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Winners of the 94th Academy Awards

March 28, 2022

By John Corrado

The CODA team accepting the Oscar for Best Picture

What the hell was that? That is honestly my only reaction to the 94th Academy Awards. Not because of the winners themselves, which for the most part were safe and predictable, with Jane Campion taking home Best Director (deservedly so) for The Power of the Dog, and CODA prevailing in the Best Picture category after a surprisingly tight race between the two, just as I predicted on Saturday.

Yes, stats were broken, with CODA winning Best Picture despite only having three nominations (all of which it won) and no support in the tech categories, and The Power of the Dog (which was leading in nominations with twelve) becoming the first film since The Graduate in 1967 (!) to win a sole Best Director trophy and nothing else.

But, despite CODA only emerging as the Best Picture favourite in the last few weeks to deliver a true come from behind victory, this was all mostly to be expected for those following the recent trajectory of awards season, with the acting trophies going to the predicted set of Ariana DeBose (West Side Story), Troy Kotsur (CODA), Will Smith (King Richard) and Jessica Chastain (The Eyes of Tammy Faye).

No, I’m saying what the hell was that because of the telecast itself, which I can only describe as a near total shit-show. The Academy already brought controversy upon themselves with the choice to present eight categories in the hour before the live telecast, as people were still piling into the theatre. It was a decision that was met with swift backlash from fans and industry members from the moment it was announced, yet the Academy and broadcaster ABC steadfastly refused to back down and reverse what was always a stupid, bone-headed and, quite frankly, disrespectful decision.

To make matters worse, they tried to pretend as if the awards were being presented live, with heavily edited excerpts of the speeches awkwardly cut in throughout the night. They said the move was being done to keep the show at an even three hours, supposedly so that more viewers would tune in. But it maybe saved a few minutes at best, mainly cutting out the time it took winners to walk to the stage. And, in an example of the Academy completely embarrassing themselves (or shitting the bed, whichever you prefer), the show still ran forty minutes over that magical three hour mark.

The move was done so the broadcast had more time for variety show moments, such as the first live performance of “We Don’t Talk About Bruno” from Encanto, which wasn’t even submitted for Best Original Song (the film’s other song “Dos Oruguitas” was nominated and also performed live). The performance was meant to bring in a younger audience, but didn’t happen until nearly two hours in. It was also clearly intended to open the show, and felt awkward right in the middle of the poorly paced broadcast.

Then there was the slap heard around the world. To summarize, Chris Rock was on-stage to present Documentary Feature. He made a joke at the expense of Jada Pinkett Smith, sayng he wanted to see her in “G.I. Jane 2,” a reference to her bald head due to alopecia (which I admittedly wasn’t aware she had until after the fact). Smith took offence, came on-stage to smack Rock across the face, and shouted “keep my wife’s name out your fucking mouth!” when he went back to his seat. This got muted on TV which removed some of the context, and made the already crazy moment even harder to process.

Did Rock go too far with his “joke” about Jada Pinkett Smith? Yeah, it was stupid. Should Smith have gone on stage and slapped him? Absolutely not. It made him look unhinged. And the fact that everyone in the room still gave Smith a standing ovation when he won Best Actor a short while later just felt… weird. Smith was forced to address the incident through his emotional speech in which he apologized to the Academy (but notedly not Rock), and tries to make it about “defending his family,” but there was no way he could come out of this looking good. And the fact that he finally won his Oscar, only to have the moment completely overshadowed by his antics, is his own fault.

So Smith won the award, but lost a lot of respect from viewers in the process. The slap stunned Rock, and left a cloud hanging over the room as other presenters like Sean “Diddy” Combs and host Schumer tried to figure out how to address it. There was not a word from the producers during the show, just suddenly a giant elephant in the room. The Rock-Smith thing also completely overshadowed Questlove’s very deserving Documentary Feature win for Summer of Soul that happened moments later, which is just really sad and unfortunate. It was bad on so many levels. I don’t know, but the atmosphere in that room just didn’t feel good.

After a couple of years of going host-less, the Academy also decided to bring on a trio of hosts this year; Amy Schumer, Wanda Sykes and Regina Hall. Their material was lame at best, with them taking cheap shots at the nominated films, and cringe-inducing at worst. Hall delivered an uncomfortably long bit about needing to do “COVID tests” that involved sexually accosting male actors on stage (for comedy!) that was just incredibly awkward and embarrassing for all involved, not to mention wildly unfunny and inappropriate. You know, making light of sexual assault just because it’s a woman doing it and the targets are men doesn’t exactly make it funny or cool.

