A tearful Will Smith has won the best actor award, minutes after unleashing one of the most unusual moments in Oscars history — attacking comedian Chris Rock live on stage.
In a bizarre acceptance speech, given his earlier actions, Smith said people in showbiz needed to be able to take abuse.
“I know to do what we do, you got to be able to take abuse. You got to be able to have people talk crazy about you in this business. You got to be able to have people disrespecting you and you got to smile and you got pretend like that’s OK,” Smith said.
Smith, one of Hollywood’s most bankable stars, said he was “being called on” to “protect” those he loves.
“It’s like I wanna be a vessel for love, I wanna say thank you to Venus and Serena and the entire Williams family for entrusting me with your story. That’s what I wanna do, I want to be an ambassador of that kind of love and care and concern.”
Smith went on to apologise for his actions, and insisted he wasn’t crying because of his win.
He said “I want to apologise to the Academy, to all my fellow nominees this is a beautiful moment and I’m not crying for winning an award, it’s not about winning an award for me, it’s about being able to shine a light. Tim and Trevor and Zac, and Saniyya and Demi and Aunjanue and the entire cast and crew of King Richard, Venus and Serena, the entire Williams family.
“Art imitates life, I look like the crazy father, just like they said about Richard Williams.
“Love will make you do crazy things.
“To my mother, a lot of this moment is really complicated for me, but to my mother, she didn’t want to come, she has her knitting crew she’s watching with. Being able to love and care for my mother, my family, my wife thank you for this honour, thank you for this honour, thank you for this moment. I thank you on behalf of Richard, Oracene, and the entire Williams family.”
A few minutes later, rapper Sean Combs — on stage to introduce a tribute to The Godfather — tried to play peacemaker and suggested Smith and Rock settle their differences at an Oscars after party.
“Will and Chris, we’re going to solve that like family at the Gold party,” Combs said.
The moment shocked the Dolby Theatre audience and viewers at home. At the commercial break, presenter Daniel Kaluuya came up to to hug Smith, and Denzel Washington escorted him to the side of the stage. The two talked and hugged and Tyler Perry came over to talk as well.
Deaf family drama CODA won the best picture award, handing Hollywood’s top award to a streaming service for the first time.
Sian Heder’s CODA, which first premiered at a virtual Sundance Film Festival in winter 2021, started out as an underdog but gradually emerged as the Oscars’ feel-good favorite.
It also handed another near-miss defeat to Netflix, the veteran streamer that for years has tried vainly to score best picture. Its best chance, Jane Campion’s The Power of the Dog, came in with a leading 12 nominations.
Jessica Chastain won the Academy Award for best lead actress for her mascara-laden title role as the on-air preaching partner and wife of Christian televangelist Jim Bakker in The Eyes of Tammy Faye, chronicling the couple’s rise and fall.
The Oscar triumph for Chastain, 45, virtually unrecognisable in heavy makeup as Tammy Faye Bakker, followed a Screen Actors Guild Award for her performance and capped the third Academy Award nomination of her career.
She was previously nominated for an Oscar for 2012 portrayal of a CIA analyst on the hunt of Osama Bin Laden in Zero Dark Thirty and her 2011 supporting role as a Southern socialite in the 1960s racial drama The Help.
Chastain’s latest film charted the real-life story of evangelical power couple Jim and Tammy Faye Bakker, who built their PTL Club television ministry into a worldwide Christian broadcast network during the 1970s and ’80s.
Earlier, New Zealander Jane Campion won the best director Oscar for The Power of the Dog.
The 67-year-old filmmaker won the Academy Award on Sunday night for the unconventional Western starring Benedict Cumberbatch that was shot in her native New Zealand.
It’s her first best director Oscar. She won a best original screenplay Oscar in 1994 for her film “The Piano,” which also earned her a directing nomination.
Campion, the first woman ever nominated twice for best director, beat out fellow nominees Paul Thomas Anderson, Kenneth Branagh, Ryusuke Hamaguchi and Steven Spielberg.
