After last year’s abridged event due to COVID, the Academy Awards were back in the Dolby Theater for what seemed like a more ‘normal’ event this weekend – though it still managed to generate complaints and concerns in advance by selecting a whole range of categories to be recorded before the live telecast. And that was just before the event.
Dune was a hit in the technical categories, though it missed out on the acting/directing categories. The most memorable moments included CODA‘s win for Best Supporting Actor. Troy Kotsur is only the second deaf person ever to win an Oscar – the first was his CODA co-star Marlee Matlin, who took the statuette for her central role in 1987’s Children of a Lesser God. The gathered audience applauded by using the sign language of waving hands rather than clapping – creating a surreal moment that was quiet but full of power.
But the biggest news appears to be about Will Smith. Smith came up on stage and slapped Chris Rock after the latter made a crack about his wife appearing in GI Jane 2 (a reference to her being bald). Most people thought it was initially a pre-planned stunt but it clearly wasn’t when Smith, returning to his seat, shouted “Leave my wife’s name out of your fucking mouth…“. The audio was censored in a majority of the footage seen by the public.
The usually level-headed Smith has largely been condemned for letting his emotions lead to the surprise outburst, though it’s also been noted that Jada Pickett Smith has been publicly fighting alopecia (the disease that makes people lose large amounts of their hair) and in a week when a young teenager took her life over the condition, Chris Rock’s joke certainly felt inappropriate in context even if not meant with any malice.
It was understood that senior representatives of the Academy considered not televising Smith getting his Best Actor for King Richard but there wasn’t time to change the schedule. Smith, clearly very emotional, apologised to the Academy and audience – during his acceptance speech – for his reaction though he didn’t specifically name Chris Rock and he said he would always defend his family from abuse.
The Academy issued a brief statement (below) immediately after the event:
“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.”
On Monday they added a little to their statement, saying that it condemns “…the actions of Mr. Smith at last night’s show. We have officially started a formal review around the incident and will explore further action and consequences in accordance with our Bylaws, Standards of Conduct and California law.” Technically those consequences could include suspension or expulsion from Academy ranks if they so chose. Chris Rock has announced he won’t be pressing charges which may affect their decision.
The positive aspect of the unfortunate event is that more people are becoming aware of alopecia and the problems it can cause… and perhaps won’t make cheap jokes at their expense.
Will Smith issued the following statement on Monday…
“Violence in all of its forms is poisonous and destructive. My behavior at last night’s Academy Awards was unacceptable and inexcusable. Jokes at my expense are part of the job, but a joke about Jada’s medical condition was too much for me to bear and I reacted emotionally. I would like to publicly apologize to you, Chris. I was out of line and I was wrong. I am embarrassed and my actions were not indicative of the man I want to be. There is no place for violence in a world of love and kindness. I would also like to apologize to the Academy, the producers of the show, all the attendees and everyone watching around the world. I would like to apologize to the Williams Family and my King Richard Family. I deeply regret that my behavior has stained what has been an otherwise gorgeous journey for all of us. I am a work in progress.”
An apology supposedly issued by Chris Rock was revealed to be a fake.
Despite Sean Penn’s ‘threats’ to smelt his Oscars if the ceremony didn’t let Ukrainian President address the banquet/show (which would have been a rather pointless arena and now seems positively quaint by comparison) the ceremony didn’t break into its schedules for such an address, however they did have a moment of silence and several appeals within its breaks showing support for the battered country currently being invaded by Russian forces.
The main results were as follows:
BEST PICTURE :CODA
BEST DIRECTOR: Jane Campion (The Power of the Dog)
BEST ACTRESS: Jessica Chastain (The Eyes of Tammy Faye)
BEST ACTOR: Will Smith (King Richard)
BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS: Ariana DeBose (West Side Story)
BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR:Troy Kotsur (CODA)
BEST COSTUME DESIGN Cruella (Jenny Beavan)
BEST SOUND: Dune (Mac Ruth, Mark Mangini, Theo Green, Doug Hemphill and Ron Bartlett)
BEST ORIGINAL SCORE: Dune (Hans Zimmer)
BEST ADAPTED SCREENPLAY: CODA (screenplay by Siân Heder)
BEST ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY: Belfast (written by Kenneth Branagh)
BEST ANIMATED SHORT: The Windshield Wiper (Alberto Mielgo and Leo Sanchez)
BEST LIVE-ACTION SHORT: The Long Goodbye (Aneil Karia and Riz Ahmed)
BEST FILM EDITING: Dune (Joe Walker)
BEST MAKEUP AND HAIRSTYLING: The Eyes of Tammy Faye (Linda Dowds, Stephanie Ingram and Justin Raleigh)
BEST ANIMATED FEATURE: Encanto (Jared Bush, Byron Howard, Yvett Merino and Clark Spencer)
BEST DOCUMENTARY FEATURE: Summer of Soul (Ahmir “Questlove” Thompson, Joseph Patel, Robert Fyvolent and David Dinerstein)
BEST DOCUMENTARY SHORT The Queen of Basketball (Ben Proudfoot)
BEST ORIGINAL SONG: “No Time to Die” — music and lyrics by Billie Eilish and Finneas O’Connell (No Time to Die)
BEST CINEMATOGRAPHY: Dune (Greig Fraser)
BEST INTERNATIONAL FEATURE Drive My Car (Japan)
BEST PRODUCTION DESIGN: Dune (production design: Patrice Vermette; set decoration: Zsuzsanna Sipos)
BEST VISUAL EFFECTS: Dune (Paul Lambert, Tristan Myles, Brian Connor and Gerd Nefzer)