In the Mix

March 27, 2022

The 94th Academy Awards

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Written for: Communicado Magazine
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Awards season has become optional at this point. Last year there was no Golden Globes show for pandemic and political reasons and I haven’t heard any word on this year???

But, the #Oscars March on…

Regina Hall/Wanda Sykes/Amy Schumer hosted. Vote officially cast again for host-less Oscars.

It was an interesting idea to have cast members from iconic movies present awards while celebrating their anniversaries. Juno, Pulp Fiction, The Godfather. But I’m not sure it was enough to give the show a good kick… But there was a clear slap!

In his own words, Chris Rock said, “Will Smith just slapped the s**t out of me!” Chris Rock made a joke about his wife, Jada Pinkett Smith. Yes. So Will Smith walked onto the stage mid-broadcast, slapped Chris Rock and sat back down. They exchanged a few profanity-laden words and the show went on. Happened. If you didn’t see it live, YouTube is available…

OH. There were awards too…

Actress in a Leading Role: Jessica Chastain – The Eyes of Tammy Faye
Nominees: Olivia Colman – The Lost Daughter, Penelope Cruz – Parallel Mothers, Nicole Kidman – Being the Ricardos, Kristen Stewart – Spencer

Actress in a Supporting Role: Ariana DeBose – West Side Story
Nominees: Jessie Buckley – The Lost Daughter, Judi Dench – Belfast, Kirsten Dunst – The Power of the Dog, Aunjanue Ellis – King Richard

Actor in a Leading Role: Will Smith – King Richard
Nominees: Javier Bardem – Being the Ricardos, Benedict Cumberbatch – The Power of the Dog, Andrew Garfield – tick, tick… BOOM!, Denzel Washington – The Tragedy of Macbeth

Actor in a Supporting Role: Troy Kotsur – CODA
Nominees: Ciaran Hines – Belfast, Jesse Plemons – The Power of the Dog, J. K. Simmons – Being the Ricardos, Kodi Smit-McPhee – The Power of the Dog

International Feature Film: Drive My Car/Japan
Nominees: Flee/Denmark, The Hand of God/Italy, Lunana: A Yak in the Classroom/Bhutan,
The Worst Person in the World/Norway

Directing: Jane Campion – The Power of the Dog
Nominees: Kenneth Branagh – Belfast, Ryusuke Hamaguchi – Drive My Car, Paul Thomas Anderson – Licorice Pizza, Stephen Spielberg – West Side Story

Best Picture: CODA
Don’t Look Up
Drive My Car
King Richard
Licorice Pizza
Nightmare Alley
The Power of the Dog
West Side Story

I tend to deviate slightly from my standard #Oscar review each year. This year’s deviation: an across-the-board YEA for the winners. Instead, I want to speak to this year’s judgement… diversity.

Not that diversity is a new concern with the academy, but, the approach has become more subtle. A woman won for best director… a deaf man won for actor in a supporting role… a self described “queer Latina” won for actress in a supporting role and a Black man won for actor in a leading role.

Congratulations to the academy for embracing diversity, but, I’m skeptical. I wonder if this is genuine or orchestrated. Maybe enough time hasn’t passed since #MeToo and #OscarSoWhite for the effort to seem genuine, but, I don’t want to dismiss the facts. We have diverse winners.

We also need time to see if we remember Will Smith winning his first #Oscar or Will Smith losing his s**t…

Of note: In my review of CODA, I expressed my hope that this film shines a spotlight on the breadth of diversity as opposed to just being a movie about deaf people. They are people first and deaf somewhere down the road after men and women, mothers and fathers, sons and daughters.

If this is what the academy hoped to achieve, I am on board…

Also in that vein, I will stick to my standard #Oscar review of international film awards. See them all. The more we educate and expose ourselves to people of different cultures, from different walks of life, the closer we get to racial and ethnic equity.

So, the #Oscars are still a work in progress. Every year has its label for what it is expected to be and subsequently, every year has its drama for how the label unfolds with an unexpected surprise memorable moment folded in.

An adventure. See you next year…