Let’s just be honest about this.
No matter what else you or I might have to say about the Academy Awards, the only thing that anyone is going to remember about this year’s ceremony is Will Smith walking up on stage and slapping Chris Rock. That’s it. That’s what these awards are going to be known for. Whenever this ceremony is written about in the future, the accompanying picture won’t be of the cast and crew of CODA. Instead, it’ll be Will Smith slapping Chris Rock.
The Slap, itself, was unpleasant to watch. Will Smith sitting back down in his chair and continuing to shout at Chris Rock was unpleasant to watch. It left me feeling awkward and uncomfortable and I was just watching it on TV. I can only guess what it was like the celebrities sitting in the auditorium. You know that they were probably terrified that something unexpected would happen with the vote for Best Actor. At that moment, there was probably a lot of worry about what would happen if Andrew Garfield pulled off an upset.
Will Smith, however, did win Best Actor. After making a few “fierce protector” excuses, he did, eventually, get around to apologizing to the Academy and “my fellow nominees.” He also did a lot of God talk and I’m not sure if it’s a good idea to mention God twenty minutes after slapping someone on national TV. He mentioned that Denzel Washington had apparently taken him aside and warned him that the Devil would come for him at the height of his success. Which …. I mean, okay. The thing is, Will Smith is 53 years old and he’s been a star longer than I’ve been alive. By this point, the Devil should have moved on to someone else.
A few notes on the rest of the show:
It was good to see the show taking place in a theater, as opposed to a train station. Just by using an actual theater, this year’s Oscar ceremony was a significant improvement over the previous year’s.
The hosts were pretty boring. There was nothing gained by having three of them. Amy Schumer needs to fire whoever picked out her first outfit. If Schumer picked it out herself, she needs to hire someone to pick out her outfits. Regina Hall looked lost. Wanda Sykes was okay but that museum segment bogged down the whole show.
CODA is a likable film and it’s obvious that the audience appreciated its heartwarming approach more than the emotionally detached style of The Power of the Dog. The fact that this tiny little indie film managed to defeat the expensive Netflix slate was gratifying in a David vs. Goliath sort of way. CODA, if we’re going to be honest, really does feel more like a made-for-TV movie than a feature film but I think that, emotionally and mentally, people were just ready for a positive movie that wouldn’t leave them feeling disturbed or depressed. After two years straight of pandemic panic, voters were perhaps not inclined to honor a film that ends with its main character dying on anthrax poisoning.
Dune swept the technical awards and ended the night with the most Oscars. Dune II is probably going to win Best Picture.
Troy Kostur’s acceptance speech was definitely the most moving part of the night. It’s a bit of a shame that it’s going to be forever overshadowed by The Slap.
Politically, it was pretty much a typical Oscar ceremony. At this point, I think anyone who cares enough to be offended by Hollywood’s liberalism has probably already stopped watching the Oscars.
As the Academy promised, the cut categories (i.e., the Oscars there were awarded before the start of the live show) were edited into and shown during the show. They were awkwardly inserted, so that we would see the people in the auditorium reacting to a speech that was given two hours earlier. It just came across as weird and fake and, whenever the hosts did anything, I found myself thinking, “They cut categories for this.” Even a brilliant hosting trio would have suffered as a result. In this case, you had Amy Schumer dressed like Spider-Man on live TV while the winner for Best Film Editing had to make due with edited highlights of his speech.
What’s hilarious is that, even with all of ABC’s new measures, this year’s Oscar run longer than the previous two years. The total show clocked in at nearly 220 minutes. For comparison, that’s 20 minutes longer than The Godfather, Part II. Will Smith’s acceptance speech alone ran for seven minutes. Of course, would you want to be the person tasked to tell Will Smith to wrap it up?
It was hard to tell but I guess Army of the Dead won the Twitter Poll and Zack Snyder’s Justice League won the Oscar Cheer Moment thing. Even from just watching on TV, it was obvious how annoyed everyone in the auditorium was with them. Personally, I have to respect the ability of the Snyder fandom to game the system.
The interpretive dance that went along with the In Memoriam segment was distracting and annoying. If I’m ever included in a memoriam segment, I’m hoping there will be no gospel music and no interpretive dancing.
The Godfather tribute was nice but I wish they had gotten Sofia Coppola to do the introduction instead of Sean “Whatever” Combs.
In the end, the Oscars weren’t as much of a train wreck as I thought they would be but it was still a fairly unfortunate ceremony. The category cutting didn’t sit well and I doubt I’ll ever be comfortable with that. (It’s something that I hope will be abandoned in the future.) This ceremony will always be known for The Slap and probably not much else. I would say that I would hope the Academy and ABC would learn from this but the only thing they care about is ratings. If the ratings are good, ABC will take the credit. If the rating are bad, the Academy will get the blame. Who knows what next year will bring?
Speaking of next year, that’s what I am now concentrating on! There’s a lot of good movies coming out over the next few months and a whole new Oscar race to prepare for! Let’s get to it!