The 2022 Academy Awards took place last night and to put it bluntly, it was an absolute shit-show. From cutting categories and terribly editing them into the show, the flat and boring musical numbers, the useless hosts, and Will Smith, this was one of the most chaotic and messy Oscars I have ever seen. But, despite how bad the show was overall, there were still some nice moments throughout the show. Here is my recap of the highlights and lowlights of the 2022 Oscars.
The Good: CODA Wins Best Picture
Was CODA my favorite movie of 2021? No. Was CODA my favorite Best Picture nominee? Also no. But CODA winning Best Picture was pretty remarkable. It is the first film ever to win Best Picture with a mostly deaf cast. It is the first film to win Best Picture that was predominantly on a streaming service (Apple TV+). It is the first film to premiere at the Sundance Film Festival to win Best Picture. It is a pure independent film that won Best Picture.
Anyone who claims CODA was a bad Best Picture win is insane. In a time where it feels like films are constrained to only a few studios, CODA, a movie that did not have distribution when it premiered at Sundance, beat out major studios for Best Picture. It isn’t my favorite Best Picture win of all time, but the speech was nice, the crowd loved it, and this is great for independent cinema and for non-franchise films.
The Bad: Cutting Categories “For Time”
Before the telecast even began, this was already a hotly discussed topic and one many people were mad about. The producers of the Oscars and ABC decided to cut eight categories from the main telecast, presenting them an hour before the actual telecast took place for the sake of time. They then (horribly) cut these awards into the show, in an attempt to make it look like they were happening live, but also not. It was a mess and terribly done, like most of the night.
Here’s the thing though: the show still went long! The goal was to have the entire show wrapped up in three hours and the actual runtime of the show was three hours and forty-two minutes. They weren’t even close and they actually ran twenty minutes longer than the 2021 show, which featured all twenty-three categories and speeches. Rather than include those eight categories, the show was filled with flat musical numbers and poor tributes, and anniversary reunions (more on that later). This was a bad decision from the get-go and the fact that that show ran long anyway solidified it. This should never happen again.
What?: Will Smith vs Chris Rock
Let’s just get the is out of the way because it seems to be the biggest thing everyone is talking about from the night. I’m not going to get too much into it because there is so much bad discourse already, it isn’t worth it.
The short: Chris Rock was presenting the award for Best Documentary Feature and made a joke about Jada Pinkett Smith’s bald hair (she has been diagnosed with alopecia) and Will Smith walked up on stage and slapped Chris Rock across the face. Rock was visibly shaken, as was everyone who was watching the show. Was it a bit? Was it real? It became abundantly clear that this was not a bit when Smith angrily yelled from the crowd, “Keep my wife’s name out of your fucking mouth!” Rock barely made it through the rest of the presentation.
I will not share my opinion on what happened. All I will say is that it was genuinely one of the wildest things I have ever seen on an awards show.
The Best: Lady Gaga Saying “I gotcha” to Liza Minelli
Presenting Best Picture at the end of the night was Lady Gaga and legendary Oscar-winner Liza Minelli, who won Best Actress fifty years ago for her performance in Cabaret. Minelli came out in a wheelchair, looking very frail and when given the opportunity to speak, she was fumbling her lines and at times it felt like she didn’t know what she was doing. Gaga assisted where she needed to, but it was heartbreaking to see from a legendary entertainer.
Just before the show cut away to show the montage of the Best Picture nominees, the microphone caught Gaga whispering to Minelli, “I gotcha.” It was a beautiful moment from Gaga, showing a tremendous amount of respect and empathy to Minelli. In a night of chaos and nonsense, it was this heartwarming, small moment that really stood out to me during this otherwise horrible awards show.
The Bad: The Presenters
Not every presenter of the night was terrible. I did like Kevin Costner’s monolog before presenting Best Director and Josh Brolin and Jason Mamoa were fun and charming, but overall, everything else was very lackluster. Most of the presenters were in pairs and hardly any of them had any chemistry. I also noticed that there were more T.V. stars than movie stars presenting, which is bizarre on a night celebrating a year in movies.
The biggest problem here was who they had present these tributes. The two biggest tributes were for James Bond and The Godfather. For James Bond, they have Tony Hawk, Kelly Slater, and Shawn White present the tribute, which ended up just being a montage. Why are extreme sports athletes presenting this? Why not have the living James Bonds, Timothy Dalton, Pierce Brosnan, and Daniel Craig present it? Or other past Bond villains like Javier Bardem, Christoph Waltz, Christopher Walken, Jonathon Pryce, Rami Malek, etc. Or even just Judi Dench, who played M for nearly twenty years!
