The Academy Awards Provide a Night Full of Celebration and Controversy

On March 27th, the Academy honored the best films of the past year and dealt with one of the most shocking ceremonies yet.

Gigi Hanner, Sandscript Author

The 94th Academy Awards returned in a fully in-person format this past Sunday in Los Angeles. Despite the low viewership of last year, the show came back with full force. Regina Hall, Wanda Sykes, and Amy Schumer hosted the event after the Academy opted not to have any hosts for the 2019, 2020, and 2021 shows.

There was a significant amount of controversy heading into the night, as eight awards were not given the same spotlight as the other 15. Best Original Score, Makeup and Hairstyling, Production Design, Sound, Documentary Short Subject, Animated Short, Live-Action Short, and Film Editing were all omitted from the main presentation. They were recognized during the ceremony, but the winner’s speeches were noticeably shorter and were given time slots immediately after commercial breaks. The reason for this change was to increase viewership and speed up the show, but it still ended up being half an hour longer than its original time slot. Although nominees were initially thought to be receiving their awards completely off-air, they were still given the opportunity to receive applause and recognition. Nonetheless, the decision to cut the time on any of the 23 awards offered created animosity between the Academy and the rest of the community. 

Dune led the charge with 6 awards after being nominated for 10. The Power of the Dog shocked audiences when the film only won 1 of its 12 nominations, having been the most nominated film going into the night. CODA stunned by winning all 3 of the awards it was nominated for, including the highly regarded Best Picture.

CODA also took home Best Adapted Screenplay and Best Supporting Actor as well. Troy Kotsur’s Supporting Actor win made history as he is the first deaf man to win an Academy Award, and only the second deaf actor to ever win one. Apple TV Plus is now the first streaming service to win Best Picture. CODA cleverly tells the story of a teenage girl with deaf parents as she navigates the world and balances pleasing her parents with following her dreams.

The Eyes of Tammy Faye won Best Makeup and Hairstyling as well as Best Actress. Jessica Chastain’s win for the role as Tammy Faye Bakker marks her first Academy Award. 

The Power of the Dog’s Jane Campion won Best Director. Campion was the first woman to be nominated for this award twice, and this was her first win.

Belfast’s Kenneth Branagh won Best Original Screenplay, marking Branagh’s first win after eight career nominations. 

West Side Story’s Ariana Debose won Best Supporting Actress, marking only the third time a single character won multiple Oscars. In the original 1961 movie, Rita Moreno also took home Best Supporting Actress for the character of Anita. 

No Time to Die took home Best Original Song for “No Time to Die” by Billie Eilish and Finneas O’Connell. Eilish makes history with her win as she is the first winner of any Oscar to be born in the 21st century. The sibling duo are also the first Americans to win the award for a James Bond theme. 

King Richard’s Will Smith won Best Actor for his role as Richard Williams. After his now-infamous altercation with Chris Rock prior to his win, many are speculating as to whether or not the Academy will strip him of the award for his behavior. Nonetheless, Smith’s performance earned him his first Oscar.

The show was greatly muddled by the argument between Rock and Smith. Thousands of memes and tweets have been made about that brief moment, and the rest of the winners and presentations have largely been overlooked. The display of violence has largely been seen as something that damaged the night as a whole and is generally being looked down upon. 

Other moments that left audiences with a bad impression of the show include Regina Hall commenting on the attractiveness of different male celebrities in the crowd and bringing them onto the stage, Amy Schumer pulling nominee Kirsten Dunst out of her seat and calling her a seat-filler, the omission of Bob Saget from the “In Memoriam” slideshow, and a tasteless comment about animation only being for children, a comment made by Schumer that angered many.

The Oscars are supposed to be honoring the year’s biggest movies and the most talented of performers, but the past few ceremonies have been underwhelming for many. Seeing the winners of such coveted awards is always exciting, but the filler aspects have many people opting not to watch at all. 

It was certainly a memorable night for Hollywood and one that will keep people talking far beyond the time slot the ceremony occupied.