Apple’s ‘CODA’ Snags Historic Win While Will Smith’s Confrontational Slap Gets the Internet Buzzing at This Year’s Oscars

Millions of viewers tuned in for the 94th Academy Awards ceremony on Sunday evening, hoping to be riveted by big celebrities, red carpet fashion, and musical performances. 

What viewers weren’t banking on was seeing two big celebrities get into a physical altercation right on stage.

While Hollywood’s biggest night dwindled to a record low 10.5 million viewers last year, it’s safe to assume that this year’s ceremony is going down as one of the most memorable in history and mainly because of a slap heard around the world.

In a shocking turn of events, actor Will Smith climbed to the stage and smacked presenter Chris Rock for roasting his wife, Jada Pinkett.

When Rock noticed Pinkett Smith in the audience, he joked he was looking forward to her starring in a sequel to “G.I. Jane,” a 1997 film in which Demi Moore’s character joins the armed forces and shaves her head. 

Pinkett Smith, whose bald head and green dress were frequently caught on camera during the ceremony, suffers from hair loss due to alopecia and looked visibly upset by the comment.

“Wow. Will Smith just smacked the s— out of me,” Rock said in dismay after being hit, while awkwardly trying to defuse the situation.

The confrontation was bleeped on American television but was uncensored elsewhere and quickly went viral on social media platforms, including Twitter and TikTok. 

Many viewers wondered if the slap had been scripted, but Smith looked genuinely angry and other actors, including Denzel Washington and Bradley Cooper, had to pull him aside after the altercation to calm him down.

Ironically, minutes later, Smith won the Academy Award for best actor for his role in the American biographical sports drama, “King Richard.” In his speech, he never mentioned Rock, but he apologized to the Academy and concluded that he hopes to be invited back. 

According to a statement from the Los Angeles Police Department, Rock had declined to file a police report.

Earlier in the ceremony, Regina Hall—who was hosting the ceremony alongside Amy Schumer and Wanda Sykes – had also poked fun at Smith and Pinkett Smith’s marriage. This was the first time in three years that the show had any hosts, and the trio brought the heat with their burns. 

Other memorable highlights from the 2022 show included Billie Eilish and Finneas taking home the trophy for Best Original Song.

The brother and sister duo’s James Bond theme “No Time to Die” beat out Beyoncé’s King Richard song “Be Alive,” Lin-Manuel Miranda’s Encanto number “Dos Oruguitas,” Van Morrison’s Belfast piece “Down to Joy,” and “Somehow You Do,” Diane Warren’s track from Four Good Days.

Earlier in the evening, Eilish and Finneas performed the song onstage together while R&B singer Beyonce kicked off the show with her nominated song from “King Richard,” “Be Alive.”

“CODA”, Apple’s indie movie with a mostly deaf cast, won best picture, making it the first time that a movie made by a streaming service has ever won the title. Troy Kotsur also became the first deaf man to win an Academy Award for acting.

In another historical win, Ariana DeBose became the first queer Black woman to win an acting award, taking home Best Supporting Actress for “West Side Story.”

Debose said in her acceptance speech, “The industry has changed so much in my favor. Her existence has opened many doors, not just for me but for many women, many Latinas…. When you’re the first of something it’s lonely. So, it’s an honor to get to be the woman who stands behind her. And we’re ready and waiting for the next one.”

She pointed out, “I’m a queer women of color and that’s freakin awesome….It proves that there’s space for us. It’s a beautiful moment to be seen.”

On this year’s red carpet, the Academy paid respect to the Indigenous peoples whose ancestral lands are the current site of the Dolby Theatre in Hollywood. 

“The Academy pays respect to the Tongva people as well as the Tataviam and the Chumash people, the original caretakers of the water and land where many of us in the film community live and work,” said Bird Runningwater, Chair of the Academy’s Indigenous Alliance and Academy member, who belongs to the Cheyenne and Mescalero Apache Tribes.

The Academy additionally held a moment of silence for the people of Ukraine, who are under attack by Russian forces. “We’d like to have a moment of silence to show our support for the people of Ukraine currently facing invasion, conflict and prejudice within their own borders,” an on-screen statement said.

Later, during a moment to celebrate the 50th anniversary of The Godfather, Francis Ford Coppola said, “Viva Ukraine!”

“Dune,” the first part of Denis Villeneuve’s adaptation of the supposedly unadaptable science fiction epic, won six awards last night and was the highest grossing of the 10 nominees for Best Picture.

Heading into the show, Netflix’s New Zealand-filmed Western “The Power of the Dog” had led with 12 nominations, including best picture and best director for Jane Campion. The film, which is adapted from the 1967 novel by Thomas Savage about two brothers whose relationship deteriorates when one of them gets married, also had acting nominations for Benedict Cumberbatch, Kirsten Dunst, Jesse Plemons and Kodi Smit-McPhee.

Campion ended up winning the Oscar for best director and is now the third woman to win the award, after Chloé Zhao in 2021 and Kathryn Bigelow in 2010. Taking to the stage amid a standing ovation, Campion paid tribute to her fellow nominees, her cast and crew and the “whole awesome team” at Netflix.