Post-Mortem on the Oscars 2022 – By Andrea Carnevali
The 2022 Oscars will be remembered more for Will Smith hitting Chris Rock over a comment the comic made about the actor’s wife than for any of the films, but here Andrea concentrates on the films.
With all the talk surrounding the slap by Will Smith at the Oscars, we all neglected to look at the films that were actually nominated and those which eventually won. Very few people are talking about CODA, let alone Drive My Car.
That rather shocking act of violence, however inappropriate the joke by Chris Rock was, tainted the whole ceremony and actually pretty much Hollywood as a whole.
To be honest I found even more shameful the standing ovation that followed the slap, once Will Smith won the Oscar (An award which was just as deserved as it would have been if Benedict Cumberbatch or Andrew Garfield had won), and I also found the lack of any prompt response by the Academy and the organisers behind the show very sloppy.
Image above: Will Smith
There were other things throughout the show which annoyed me: the constant references to being Black or being a woman, in a “We are so over of racism and power-centric men in Hollywood” kind of way, felt forced and contrived.
Most of the “jokes” (I use the term loosely) made by the various presenters felt like there were written in a few minutes by some cheap comedian.
Then there was that crowbarred minute of silence for the people of Ukraine, which was swiftly followed by an advert for a ‘cryptocurrency’ site and a whole series of other commercials after that. A juxtaposition that told us succinctly more about priorities and society today than any of the nominated documentaries.
Not to mention the terrible terrible, terrible (yes, triple terrible) stunt where the (female) host called to the stage the “hot looking” actors of the moment and started “feeling” them, touching their bodies and making jokes about taking them to a private room back-stage. It was a moment that was going to be soon eclipsed by the “slap”, but it was a clear example of the double-standards that are still alive and well. Can you even imagine if the gender roles had been reversed? What a horrendous sight that was! Or is it me, just getting old and not keeping up with the times?
Yes, all in all “the slap” was a wake-up call in an otherwise rather boring and predictable evening but I would have definitely have done without it.
Incidentally, seven hours earlier I had written my predictions on my Facebook page and as it turned out I got them all right.
Image above: CODA
This year CODA was the big winner, scooping not just the Best motion picture award, but also Best Supporting actor (a unique and magnificent performance by Troy Kotsur) and Best Adapted Screenplay.
I’m really pleased by the success of this film. Back in December last year I was one of those who vouched for it, when hardly anyone had heard about it: a crowd-pleaser which might not be the most original story, but it’s certainly the most heart-warming. And if you didn’t feel anything for it, you should probably have your pulse checked at some point.
As a Spielberg lover I was (not-so-secretly) hoping for a surprise win from West Side Story, but however loved by critics, the film didn’t really hit with the public, nor the members of the Academy, it seems.
I still believe it was one of the most beautifully directed films. To steal a quote I read somewhere, “Spielberg is so old-school that he IS the school”. Hardly any director alive today knows how to place and move the camera to tell a story, making it look so organically seamless and effortless.
Image above: Power of the Dog
But it was time for a woman to finally get some recognition and so Jane Campion won. In complete honesty I don’t think her Power of the Dog was her best work, nor did I love the film like many of my peers have. I thought it was oddly paced, too long and too understated for my taste: it left me cold and detached… But hey, what do I know? She won. So suck it up Andrea!
However Ariana DeBose, from West Side Story did win and made history by being the first (openly) queer woman of colour to get an Oscar. And a very well deserved one too: Ariana lit up the screen every time she appeared in the film, whether singing, or dancing, smiling or crying, or simply just by being in there, with her sheer sparkling presence. I look forward to seeing what she does next (apparently a Marvel film, a Sci-fi and star-studded spy flick by Matthew Vaughn).
Jessica Chastain was clearly the right choice for the win for her role in The Eyes of Tammy Faye. She faced a tough competition and all of her nominees were just as worth the golden statuette.