Earlier, Troy Kotsur has become the first deaf man to win an Oscar, taking the Academy Award for best supporting actor for his role as a fisherman and father in family drama CODA.
Kotsur’s success meant Australian actor Kodi Smit-McPhee – nominated for New Zealand director Jane Campion’s The Power of the Dog – missed out at the star- studded ceremony in Los Angeles.
“This is amazing to be here on this journey. I cannot believe I am here,” Kotsur said in a heartfelt speech delivered in sign language.
“This is dedicated to the deaf community, the ’CODA’ community and the disabled community. This is our moment.”
Along with Smit-McPhee, other nominees for the award were Ciaran Hinds for Belfast, J.K. Simmons for Being the Ricardos and Jesse Plemons, also for The Power of the Dog.
For Smit-McPhee, who described the build-up to the Oscars as “chaotic in the best way”, thoughts now turn to looking for his next role.
“I love the element of surprise. I love the dance of fate that I play when material arrives on my doorstep,” he said prior to the ceremony.
“To try and control something like that – then you’re failing to think out of the box.”
The 94th Academy Awards kicked off with Beyonce, a string of awards handed out off-camera to Denis Villeneuve’s science-fiction epic Dune and a trio of Oscars hosts in Wanda Sykes, Amy Schumer and Regina Hall.
From inside Los Angeles’ Dolby Theatre, Venus and Serena Williams, whose childhood is dramatized in the Will Smith-led King Richard, began the broadcast by introducing Beyonce. She performed the film’s nominated song, Be Alive, in an elaborately choreographed performance from a lime-colored, open- air stage in Compton, where the Williams’ grew up.
“All right, we are here at the Oscars,” began Hall. Sykes finished: “Where movie lovers unite and watch TV.”
Sykes, Schumer and Hall breezily joked through prominent Hollywood issues like pay equity — they said three female hosts were “cheaper than one man” — the Lady Gaga drama Sykes called “House of Random Accents,” the state of the Golden Globes (in the memoriam package) and Leonardo Di Caprio’s girlfriends. Their most pointed political point came at the end of their routine, in which they promised a great night.
“And for you people in Florida, we’re going to have a gay night,” Sykes said.
The first broadcast award went, fittingly, to Ariana DeBose, who became the first openly LGBTQ actor and first Afro-Latina to win best supporting actress. Her win came 60 years after Rita Moreno won for the same role in the 1961 original “West Side Story.” DeBose thanked Moreno for leading the way for “tons of Anitas like me.”
“To anybody who has ever questioned your identity or you find yourself living in the gray spaces,” said DeBose, “I promise you this: There is indeed a place for us.”
The Academy Awards got underway Sunday off-camera, with the first eight awards on the night being handed out at the Dolby Theatre before the start of the ABC telecast. The Dolby was largely full in time for the 7 p.m. EDT pre-show, dubbed the “golden hour” by the academy. Presenters Jason Momoa and Josh Brolin announced the winners, whose speeches were to be edited into the broadcast.
But it was a strange and controversial beginning to the first fully in-person Oscars in two years. Earlier this month, more than 70 Oscar winners, including James Cameron, Kathleen Kennedy and Guillermo del Toro, warned that the change would turn some nominees into “second-class citizens.”
After record-low ratings in 2021, the academy trimmed the live presentation of eight categories from the broadcast, which will feature edited clips of their wins. The academy also elected not to televise the early awards in the Oscars’ press room, where the red carpet pre-show continued to play, even though most stars were by then in their seats. (Most interviews were taped shortly in advance, when the carpet was crowded.)
Dune got out to an early lead, winning for production design, editing, sound and for Hans Zimmer’s score. Though it’s not favored in the top awards, Dune — the biggest blockbuster of this year’s 10 best-picture nominees — was widely expected to clean up in technical categories.
Best makeup and hairstyling went to Linda Dowds, Stephanie Ingram and Justin Raleigh for The Eyes of Tammy Faye. That film’s star and producer, Jessica Chastain, had been among the many academy members who thought all the awards should have been handed out live during the broadcast. Chastain hugged each winner as they took the stage.
