And the Oscar Goes to… The 94th Academy Awards

The Oscars from the films of 2021.

Olivia Voelkel, Writer

The Academy Awards ceremony, commonly known as the Oscars, honors individuals and groups that contribute to making films. Celebrities and filmmakers come together to attend this prestigious event. This year, the Oscars were held on March 27, 2022 at the grand Dolby Theatre at Ovation Hollywood. The Academy was rewarding and recognizing films from the year 2021. After reviewing the Oscars, here is a look at the highlights and honorable mentions from the night, as well as the winnings and nominations for each category.

Photo of Oscar Award by Twitter @ROLEX for The Academy
Photo of Oscar Award by Twitter @ROLEX for The Academy

The esteemed ceremony began with an opening performance of “Be Alive” from the new movie King Richard, sung by Beyoncé. What was so notable about the performance was that it was located at the tennis courts in Compton, California where Serena and Venus Williams practiced tennis. The performance was filled with elaborate choreography, bright chartreuse costuming, and organized musical performances. Following the opening performance, the hosts were introduced. After three years of not having any hosts, this year’s ceremony came with not one but three female hosts: Amy Schumer, Wanda Sykes, and Regina King. Their comedic act and opening created a friendly atmosphere before any incident occurred. 


The Incident: 

One of the most bizarre moments of the night was an altercation between Chris Rock and Will Smith. Chris Rock was presenting the Academy Award for the category documentary feature. It was during his comedic bit that he joked about Jada Pinkett Smith’s head, referencing “G.I. Jane,” due to her being bald. Jada Pinkett Smith deals with alopecia, an autoimmune disorder that causes hair loss. She immediately did not find his jab funny, but Will Smith can be seen grinning at the incident. It was moments after when Smith walked on stage and slapped Chris Rock across the face. Once he returned to his seat, he repeatedly shouted at Rock to keep his wife’s name out of Rock’s mouth. The incident sparked confusion. Was it all an act or was it real? It became clear that this was Will Smith snapping at a remark he was uncomfortable with. Although it was not appropriate for Rock to make a joke that was not scripted, Smith should not have lashed out inappropriately at such an esteemed event. Attacking another individual would usually get someone removed from such an event, but shortly after, Will Smith received his first Oscar for best actor. In his lengthy speech, a tearful Smith can be seen apologizing to the Academy and nominees and obviously referencing the slap to how Richard Williams was also a “fierce defender.”


Photo of Chris Rock’s reaction just after Will Smith slapped him by Twitter @Variety
Photo of Chris Rock’s reaction just after Will Smith slapped him by Twitter @Variety




Although the incident between Chris Rock and Will Smith increased Oscar ratings, in addition to Troy Kotsur winning best supporting actor, the incident overshadowed so many important steps as far as winnings and changes in Academy history. This conflict overshadowed even his own award, his first Academy Award. The Academy has responded disapproving of Smith’s actions and announcing that there will be a formal review on Smith’s actions with correct procedures, as well as a meeting with the Academy governors.  






Historical Firsts and Honorable Mentions: 

Ariana DeBose made history as the first openly queer woman of color to win an Academy Award. The actress played “Anita” in director Steven Spielberg’s take on West Side Story. In her speech she recognized and acknowledged this change in Academy and filmmaking history where she recalls back to the young girl she once was. 

Photo of Troy Kotsur holding Oscar by Twitter @TheAcademy
Photo of Troy Kotsur holding Oscar by Twitter @TheAcademy



Troy Kotsur became the first Deaf man to win an Academy Award for an acting role. The winning supporting actor from CODA, acted with another costar, Marlee Matlin who won the best actress award in 1987 as the first Deaf actor to win an Oscar. The movie’s profound story of a Deaf family with a hearing daughter touched so many. 




Megan Thee Stallion became the first female rapper to perform at the Oscars. She performed during a performance from Encanto’s cast of the song, “We Don’t Talk about Bruno,” from the movie. 


Amy Schumer, Wanda Sykes, and Regina Hall are the first female trio to host the awards show. Their conversation and skits touched upon a handful of different societal and structural issues today, as well as poking fun at different movies and individuals nominated at the ceremony. 


Photo of Jane Campion holding Oscar by Twitter @TheAcademy; Photographed by Luis Alberto Rodriguez
Photo of Jane Campion holding Oscar by Twitter @TheAcademy; Photographed by Luis Alberto Rodriguez





It is also worth noting that Jane Campion became the second female director in a row to win an Academy Award for the best director. Jane Campion directed The Power of the Dog, starring Benedict Cumberbatch and Kirsten Dunst. 








With such a tumultuous start, the Oscars did reveal a lovely moment shared between Lady Gaga and Liza Minnelli when they announced best picture together. The warmth and guidance Gaga showed to Minnelli struggling to present the award was touching. Positive moments like this show the film industry in a much brighter light than the events that happened prior. 


