So much Oscar history was made last night yet all anyone is talking about is the slap heard around the world, the one Will Smith delivered to comedian Chris Rock, who Smith felt had insulted his wife, Jada Pinkett. On one hand, good for Smith for defending his wife, but should a middle-aged man, on live TV being seen by billions get up, approach the stage and smack a host?? Rock would be within his rights to charge Smith but is refusing to do so. To Smith’s credit, upon winning Best Actor for ‘King Richard’ he apologized to the Academy and his fellow nominees but did not apologize to Rock.
The incident stemmed from Rock commenting on Jada Pinkett’s hair, stating he was looking forward to seeing her in ‘G.I. Jane 2’, perhaps not aware that Pinkett is struggling with a disease that caused her to lose her hair. It marred an otherwise pleasant Oscar show trying hard to be relevant, and remind us how much we love the movies.
Amazon Studios, one of the streaming companies became the first to win the Best Picture prize with ‘CODA’, the little film that could. Jane Campion, the only woman nominated twice for Best Director, won the Oscar for ‘The Power of the Dog’, becoming the second woman in a row to win Best Director, following Chloe Zhao last year. Troy Kotsur became the second deaf actor to win an Oscar for acting, earning the award for his superb performance in ‘CODA’. His co-star Marlee Matlin had won Best Actress in 1986 for ‘Children of a Lesser God’. Ariana DeBose won Best Supporting Actress in ‘West Side Story‘ becoming the second actress to win an Oscar in the role, Rita Moreno having won in 1961 for playing the part in the original film.
In all, ‘CODA’ won just three awards, but all three it had been nominated for, Best Picture, Best Supporting Actor and Best Adapted Screenplay. ‘Dune’ won six awards, some of them, to the eternal shame of the Academy, not presented live on the show. Wow! Time for songs, tributes to James Bond but no time for nominees and eventual winners??
Smith did, as expected, win Best Actor for his performance in ‘King Richard’, having been the frontrunner since September. It was his third nomination and first win ever. Jessica Chastain won Best Actress for ‘The Eyes of Tammy Faye’, besting Kristen Stewart’s Princess Diana in ‘Spencer‘, who held the frontrunner position for months. Chastain was a popular and deserving winner, though I was rooting for Stewart. Kenneth Branagh won the original screenplay award for ‘Belfast‘, the only award the popular film took home on seven nominations. As expected ‘Drive My Car’ from Japan won Best International Film and ‘Encanto’ took Best Animated Feature. ‘Summer of Soul’ won Best Documentary Feature despite swelling support for ‘Attica’.
Sad that a night supposed to be about a love of cinema will be remembered for the violence that took place live on TV.
About The Author:
John H. Foote is among the best known film critics in Canada, and has been active as a critic for thirty years. His career began as co-host, co-producer of the popular movie talk and review program Reel to Real. He left the show after ten years for his first love, print criticism, he longed to write about movies. For two years he wrote for Toronto Life and Fashion Magazine, his work quote in the LA and New York Times, as well as major papers across North America. He was offered a position writing for the internet and has since wrote for incontention.com, thewrap.com, screenrant.com, awardscircuit.com and most recently thecinemaholic.com. In May, 2018 he started his own site https://Footeandfriendsonfilm.com, which has enjoyed great success its first few months. Foote was also involved in film education teaching film history and film genre at Trebas Institute before leaving to be Dean of the Toronto Film School, where he also taught film history and continued his work as a critic. Foote has written two books, Clint Eastwood : Evolution of a Filmmaker, and Spielberg: American Film Visionary. His third, American Cinema in the Seventies is due for release in 2020.
Through his career he has interviewed everyone in the business except Jack Nicholson.