Underdog Coda emerges big winner at action-packed ceremony
The 94th Academy Awards were handed out at Los Angeles’s Dolby Theatre on Sunday (27 March), closing out awards season in unexpectedly dramatic fashion.
While Best Actor winner Will Smith’s onstage altercation with comedian Chris Rock continues to dominate conversation on social media, the 2022 Oscars were also made memorable by moving acceptance speeches, debut wins, and the ceremony’s three co-hosts – Amy Schumer, Regina Hall and Wanda Sykes.
The Oscars’ theme this year was “Movie Lovers United” as the Academy celebrated cinematic excellence across 23 categories.
While Jane Campion’s critically acclaimed western The Power of the Dog secured the most nominations this year (12), Sian Heder’s tear-jerker Coda emerged the night’s big winner – sweeping all three categories it was nominated for, including Best Picture.
In fact, Coda made Oscars history by becoming the first ever film with a streaming-only release to win the Best Picture honour, following its premiere on Apple TV+ in August 2021.
Coda actor Troy Kotsur also earned himself a place in the Oscars Hall of Fame after he became the first deaf male actor to win Best Supporting Actor in the 94 years since the awards were instituted.
The 53-year-old actor, who has been deaf since birth, previously won awards at the Baftas, Screen Actors Guild Awards and the Critics’ Choice Awards for his performance.
Reacting both to Coda’s wins and Smith’s feud with Rock at the Oscars, filmmaker Rebekah McKendry summarised the ceremony in a tweet that read: “A woman won three awards on her movie and two men behaved like total children.”
Denis Villeneuve’s sci-fi epic Dune (with a total of 10 nominations) dominated the technical categories, winning prizes for Best Film Editing, Best Cinematography, Best Music (Original Score), Best Sound, Best Visual Effects and Best Costume Design.
While Emma Stone-led Cruella took home the Oscar for Best Costume Design, Jessica Chastain’s movie The Eyes of Tammy Faye was awarded for excellence in make-up and hairstyling.
Chastain had previously criticised the Academy for its decision to slash eight categories (including hair and makeup) from the live broadcast.
The actor, 45, had promised she would be present to support her film’s makeup team when their category was announced, even if that meant she would miss the glitzy red carpet portion of the evening.
A beaming Chastain accompanied the film’s make-up artists as they accepted their Oscar for The Eyes of Tammy Faye – setting the stage for Chastain to round out the evening with her Best Actress win.
Beating out actors including Kristen Stewart (Spencer) and Nicole Kidman (Being the Ricardos), Chastain delivered a moving speech about discrimination while accepting her maiden Oscar award.
Celebrating individuality, empathy, and love, she said: “I’m inspired by [Tammy Faye’s] compassion and I see it as a guiding principle that leads us forward, and it connects us all in the desire that we want to be accepted for who we are, accepted for who we love and to live a life without the fear of violence or terror.”
“For any of you out there who do, in fact, feel hopeless or alone, I just want you to know that you are unconditionally loved for the uniqueness that is you,” Chastain continued.
Also earning her first Oscar, Ariana DeBose won the golden statuette for playing Anita in Steven Spielberg’s reimagining of Broadway classic West Side Story. With her win, DeBose has become the first Afro-Latina and queer woman to ever win the Best Supporting Actress category.
However, this was West Side Story’s solitary win despite being nominated in seven categories – including Best Director.
While King Richard actor Smith’s on-stage fracas with Rock threatens to eclipse his first Oscar win, the actor addressed the confrontation moments after it occurred when he walked back on stage to accept his award.
He praised Richard Williams – the father of Venus and Serena Williams whom he portrays in the film – as a “fierce defender of his family”.
“I’m being called on in my life to love people and to protect people and to be a river to my people,” said Smith.