Schumer’s material was tired and awkward, including a cringey moment when she repelled from the stage in a Spider-Man suit. There was also a cruel bit where Schumer pretended to mistake nominee Kirsten Dunst for a “seat-filler” and made her leave the seat next to her husband (and fellow nominee) Jesse Plemons. Schumer’s bit culminated with a bafflingly delivered throwaway line about the situation in Ukraine that came across as tone-deaf. Sykes was the best of the three and left the most unscathed, but that’s not really saying much.

The much-touted tributes that we got to the James Bond franchise and the fiftieth anniversary of The Godfather were brief montages that were just sort of plopped into the middle of the show, and added further confusion as to what target audience they were trying to reach; kids on TikTok who care about the Bruno song or traditional boomer viewers?

These attempts to reach a younger audience included the presentation of a Cheer Moment and a Fan Favourite award decided by social media users, which were little more than cynical attempts to award a “popular” film. The former went to a scene from Zack Snyder’s Justice League and the latter to Snyder’s Army of the Dead, because the director’s organized fans took over the voting. Other Fan Favourites included the random Johnny Depp movie Minamata and Camilla Cabello’s Cinderella, also chosen by their legions of fans, and Spider-Man: No Way Home. Yes, tick, tick…BOOM! also made it in, but it was already nominated in other categories, so it was hard to see the point of this unofficial separate award.

The Cheer Moment was supposed to represent the most crowd-pleasing moment in film history, yet the fact that nominees included Spider-Man: No Way Home and Avengers: Endgame, and the oldest film in the running was 1999’s The Matrix, made it glaringly obvious what it was really designed for; to appear hip and cool. The way the Oscars just presented them randomly in the middle of the show with no context or introduction for those not on social media was also low-key hilarious and an epic fail. It was already a bad idea and they somehow managed to make it even worse.

The show still delivered a handful of lovely moments, including when last year’s winner Yuh-jung Youn delightfully presented the Best Supporting Actor trophy to Troy Kotsur, and signed the announcement before saying it out loud. Kotsur (only the second Deaf actor to win an Oscar, with the first being his CODA co-star Marlee Matlin way back in 1986) followed with a touching and gracious speech delivered in sign language and interpreted by his translator. We also got the very welcome return of acting clips, which were cut last year.

Troy Kotsur and Yuh-jung Youn

At the end of the night, Lady Gaga and Liza Minnelli came on to announce Best Picture, and seeing the tender way that Gaga helped a frail Minnelli present the award was incredibly poignant, and the sort of genuine moment you hope to see from the Oscars. Kevin Costner also gave a truly wonderful speech about the power of cinema and being inspired by seeing How the West Was Won as a young boy at the Cinearama Dome before presenting the Best Director award.

But, aside from these moments, almost everything else about this year’s Oscars felt cruel and mean-spirited, from the hosts on down to not presenting all the categories live on-air. It was just a cynically produced, unpleasant show. I really wish they had more moments like Costner talking about the magic of movies, and less cringey humour with the hosts belittling the nominees and films. Because apart from some of the acceptance speeches, there was honestly very little about this show that felt celebratory. It was all over the place and a mess, and worse seemed designed this way. They would have been wise to just give all the awards out live and cut the other crap.

Going forward, I hope the Academy learns from its mistakes. Because this was a pretty shameful night that did little but overshadow the work it was designed to celebrate. I didn’t think it could possibly get more shameful than last year when the Academy decided to break tradition and present Best Actor as the final award assuming it would be posthumously awarded to Chadwick Boseman’s widow, only for a not-present Anthony Hopkins to win instead. But this year’s show tried hard to top that.

This show was so bad, so bafflingly thrown together, that I can only imagine the producers intended it this way to get people talking about the chaos, and I guess they succeeded at that. But what was lost in the process? Here’s an idea for next year; cut the hosts and silly banter, cut the stupid jokes at the expense of the nominees. Bring people on to talk about what the nominated films mean to them, not to make fun of them. You know, an actual celebration of cinema, which is what the Oscars were meant to be. Not this, whatever the hell it was.

Ariana DeBose, Troy Kotsur and Jessica Chastain holding their trophies

This full list of winners in all 23 categories can be found below, in the order they were presented, including the first eight awards that were announced before the live telecast.

