HOLLYWOOD HILLS—Well awards season is coming to end, as the 2022 Academy Awards, better known as the Oscars were handed out on Sunday, March 27 from the famed Dolby Theatre in Hollywood. Now, let me be clear the Oscars didn’t disappear during the pandemic, we just had a scaled down version of the ceremony in 2021. I hate to say this, but I just wasn’t that excited this Awards season. I don’t know why, but I hope this doesn’t mean my interest in cinema is dying down.
Perhaps it’s the crop of Best Picture nominees this year; NONE of them wowed me in a good way. I still think 2013 had the best year of films competing for Best Picture in the past decade. I mean you had “12 Years a Slave,” “American Hustle,” “Dallas Buyers Club,” “Gravity,” “The Wolf of Wall Street” amongst several others, all incredible flicks, where honestly I would have been happy with any of those flicks winning because they were all unique and incredible in their own way. This year, it’s a two film race with frontrunners were “CODA” and “The Power of the Dog.”
However, when the dust settled it was “Dune” and “CODA” that walked away with the most trophies for the night. “CODA” won all 3 of the categories it was nominated for, while “Dune” won an impressive 6 trophies all in the technical arena. Felt hard to watch “The Power of the Dog” which picked up the most nominations with 12, but only walked away with one for Best Director, but that is how things transpire some time.
I know people in the Deaf community who loved “CODA” and others not so much because they felt the movie characterized the deaf as needing help. “The Power of the Dog” is a nod to “Brokeback Mountain,” but plenty saw the latter as a superior flick. The ceremony eliminated 8 categories from the live telecast and handed out the trophies earlier in the night. I’m still bitter about that because it is a slap in the face to those artists who worked so hard and for them to not get the proper shine during a once in the lifetime opportunity it’s frustrating. Hell, the ceremony has always been 3 to 4 hours for decades, so I’d take that extra hour for those categories to receive the appropriate due.
“Dune” raked up early trophies for Best Sound, Best Original Score, Best Film Editing and Best Production Design. Best Animated Shot was a victory for “The Windshield Wiper,” while “The Long Goodbye” won for Best Live-Action Short. Best Makeup and Hairstyle went to the team behind “The Eyes of Tammy Faye.” Best Documentary Short was an Oscar victory for “The Queen Of Basketball.”
Tennis stars Venus and Serena Williams kicked off the ceremony with an introduction of Beyonce singing her Oscar-nominated song “Be Alive” from a tennis court from Compton. It was visually stunning to witness, but I do question if it was actually live or pre-recorded. If I see Beyonce at the actual Dolby Theatre then it seals for me that the performance was pre-recorded people, she did show up later in the ceremony dressed in yellow. So yeah, that performance had to be pre-recorded people.
The ceremony kicked off with not one, not two, but three hosts people: comedians Wanda Sykes, Regina Hall and Amy Schumer. Hosting the Oscars is not easy and trying to get a group of Hollywood’s elite to laugh when you have so much seriousness in the world is a hard pill to swallow America. That introduction by DJ Khaled was a bit much for me, but I loved the way the Dolby Theatre was set up for the nominees with spacing an interesting look to say the least.
Schumer, Hall and Sykes did have some interesting quips, talking about pay equality between men and women, the Coronavirus pandemic, the controversy of some of those awards being handed out earlier, the Golden Globes, “Space Jam: A New Legacy” and LeBron James, Samuel L. Jackson and the ‘Don’t Say Gay’ law in Florida. These women are actually clicking on stage this might be quite the entertaining show people. In the past we’ve never had an introduction of the presenters for the ceremony and let’s be honest, we did NOT need it for 2022 either people. Amy kicked off her solo hosting duties and she was delivering the laughs with some major consistency and even taking jabs against actor Leonardo DiCaprio and “Don’t Look Up.”
The first trophy of the night for Best Supporting Actress was a victory Ariana DeBose for “West Side Story.” It was a very powerful and succinct speech people. It was now time for Hall to take a stint at hosting, and she poked fun about COVID-19 testing and actual had celebrities come back stage to get tested, but it was all about Hall taking all the hot men single men Bradley Cooper, Tyler Perry, Simu Liu and Timothee Chalamet, that soon turned into a COVID pat down for Jason Momoa and Josh Brolin; it was hilarious.
“Dune” won the prize for Best Cinematography besting “The Power of the Dog” which many thought was going to win. “Dune” also walked away with the Oscar for Achievement in Visual Effects. That tribute to 60 years of James Bond was fun, and Sean Connery hands down is the best Bond people. The song “Dos Oruguitas” performed by Sebastian Yatra.
No surprise “Encanto” won the Oscar for Best Animated Film. It was time for Sykes to have her solo moment to the Academy of Motion Pictures and Sciences to that Museum that the organization has been working on for quite some time. Time for another acting trophy as last year’s winner for “Minari,” Yuh-Jung Youn who was hilarious presenting the Oscar for Best Supporting Actor to Troy Kotsur for “CODA.” Kotsur made history becoming the first Deaf actor to win in the Academy’s history. It was so sweet to see Youn sign Kotsur’s win while opening the envelope. Kotsur was in virtual tears accepting his Oscar. Kotsur paying tribute to his father was so touching.
