Oscars 2022: Disastrous Show–Worse than Expected

Academy Awards Were Already Bad, But Then They Got Worse

Will Smith responding to an ugly Chris Rock joke with onstage assault was the low point of a disastrous Oscars telecast, defined by unsuccessful innovations and upstaged emotional moments.

Our grade: C (1*1/2* out of *****)



The 94th Academy Awards telecast was already off the rails before the only thing anybody is likely to remember.

After a fairly promising first hour, the show began to flag, proving that producer Will Packer’s attempt to fix the event was a big failure.

After months of big promises about finishing the telecast by 11 p.m. ET, the Oscars again ran long.

One key decision after another yielded a series of embarrassment rather than genuine exxcitement.

However, hosts Amy Schumer, Regina Hall and Wanda Sykes some good moments.

Their 3-person monologue was uncomfortable and showed no rapport within the trio, no sense of why it was better to have all 3 of them as opposed to just a single host to make a few snarky comments.

Jada Pinkett Smith, Willow Smith, Will Smith, Jaden Smith, and Trey Smith
CODA Best Picture win (preferably where you can see both ASL interpreters in the shot), Yvett Merino onstage accepting for animated feature, Will Smith and Ariana DeBose


After that first monologue, Schumer did a second series of bits that was, much sharper and funnier than what preceded.

There were funny barbs about Don’t Look Up and Being the Ricardos — “It’s like making a biopic about Michael Jordan and just showing the bus trips between games.”

The use of the hosts became more and more sparse.
The “Regina Hall is horny” thing was creepy and sold short what an vibrant personality and performer the Support the Girls and Black Monday star is.
A bit with Schumer dangling from wires dressed as Spider-Man was lackluster.

The choice to move 8 categories out of the telecast was not, in and of itself a disaster.

Most viewers probably didn’t notice the lack of walk-up time, the cutting within the speeches and the very selective reaction shots from the crowd.

The show was going to run too long regardless, and it ended up insulting the industry’s artisans. This is definitely one of those “If it wasn’t a win, it was a loss” things.

The equally buzzed-about–via sheer mockery–Twitter awards attempting to bring populist interest to the show were an unqualified fiasco. The nonsensical “most cheer-worthy moments” poll winner (Zack Snyder’s Justice League) was a victory for Zack Snyder’s social media fandom, though I’m not sure even those enthusiasts believe that “The Flash Enters the Speed Force” was the “most cheer-worthy” moment in history.

The Snyder devotees also were triumphant with the “fan favorite,” Army of the Dead, which beat the blockbuster Spider-Man sequel.

The categories — which came down to five minutes of clips during the show — were good fodder for snark during the weeks leading up to the event, but added nothing to the telecast.

Beyonce kicked things off with an excellent rendition of “Be Alive” from King Richard performed at a Compton tennis court. Sebastián Yatra’s “Dos Oruguitas,” Reba McEntire on “Somehow You Do” and Billie Eilish and Finneas with “No Time to Die” were fine, if generic and stage-bound. But who thought it was a good idea to save “We Don’t Talk About Bruno” until nearly two hours into the show after its target audience was either asleep or bored to tears?

Teasers leading up to the show enthusiastically promised tributes to James Bond and the 50th anniversary of The Godfather. The former was three extreme sports superstars introducing a clip package, as if there aren’t four living James Bonds and countless recognizable stars from the franchise who could have showed up for a standing ovation and a real tribute. The latter was Francis Ford Coppola, Al Pacino and Robert De Niro introducing a brief clip package. Two oddities: Pacino and De Niro didn’t say a word and De Niro, a deserving winner for the second Godfather movie, wasn’t in the movie they were honoring.

It was probably going to end up being another mediocre-to-bad show regardless, but then it became awful.

Chris Rock’s was dreadful. The “King Lear don’t got nothing on me!” crack to Denzel? The joke about how it would be strange for Javier Bardem and Penelope Cruz if only one of them won? They’re both Oscar winners already.

Then Rock made fun of Jada Pinkett Smith and how she looked like she was doing a sequel to G.I. Jane. It wasn’t funny–it was offensive.

Jada Pinkett Smith has alopecia. Also, last time Rock hosted the show he was merciless about Pinkett Smith’s decision to boycott tied to the #OscarsSoWhite controversy. It was the show’s second joke directed at Will and Jada.

From bad to worse: Smith charged the stage and slapped the comic, then yelled “Keep my wife’s name out of your fucking mouth!” twice. Rock, after seconds of clumsy muting on the director’s part, managed to regain composure and present the documentary Oscar to Questlove.

What followed was an hour of sheer boredom and unpleasantness.

In Memoriam: 

The focus was mostly on the performers and so there was n chance to ask the routine question: “Who got left out?”

Those “In Memoriam” segments are so often messed up, and this was just another version of how to upstage somber moment.

Going from Troy Kotsur’s beautiful acceptance speech to Chris Evans introducing a commercial for Disney movie was in bad taste.

Will Smith Crying on Stage

One of the most beloved figures in the industry, Smith has blended lucrative smash hits and solid dramatic work. Instead, his sure-thing victory became strange he cried and talked about how he was just echoing Richard Williams in protecting his family.

He apologized to the Academy and to his fellow nominees. But you don’t stand up and commit assault on national TV.

Instead, not only did Will Smith get to stay in the venue, he got to take the stage and say whatever he wanted for however long he wanted, because under those circumstances.

So he rambled and cried and never apologized to Chris Rock and never made any effort to tell anybody watching at home that punching somebody for insulting you isn’t right. Smith tied the incident to his character in a movie and offered jokes about whether or not he’ll get invited back. (He will). There’s no such thing as bad publicity in Hollywood.


It’s unlikely anybody will remember your sincere best picture acceptance.  Same goes for Best Actress Jessica Chastain.

The 94th Academy Awards should have provided some distraction from a world starting to emerge from a pandemic or the opportunity for advocacy relating to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and discriminatory laws being passed around the country,

But as it unfolded, it will just be remembered as a moment of toxic awfulness and infection.

In this case, all the “unpredictable” moments indicated a fiasco of unmitigated proportions.



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