Best Sound:

Belfast

Dune

No Time to Die

The Power of the Dog

West Side Story

Best Documentary Short Film:

Audible

Lead Me Home

The Queen of Basketball

Three Songs for Benazir

When We Were Bullies

Best Animated Short Film:

Affairs of the Art

Bestia

Boxballet

Robin Robin

The Windshield Wiper

Best Live-Action Short Film:

Ala Kachuu — Take and Run

The Dress

The Long Goodbye

On My Mind

Please Hold

Best Original Score:

Don’t Look Up – Nicholas Britell

Dune – Hans Zimmer

Encanto – Germaine Franco

Parallel Mothers – Alberto Iglesias

The Power of the Dog – Jonny Greenwood

Best Film Editing:

Don’t Look Up – Hank Corwin

Dune – Joe Walker

King Richard – Pamela Martin

The Power of the Dog – Peter Sciberras

tick, tick…BOOM! – Myron Kerstein & Andrew Weisblum

Best Production Design:

Dune

Nightmare Alley

The Power of the Dog

The Tragedy of Macbeth

West Side Story

Best Makeup & Hairstyling:

The Eyes of Tammy Faye

House of Gucci

Coming 2 America

Cruella

Dune

Best Supporting Actress:

Jessie Buckley – The Lost Daughter

Ariana DeBose – West Side Story

Judi Dench – Belfast

Kirsten Dunst – The Power of the Dog

Aunjanue Ellis – King Richard

Best Cinematography:

Dune – Greig Fraser

Nightmare Alley – Dan Lausten

The Power of the Dog – Ari Wegner

The Tragedy of Macbeth – Bruno Delbonnel

West Side Story – Janusz Kaminski

Best Visual Effects:

Dune

Free Guy

Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings

No Time to Die

Spider-Man: No Way Home

Best Animated Feature:

Encanto

Flee

Luca

The Mitchells vs The Machines

Raya and the Last Dragon

Best Supporting Actor:

Ciarán Hinds – Belfast

Troy Kotsur – CODA

Jesse Plemons – The Power of the Dog

J.K. Simmons – Being the Ricardos

Kodi Smitt-McPhee – The Power of the Dog

Best International Feature:

Drive My Car (Japan)

Flee (Denmark)

The Hand of God (Italy)

Lunana: A Yak in the Classroom (Bhutan)

The Worst Person in the World (Norway)

Best Costume Design:

Cruella – Jenny Beavan

Cyrano – Massimo Cantini Parrini

Dune – Jacqueline West

Nightmare Alley – Luis Sequeira

West Side Story – Paul Tazewell

Best Original Screenplay:

Belfast – Kenneth Branagh

Don’t Look Up – Adam McKay & David Sirota

Licorice Pizza – Paul Thomas Anderson

King Richard – Zach Baylin

The Worst Person in the World – Joachim Trier & Eskil Vogt

Best Adapted Screenplay:

CODA – Sian Heder

Drive My Car – Ryusuke Hamaguchi & Takamasa Oe

Dune – Eric Roth, Jon Spaihts & Denis Villeneuve

The Lost Daughter – Maggie Gyllenhaal

The Power of the Dog – Jane Campion

Best Documentary Feature:

Ascension

Attica

Flee

Summer of Soul (…Or, When the Revolution Could Not Be Televised)

Writing with Fire

Best Original Song:

“Be Alive” – King Richard

“Dos Oruguitas” – Encanto

“Down to Joy” – Belfast

“No Time to Die” – No Time to Die

“Somehow You Do” – Four Good Days

Best Director:

Kenneth Branagh – Belfast

Ryusuke Hamaguchi – Drive My Car

Paul Thomas Anderson – Licorice Pizza

Jane Campion – The Power of the Dog

Steven Spielberg – West Side Story

Best Actor:

Javier Bardem – Being the Ricardos

Benedict Cumberbatch – The Power of the Dog

Andrew Garfield – tick, tick…BOOM!

Will Smith – King Richard

Denzel Washington – The Tragedy of Macbeth

Best Actress:

Jessica Chastain – The Eyes of Tammy Faye

Olivia Colman – The Lost Daughter

Penelope Cruz – Parallel Mothers

Nicole Kidman – Being the Ricardos

Kristen Stewart – Spencer

Best Picture:

Belfast

CODA

Don’t Look Up

Drive My Car

Dune

King Richard

Licorice Pizza

Nightmare Alley

The Power of the Dog

West Side Story

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