The Best of the Oscars and the Worst of the Golden Raspberries
Last year’s Academy Awards presentation was so dull, it will be surprising to learn if anyone, other than myself, watched the show this year. Those who did were probably surprised by what they saw. Not because anything was shocking (other on that Will Smith/Chris Rock altercation – more on that below) but because the producers of the show were able to breathe in some new life into a very old, dusty tradition. Those wanting more representation of women or people of color got exactly that without shaming white men in the process. However, some things never change. The goal of wrapping things up within three hours was missed yet again.
Although the big winners of the night were the films Dune (winning six awards and Coda (winning three including Best Picture), this year’s group of winners was a nice mix. The stage set looked incredible and Amy Schumer, Wanda Sykes and Regina Hall did a great job with their hosting duties with a little snark but little meanness. Now for the highlights:
Most Cringeworthy Moment
No doubt the most talked about moment of the show took place near the end when Chris Rock took to the stage. He took time to act like he was the host for the night making a few light-hearted jokes at some of the celebrities’ expense including Jada Smith. Rock said, “Jada I love you. G.I. Jane 2, can’t wait to see it, all right?”
You see, Jada sported a super short haircut (which still looked beautiful). She has gone public about her struggles with alopecia which causing hair loss. The joke was in bad taste and Jada scowled but her husband was having none of it. Her husband didn’t think it was funny either. Most of what happened next was not shown on TV. Smith marched on stage and took a swing at Rock with an open palm. With the sound turned off, Rock apparently said, “Will Smith just smacked the (expletive) out of me on live television.”
Cameras were then turned to Smith (but the sound still off) who was apparently shouting, “You keep my wife’s name out of (expletive) mouth.” Rock finished the scene with, “That was the greatest night in the history of television.”
After a commercial break, Amy Schumer said that she was backstage changing and asked, “Did I miss anything?” giving a fist bump with Jada.
(Left) Chris Rock, (Right) Lady Gaga and Liza Minnelli (ABC)
While I miss the old montages of great movie moments in former Oscars, it was nice to see mini tributes to The Godfather, James Bond and reunions of stars. One of the biggest surprises of the night came at the end with Lady Gaga and Liza Minnelli announcing the winner for Best Picture.
Odd Way to Start the Show
Strangely, the award show began outside of Dolby Theatre at Ovation Hollywood from the Compton Tennis Courts where Beyonce performed her song that is featured in the movie King Richard. While it was pretty elaborate with lots of musicians and singers, the overall effect really seemed disjointed with the rest of the production. It probably would have worked better at a different placement of the special. Then, when the show went to the theater, the hosts were introduced but interrupted by DJ Khaled who jumped in to give his introduction of the hosts. It was clunky and just didn’t work.
Best Song Number
The best song of the night wasn’t even nominated. The voice cast of Disney’s Encanto sang a fantastic version of “We Don’t Talk About Bruno.”
Unique Twist to the In Memoriam Segment
Last year, the Oscars got some heat for showing those honored at a super-fast speed with a rather upbeat song. This year, the photos were shown alongside a gospel choir that was also rather upbeat. It was actually pretty incredible and still respectful.
Best Reaction of the Night
Bille Ellish, who sang the theme song for the James Bond film, No Time to Die, had the best reaction winning half of the Best Song award with her brother Finneas. “What is this?” she shouted before giving her acceptance speech. Finneas added that they appreciate their parents as people.
Best Response from the Audience
Troy Kotsur, winner of the Actor in a Supporting Role, won over the audience as well. “This is dedicated to the deaf community, the ‘Coda’ community, and the disabled community. This is our moment,” said Kotsur. Instead of clapping for him, everyone instead waved their hands back and forth, which is the hand motion in sign language for applause. The crowd did it again when the movie won the award for Best Picture. It was very touching.
Top Row: Jane Campion, Troy Kotsur and Ariana DeBose
Bottom Row: Jessica Chastain and Will Smith
And the winners were…
Actor in a Leading Role: Will Smith/King Richard
Actor in a Supporting Role: Troy Kotsur/Coda
Actress in a Leading Role: Jessica Chastain/The Eyes of Tammy Faye
Actress in a Supporting Role: Ariana DeBose/West Side Story
Animated Feature Film: Encanto
Short Film (animated): The Windshield Wiper
Short Film (live action): The Long Goodbye
Costume Design: Cruella
Visual Effects: Dune
Writing (adapted screenplay): Coda
Writing (original screenplay): Belfast
International Feature Film: Drive My Car
Documentary Feature: Summer of Soul
Documentary Short Subject: The Queen of Basketball
Film Editing: Dune
Makeup and Hairstyling: The Eyes of Tammy Faye
Music (original score): Dune
Music (original song): No Time to Die
Production Design: Dune
Directing: Jane Campion/The Power of the Dog
Best Picture: Coda
And Now for the Razzies Which Were “Awarded” a Couple of Days Earlier…
Worst Actor: LeBron James/Space Jam: A New Legacy
Worst Actress: Jeanna De Waal/ Diana: The Musical
Worst Supporting Actor: Jared Leto/House of Gucci
Worst Supporting Actress: Judy Kaye/Diana: The Musical
Worst Performance by Bruce Willis in a 2021 Movie: Cosmic Sin
Worst Screen Combo: LeBron James & any Warner cartoon character he dribbles on Space Jam: A New Legacy
Worst Screenplay: Diana: The Musical
Worst Prequel, Remake, Rip-Off or Sequel: Space Jam: A New Legacy
Worst Director: Christopher Ashley/Diana: The Musical
Worst Picture: Diana: The Musical
Razzie Redeemer Awards: Will Smith/King Richard; Jamie Dornan/Belfast; Nicolas Cage/Pig
I write about pop culture, arts and entertainment in the greater Seattle area.