“I just hope that each and every day on set everyone takes a moment to just look around and look at all those talented people who work hard,” said Dowds, the make-up artist.
The Queen of Basketball, about the basketball great Lusia Harris, took best short documentary film. Its executive producers include Steph Curry and Shaquille O’Neal. Best animated short went to The Windshield Wiper, while The Long Goodbye, a blistering fictional short starring Riz Ahmed, took best fiction short.
“This is for everyone who feels like they’re stuck in No Man’s Land,” said Ahmed. “You’re not alone. We’ll meet you there.”
After two years of pandemic, and beneath a warm California sun Sunday, a Hollywood rite of glamour again got into swing. The early hour of awards was one of many shifts, both slight and tectonic, around this year’s ceremony. After a socially distanced 2021 edition, the Academy Awards tried to recapture their exalted place in pop culture with a revamped telecast that’s expected to see a streaming service win best picture for the first time.
Then there are the challenges of commanding worldwide attention for a night of Hollywood self-congratulation after two years of pandemic and while Russia’s war ravages Ukraine. Packer has said the war in Ukraine will be respectfully acknowledged during the broadcast. Some stars, like Sean Penn, have lobbied the academy to have Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy speak at the ceremony. Some stars sported blue ribbons in support of Ukraine.
Netflix’s The Power of the Dog, Jane Campion’s gothic western, comes in with a leading 12 nominations and a good chance of snagging the top award. But all the momentum is with Sian Heder’s deaf family drama “CODA,” which, despite boasting just three nods, is considered the favorite. A win would be a triumph for Apple TV+, which acquired the movie out of the Sundance Film Festival last year and has spent big promoting it to academy members.
Producers have lined up a star-studded group of performers including Billie Eilish and Beyonce to sing nominated songs, while the Encanto cast will perform Lin-Manuel Miranda’s breakout hit We Don’t Talk About Bruno. (Miranda, however, won’t be attendance after his wife tested positive for COVID-19.) Also planned: anniversary celebrations for Francis Ford Coppola’s The Godfather (50 years old) and James Bond (60).
Behind the change is alarm over the Oscars fast-falling ratings. While drops have been common to all major network award shows, last year’s show attracted only about 10 million viewers, less than half of the 23.6 million the year before. A decade ago, it was closer to 40 million.
To help restore the Oscars’ position, some argued in the lead-up to this year’s awards that a blockbuster like Spider-Man: No Way Home should have been nominated for best picture. It’s up for just visual effects.
Instead, a wide gamut of films are in the hunt, ranging from the much-watched Netflix apocalyptic comedy Don’t Look Up and the roundly acclaimed three-hour Japanese drama Drive My Car.
One thing producers have promised: the night’s final award will be best picture. Last year’s show concluded awkwardly with the unexpected presentation of best actor to a not-present Anthony Hopkins.
2022 ACADEMY AWARD WINNERS
Best picture: CODA
Best actor: Will Smith, King Richard
Best actress: Jessica Chastain, The Eyes of Tammy Faye
Documentary feature: Summer of Soul (Or, When The Revolution Could Not Be Televised)
Original song: No Time to Die from No Time to Die, music and lyric by Billie Eilish and Finneas O’Connell
Best director: Jane Campion, The Power of the Dog
Best supporting actor: Troy Kotsur, CODA
Best international film: Drive My Car, Japan
Costume design: Cruella
Original screenplay: Belfast
Adapted screenplay: CODA
Best supporting actress: Ariana DeBose
Visual Effects: Dune
Best animated feature: Encanto
Documentary (short subject): The Queen of Basketball
Best animated short film: The Windshield Wiper
Live action short: The Long Goodbye
Music (original score): Dune
Film editing: Dune
Production design: Dune
Makeup and hairstyling: The Eyes of Tammy Faye
Associated Press Writers Lindsey Bahr, Jocelyn Noveck, Andrew Dalton and Amanda Lee Myers contributed to this report.