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Oscars 2022: Will Smith Did What Now?

I started watching the Oscars, start to finish, even before I was allowed to watch most of the movies. It was something about the competition aspect of winning an award for film along with the fact that I liked watching movies significantly more than TV shows. 

As mentioned in a previous article of mine, I also make the Oscars a competition for myself by creating handwritten prediction sheets with three categories: my choice, what I predict will win the award, and what actually won. This year I decided to add a section called “Memorable Notes,” just in case anything interesting happened during the awards.

Well, “interesting” was an understatement this year. I’m going to debrief the Oscars in a variety of categories (prefacing that this is all my own opinion), before ending on a general rating of the show compared to other years I’ve watched.

The Hosts

This is the first year since 2018 that the Oscars has had a host. Not only did they have one host, they had three: Amy Schumer, Wanda Sykes, and Regina Hall. Though I had gotten used to the hostless format, I significantly enjoy having hosts at the Oscars more than not. It makes it feel more lively and comedic, something that is always appreciated in a three-hour televised program. 

I thought that Amy, Wanda, and Regina all did a great job hosting. They had funny jokes and bits, and I felt that they had a lot of content to work with since it was after COVID. Regina Hall’s segment of her touring the Academy Awards Museum was easily my favorite host segment, along with Amy Schumer coming down from the ceiling dressed as Spiderman. Hosts are supposed to lighten the mood, and they did just that this time around. While it can create somewhat awkward moments if the joke is off-putting or too much, at least it keeps the audience engaged.

The Music

Something that I never really look forward to is the live performances of the songs. There’s nothing specifically wrong with this segment, but I don’t think it fits with an award show about films. That being said, I thought that the performance of “Be Alive” from “King Richard” was entertaining, along with watching Billie Eilish and Fineas perform “No Time To Die.” The rest of the songs were okay, though I was a little confused why the “Encanto” cast performed “We Don’t Talk About Bruno” when it wasn’t nominated for an award.

Seeing Billie Eilish win an Oscar was surreal, considering how young she is. My hope is that she goes on to be the youngest person to win an EGOT (Emmy, Grammy, Oscar, and Tony award). She’s already halfway there, she just has to get her foot in the door for theater productions. 

The Winners

Overall, I was pretty pleased with the category winners this year, with the exception of “Cruella” winning best costume design. I personally thought that the other films had better costumes and couldn’t fully wrap my head around the fact that “Cruella” won an Oscar (I didn’t enjoy it all…). 

I was especially pleased with all the attention that “CODA” got, since it was going in as the underdog with only three nominations. The film ended up winning every award they were nominated for, which was Best Supporting Actor (the first-ever deaf male actor, Troy Kotsur!), Best Adapted Screenplay, and Best Picture. Since I had grown up learning ASL and was more immersed in deaf culture than the general public, “CODA” had a special place in my heart and I’m so glad it won Best Picture.

Other than that, everything was pretty straightforward. “Dune” won almost all the technical awards: cinematography, editing, production design, sound, visual effects, along with best original score. I was hoping that “The Power of the Dog” would win more awards, but watching the film win Best Directing for Jane Campion was worth it regardless.

The Vibe… For Lack of Better Word

Despite the hosts being funny, the music being entertaining, and the venue being back at the Dolby, something felt off this year at the Oscars. I’m not sure if it was because everything seemed normal after COVID and I wasn’t used to the setting or that there were hosts in this show, but many parts seemed awkward.

Something that I didn’t like this year was the Twitter polls about the fan-favorite movies or best action moments, etc. They definitely didn’t represent the true answers of the general public, and they were cut in at pretty weird times.

Along with that, despite pre-recording some of the awards before the show, the program ran almost 45 minutes longer than it was supposed to. It felt like it packed a lot of things into no time at all, yet it still felt too long. 

Lastly, I am one of those people who likes short, clear, and concise thank you speeches. Most of the speeches were pretty good this time around, though there was one in particular that made me yell at my TV, “We get it, move on!” This happened to be none other than Will Smith, who gets his entire own section for being so influential to this program.

Will Smith, Where to Start?

This year’s Oscars has gotten the most coverage since the infamous “La La Land” mix-up, and it’s all due to Will Smith.

In case you didn’t watch the awards or haven’t looked at the news, Chris Rock made a joke about Will Smith’s wife, Jada Pinkett Smith. Upset with this, Will Smith went up onto the stage and slapped Chris Rock before screaming twice, “Keep my wife’s name out of your f-ing mouth” (though this part was censored on American television).

Let me just say that this was very surprising. Everything up until then had gone off without a hitch, and I never would’ve expected to see an altercation between two actors in a ceremony like this. At first, I thought that the slap was supposed to happen or part of a joke, but then I knew something was wrong when the audio cut out in order to censor the swearing.

Personally, I do think that Will Smith was in the wrong and that he shouldn’t have slapped Chris Rock. While Chris Rock’s joke was pretty tasteless and Will Smith wanted to defend Jada’s honor, that doesn’t excuse going up and using physical violence on someone, especially during an award show being filmed live on TV for millions of people. 

Even after the initial slapping, I expected Will Smith to say an apology to Chris Rock in his acceptance speech, but that never happened. Instead, I felt that he made a bunch of excuses for his actions that couldn’t be more easily solved with a simple “I’m sorry for slapping you.” I don’t think that Will Smith’s career will be hindered by this event, but it will be interesting to see how long this news will circulate for before returning to normal.

A Final Rating

This was a weird Oscars, and it wasn’t all due to Will Smith. While things seemed to be getting back to normal after COVID, it didn’t feel like the Oscars I was used to watching in high school. 

Overall, I would rate this year a 7/10. I still watched it all from start to finish and enjoyed watching it, but there were some parts that made me agree with all the news articles about the show going downhill. Who knows, maybe next year will prove to break the trend of weird Oscars. If not, we can safely say that this year will be talked about and remembered for years to come.

Anna Bedell

CU Boulder '25

Anna is a sophomore at CU Boulder majoring in business marketing with a minor in journalism. She has loved being a part of Her Campus and is always looking to improve her writing skills. Anna has been writing creative fiction stories since the age of 7, and hopes to transfer her creativity into article writing. When not writing, she's seen rock climbing, playing various geography games, or watching movies that make her cry.