American writer and filmmaker Sian Heder poses with the award for Best Adapted Screenplay for ‘CODA’ in the press room during the 94th Academy Awards at the Dolby Theater in Hollywood on Sunday. (AFP photo)
Deaf family drama “CODA” won Best Picture honors at the Oscars on Sunday, the first-ever triumph for a streamer, in a ceremony that was overshadowed by best actor-winner Will Smith punching comedian Chris Rock onstage. for making a joke about his wife.
Tinseltown’s biggest night started with a performance by pop megastar Beyonce and touched on politics with a moment of silence on the Ukraine crisis.
But before the final awards ceremony, the shocking Smith-Rock altercation went viral and changed the mood of the night.
“CODA,” an indie feel-good drama starring deaf actors in leading roles, had been presumed a longshot for Hollywood’s biggest prize until very recently, but pulled off a remarkable late push to come out. triumphant.
The film won the historic award from Apple TV+, a newcomer to a streaming market dominated by rivals like Netflix.
“Thank you to the Academy for letting our ‘CODA’ go down in history tonight,” said producer Philippe Rousselet.
Taking its title from the acronym Child of Deaf Adult, the film also won Best Adapted Screenplay and Best Supporting Actor for Troy Kotsur, who plays the father of a teenage girl who can hear and wants to pursue a career in music.
Kotsur dedicated his golden statuette to deaf and disabled communities.
“Now is our time,” he said.
Jessica Chastain won Best Actress for ‘The Eyes of Tammy Faye,’ in which she played a real-life televangelist who became an unlikely champion of the LGBTQ community.
“We face discriminatory and bigoted legislation sweeping our country…at times like this, I think of Tammy and am inspired by her sweeping acts of love,” she said.
“Art imitates life”
But Hollywood’s biggest night was dominated by a shocking moment in which Smith – who won Best Actor for his work on ‘King Richard’ – slapped Rock onstage, before returning to his seat in the alongside his wife Jada Pinkett Smith and shouting profanity.
“Keep my wife’s name out of your fucking mouth,” Smith shouted, forcing producers to cut several seconds of audio from the US TV show.
Rock, presenting the award for best documentary, had compared Jada’s tightly cut hair to Demi Moore’s appearance in the movie “GI Jane.” Jada suffers from alopecia, a disease causing hair loss.
The moment left stunned viewers wondering if it was scripted or genuine.
But when he returned to the stage to accept his award, a tearful Smith lamented “people disrespect you” in Hollywood and apologized to the Academy “and all my fellow nominees”.
Smith, who plays the father of tennis greats Serena and Venus Williams in ‘King Richard,’ added, “Art imitates life. I look like the crazy dad, just like they said about Richard Williams.”
Until recently, it appeared that the dark and psychological western “The Power of the Dog” was destined to earn Netflix its coveted first Best Statuette.
In the end, the film only won Best Director for Jane Campion.
She is only the third woman to do so in Oscar history, just a year after Chloé Zhao became the second (“Nomadland”). Kathryn Bigelow was the first for “The Hurt Locker”.
Kenneth Branagh’s childhood-inspired “Belfast” — another presumed best picture favorite — triumphed for best original screenplay.
Ariana DeBose won Best Supporting Actress for her role as Anita in “West Side Story,” and Disney’s “Encanto” was named Best Animated Feature.
DeBose, who first made a name for herself on Broadway, celebrated her historic win for “an openly queer, Afro-Latina woman of color.”
Yvett Merino, producer of the Colombian “Encanto” shoot, said she was “very proud to be part of a film that showcases beautiful and diverse characters.”
“Summer of Soul” won best documentary for musician Questlove’s debut film about the huge “Black Woodstock” festival that took place in 1969 in Harlem.
Japan’s “Drive My Car,” a Japanese arthouse film based on a short story of the same name by Haruki Murakami, was named Best International Film.
Beyonce kicked off the TV show with her nominated song “King Richard,” from the Compton Courts where Serena and Venus trained as girls.
But the award for best original song went to Billie Eilish for her James Bond theme song “No Time to Die.”
In another musical highlight, the viral sensation “We Don’t Talk About Bruno” was performed live, with Megan Thee Stallion adding an Oscar-themed verse to the hit song “Encanto.”
Hosts Wanda Sykes, Amy Schumer and Regina Hall kicked off inside the Dolby Theater – where the Oscars returned after a year-long absence due to the pandemic – with an opening sketch that poked fun at everything from sexism in Hollywood to Florida’s “Don’t Say” Gay” bill.
“This year the Academy hired three women to host because it’s cheaper than hiring a man,” Schumer said.
Sykes added, “We’re going to have a great night tonight. And for you people of Florida, we’re going to have a gay night.”
Sci-fi epic “Dune” ended the night with the most wins, taking home six in craft and technical categories – best sound, music, editing, production design, visual effects and cinematography.
The annual “In Memoriam” paid tribute to cinematographer Halyna Hutchins, who was shot by Alec Baldwin in a tragic accident on the set of Western “Rust” last year.
Recently deceased Hollywood greats were also honored in the segment, including Sidney Poitier – the first, and for many decades, only black man to win Best Actor.
The gala observed a moment of silence for Ukraine, while presenter Mila Kunis – who was born in the country – said it was “impossible not to be moved” by the resilience of “those facing to such devastation”.
Several attendees wore blue ribbons reading #WithRefugees.