next “G.I. Jane” movie, a reference to her very short hair. She has alopecia, a disease which causes hair loss. Although broadcaster ABC went silent during the exchange, Smith could be heard by people at the event saying: “Keep my wife’s name out of your f-ing mouth.”
The incident overshadowed a milestone in Hollywood history, the first time a movie released primarily online won best picture. “CODA,” a film about a high school student who can hear struggling to please her deaf family, was released on the streaming service Apple TV+. It was a setback for streaming industry pioneer Netflix Inc., which has been trying for years to win the industry’s top prize. Its film, “The Power of the Dog,” was considered a strong contender.
Smith won the award for best actor for his portrayal of Richard Williams, the father of real-life tennis legends Serena and Venus Williams, in “King Richard,” a film from AT&T Inc.’s Warner Bros. unit. Smith had been nominated twice before in the acting category but never won.
In a tearful acceptance speech, Smith said Williams, the person he portrayed, always defended his family. Smith also lamented the amount of “abuse” actors and filmmakers must take while smiling and having to “pretend like it’s OK.”
“I’m being called on in my life to love people and to protect people and to be a river to my people,” he said.
The Academy does not condone violence of any form.
Tonight we are delighted to celebrate our 94th Academy Awards winners, who deserve this moment of recognition from their peers and movie lovers around the world.
— The Academy (@TheAcademy) March 28, 2022
The Smith-Rock exchange aside, the night turned out to be a good one for women and minorities. Ariana DeBose, who identifies as queer and Afro-Latina, won a best supporting actress trophy for her performance as Anita in Walt Disney Co.’s “West Side Story.” Troy Kotsur became the first deaf performer to win a best supporting actor award for his work as the father in “CODA.” Jane Campion won best director for “The Power of the Dog.”
The Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences, which presents the prizes, has grappled for years with criticism that it shortchanges minorities. It has worked to diversify its nearly 9,500 voting members.
Three female comedians — Regina Hall, Amy Schumer and Wanda Sykes — presided over the ceremony, after the academy previously experimented with no hosts. Schumer joked in the opening monologue that hiring three women was cheaper than one man.
The ceremony returned Sunday to its regular home at the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles, with seating for 3,300, after being held last year before a much smaller audience at downtown’s Union Station due to pandemic precautions.
The contest between Netflix’s “The Power of the Dog” and Apple “CODA” says much about the film business in 2022. Theaters are still recovering from the pandemic, which has kept families and older filmgoers in particular away from cinemas. Meanwhile, Hollywood studios are making their movies available for home viewing exclusively or much sooner than they did in the past.
Troy Kotsur wins first Best Supporting Award for a deaf actor
Troy Kotsur won the best supporting actor Oscar for his role as the father in Apple Inc.’s “CODA” at the Academy Awards on Sunday.
The award is a leap forward for a relative unknown, and for deaf actors. Kotsur played the father of a hearing girl who pursues a singing career, which she must justify to her all-deaf family. Kotsur, who spent much of his career working in theater, is the second deaf actor to win an Oscar, after Marlee Matlin’s 1987 win. Matlin played Kotsur’s wife in “CODA.”
“I want to thank all the deaf theater stages where I was allowed to develop my craft as an actor,” he said through an interpreter when accepting the award. “This is dedicated to the deaf community.”
Jessica Chastain wins Best Actress for ‘Tammy Faye’
Jessica Chastain took home the Oscar for best actress, her first Academy Award after three nominations. She was recognized for her portrayal of real-life televangelist Tammy Faye Bakker, in Disney’s “The Eyes of Tammy Faye.”
Billie Eilish wins Best Song, continues long history for Bond films
“No Time to Die,” a ballad from the James Bond film of the same name, took home the best song Oscar. It’s a big win for singer Billie Eilish, the 20-year-old Los Angeles native who co-wrote the song with her brother Finneas O’Connell. This is the third song from a Bond film to win an Oscar, following Adele’s “Skyfall” and Sam Smith’s “Writing’s on the Wall.” It’s the sixth time one had been nominated.
‘CODA’ And ‘Belfast’ win Screenplay categories
Eight-time nominee Kenneth Branagh took home his first Oscar for best original screenplay for “Belfast,” his autobiographical story about growing in Northern Ireland during the “troubles” of the 1960s. “CODA” writer-director Sian Heder won for her adaptation of the original French film.
Disney’s ‘Encanto’ wins for Best Animated Picture
Disney’s “Encanto” won best animated film, a category the company has historically dominated. Two other Disney films were also nominated in the category. “Encanto” opened to relatively disappointing box office last year, but the film really took off after it appeared on the company’s Disney+ streaming service.
DeBose makes history with ‘West Side Story’ supporting win
Ariana DeBose won the Oscar for best supporting actress in Disney’s “West Side Story,” in one of the first of the major awards to be given out Sunday night.
DeBose played Anita in the new adaptation of the musical directed by Steven Spielberg. Rita Moreno won an Oscar for the same role in 1962, which made her the first Latina to win the award. This is the first time actresses have won Oscars for playing the same part. This is the first time DeBose was nominated.
DeBose identified herself on stage as a queer Afro-Latina. “Anybody who has ever questioned your identity. Ever ever ever,” she said from the stage. “You find yourself living in the gray spaces. I promise you this, there is a place for us.”
Warner Bros.’ ‘Dune’ wins six awards, including Best Score
“Dune,” the sci-fi film from AT&T Inc.’s Warner Bros., picked up six Oscars, including best score and cinematography.
Some of the awards were handed out before the main ceremony. Clips of the winners receiving the awards were shown during the main broadcast. The picture also won for best sound, film editing and visual effects, according to a series of Twitter posts from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences.
“Dune,” a retelling of the classic Frank Herbert novel, was nominated for 10 awards, the second-most of any film. It was vying for best picture and best adapted screenplay, but it was really expected to clean up in what Hollywood calls the “technical categories.”
Viewership for the Oscars has plunged in recent years, and the academy, which hosts the show, is trying to reduce the historically long run time by handing out the eight prizes before the broadcast. That’s sparked an uproar, particularly for contenders in categories that didn’t make the cut, like film editing and production design.
‘The Eyes of Tammy Faye’ wins Best Hair and Makeup
To almost no one’s surprise, “The Eyes of Tammy Faye,” the bio pic about evangelist Tammy Faye Bakker won the best and hair and makeup Oscar. The film opens with a shot of Bakker getting her makeup done. Other early winners were “The Queen of Basketball,” as the best short documentary. Best animated short went to “The Windshield Wiper,” the academy said.