‘CODA’ Makes History at 94th Academy Awards, but Will Smith Steals the Show


Published March 28, 2022
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The Montclarion
"CODA" won a best picture Oscar in a landmark achievement. Photo courtesy of Everett Collection

The 94th Academy Awards marks the return of hosts, live performances and live television drama.

In last year’s show, the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic prevented many of the ceremony’s routine production arrangements from happening, which resulted in the Academy Award’s lowest ratings in history.

Thankfully, producers took major notes from last year’s flop ceremony to make this year’s show better, and it paid off.

The 94th Academy Awards were hosted by Wanda Sykes, Regina Hall and Amy Schumer, who volleyed off skits and comedic bits throughout the show. This is the first time since 2018 the show has had hosts and the first time in history three women hosted the ceremony.

The 94th Academy awards were hosted by Amy Schumer, Regina Hall and Wanda Sykes. Photo courtesy of ABC.

The 94th Academy awards were hosted by Amy Schumer, Regina Hall and Wanda Sykes.
Photo courtesy of ABC

The show opened with legendary tennis champions Venus and Serena Williams introducing a performance by Beyonce of “Be Alive” from the film “King Richard,” which was nominated for best original song. This is Beyonce’s first live performance in two years, and unsurprisingly, she did not fail to blow audiences away with her amazing vocals and unmatched presence.

Academy Award winners Daniel Kaluuya and H.E.R. presented the award for best supporting actress, which was given to Ariana DeBose for her portrayal of Anita in “West Side Story.” This is Debose’s first Oscar win, and she is also the first Afro-Latina and openly queer actress to win the award.

“To anybody who has ever questioned your identity … or you find yourself living in the gray spaces, I promise you this: there is indeed a place for us,” DeBose said.

Ariana DeBose wins Best Supporting Actress for her portrayal of Anita in "West Side Story." Photo courtesy of Everett Collection

Ariana DeBose wins best supporting actress for her portrayal of Anita in “West Side Story.”
Photo courtesy of Everett Collection

Throughout the ceremony, montages of clips from some of the most critically acclaimed and widely loved films in history, including the James Bond films, “The Godfather” trilogy, Diablo Cody’s “Juno” and Quentin Tarantino’s “Pulp Fiction,” were played to highlight their most memorable moments.

While these could be entertaining for some viewers, others may have preferred for the airtime to go to the live presentation of the awards for film editing, sound, original score and five other categories, which were cut and instead handed out during the show’s pre-telecast hour.

Academy award-winning actress Youn Yuh-Jung presented the Oscar for best supporting actor, which was awarded to Troy Kotsur for his role in “CODA” (Child of Deaf Adults). Kotsur is the second deaf actor to win in this category. Attendees cheered him using the deaf applause that consists of waving both hands in the air using a twisting movement.

Troy Kotsur makes Oscars history as the first deaf man to win Best Supporting Actor. Photo courtesy of Everett Collection

Troy Kotsur makes Oscars history as the first deaf man to win best supporting actor.
Photo courtesy of Everett Collection

Kotsur signed his heartfelt speech to the audience, dedicating his Oscar win to the deaf community, the CODA community and the disabled community.

Actress Mila Kunis, who has been raising funds for her native Ukraine, introduced country singer Reba McEntire, who gave an emotional performance of “Somehow You Do” from the film “Four Good Days.” Following the performance, the Academy asked for a moment of silence in support of the people of Ukraine amid Russia’s invasion.

Disney’s “Cruella” won best costume design. “Encanto” won best animated feature. Haruki Murakami’s “Drive My Car” won best international feature film. Questlove’s “Summer of Soul” won best documentary feature. Kenneth Branagh’s “Belfast” won best original screenplay. Sian Heder’s “CODA” won best adapted screenplay.

A lively performance of the smash Disney-hit “We Don’t Talk About Bruno” from “Encanto,” featuring a surprise appearance by rapper Megan Thee Stallion, lit up the entire venue. Unfortunately, the film’s cast who made the song popular with their original vocals did not perform onstage, leaving many fans disappointed.

Billie Eilish and Finneas O’Connell took to the stage next to perform “No Time To Die” from the latest James Bond film. The song won best original song and marked the first Oscar win for the brother-sister duo.

One of the most shocking moments of the night was an altercation between Will Smith and Chris Rock. The actor retaliated against Rock after the comedian made a “G.I. Jane” joke referring to Jada Pinkett Smith’s hairstyle. Pinkett Smith suffers from alopecia which results in hair loss.

Smith smacked Rock onstage and dropped the f-bomb telling the comedian to “keep his wife’s name out of his mouth.”

Shortly after, Smith won the award for best actor in a leading role for his portrayal of Richard Williams in “King Richard.” This is the actor’s first-ever Oscar win. He apologized to the Academy for the altercation in his tearful acceptance speech.

The Oscars paid tribute to actors, filmmakers, producers and craft makers alike with the Oscars 2022 In Memoriam. Some of the greatest losses like actor Sidney Poitier, director Ivan Reitman and actress/comedienne Betty White were highlighted in the tribute as The Samples Choir beautifully sang a medley of songs to celebrate those who left their mark on the entertainment industry.

Academy-award-winning actor Kevin Costner presented the Oscar for best director, which was awarded to the third woman in history to win in this category, Jane Campion, for the film “The Power of The Dog.”

"The Power of the Dog" director Jane Campion is the third woman in history to win the Best Director Award. Photo courtesy of Everett Collection

“The Power of the Dog” director Jane Campion is the third woman in history to win the best director award.
Photo courtesy of Everett Collection

Anthony Hopkins, who won an award for best lead actor at last year’s ceremony, presented the Oscar for best actress. Jessica Chastain won the award for her portrayal of televangelist Tammy Faye Bakker in “The Eyes of Tammy Faye,” this being her first Oscar win.

Chastain shined a light on the difficult times the world has been facing in a moving speech.

“We’re faced with discriminatory and bigoted legislation that is sweeping our country with the only goal of further dividing us,” Chastain said. “There’s violence and hate crimes being perpetrated on innocent civilians all over the world. In times like this, I think of Tammy and I’m inspired by her radical acts of love.”

Jessica Chastain won the award for Best Actress in a Leading Role award for "The Eyes of Tammy Faye." Photo courtesy of Everett Collection

Jessica Chastain won the award for best actress in a leading role for “The Eyes of Tammy Faye.”
Photo courtesy of Everett Collection

Denis Villeneuve’s “Dune” swept six out of 10 of its nominations, winning awards for best production design, best editing, best sound, best original score, best visual effects and best cinematography.

Presented by Academy Award winners Lady Gaga and Liza Minnelli, the award for best picture went to Apple’s feel-good film “CODA,” the first film on a streaming service to win the category. It is also the first film with a predominantly deaf cast to win best picture, which the film’s producers thanked for their work.

“You guys have made such a wonderful and loving family on screen, but also off-screen, and everybody [wants to be] a part of it … and no one seems to want to leave it,” producer Philippe Rousselet said.

From its vibrant, engaging performances to its jaw-dropping live television drama, this year’s Oscars is a major improvement from the last. The ceremony’s producer, Will Packer, had some big decisions to make for the Academy Awards to be a hit for audiences. Some choices worked while others did not, but one thing can be said for sure: the Oscars were definitely not boring, as Packer said and I wholeheartedly agree.

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