The Godfather tribute, which came immediately after the Smith/Rock fiasco, was presented by Sean “P. Diddy” Combs. What? Why? Despite Combs doing pretty well holding it together following the Smith and Rock incident, what does he have to do with The Godfather? Maybe have Scorsese, a friend of director Francis Ford Coppola and gangster film titan, present it. Combs didn’t make any sense and none of it makes sense.
Why Were They There?: The Hosts
The 2022 Oscars were the first Oscars since 2019’s ceremony with a host, with Amy Schumer, Regina Hall, and Wanda Sykes taking the reins. The three hosts had no chemistry together and everything felt forced. But worse, they didn’t even feel necessary. They only had a couple of bits that mostly didn’t work but were otherwise irrelevant and did nothing to move the show along. If you’re going to have hosts, have them host. Don’t have them pop in and out. I’m all for a host, but get someone who is funny, doesn’t overtake the show, and can keep the show moving along with it is slow.
The Good: Acceptance Speeches
Every Oscar year offers up great Oscar speeches from the winners and this year is no different. There were no bad speeches, but there were some that really stood out, mostly the ones that offered up the most emotion. I’m not going to break down why these speeches were my favorite, I’ll let you watch them and see for yourself.
The Bad: Twitter Awards Instead of Governors Awards
Much like the cutting of the categories during the telecast, this was another terrible idea. In an attempt to reach a “broader” (younger) audience, the Oscars implemented a Fan Favorite award and the Cheer-worthy moment award that was voted on by people on Twitter. The winner of the Fan Favorite was Zack Snyder’s The Army of the Dead and the Cheer-worthy award went to Flash Entering the Speed Force from Zack Snyder’s Justice League. Clearly, the Snyder-heads got ahold of Twitter, and these “awards” were shown in brief montages. There were no acceptance speeches or anything. So what was the point of it and why did it need to be included?
And what got pushed out in its place? Not seeing the acceptance speeches from the Governors Awards, which are usually lifetime achievements awards of sorts that are presented the previous evening. This year’s winners of the Governors Awards were comedy genius Elaine May, Oscar-nominated actress Liv Ulman, Oscar-nominated actor Samuel L. Jackson, and the great Danny Glover, who was given a humanitarian award. What would you have rather watched: two cheap montages of movies Twitter likes or Samuel L. Jackson and Elaine May receiving an Oscar and their acceptance speech? If you chose the former, you shouldn’t be watching the Oscars.
Good Idea, Badly Executed: Tributes
The Oscars this year wanted to pay tribute to some classic movies. They did this two ways: with half-assed montages and by reuniting the core cast of these films. We saw the core cast of White Men Can’t Jump (Wesley Snipes, Rosie Perez, and Woody Harrelson) present Best Cinematography and the core cast of Pulp Fiction (John Travolta, Uma Thurman, and Samuel L. Jackson) present Best Actor. We also got a montage for 60 years of James Bond and 50 years of The Godfather, with an appearance from director Francis Ford Coppola and actors Al Pacino and Robert De Niro.
I generally like the idea of this and these tributes. One of my favorite things that the Academy did in the past was have five previous winners of an acting category present the year’s winner (they did this in 2009). However, nothing worked here and it all felt like a good idea that wasn’t fully fleshed out. A White Men Can’t Jump reunion, a movie I love, doesn’t make any sense because the movie had no love at the Oscars when it came out. The Pulp Fiction reunion was nice to see but was very forced as Travolta and Thurman quoted the movie while Jackson talked. The Bond tribute was kept simply to a montage and The Godfather has a montage, set to 90s hip-hop music, didn’t include a lot of the remaining living cast, and only saw Francis Ford Coppola speak and nothing from De Niro and Pacino.
I have so many questions about all of this. Where was Diane Keaton? James Caan? Robert DuVall? Why didn’t De Niro and Pacino speak? Why was there nobody from Bond there to say anything? Why White Men Can’t Jump? Why not another 1992 movie like Best Picture winner Unforgiven or other Oscar nominees like A Few Good Men? Again, I like the idea and I like when they do tributes, but they need to think this through and do it right next time.
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