As for the performances during one of Hollywood’s most lavish nights, Beyoncé’s “Be Alive,” an original song from King Richard, was phenomenal. The movie depicted the Williams’ family story in tennis, particularly how Richard Williams was involved in the backstory behind Venus and Serena’s tennis fame. In addition, the eerily haunting performance from Billie Eilish and Finneas’ “No Time to Die,” embodied the classic Hollywood idea of a 007 Bond song. It is an original song from the movie No Time to Die.


Quick Note: Although there is notable inclusivity and diversity represented. It should not be something new. It is wonderful that so many firsts have been created this year of all kinds, yet it should be normalized and not something entirely out of the ordinary for the Academy.


Personal Honorable Mention: 

Dune, directed by Denis Villeneuve, won many Oscars for the more technical categories. It’s worth noting how vital this movie was in representing the more advanced and technical angles that go into account when creating a movie. This movie and all that went into it represents the process of filmmaking and creating as a true art form. Dune got ten nominations, almost as many as The Power of the Dog with twelve, yet Power of the Dog only got a few wins. Dune, a riveting intergalactic movie, adapted from Frank Herbet’s novel, sweeped many Oscars from the creation aspect of movies. 

Photo of Timothee Chalamet in the movie Dune by Twitter @IMDb
Photo of Timothee Chalamet in the movie Dune by Twitter @IMDb


The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences’ 
Winnings/Nominees by Category 

Actor in Leading Role: 


Will Smith – King Richard


Javier Bardem – Being the Ricardos 

Andrew Garfield – tick, tick… BOOM! 

Denzel Washington – The Tragedy of Macbeth 

Benedict Cumberbatch – The Power of the Dog


Actress in Leading Role: 


Jessica Chastain – The Eyes of Tammy Faye


Olivia Colman – The Lost Daughter 

Nicole Kidman – Being the Ricardos 

Kristen Stewart – Spencer 

Penélope Cruz – Parallel Mothers 


Actor in Supporting Role: 


Troy Kotsur – CODA


Jesse Plemons – The Power of the Dog

J.K. Simmons – Being the Ricardos 

Kodi Smit-Mcphee – The Power of the Dog

Ciarán Hinds – Belfast


Actress in Supporting Role: 


Ariana Debose – West Side Story 


Kirsten Dunst – The Power of the Dog

Aunjanue Ellis – King Richard

Jessie Buckley – The Lost Daughter

Judi Dench – Belfast


Best Picture: 


CODA – Philippe Rousselet, Fabrice Gianfermi and Patrick Wachsberger, Producers


Belfast – Laura Berwick, Kenneth Branagh, Becca Kovacik and Tamar Thomas, Producers

Dune – Mary Parent, Denis Villeneuve and Cale Boyter, Producers

Don’t Look Up – Adam McKay and Kevin Messick, Producers

King Richard – Tim White, Trevor White and Will Smith, Producers

The Power of the Dog – Jane Campion, Tanya Seghatchian, Emile Sherman, Iain Canning and Roger Frappier, Producers

West Side Story – Steven Spielberg and Kristie Macosko Krieger, Producers

Drive My Car – Teruhisa Yamamoto, Producer

Licorice Pizza – Sara Murphy, Adam Somner and Paul Thomas Anderson, Producers

Nightmare Alley – Guillermo del Toro, J. Miles Dale and Bradley Cooper, Producers


Animated Feature Film: 


Encanto – Jared Bush, Byron Howard, Yvett Merino and Clark Spencer


Luca – Enrico Casarosa and Andrea Warren

Flee – Jonas Poher Rasmussen, Monica Hellström, Signe Byrge Sørensen and Charlotte De La Gournerie

Raya and the Last Dragon – Don Hall, Carlos López Estrada, Osnat Shurer and Peter Del Vecho

The Mitchells vs. The Machines – Mike Rianda, Phil Lord, Christopher Miller and Kurt Albrecht


Documentary (Feature): 


Summer of Soul (… Or, when the Revolution could not be Televised) – Ahmir “Questlove” Thompson, Joseph Patel, Robert Fyvolent and David Dinerstein


Attica – Stanley Nelson and Traci A. Curry

Ascension – Jessica Kingdon, Kira Simon-Kennedy and Nathan Truesdell

Flee – Jonas Poher Rasmussen, Monica Hellström, Signe Byrge Sørensen and Charlotte De La Gournerie

Writing with Fire – Rintu Thomas and Sushmit Ghosh


Documentary (Short Subject): 


The Queen of Basketball – Ben Proudfoot


Lead Me Home – Pedro Kos and Jon Shenk

Three Songs for Benazir – Elizabeth Mirzaei and Gulistan Mirzaei

Audible – Matt Ogens and Geoff McLean

When We Were Bullies – Jay Rosenblatt


International Feature Film: 


Drive My Car – Japan


Flee – Denmark

The Hand of God – Italy

The Worst Person in the World – Norway

Lunana: A Yak in the Classroom – Bhutan


Short Film (Animated): 