The Oscar for Best International Film went to “Drive My Car.” Country legend Reba McEntire took the stage to perform Best Original Song nominee “Somehow You Do.” Definitely the strongest vocals so far of the night. I will admit the first hour of the ceremony was strong, but about 90 minutes in the pacing start to slow down and the punch was lacking. The Academy Award for Achievement in Costume Design went to “Cruella.” That acceptance speech seemed to drag people and go a LOT longer than expected.
Look I was happy to hear the rendition of “We Don’t Talk About Bruno.” Why it’s the one song that both of my nieces sing in its entirety every single time I see them. They sing the song in full entirety and it’s just so catchy and reminds me of “Let it Go” from “Frozen” people. That skit of Sykes as King Richard, Hall as Tammy Faye and Schumer as Spider-Man was damn hilarious people.
Best Original Screenplay was a victory for Kenneth Branagh for “Belfast.” That was one that people weren’t sure about, but I am indeed glad to see Branagh get a bit of love for that movie that has so much heart. For Best Adapted Screenplay it was Sian Heder who won for “CODA.” I’m sorry, but the song “No Time to Die” is so boring. It’s nothing compared to that epic “Skyfall” sang by Adele. Yeah, it feels like the 94th Annual Academy Awards is going to surpass 3 hours people. Comedian Chris Rock took to the stage and delivered some jokes and it made think how much fun it would have been if Rock hosted the ceremony. What the hell was that with Will Smith and Chris Rock?
That joke Rock delivered to Jada Pinkett Smith went left and it was apparent that Smith was NOT happy and traded some harsh words to Rock and cursing transpired and we had some bleeps and delays. I thought my TV was acting up, nope after much back and forth it was determined, Smith really slapped Rock when he took the stage. Oh that was just awful because I thought it was part of a skit, but nope, Will Smith assaulted Chris Rock on stage, then returned to his seat and was visibly upset.
For those not in the know, Smith’s wife has alopecia, so that “G.I. Jane 2” joke was lame and tasteless people, however, it still doesn’t justify what Smith did. It went way too far and Smith returned to his seat and later took to the Oscar stage when he accepted the Best Actor trophy. He should have issued an apology to Chris Rock. Joke was bad, but assault is assault and its not justifiable in any sense people.
Quest Love won the Oscar for Best Documentary Feature for “Summer of Soul.” Seriously of all people, we have Sean ‘Diddy’ Combs pay tribute to Francis Ford Coppola’s iconic 1972 masterpiece “The Godfather?” It just baffled my brain completely. He didn’t even know what camera to look at people.
However, it was an absolute moment seeing Al Pacino, Robert De Niro and Francisco Ford Coppola take the stage people and receive a standing ovation from the audience. It’s already 2 hours and 40 minutes into the ceremony and we still have 5 trophies that need to be handed out. So much for cutting out those 8 categories people to cut time? The In Memoriam Tribute helped cinematic lovers realize just how many greats we have lost this year including the iconic Sidney Poitier as Tyler Perry kicked off the In Memoriam segment.
After about 30 minutes of slow pacing, the prize for Best Original Song went to “No Time to Die” and Billie was so happy to accept her Oscar people. Things need to sped up people because the show is honestly dragging at this point. So it’s time for a big one, Best Director which was presented by Oscar winner Kevin Costner who won for “Dances With Wolves.” Costner’s intro was a bit longer than it needed to be people, but in the end it was Jane Campion who became the third woman to win for “The Power of the Dog.”
It was a “Pulp Fiction” reunion between Samuel L. Jackson, John Travolta and Uma Thurman who presented the prize for Best Actor to Will Smith for “King Richard.” Yeah, I think if Will hadn’t won a lot of people would have been upset. It was apparent that Smith was emotionally rocked while giving his acceptance speech. Smith was pouring his heart on the stage and it was riveting to watch.
Damn that quote from Denzel Washington to Will Smith was superb and I don’t know if it was directly him addressing the issue that transpired with Chris Rock. What the hell is ABC doing with this blocking the telecast? Yeah it was indeed Smith apologizing for what transpired moments earlier in a skit that went wrong. It is a speech that deserves a second viewing people.
The one award of the night where I truly believe it was a toss-up where ANYONE could win was Best Actress, but in the end Anthony Hopkins presented that Oscar to Jessica Chastain for “The Eyes of Tammy Faye.” Chastain’s acceptance speech really focused on the importance of love in a time where there is so much hate in the country at the moment. Couldn’t have been echoed any better.
Well I was not expecting Lady Gaga and Liza Minelli taking the stage to present the final award of the evening for Best Picture to “CODA.” It was truly a historic moment to witness at the ceremony with the movie making history. Truly a powerful flick people and one that deserved that accolade; how often does a movie win ever single award that it is nominated for? Not often, but it happened this year people. What a ceremony, it was interesting, but the problem is for all the good, there was one ugly moment that unfortunately all everyone is going to talk about, not the other speeches and big moments of the night, but a slap and heated argument that transpired a little over 2 hours into the ceremony.
One can only hope for better for the 2023 Academy Awards people!