L.A, 2022-03-27 17:53:00. Oscar 2022: ‘CODA’ wins Best Picture
LOS ANGELES — After a cinematic year that often lights up crowds, the Oscars unabashedly chose the deaf family drama “CODA” for Best Picture on Sunday, handing out Hollywood’s first award to the streaming service for the first time at a gala that saw the greatest drama as Will Smith walked On stage, Chris Rock was slapped.
Sian Heder’s “CODA,” which premiered at the Sundance Virtual Film Festival in the winter of 2021, started as an underdog but gradually emerged as an Oscar favourite. It also has a very rich backer in Apple TV+, which took home its first Academy Award for Best Picture on Sunday, less than three years after launching the service.
It also caused yet another defeat that Netflix, the veteran player who for years tried in vain to score the best picture, almost missed. Her best shot came, “The Power of the Dog” by Jane Campion, with 12 Leading nominations. Won one, for Campion direction.
But “CODA” had a flurry of goodwill driven by its cast including Marlee Matlin, Troy Kotsur, Emilia Jones and Daniel Durant. It is the first film with a largely deaf cast to win Best Picture. “CODA” managed to achieve this despite being one of the lowest-nominated films, with only three appearances on Sunday. Not since 1932 has “Grand Hotel” taken home a Best Picture award with less than four nods.
Kotsur also won Best Supporting Actor, becoming the first deaf actor to win an Academy Award, and the second deaf actor to do so, joining fellow cast and “CODA” co-star Matlin.
“This is for the deaf community, the CODA community and the disabled community,” said Kotsur, signing from the stage. “This is our moment.”
However, many were talking about another moment. After Rock, as a presenter, joked to Jada Pinkett Smith that he was looking forward to the sequel to “GI.I. Jane,” Will Smith stood up from his seat near the stage, stepped up to Rock and hit him. After sitting down, Smith shouted at Rock “To keep my wife’s name out of your mouth (expletive)”. When Rock, who joked about Jada Pinkett Smith while hosting the Oscars in 2016, protested that it was just a “GI Jane” joke, Smith repeated the same sentence.
“That was the greatest night in television history,” said Rock, before awkwardly returning to presenting the best documentary, which went to Questlove’s “Summer of Soul (…or when the revolution wasn’t televised).”
The moment shocked the Dolby Theater audience and viewers at home. At the commercial break, presenter Daniel Kaluuya came to hug Smith, and Denzel Washington accompanied him to the side of the stage. The two talked and hugged, and Tyler Perry came to talk as well.
Smith, who plays the father of Venus and Serena Williams on “King Richard,” later on the show won Best Actor, his first Oscar. So Smith took the stage again shortly after what seemed to be one of the most iconic moments in Academy Awards history. His acceptance speech oscillated between defense and apology.
“Richard Williams was a fierce defender of his family,” Smith said in his first remarks. Smith then shared what Washington told him: “In your extreme moments, be careful because that’s when the devil comes for you.”
In the end, Smith apologized to the academy and to his fellow candidates.
“Art imitates life,” Smith said with a laugh. “I look like a mad father.” “But love will make you do crazy things.”
After the show, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences released a statement saying that it “does not condone violence in any way.” The Los Angeles Police Department said it was aware of a slapping incident at the Oscars, but said the person involved refused to file a police report.
Until then, the ceremony – slated as a revival of the Oscars and the movies – had been going fairly smoothly. Ariana DeBose became the first Afro-Latina and LBGTQ actress publicly to win an Academy Award for a supporting actress. Jane Campion won the Academy Award for Best Director for “The Power of the Dog,” her psychological drama on the open plains that upended and upended Western conventions.
Campion, who was the first woman to be nominated twice in this category (previously for 1993’s The Piano), is the third woman to win Best Director. It’s also the first time the director’s award has been given to women in consecutive years, after director Chloe Chow’s win for “Nomadland” last year.
And the Best Actress award went to Jessica Chastain, who also won her first Oscar. Chastain won for her sympathetic portrayal of televangelist Tami Fey in “The Eyes of Tami Fey,” a film she also produced.
After record-low ratings and a 2021 show marred by the pandemic, this year producers turned to one of the biggest stars around the world – Beyoncé – to kick off an Academy Awards ceremony aimed at reviving the awards’ standing in pop culture. After an introduction by Venus and Serena Williams, Beyoncé sang her nominated song “Be Alive” for “King Richard,” in a meticulously choreographed performance from the lime-coloured open-air stage in Compton, where the Williams sisters grew up.