“The Windshield Wiper” – Alberto Mielgo and Leo Sanchez


“Affairs of the Art” – Joanna Quinn and Les Mills

“Robin Robin” – Dan Ojari and Mikey Please

“Bestia” – Hugo Covarrubias and Tevo Díaz

“Boxballet” – Anton Dyakov


Short Film (Live Action): 


“The Long Goodbye” – Aneil Karia and Riz Ahmed


“The Dress” – Tadeusz Łysiak and Maciej Ślesicki

“Ala Kachuu – Take and Run” – Maria Brendle and Nadine Lüchinger

“Please Hold” – K.D. Dávila and Levin Menekse

“On My Mind” – Martin Strange-Hansen and Kim Magnusson




Dune – Greig Fraser


West Side Story – Janusz Kaminski

Nightmare Alley – Dan Laustsen

The Power of the Dog – Ari Wegner

The Tragedy of Macbeth – Bruno Delbonnel




The Power of the Dog – Jane Campion


Belfast – Kenneth Branagh

West Side Story -Steven Spielberg

Drive My Car – Ryusuke Hamaguchi

Licorice Pizza – Paul Thomas Anderson


Film Editing: 


Dune – Joe Walker


Don’t Look Up – Hank Corwin 

The Power of the Dog – Peter Sciberras

King Richard – Pamela Martin

Tick, Tick… BOOM! – Myron Kerstein and Andrew Weisblum




Dune – Mac Ruth, Mark Mangini, Theo Green, Doug Hemphill and Ron Bartlett


Belfast – Denise Yarde, Simon Chase, James Mather and Niv Adiri

The Power of the Dog – Richard Flynn, Robert Mackenzie and Tara Webb

No Time to Die – Simon Hayes, Oliver Tarney, James Harrison, Paul Massey and Mark Taylor

West Side Story – Tod A. Maitland, Gary Rydstrom, Brian Chumney, Andy Nelson and Shawn Murphy


Music (Original Score): 


Dune – Hans Zimmer


Don’t Look Up – Nicholas Britell

Parallel Mothers – Alberto Iglesias

Encanto – Germaine Franco

The Power of the Dog – Jonny Greenwood


Music (Original Song): 


No Time to Die” – from No Time to Die; Music and Lyric by Billie Eilish and Finneas O’Connell


“Be Alive” – from King Richard; Music and Lyric by DIXSON and Beyoncé Knowles-Carter

“Down to Joy” – from Belfast; Music and Lyric by Van Morrison

“Dos Oruguitas” –  from Encanto; Music and Lyric by Lin-Manuel Miranda 

“Somehow You Do” – from Four Good Days; Music and Lyric by Diane Warren


Production Design: 


Dune – Production Design: Patrice Vermette; Set Decoration: Zsuzsanna Sipos


The Power of the Dog – Production Design: Grant Major; Set Decoration: Amber Richards

Nightmare Alley – Production Design: Tamara Deverell; Set Decoration: Shane Vieau

The Tragedy of Macbeth – Production Design: Stefan Dechant; Set Decoration: Nancy Haigh

West Side Story – Production Design: Adam Stockhausen; Set Decoration: Rena DeAngelo


Visual Effects: 


Dune – Paul Lambert, Tristan Myles, Brian Connor and Gerd Nefzer


No Time to Die – Charlie Noble, Joel Green, Jonathan Fawkner and Chris Corbould

Spider-Man: No Way Home – Kelly Port, Chris Waegner, Scott Edelstein and Dan Sudick

Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings – Christopher Townsend, Joe Farrell, Sean Noel Walker and Dan Oliver

Free Guy – Swen Gillberg, Bryan Grill, Nikos Kalaitzidis and Dan Sudick


Costume Design: 


Cruella – Jenny Beavan


Dune – Jacqueline West and Robert Morgan

Nightmare Alley – Luis Sequeira

Cyrano – Massimo Cantini Parrini and Jacqueline Durran

West Side Story – Paul Tazewell


Makeup and Hairstyling: 


The Eyes of Tammy Faye – Linda Dowds, Stephanie Ingram and Justin Raleigh


Dune – Donald Mowat, Love Larson and Eva Von Bahr

Cruella – Nadia Stacey, Naomi Donne and Julia Vernon

House of Gucci – Göran Lundström, Anna Carin Lock and Frederic Aspiras

Coming 2 America – Mike Marino, Stacey Morris and Carla Farmer


Writing (Adapted Screenplay): 


CODA – Screenplay by Siân Heder


Dune – Screenplay by Jon Spaihts and Denis Villeneuve and Eric Roth

Drive My Car – Screenplay by Ryusuke Hamaguchi, Takamasa Oe

The Power of the Dog – Written by Jane Campion

The Lost Daughter -Written by Maggie Gyllenhaal


Writing (Original Screenplay): 


Belfast – Written by Kenneth Branagh


King Richard – Written by Zach Baylin

Don’t Look Up – Screenplay by Adam McKay; Story by Adam McKay & David Sirota

The Worst Person in the World – Written by Eskil Vogt, Joachim Trier

Licorice Pizza -Written by Paul Thomas Anderson