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Oscars 2022 Highlights: Best and Worst Moments

Amy Schumer, Regina Hall, Wanda Sykes Center Stage at the Oscars
Amy Schumer, Regina Hall, Wanda Sykes Host the Oscars 2022

Images: A.M.P.A.S.

By Nikoleta Morales

This year marked history for the 94th Academy Awards as the ceremony returned to the glitz and the glam for an in-person event hosted for the first time by three women (Amy Schumer, Regina Hall, Wanda Sykes) at the Dolby Theater. Cultured Focus Magazine followed the excitement behind the scenes and detailed below are the winners, highlights and star-studded moments.

One of the surprises of the evening and the trending topic of entertainment news around the world was Will Smith’s physical altercation and vulgar remarks towards Chris Rock after he made a joke about Jada Pinkett Smith’s baldness, which she has due to alopecia. Smith didn’t show up at the backstage press room for interviews about his Academy Award for best actor and conflict with Rock. But he delivered a tearful acceptance speech: “I'm being called on in my life to love people and to protect people and to be a river to my people…you gotta be able to take abuse, you gotta be able to have people talk crazy about you. In this business you gotta be able to have people disrespecting you and you gotta smile and you gotta pretend like that's okay…I want to apologize to the Academy. I want to apologize to all my fellow nominees…I hope the Academy invites me back.”

The Oscars faced criticism and backlash this year in regards to their decision to off-air eight of their smaller categories an hour before the ceremony and later edit them into the telecast show. The decision was made in attempts to attract more viewers due to last year’s significantly low viewership and also to keep the ceremony shorter than it usually is. The eight categories were documentary short, film editing, makeup and hairstyling, original score, production design, animated short, live action short and sound. In the press room, cinematography award-winner Greg Fraser (“Dune”) was asked to comment on this year’s change:

“I don't mean we balance economics with the award shows, but films are made by, you know, the sound recorders, by visual effects supervisors, by the editors, by the production designers. That's how films are made. And it seems odd to have some random relegation. Everybody in this crowd realizes and understands why this happens… And we understand economics. But at the same time, it is up to us, I think to change the economics, to change the fact that, you know, we want to encourage kids who are watching these awards to go, "You know what, I'm not an actor, I'm not a director, I'm not a producer, but I want to be a makeup artist." So I want that recognition or I want to feel that celebrity, whatever that word is, to apply to me in a job that I can go for…And it is a little short-sided. I get it. But I just want my particular collaborator -- particularly, production design, editing, makeup and hair, you know, to be equally rewarded for this --for this -- for the job they do.”

One of the most memorable and historic moments of the night was “CODA” winning the awards for best picture and best adapted screenplay. “You know, this isn't about sitting at home and waiting for the phone to ring because there's a Deaf part a year from now. Like, people need -- creators need to think about these actors as they're writing and be imaginative in their storytelling to be inclusive, because, obviously, people respond to a story like this,” said screenwriter and Oscar winner Sian Heder (“CODA”) in the press room. Heder noted the struggle she had pitching the film to buyers and how surreal it was to make it from the Sundance Film Festival to now winning for best picture: “I went into Sundance thinking, "I hope somebody buys this movie," and we just won best picture. Like, this is, like, the stuff that dreams are made of.”

Images: A.M.P.A.S.

“CODA” also received an Oscar for best supporting actor awarded to Troy Kotsur, making him the first deaf person in Oscar’s history to take home this award. “In general, most of the time, hearing people out there have neglected deaf people, have really been oblivious and haven't been involved in deaf culture, and children of deaf adults and disabled people have been through so much together. We have talent, and there are ways to tell a story from different perspectives and different journeys, and I've just been trying to figure that out because I just want to make a connection that gives Hollywood more room for storytelling, to think outside the box, to be creative. Everyone has stories to tell,” said Kotsur in the press room. When asked about his favourite part in the film, he said while laughing: “I'm most proud of showing dirty sign language and dropping "F" bombs, so many "F" bombs, and I've seen all your swear words in the subtitles, and your foreign films. Where was the opportunity to bring this part of my culture forward? Finally, here it is. This is vulgarity. Now you can experience it.”

The Afro-Latino queer community also had a reason to celebrate. Ariana DeBose won for Best Supporting Actress for “West Side Story,” making her the first open Afro-Latino queer woman to win an Oscar. “I'm an openly queer woman of color and not for nothing. That's frickin' awesome, you guys. So I'm the second Latina to win an acting award. I'm Afro-Latina. I'm an openly queer woman of color, and I think that just proves that there's space. There's space for us, and it's a beautiful moment to be seen, and I'm really honored by that,” said DeBose in the press room. “When you are the first of something, it's lonely. “

There were also a few surprises during the ceremony. Megan Thee Stallion joined the stage with the “We Don’t Talk About Bruno” singers adding an extra spice to the infamous “Encanto” song. Billie Eilish won her first Oscar for “No Time to Die”, which she performed LIVE at the ceremony. Eilish won over Diane Warren who lost her 12th Oscar nomination in the original song category. Other musical performances of the night included Beyonce with “Be Alive” (“King Richard”), Reba McEntire with “Somehow You Do” (“Four Good Days”) and Sebastián Yatra with “Dos Oruguitas” (“Encanto”).

Jessica Chastain won over Kristen Stewart in the Best Actress category. Her speech was one of the most inspiring and uplifting speeches of the night: “And right now we are coming out of some difficult times that have been filled with a lot of trauma and isolation, and so many people out there feel hopelessness and they feel alone. And suicide is a leading cause of death in the United States. It's touched many families. It's touched mine and especially members of the LGBTQ community who oftentimes feel out of place with their peers. We're faced with discriminatory and bigoted legislation that is sweeping our country with the only goal of further dividing us… And for any of you out there who do in fact feel hopeless or alone, I just want you to know that you are unconditionally loved for the uniqueness that is you.”

Ukraine was also honored during the Oscars ceremony with a minute of silence and some celebrities wearing the Ukrainian flag colors on their fashion wears. In addition, there was a lot of red at the ceremony paying tribute to the victims of the war. Best costume design winner Jenny Beavan (“Cruella”) also addressed the war in Ukraine in the backstage press room: “I didn't think tonight was the right time to be political, with everything that's going on in the world, and it's far worse things happening in, obviously, Ukraine and so many things. It is bad, what's happening.”

More Oscars highlights include:

- “Dune” won six Academy Awards for best sound, film editing, original score, production design, best cinematography and best visual effects.

- “Encanto” won for Best Animated Feature Film.

- “Drive My Car” won for Best International Film making it the second Japanese film to win in history.

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2022 Oscars Best Picture Nominee popularity since February

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