CODA wins Oscar for best film, but most of the attention goes to Will Smith’s striking blow

Sunday night’s 94th Academy Awards should have been a triumph for women in the cinema world, with films from female directors Jane Campion and Sian Heder as the top contenders and three female presenters, Amy Schumer, Regina Hall and Wanda Sykes. Still, the evening will be remembered for actor Will Smith who took the stage to punch comedian Chris Rock. Rock joked about Smith’s wife’s baldness due to alopecia. The actor also twice furiously shouted at the comedian that he should not dare to say his wife’s name anymore.

When Smith took home the Oscar for Best Actor not much later, he tearfully said that “life sometimes imitates the arts” and he has become the crazy dad he plays in King Richard because he feels so much pressure to protect people. Smith won the Oscar for his role as stubborn go-getter Richard Williams, father of tennis champions Venus and Serena. Smith’s action will probably be much discussed in the near future.

The moment when Chris Rock makes a joke about the baldness of actress Jada Pinkett-Smith, her husband Will Smith punches the presenter:

CODA big winner

But it was also a surprising evening in the field of film. Biggest winner was feel good film CODA which took home the Academy Award for Best Picture, plus Best Adapted Screenplay and Best Supporting Actor. Troy Kotsur was the second deaf actor ever to receive an Oscar for his role as the maladjusted, sign language swearing father of the protagonist.

CODA – which stands for ‘Child Of Deaf Adults’ – is about teenager Ruby, who is the only one in a deaf family who can hear. The girl who has a lot of singing talent wants to study at a conservatory, but her parents rely on her for communication with the outside world. In the highly acted film, deaf characters are played by deaf actors, which was not the case in the hit French film La Familia Belier on which the screenplay is based.

That is unique with CODA a movie from a streaming service takes off with the most important frame. CODA was purchased by Apple TV+ shortly after its premiere. The objections that some in Hollywood had for years with streaming services – that movies should be watched in theaters, without distraction – were touched upon briefly during the opening jokes. Presenter Sykes stated that she The Power of the Dog “watched it three times and is now halfway through.” But it’s obvious that Academy members’ reluctance to vote for streamers has completely disappeared.

CODA’s cast and crew receiving the Oscar for Best Picture. Photo Etienne Laurent/EPA

The big loser of the evening was also the Netflix western The Power of The Dog about macho behavior and sadism on a ranch at the foot of the Montana mountains. Jane Campion received the Oscar for Best Director for a second time, but the film could only cash in one of its twelve Oscar nominations.

Falling ratings

In an attempt to boost the award show’s declining ratings, this year it was decided that eight Oscars that may be of less interest to the general public, such as best film montage, were no longer awarded during the television broadcast, but during a pre-show. . The result was that during the live show extensive time was taken for vocal numbers and thanksgiving speeches were cut off less.

Shortened fragments of the pre-presentation, which took place during the red carpet moments, were edited in the live television show. For television viewers, this caused a sometimes confusing experience: it seemed as if Oscars were being awarded, the results of which everyone already knew. The six technical Oscars that sci-fi epic Dune won also received less attention as a result.

Prior to the award ceremony, there was also open discussion about how attention should be paid to the war in Ukraine. Presenter Amy Schumer had suggested showing a video message from president and actor Volodymyr Zelensky. In the end, it was decided to have a moment of ‘silence’ for Ukraine and very sporadic mentions in speeches. Though few will remember calls against violence after an award show like this.