The 2022 Oscars Awards

Posted on Monday March 28, 2022 by Rick Douglas
Rick's Review

I don't know how many of you bothered to watch last night's Oscars ceremony, so what I have to say here might not mean much. But, geez, what a dispiriting display of tone-deafness.

The telecast started with Beyonce dressed in tennis-ball green performing the nominated song from "King Richard" in a tennis court in Compton. Despite the addition of dozens of dancers and musicians, all dressed in the same bizarre color, moving and swaying with Miss B, it was interminable.

Um, hello? Oscars?

So then the awards show opened--with three hosts: Wanda Sykes, Regina Hall and Amy Schumer. All three tried gamely to justify why three hosts were needed, but their jokes and jabs, for me, fell flat.

By this time in the annual awards show calendar, the heavy favorites are well-known, so there were few surprises. As expected, Ariana DeBose won Best Supporting Actress for her standout performance in "West Side Story." Her acceptance speech was heartfelt and gracious.

And "Dune" won a boatload of Oscars, and deservedly so, for its astonishing special effects and production design. But the crafts awards, as has been loudly criticized elsewhere, were an afterthought, presented earlier in the evening and then inserted into the live broadcast.

It was TV trickery that demeaned the people who do the heavy lifting on any film--editors, costumers, sound mixers, et al. But it was designed to appease ABC executives who, months ago, had demanded a streamlined TV show that might attract a younger audience and stop the ratings slide that has been going on for years.

In pushing aside the craft categories, the producers promised a shorter and livelier production. Well, for all their trouble, it was an epic fail. The telecast still ran more than three-and-a-half hours.

There were a few bright spots. Billie Eilish and her brother winning for the James Bond theme song "No Time to Die." I read today the pair had dreamed as kids of writing a James Bond song.

Troy Kotsur winning Best Supporting Actor for his role in "CODA," only the second deaf actor to do so; his acceptance speech was off-the-cuff, but eloquent.

And Kenneth Branaugh winning Best Original Screenplay for his directing effort "Belfast," the elegiac story of his childhood in Northern Ireland. "Belfast" had been my pick for Best Picture.

Everyone gamely pushed on through the evening in a production that never really celebrated movies. From where I sat, there was little joy to be had.

Especially when actor Chris Evans showed up from his living room to introduce an extended commercial for his new Disney flick "Buzz Lightyear."

Or when the In Memoriam segment featured gospel singers who drew attention away from those being memorialized. A rollcall of the deceased has never needed a production number.

And then the night turned chaotic when comedian Chris Rock came on as a presenter. Rock singled out Jada Pinkett Smith with a quip about her buzz cut, a necessity for someone who suffers from alopecia.

"Jada, I love you. 'G.I. Jane, 2.' Can't wait to see it."

Husband Will Smith leaped from his seat near the stage and slapped Rock across the face. Rock reeled. Then Smith, back in his seat yelled, "Keep my wife's name out of your fucking mouth." He said it twice, though the director muted the sound.

The actual audio can be heard if you surf the internet, as I did.

Smith later won the award for Best Actor, and proceeded to tearfully apologize to the Academy and everyone in the room. But the damage had been done. And the assault overshadowed everything else for the duration of the broadcast, including a surprise win by "CODA" for Best Picture.

Here's my take, and feel free to disagree. Rock's quip was inappropriate for any venue. Just leave Jada alone for God's sake.
But Smith, though in defense of his wife's honor, will long be remembered, not for his win, but for his appalling failure of self-control and his egregious display of toxic masculinity. Anyone else, in any venue, would have been arrested, but the LAPD says Rock won't press charges.

At this point, the show was already off the rails in terms of what moviegoers and movie lovers want from the Academy. In recent years, Oscarcast producers have over-promised and under-delivered. It's no wonder the annual spectacle is more burp than bonanza.

But the 94th Academy Awards found a new bottom. And we are all poorer for it.