What a show! But not in the “holy shit, what a great show we’ve just witnessed” sense, more like watching a car crash that somehow starts a chain of events that results in more accidents. But not just cars, but boats, jets, planes… How would that happen, you ask? Well, how do you take a ceremony that has one job and one job only (to celebrate films and EVERYBODY involved in the creative process) and somehow turn it into this shit-show? Before moving on, let me say one thing – this isn’t much of a review, as much as me thinking out loud about the state of the industry I love. I won’t be talking about the people who won the Oscar… well, except one obvious one, because that happened, and you know what I am referring to. This “piece” is me summing up my thoughts about this show and how it was (mis)handled. So, if you are expecting to read more about the winners, sorry, this won’t be it, chief.
My relationship with watching live Oscar shows dates back to 2009. That’s when I was comfortable enough with my English to justify spending a night awake. Because both in the Czech Republic and Scotland, where I live now, the time zones work against us. So the ceremony is on around 1/2 AM. Anyway, I stayed up to watch my first Oscars back in 2009, and I liked it. Sure, back then, I didn’t fully understand everything, but it got me even more into films seeing all the glamour, people, speeches, seeing it live as it happens. Ever since then, I would make it my tradition. Every time I could afford to take the day off, I would, just to see it happen, to be there.
And sure, not every single ceremony I’ve seen since was 10/10. No, they are “just” awards show, after all, so some things don’t work, some jokes don’t land, some hosts you like more, some you like less. But that’s part of being a movie lover, you might not always agree with who won, but that’d be a boring world if everybody agreed on everything. 😉 And every year I’ve seen live since (I believe I’ve only missed one or two since 2009) has been “fine”. But not until today did I feel like the ceremony was an actual disaster. And not due to my favourites not winning (all the top categories I have guessed correctly and most would be my picks for the Oscar) but due to the poor mismanagement, misjudgement and bad taste.
Let’s start with the most blatant mismanagement and the decision that alienated most movie fans before the ceremony even began – the Academy decided to present eight (!) awards before the “actual” ceremony began. These were:
- Documentary (Short Subject)
- Film Editing
- Makeup and Hairstyling
- Music (Original Score)
- Production Design
- Short Film (Animated)
- Short Film (Live Action)
I genuinely thought this was yet another rouse to generate headlines to attract some press, as they had tried something like this a few years ago, but after the immense backlash, they budged and reverted their decision. But no, this time, they (the Academy) stuck to their guns. Only for those awards to be included in the live ceremony but cut down to just “highlights”. What a mockery, what a shame, what a joke. You have one job, Academy. Celebrate the films and the people who make them! Not just the A-list stars, directors and writers! I can only hope this will get reverted for a next year’s ceremony. Especially shameful, given Hans Zimmer won his second Oscar for Dune (2021, my review here). That would be amazing to watch live, not see it on Twitter.
It felt like things just spiralled out of control from then on. The hosts were… ok-ish. Wanda Sykes and Taraji P. Henson tried their hardest with what they had been given. Both had some highs and some lows. Someone I could do without was Amy Schumer. She had maybe two decent jokes in the opening monologue and then flatlined for the entire show. Here’s the thing, Wanda’s and Taraji’s “lows” weren’t as bad as Amy’s because… holy shit. I commend her for trying to be out there no matter what, but her “low” was just awful. I am talking about her “having fun” with Kirsten Dunst. Amy’s joke was simple – since Kirsten didn’t win the Oscar, she was just a seat filler. I know, I know. It was staged and rehearsed (or at least I fucking hope it was because it truly felt cringey), but Jesus, talk about reaching for the lowest of hanging fruits.
Another aspect of the show that felt off were all the montages. Sixty years of Bond was an ok montage, even though why have athletes (like Tony Hawk) present them instead of inviting all living Bonds back? Not mentioning, you literally had Dame Judi Dench and Javier Bardem in the audience? Or the montage about Pulp Fiction turning; wait for it… 28 years? Because that’s such a nice, round number… is there a meaning associated with the number 28 in Hollywood/USA I am not familiar with? The actual fuck? The Godfather (1972) montage (50 years since the original movie came out) felt the “most” in place to be there, but unfortunately, it was right after “the slap” that overshadowed everything (we will get there, but not just yet). And then we have the top 5 most cheered for moments with Zack Snyder’s Justice League (2021, my review here), making it to a top spot with a moment I forgot about, to be honest. Or a “fan favourite” movie of the year that kind of got brushed off before going to another commercial (it was Army of the Dead (2021), so you know). It’s decisions like these that angered me and movie fans like me. Because the Academy’s argument for not airing those eight awards live was to “cut down on time”. So what they do is fill the time with stuff that nobody asked for, hoping for people to like them. They were throwing everything at the wall and seeing what sticks.
There was also a weird decision to hype the first LIVE performance of ‘We Don’t Talk About Bruno’ from Encanto (2021, my review here) just for the song to get interrupted by Megan Thee Stallion. Believe it or not, I enjoy her music, and I didn’t hate her appearance there (as opposed to most people who seem not to like her involvement at all), but it again felt like a weird decision to have her there. Firstly, because she isn’t on the original track (therefore, it wasn’t the first live performance of this song, more like the first half performance). Secondly, that song isn’t even nominated and thirdly, when you think of “Encanto medley”, can you come up with a more erratic decision than to include Megan Thee Stallion?
