The Oscars: Hits and Misses

The 94th Academy Awards featured some surprising winners and cringeworthy political comments but will doubtlessly be remembered for the slap heard ’round the world. This year’s Oscars Hits and Misses…

The Hosts

Hit: Amy Schumer

  • The Academy was smart to go with an actual comedian willing to make jokes at celebrities’ expense.
  • She had a few zingers in her opening monologue and helped defuse the tension after Will Smith stormed the stage.

Miss: Wanda Sykes & Regina Hall

  • Sykes and Hall had some real clunkers in the opening monologue.
  • They subjected the audience to a “joke” about “how toxic masculinity turns into cruelty towards women and children” with the punchline “Mitch McConnell.” Comedy genius.
  • Sykes ended the introduction with, “We’re going to have a great night, and for you people in Florida, we’re going to have a “gay night.” That’ll show ‘em!

The Format

Hit: Shortening the awards show (in theory)

  • The Academy elected to pre-record eight production-focused awards and air the edited acceptance speeches on tape-delay to save time.

Miss: Shortening the awards show (in reality)

  • Even with these changes the awards show still clocked in at three-and-a-half hours. If it’s going to be this long, show all the awards and cut the clip montages!

The Streaming Wars

Hit: Apple TV +

  • Apple TV+’s CODA became the first film distributed by streaming service to win Best Picture.
  • CODA tells the story of a Child of Deaf Adults growing up as the only hearing member of her family. The film also took home Oscars for Best Adapted Screenplay and the first Best Supporting Actor win for a deaf actor, Troy Kotsur.

Miss: Netflix

  • Netflix has spent millions campaigning for Best Picture over the past few years only to fall short once again. Netflix led the field with a combined 27 nominations for its films, including 12 for The Power of the Dog alone.
  • After all that, the streaming giant won only one award: Best Director for The Power of the Dog‘s Jane Campion.

The Popular Movies

Hit: 60-Year Old Franchises, Sci-Fi Epics, and Disney IP

  • Science fiction epic Dune, the 13th highest-grossing movie of 2021, won 6 awards, more than any other film.
  • The 25th James Bond film No Time to Die and Disney’s Encanto and Cruella  – the 7th, 15th, and 16th highest grossing films, respectively – each took home one Oscar.

Miss: Everything Else

  • Only one of the 2021’s twelve highest grossing movies went home with a trophy: No Time to Die for Best Original Song.
  • Spider-Man: No Way Home, the highest-grossing film of the year by over $300,000,000, won nothing.
  • The year’s other highest-grossing films – Marvel blockbusters Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten RingsVenom: Let There Be Carnage, Black Widowand Eternalsalso went home empty-handed.

The Fan Favorite Participation Trophies

Hit: Zach Snyder’s Twitter Army

  • The Academy introduced two new “popular” awards, the “Oscars Fan Favorite” and “Oscars Cheer Moment.”
  • These were meant to broaden award show’s appeal after several years of films largely unknown to most viewers (e.g., The Shape of Water or Parasite) taking home the big prizes.
  • Zach Snyderfilms swept both categories. Netflix zombie movie Army of the Dead won Fan Favorite and the Zach Snyder director’s cut of Justice League won Cheer Moment for the scene when The Flash enters the Speed Force.

Miss: Holding the poll on Twitter in the first place

  • Twitter is not representative of the general public.
  • Voting for a “Fan Favorite” award solely on a social media platform most fans don’t use undoubtedly affected the outcome

The Slap

Hit: Chris Rock

  • Comedian Chris Rock presented the Oscar for Best Documentary and naturally cracked a few jokes.
  • Rock joked that he couldn’t wait to see Jada Pinkett Smith in G.I. Jane 2, an apparent reference to her shaved head. Smith has said she has alopecia, a condition that leads to hair loss.
  • Will Smith was filmed laughing at the joke, then abruptly changed course, stormed the stage and smacked Rock in the face.
  • Rock handled the assault like a total pro, shaking it off and returning to his routine.
  • Chris Rock elected not to press charges – but his next standup special (not to mention the next special from his friend Dave Chappelle) is certain to be one for the ages.

Miss: Will Smith

  • Will Smith’s actions were completely uncalled for and in any other setting he likely would have been arrested or at a minimum asked to leave the venue.
  • After smacking Rock, Smith returned to his seat and shouted “Keep my wife’s name out your f***ing mouth!” twice – which was censored out of ABC’s telecast.
  • Instead, Smith won the Oscar for Best Actor 15 minutes later.
  • Smith gave a rambling, bizarre acceptance speech where he compared his role as Richard Williams (father of Venus and Serena) to his actions saying Williams was a “fierce defender of his family.”
  • Will and Jada Pinkett Smith have a famously turbulent marriage.
  • He said he’s “overwhelmed by what God is calling me to do” – apparently, God is calling him to slap a comedian over a joke?
  • Smith apologized to the Academy and to his “fellow nominees,” but notably not the man he assaulted.

The Reaction

Hit: Calming Factors

  • During the commercial break after Smith’s meltdown, Denzel Washington, Bradley Cooper and Tyler Perry could be seen calming down Smith.

Miss: Blue Checks on Twitter

  • Two members of the left-wing “Squad – Reps. Ayanna Pressley (D-MA) and Jamaal Bowman (D-NY) tweeted statements defending Will Smith’s slap before deleting their tweets.
  • The Washington Post collected several celebrity statements appearing to excuse Smith’s behavior, including Smith’s son Jaden and Bernice King.
  • CNN commentator and former Obama DOJ official Asha Rangappa and The Lincoln Project’s Steve Schmidt both claimed the slap was a “psychological” demonstration of how Trump was “normalized.” When your only tool is a hammer…

Where You Can Watch the Winners

  • Apple TV +
    • CODA ­– Best Picture, Best Supporting Actor, Best Adapted Screenplay
  • HBO Max
    • DuneBest Original Score, Best Production Design, Best Sound, Best Cinematography, Best Film Editing, Best Visual Effects
    • The Eyes of Tammy FayeBest Actress, Best Makeup and Hairstyling 
    • King RichardBest Actor 
    • West Side Story – Best Supporting Actress 
    • Drive My CarBest International Film 
  • Netflix 
    • The Power of the DogBest Director 


  • Disney Plus 
    • EncantoBest Animated Feature 
    • West Side Story – Best Supporting Actress 
    • CruellaBest Costume Design 
  • Hulu 
    • Summer of Soul (…Or, When the Revolution Could Not Be Televised)Best Documentary 
  • Free Online 
    • The Queen of BasketballBest Short Documentary (available here
  • Available for rent on Amazon Prime or Apple TV + 
    • BelfastBest Original Screenplay 
    • No Time to DieBest Original Song

Return to Freespoke

© Dominic Moore, 2022