2022 Academy Awards bring historic firsts and intense drama

By Ava Cassidy / News Editor


The 92nd Academy Awards were held on March 27. The awards, commonly known as Oscars, are arguably the most prestigious in the entire film industry. 

The most recent Oscars included much of the usual routine–awards for nearly every aspect of production from set design to sound mixing, fashion on the red carpet, and a large group of special guests. 

However, this year’s Oscars also included some more unusual occurrences: Ariana Debose became the first openly LGBTQ+ woman of color to win an acting Oscar (for her role in West Side Story), Troy Kotsur was the first deaf man to win an acting Oscar (for his role in CODA) and CODA itself became the first movie from a streaming service (Apple TV+) to win Best Picture. However, these firsts were overshadowed when Will Smith slapped Chris Rock in the face after he made a joke about Smith’s wife’s hair loss due to her alopecia. 

Best Directing, Best Actor, Best Actress, and Best Picture –generally the most anticipated awards of the night– were announced last. The Oscar for Best Director went to Jane Campion for her work on The Power of the Dog, which was also nominated for Best Picture. Campion is the first woman to be nominated for Best Director twice and the third woman to win the award in the history of the ceremony. 

The award for Best Actress went to Jessica Chastain for her role as Tammy Faye in The Eyes of Tammy Faye. This is her first Oscar win. After Will Smith’s physical altercation with Chris Rock, he won the Oscar for Best Actor. Smith played Richard Williams in King Richard. Like Chastain, Smith won his first Oscar this year.

In his emotional acceptance speech, Smith broke down. “I want to apologize to the Academy, I want to apologize to my fellow nominees,” Smith said.

He is facing significant backlash concerning the incident. The Academy’s organizational board met on April 18 to decide what disciplinary action it will take against Smith. It came to the conclusion that Smith will be banned for 10 years from attending any Academy events or programs, including the Oscars, either virtually or in person.

However, the awards proceeded. The Oscar for Best Picture was announced last, and ultimately went to CODA, a film that portrays a teenager with a talent for singing who is the only hearing person in her family. CODA stands for Child of Deaf Adults, and the movie represents a historic win. 

Unfortunately, the achievements of many actors, directors and other filmmakers have been pushed to the side by the incident between Smith and Rock. The current news cycle is dominated by different opinions on Smith’s violence and subsequent Oscar win, and others’ incredible achievements are lost. 

Furthermore, the altercation has only reinforced current stereotypes surrounding the Oscars: that the ceremony is only good for stirring up drama among celebrities and has lost its luster as a prestigious awards ceremony. 

While it is important that the Academy take the necessary actions against Smith, I would argue that it is more pertinent to honor the artists who won and were nominated for Academy Awards–no small feat. 

Though this year’s Oscars will certainly be remembered, it should not be for the fight between Will Smith and Chris Rock but, instead, for the achievement in film that artists like Campion, Kotsur and many others have accomplished.

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