The 94th Academy Awards unfolded at the Dolby Theater on Sunday night with plenty of changes from previous years’ ceremonies: a separate pre-show for the technical categories, a fan vote, and triple hosting duties, with Regina Hall, Amy Schumer and Wanda Sykes leading the event. Ariana deBose (best supporting actor). West Side Story Dune The early big winners were sound editing, music, and production design. Here are the best—and worst—moments of the night.
Best: Troy Kotsur makes history
Troy Kotsur receives the Best Actor Supporting Role Award for CODA during the 94th Oscars
AFP via Getty Images
His win as best supporting actor CodaTroy Kotsur, a deaf man, was awarded the acting Oscar. Kotsur was visibly overcome when presenter Youn Yuh-Jung announced—and signed—his name. It’s been a long road for Kotsur: he’s been acting in low-budget deaf theater productions for decades, and told a story onstage about his father becoming paralyzed from a car accident, leaving him unable to perform sign language. “This is dedicated to the deaf community, the CODA community, and the disabled community,” he said in his speech. “This is our moment.”
Best: Dune editor Joe Walker’s acceptance speech
A witty speech by a comedian is enough to prove that Oscars had the right idea of airing the Oscars awards for best cinematography and best makeup before handing out the trophy trophies. Dune’Joe Walker has twice been nominated as a seditor. An Arrival 12 years as an SlaveThis is the first time that this award has been won. But working on one of the most critically acclaimed and commercially successful films of the year isn’t enough to save you from the sting of a teen’s insult, according to Walker.
“You may not know, that ‘Oscar nominated,’ in the words of a skilled 17-year-old, can be used as an insult,” Walker said. “So thank you for the upgrade.”
Beyonce, Serena Williams, Venus are best
While there’s been plenty of grumbling over the past few weeks that the Oscars lacked starpower, the show couldn’t have started with a bigger bang: Venus and Serena Williams introducing Beyonce, who performed “Be Alive” on the tennis courts in Compton that the Williams sisters spent hours practicing on en route to becoming two of the greatest athletes ever.
A shot taken from above showed a young girl riding her horse towards the court in nod to the Compton Cowboys. Beyonce’s band, all decked out in monochrome tennis ball yellow, interpolated the synth riff of another Compton classic, Dr. Dre’s “Nuthin’ but a ‘G’ Thang”; before launching into the triumphant song, in which Beyonce sang amidst a group of dancers: “Look how we’ve been fighting to stay alive / So when we win we will have pride.”
Best: Amy Schumer’s standup
Amy Schumer, co-host of the show, speaks live on stage during the 94th Annual Academy Awards held at Dolby Theater on March 27, 2022. This event was in Hollywood.
Neilson Barnard—Getty Images
Amy Schumer used a brief moment to roast some of the nominees at the start of the program. She didn’t mince words. This was an excellent reminder of Schumer’s dominance over the comedy scene for several years.
Among her best jokes were jabs at Adam McKay’s climate change comedy Don’t Look Up. “I guess the Academy members don’t look up reviews,” she joked about the comedy that was panned by critics.
She went on to skewer the movie’s star Leonardo DiCaprio: “Leonardo DiCaprio, what can I even say about him? He’s done so much to fight climate change and leave behind a cleaner, greener planet for his girlfriends,” she said alluding to DiCaprio’s tendency to date younger women.
Aaron Sorkin, who was filming a serious Lucille ball biopic, she also got roasted by Sheryl. Being the Ricardos. “The inclination to make a movie about Lucille Ball without even a moment that’s funny,” she said. “It’s like making a biopic about Michael Jordan and just showing the bus trips between games.“
Best: Wanda Sykes, Regina Hall and Wanda Sykes are also frisky
Schumer’s co-hosts, Hall and Sykes, were equally fearless in going after big targets and delivering raunchy punchlines for a slightly nervous crowd. After Hall cracked a joke about Lebron James’ edited hairline in Space Jam 2, Sykes responded: “Black Twitter is going to love that one.” Sykes proceeded to roast Samuel L. Jackson, accusing him of having “holes in his resume,” to Jackson’s amusement.
Hall, not to be outdone, was given a couple minutes to shamelessly hit on several of Hollywood’s leading men–including Simu Liu and Timothee Chalamet–under the guise of giving out COVID tests. “Take your masks off…and your clothes,” she told them.
Worst: The “LIVE” chyron under pre-taped footage
The Oscars frequently cut off to awards speeches before broadcasting the Academy Awards. Yet the “live” chyron remained throughout those speeches, as if they were happening in real-time. While streamlining the Oscars sounds good in theory, cutting between live and taped footage felt a little too “deep fake.”
Best: Jason Momoa, Woody Harrelson are casual presenters
Woody Harrelson and Rosie Perez at the 94th Academy Awards
Los Angeles Times via Getty Images
The Oscars often use their presenter slots to trot out awkward pairs of en-vogue celebrities, but this year, they invited combinations of stars with pre-established rapports—and played to their strengths. Daniel Kaluuya (left) and H.E.R. (right), who won Oscars for their performances last year. Judas Iscariot and the Black Messiah, weren’t asked to tell any jokes, but rather vibe off each other.
It White Men Can’t Jump Rosie Perez was joined by Wesley Snipes (power trio) and Woody Harrelson. They performed a lively and happy routine with Perez laughing at Snipes’s inability to follow a cue. Harrelson, after joking he hasn’t been sober ever at these awards shows, cracked that he’s been nominated three times and yet was speaking on stage for the first time as a presenter.
Also Dune co-stars Jason Momoa and Josh Brolin palled around on stage: When Brolin asked Momoa if he’d ever been nominated for an Oscar, Momoa chuckled while saying, “Oh, noooooo.” He said he’d put his name in each of the categories this year though andlet out a burp to demonstrate his eligibility for Best Sound. There’s something to be said for charming actors keeping it casual. These actors are film stars.
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