On Hollywood’s biggest night it was women taking center stage with historic wins, triumphant performances and the utmost professionalism. There was also a dark moment when Will Smith lost control.
Let’s start by giving the women the praise they all deserve.
This was the first year the Oscars were hosted by three women, Amy Schumer, Wanda Sykes and Regina Hall. Schumer has received some backlash for a joke she made at the expense of Leonardo DiCaprio about the age of his girlfriends but overall the reviews of the trio are positive. They were praised for injecting humor at just the right moments and also continuing to bring levity after a controversial incident took place, more on that later.
Jane Campion became the third female director to ever win an Oscar for her work on The Power of The Dog. This also made history as she is the first woman to win a year after another woman, Chloé Zhao got an Oscar for Nomadland in 2021.
Female directors now account for 3.1% of all Oscars given out for directing. That statistic may not seem like something to be celebrated but back to back female winners hopefully suggest a change in the tides and that the percentage of female directors taking the trophy home will only continue to rise.
The Power of The Dog and CODA were in a tight race for Best Picture. Both films boast female directors and CODA clinched the award last night. This is another historic win as it marks the first time in 94 years that a film directed by a woman won Best Picture.
While CODA’s director Sian Hedley was snubbed in the best director category, not even receiving a nomination, she did take home the award for best screenplay adaptation.
"Apple made history by nabbing Hollywood’s most coveted honor… 'CODA,' which has a predominantly Deaf cast, marks the first time a streaming service has won the best picture Oscar." https://t.co/X32lgLGcfn
— Brian Stelter (@brianstelter) March 28, 2022
Taking home the prize for best supporting actress was Ariana DeBose, she won for her portrayal of Anita in Steven Spielberg’s West Side Story. Her victory marks the first time a queer woman of colour has won an Oscar for acting. She also happens to be the second Latina to win, following co-star Rita Moreno, who won for the same role in the 1961 version of West Side Story.
DeBose used her time on stage to shine a light on the LGBTQA+ community. In her acceptance speech, she said ‘Lastly, imagine this little girl in the back seat of a white Ford Focus, look into her eyes you see a queer, an openly queer woman of color, an Afro-Latina, who found her strength in life through art and that is what I believe we are here to celebrate.So, to anybody who has ever questioned your identity, ever, ever, or you find yourself living in the gray spaces I promise you: there is indeed a place for us,”
Jessica Chastain finally won her Oscar, she has been nominated twice before but received the honor for her portrayal of American Evangelist Tammy Faye Messener in The Eyes of Tammy Faye. She also used her acceptance speech to touch on issues in the LGBTQA+ community calling out the ‘discriminatory and bigoted legislations that is sweeping our country with the only goal of further dividing us.’
Beyonce began the musical performances with ‘Be Alive’ which was nominated for best song from the film King Richard. The film has received some criticism for how it focuses on the father of tennis greats Serena and Venus Williams as opposed to the women themselves.
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And it was indeed the film’s leading actor Will Smith who stole the show on Sunday.
Comedian Chris Rock was on stage presenting the award for best documentary when he made a joke directed at Will Smith’s wife Jada Pinkett Smith in reference to her shaved head. The actress suffers from alopecia which causes hair loss, a condition Rock may not have been aware that she has. In footage it appears Smith initially laughed at the joke while his wife rolled her eyes; what followed was one of the most awkward awards show moments in history.
On the broadcast we see the men shouting back and forth at one another but the words are bleeped out. However, international sources have released the unedited footage that shows Smith telling Rock to ‘keep my wife’s name out of your f—ing mouth’ after he stormed on stage and slapped Rock in the face.
Moments later Smith received the academy award for best actor for King Richard, a victory tarnished by his actions. His speech was filled with apologies to the academy, the Williams family and even his fellow nominees for his actions but he never apologized to Rock specifically.
He went on to compare himself to Richard Williams saying ‘Art imitates life, I look like the crazy father just like they said about Richard Williams… But, love will make you do crazy things’ at this point that seems like a futile response to an unnecessary action and frankly it is one women everywhere have heard too many times.
Smith has not only done a disservice to the females making history at the Oscars, the Williams sisters and Richard Williams, he has done a disservice to himself. Author Bernardine Evaristo criticized Smith for how his actions let down the whole black community ‘What a thing to wake up to. Only the fifth black man in nearly 100 years to win an Oscar for male lead, and the first in 16 years, resorts to violence instead of utilising the power of words to slay Chris Rock. Then he claims God and Love made him do it.’
What a thing to wake up to. Only the fifth black man in nearly 100 years to win an Oscar for male lead, and the first in 16 years, resorts to violence instead of utilising the power of words to slay Chris Rock. Then he claims God and Love made him do it. https://t.co/yz218cZOIu
— Bernardine Evaristo (@BernardineEvari) March 28, 2022
The Academy have confirmed that the slap was not scripted or planned and tweeted that they do not ‘condone violence of any form.’
This morning’s news should have focused on the incredible women who achieved so much at this year’s Oscars but Smith’s actions cast a cloud upon the whole evening. The 2022 Oscars should be remembered as a historic moment for women: it boasted a diverse array of winners; Beyonce’s opening performance was a masterclass in the power of art; and it was three women that led the entire show.
Here is hoping women continue to make history at the Oscars so that maybe next year the headlines can regale their accomplishments without them being shrouded in controversy.
Editor’s Note: The opinions expressed here by Impakter.com columnists are their own, not those of Impakter.com. — In the Featured Photo: Display of Oscars statues at ABC Studios, New York. Featured Photo Credit: Harold Neal