The “in memoriam” segment also felt weird. I understand the Academy took a risk with a church… choir? Quire? And they wanted to “live it up” a bit, I guess? But it also felt tone-deaf. Bill Murray talking about Ivan Reitman felt right. Jamie Lee Curtis coming out with a scared chihuahua to tell the world to adopt a dog in honour of the late and great Betty White didn’t. But at least, in this case, I could understand where they were coming from; it made *some* resemblance of sense.
Ok, let’s talk about the unfortunate cherry on top of this cake full of awkwardness and confusion. Will Smith slapped/punched Chris Rock because of a joke Chris made about Will’s wife, Jada Pinkett Smith. So much to unpack. First of all, that joke was not funny as Jada has been diagnosed with alopecia (hair loss) which is something I didn’t know until today. Anyway, at first, I thought (as most people) this was just a sketch, a bit that was plain awkward, but seeing the reaction and hearing the uncensored version of it (yep, in the UK, we didn’t have it censored at all) that quickly dissolved any doubts about this being a sketch. Here’s the uncensored video for anyone who has no idea what happened. Here’s the thing, the joke wasn’t funny. But I thought Will Smith’s reaction wasn’t the best. Why? Because that wasn’t the time and the place. If you want to fight Chris Rock, do it after the show. But not when the entire world is watching, and the show already feels awkward?
I have never heard a room full of people so quiet in my life after Will shouted for the second time. Everything from that moment on became about “the slap” or “who is right and who is wrong”, and we, the audience, were 100% pulled out of that show permanently. Now, I am not saying Will Smith sank the show, nor am I saying it’s his fault the show was a mess. No, as I’ve gone through it above, the ceremony was messy as fuck before this moment happened. But this slap was the unpleasant cherry on top of the already unpleasant cake. I have already seen many reactions to this, some saying he was wrong, some praising him. My two cents on this are simple – defend your wife all you want. But don’t drag the entire world into it because that act made it into a reality TV show. And for people who say: “Well, the joke was public, so the response should be too?” Sure, after the show is over. Especially stars like Will and Jada will get many public opportunities to address it. Hell, rent a boxing ring, make it Pay-Per-View and donate the money from the proceedings to alopecia charity because that is where that belonged. But not in the main show, because again, whether you like it or not, that makes it into the “Will/Jada/Chris” reality show nobody signed up for. Plus, Chris Rock has been known for taking jabs at everybody throughout his career. And he worded his “joke” in such a way where sure, it wasn’t funny, but he wasn’t coming for Jada. He didn’t say she looked awful (on the contrary); he just made a comparison with a movie.
But you know, who knows for sure he was wrong? Will himself. Watch his speech once he won his Oscar for King Richard (2021), where he seems at first to try to justify it until Denzel Washington seems to remind him what I am talking about it. Will said: “Denzel told me: At your highest moment, be careful; that’s when the devil comes for you”. And to me, that seemed to have shifted his speech to be more apologetic. Thank fuck for Denzel; he’s a true class. He gets it, and he said it more eloquently than I could ever say it. To me, it sounds like he was telling Will something along the lines of: “Yeah, that was a shit joke. But this was not the time or a place for the slap.” Think about it this was Will who ultimately lost this battle, whether he was right or wrong to do that. Because several years, hell even decades from now, everybody will be talking about not his achievement in King Richard, but his legacy will be “that dude, who live smacked comedian”. And I think he might be regretting it already. Finally getting his Oscar, in the leading role(!), and the only thing people focus on now is that slap. I have already seen talks about whether Will’s Oscar might be removed from him due to this or that he could have killed him (really, Judd Apatow?). Let me make myself clear – I am 100% AGAINST it. As much as I don’t like what Will did, taking his Oscar would be an awful decision. Also, no, Will Smith could not have killed Chris Rock. Jesus.
Also, last point – I can’t wait to hear from Jada herself. Or better yet, I would pay good money to see her reaction when it would be just the two of them. No press, no mics, just them arriving home. Do you think she will praise him? Or better question, do you think she NEEDS to be protected? I don’t know much about Jada. But from the few interviews I’ve seen with her, she never seemed like the type who couldn’t fend for herself. So I don’t think she would need Will to be this “knight in the shining armour, coming to protect her”. But what do I know? It was a cheap shot at her; the joke wasn’t funny, Chris Rock shouldn’t have made it. And Will Smith should have retaliated in his speech with some jabs at him instead, rather than getting physical.
Overall, the 2022 Oscars was the worse year I’ve watched live yet. For the first time, I regret staying up. We don’t need hosts; we don’t need montages. We don’t need BTS talking about Disney films (yep, that also happened). We need the Academy to honour and celebrate films and the people who make movies. Sometimes I think whether it would be worth trying to “minimize” the show, make it like it used to be, one award after another with only some musical numbers (the songs that are nominated that year), the “in memoriam” segment and focus just on the awards. Do anything except this. Please. From one movie fan who was always in your corner. Even though most people view the Oscars as “the pretentious award ceremony full of phoney people”, there are still people who enjoyed the previous years for what they were. Don’t try to appeal to everybody because that failed this year. I can only hope that the Academy and the people behind the Oscar telecast took notes, and next year, it can only get better. Because it feels right now, the Oscars tried to remain “current”, and while trying that, they hit a new low.
That’s all for this one! Did you watch it live? What did you think about it? Let me know!
Until next time,