Then hosts Wanda Sykes, Amy Schumer and Regina Hall began broadcasting television from the Dolby Theatre.
Sykes, Schumer and Hal jokingly joked about high-profile Hollywood issues like equal pay—they said three hostesses were “cheaper than one man”—Lady Gaga’s drama Sykes called “House of Random Accents,” Golden Globes state (now relegated to the anniversary package, said Sykes) and girlfriends of Leonardo DiCaprio. The most obvious political point came at the end of their routine, where they promised a great night and then hammered into a Florida “Don’t Say Like Me” bill.
“For you people in Florida, we’re going to have a gay night,” Sykes said.
The first broadcast award, fittingly, went to Ariana DeBose, whose win came 60 years after Rita Moreno won for the same role in the original 1961 West Side Story. DeBose thanked Moreno for leading the way “to tons of Anitas like me.”
“Imagine this little girl in the back seat of a white Ford Focus, and look in her eyes: you see a gay, open-minded, colourfull, Afro-Latin woman who has found her strength in life through art. That is, I suppose,” said Debus. Someone about who you are or you find yourself living in the gray spaces, I promise you this – there really is a place for us.”
Pushed by a chart-topping soundtrack, Disney’s hit “Encanto” won Best Animated Feature. Lin-Manuel Miranda, who wrote the hit songs for the movie, missed the party after his wife tested positive for COVID-19. Ryusuke Hamaguchi’s three-hour Japanese drama “Drive My Car”, one of the most popular films of the year, won the award for best international film.
Two years into the pandemic, and under the warm California sun Sunday, the glamorous Hollywood ritual is once again in swing, with a glowing red carpet and a COVID-tested audience. Before the conversation with Smith, Rock remarked with amusement: “Nobody’s wearing a mask. Just a raw dog breath tonight.”
To help restore the cultural spotlight, the Academy Awards have relied heavily on musical performances (Billie Eilish, Reba McIntyre), film anniversaries (“The Godfather,” “Pulp Fiction,” “White Men Can’t Jump”) and numerous references to the breakout song. “Encanto”, “We’re not talking about Bruno” as much as possible. Ukraine-born Mila Kunis led a 30-second minute’s silence for Ukraine. Some stars, such as Sean Penn, lobbied the academy to have Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky speak at the ceremony.
But aside from a few blue streaks spotted on the red carpet, politics has rarely taken center stage. Instead, she doubled down on the Academy Awards for dazzling, and movies as an escape. Producers brought in the likes of BTS and Tony Hawk to attract more viewers. Some things worked better than others. The fan-favorite awards, as voted by Twitter users, were overtaken by Zack Snyder fans, who voted for Snyder’s version of “Justice League” and “Army of the Dead.”
The happy films also did well. “CODA” also won for Best Adapted Screenplay. Kenneth Branagh’s biopic Belfast, a nostalgic, soulful family drama filmed in black and white, received Best Original Screenplay.
Eilish and her brother Vince won for Bond theme for No Time to Die, a song released before the pandemic started.
Sunday’s Oscars ceremony began off-camera, with the night’s top eight awards handed out at the Dolby Theater before the start of ABC’s television broadcast. Dolby was pretty much full in time for the introductory show at 7 p.m. ET, which the Academy dubbed “the golden hour.” The speeches were later edited into the broadcast.
“Dune” achieved an early lead in those early awards, and it held that up all night. Among the top 10 picture nominees of the year, “Dune” won six leading awards for production design, cinematography, editing, visual and sound effects and Hans Zimmer’s results.
Greg Fraser’s cinematic win deprived him of a single opportunity to make an Oscar history. Some rooted for Ari Wenger, whose film The Power of the Dog made Jane Campion the first woman to win Best Cinematography, the only Oscar category no woman has won at the Academy Awards in nine decades—plus history
The best make-up and hairstyle went to Linda Dodds, Stephanie Ingram and Justin Raleigh for “Tami Fay’s Eyes”. Chastain was among several Academy members who believed that all awards should have been handed out live during the broadcast. Chastain hugged each winner while they took the stage.
Behind this year’s TV broadcast changes, there’s been an alarm about the rapid decline in Academy Awards rates. While dips were common on all major network awards shows, last year’s show drew only about 10 million viewers, down from half of the 23.6 million in the previous year. A decade ago, it was close to 40 million. Will the slap heard around the world help raise the ratings?
“Welp,” Oscar producer Will Packer tweeted after the show. “I said it wouldn’t be boring.”
Associated Press writers Lindsey Barr, Jocelyn Novick and Andrew Dalton contributed to this report.
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