Oscars 2022: Coda Triumphs While Will Smith Attacks Chris Rock on Stage

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New York: Coda has been named this year’s best picture at an Oscars ceremony that featured an unusual confrontation between Will Smith and Chris Rock.

The Apple TV+ drama, bought from 2021’s Sundance film festival for a record-breaking $25m, became the first film from a streamer to win the award. It’s a remake of the French film La Famille Bélier, focusing on the only hearing member of a deaf family.

“Thank you to the Academy for letting us make history,” said producer Philippe Rousselet. Producer Patrick Wachsberger thanked the Academy for “recognising a movie of love and family in this difficult time”.

Troy Kotsur also won best supporting actor for his role in the film, making him the second deaf actor to bring home an Oscar, joining his co-star Marlee Matlin who won for Children of a Lesser God in 1987. “I really want to thank all of the wonderful deaf theatre stages where I was allowed and given the opportunity to develop my craft as an actor,” he said in an emotive speech. “This is dedicated to the deaf community, the Coda community and the disabled community. This is our moment.”

Coda’s writer-director Sian Heder also won best-adapted screenplay becoming the first woman to bring home the award by herself since Emma Thompson in 1995. Coda has become the first best picture winner with less than four nominations since 1932’s Grand Hotel.

Will Smith had the night’s most viral moment with Chris Rock after the comedian made a joke about his wife Jada Pinkett’s shaved head, saying he was looking forward to GI Jane 2. Pinkett, who revealed last year that she has alopecia, was unamused and an angered Smith then came onto the stage and appeared to slap Rock before the sound muted and footage later showed that Rock said “Will Smith just smacked the shit out of me” before Smith shouted, “Get my wife’s name out of your f-g mouth”.

Rock tried to diffuse the situation by saying it “was a GI Jane joke” before Smith repeated his warning. The Hollywood Reporter’s Scott Feinberg tweeted that Smith was then calmed by Denzel Washington and Tyler Perry during the commercial break as he appeared to wipe tears from his eyes.

Smith later secured his first Oscar, winning best actor for playing the father of Venus and Serena Williams in King Richard. “Richard Williams was a fierce defender of his family,” he said, tearfully. “I know to do what we do, you gotta be able to take abuse, you gotta be able to take people to talk crazy about you, in this business, you gotta have people disrespecting you and you gotta smile and pretend that it’s okay.”

He then recalled advice just given to him by fellow nominee Washington: “At your highest moment, be careful that’s when the devil comes for you.”

He continued: “I wanna apologise to the Academy, I wanna apologise to all my fellow nominees … art imitates life, I look like the crazy father, just like they said about Richard Williams but love will make you do crazy things.”

“Will Smith said it all, let’s have peace and love and quiet,” Anthony Hopkins said later on stage.

The award for best director went to Jane Campion for queer psychodrama The Power of the Dog, the only win for a film that had led the pack with the most nominations. Campion is only the third female director to ever win the Oscar for best director, following in the footsteps of Kathryn Bigelow for The Hurt Locker and last year, Chloé Zhao for Nomadland. She thanked the film’s “actors I’m moved to call my friends” and called the win “a lifetime honour”.

Jessica Chastain was named best actress for televangelist biopic The Eyes of Tammy Faye, her third nomination and first win. The actor spoke of recent times of “trauma and isolation” and how suicide has affected many, including herself. She paid tribute to LGBTQ youth who “feel out of place with their peers” and face “discriminatory and bigoted legislation that is sweeping our country.”

“At times like this I’m reminded of Tammy,” she said and her “radical acts of love”. She said to all those feeling alone: “I just want you to know that you are unconditionally loved for the uniqueness that is you.”

The film also won the only other award it was nominated for, best hair and make-up.

Ariana DeBose was named best supporting actress for her performance in Steven Spielberg’s remake of West Side Story. She becomes the first openly queer woman of colour and only the second Latina actor to ever win an Oscar. She joins her West Side Story co-star Rita Moreno who also won for playing the character of Anita in 1962. “For anyone who has ever questioned your identity … there is indeed a place for us,” DeBose said while paying tribute to Moreno as a “divine inspiration who paved the way for tons of Anitas”.

Kenneth Branagh picked up the best original screenplay for his semi-autobiographical drama Belfast. “It’s a great tribute to an amazing city,” he said of the award, his first win from eight nominations.

There was an outcry last month when it was announced that eight craft awards would be announced before the ceremony and then edited into the broadcast later. These were dominated by Dune, which won for Hans Zimmer’s original score as well as for editing, sound and production design. The film later won cinematography and visual effects too, making it the night’s most awarded with six wins.

Drive My Car, which was the first Japanese film nominated for best picture, was named best international feature film. Encanto beat out competition from Flee and The Mitchells vs the Machines to win the best-animated film. Questlove’s Summer of Soul was named best documentary.

This year also saw the introduction of two Twitter-voted special awards for fans. The fan favourite film was won by Zack Snyder’s Netflix zombie thriller Army of the Dead while the all-time most cheer-worthy moment was won by Zack Snyder’s Justice League for the scene where Ezra Miller’s The Flash enters speed force.

Last year’s best actor nominee Riz Ahmed also became the first Muslim and first person of Asian descent to win a live-action short for The Long Goodbye. “This is for everyone who feels like they don’t belong,” he said in his speech. “Anyone who feels like they’re stuck in no man’s land. You’re not alone.” British two-time Oscar-winner Jenny Beavan also won for her costume work on Cruella.

(Photo: Eugenio Derbez, Troy Kotsur, Marlee Matlin, Emilia Jones, Amy Forsyth and Daniel Durant)

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