Image above: The Eyes of Tammy Faye
Of course Oscars voters love transformations and performances with lots of make-up, but in this instance Jessica rose above the simple cliché and pulled off one a real stunt! Her performance in the film was truly amazing, right from the first frames, with the camera tight on her eyes, revealing a sweet and poignant vulnerability, half hidden by a forced smile and tons of make-up. I thought she was astonishing.
So was Andrew Garfield in that film, but in the end he ended up being nominated for his role in Tick, tick… Boom!, the directorial effort of Manuel Lin Miranda, the other man of the moment in Hollywood.
This was really Garfield’s year, especially after the colossal success of Spiderman No Way Home. An Oscar would have been the cherry on the top of an already very sweet cake. I would have loved to see him winning, but after all he’s young and hopefully he’ll have many more stabs at it, if not more. And so will Benedict Cumberbatch, who earlier in the race seemed to have the upper hand.
Image above: King Richard
We all know how it all ended instead. I had predicted Will Smith’s road to the Oscars back in October in my first review for King Richard. His outrageous outburst doesn’t cancel the fact that his performance was actually rather good and he was also owed one for the film Ali from about 20 years ago.
The other wins worth mentioning are the six Oscars for Dune, the film with most awards: visual effects, score, cinematography, production design, editing and sound. If those don’t make it a best motion picture film, then I don’t know what does. Bizarrely his director wasn’t nominated… as if that kind of film made itself.
The Original Screenplay Oscar went to Kenneth Branagh, who has been nominated seven times since his Henry V in 1990 and Encanto was obviously awarded for Best animated feature. I say “obviously”, because it was definitely the easiest choice, and while I certainly appreciated the Disney musical extravaganza, my favourite would have been Flee, which I thought was not just the best animated film of the years, nor the best documentary of the year (it was also nominated for that category and lost to Summer or Soul), but possibly one of the best of the year, full stop!
But as we’ve learnt only too well from the past, the Oscars don’t always award the “best”.
Do we need to mention Brokeback Mountain losing to Crash? Saving Private Ryan losing to Shakespeare in Love? Citizen Kane to How Green Was My Valley?
Francis Ford Coppola the year he directed The Godfather lost to Bob Fosse (Cabaret).
Art Carney in Harry and Tonto (sorry, what?) won best actor over Al Pacino in The Godfather Part II and Jack Nicholson in Chinatown.
And the list goes on: Ian McKellen, Harrison Ford, Peter O’Toole, Glenn Close, Greta Garbo, Judy Garland – none of them ever won an Oscar.
Nor did directors like Alfred Hitchcock, Stanley Kubrick or Spike Lee (in fact Kubrick did win one, for the special effects in 2001… almost an insult).
And so this year, one of my favourite, C’mon C’mon didn’t even make the cut among the nominees. Ben Affleck’s The Tender Bar was overlooked, and so was Simon Rex for Red Rocket. And Wes Anderson’s The French Dispatch, a film which I honestly hated, but which looked astonishing, wasn’t even considered for Cinematography or Production design. Quite shameful really.
Anyway, no point in crying over it. There’s a whole new season of films coming up with lots of potential new Oscar nominees for 2023:
Babylon by Damien Chazelle,
Killers of the Flower Moon, by Martin Scorsese,
The Fabelmans, the semi-autobiographical latest film by Steven Spielberg,
White Noise by Noah Baumbach (who had directed one of my favourite from last year Marriage Story), and Canterbury Glass by an Oscar darling David O Russel with an amazing cast: Christian Bale, Margot Robbie, Zoe Saldaña, Andrea Risborough, Taylor Swift, Michael Shannon, Mike Myers… and guess who?… Chris Rock!
It’s never going to happen, but wouldn’t it be fun to see him up on that stage again… as a nominee.
Andrea Carnevali is a Bafta winning film maker who lives in Chiswick.
See all Andrea’s film reviews here: Film reviews by Andrea Carnevali
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