“And the Oscar Goes To…”: A recap of the hard-hitting 94th Academy Awards

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While it was supposed to be the most “normal” Academy Awards since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, the ceremony turned out to be anything but. While a series of history-making award recipients walked across the stage on Sunday night, the Oscar for the most shocking moment of the whole night certainly went to Will Smith and Chris Rock, who brought the drama of the movie set straight to the Dolby Theatre.  

Smith was nominated for Best Actor in a Leading Role for his performance in “King Richard,” the childhood story of tennis stars Serena and Venus Williams, but his big night was interrupted when Rock made a remark about Smith’s wife, Jada Pinkett Smith, commenting on her baldness, saying she could be in the sequel for “G.I. Jane” — a nod to the 1997 film about a female U.S. Navy Seal, played by Demi Moore, who shaved her head on-camera. This comment came amidst Smith’s open and continued struggle with alopecia, a condition that causes hair loss. 

Disliking the comment, the Best Actor nominee stormed the stage and slapped Rock across the face. Smith returned to his seat and shouted at Rock with the live broadcast being muted due to Smith’s profanity. 

The moment left viewers at home confused and the Internet erupted with the trending hashtag #WhatJustHappened. Viewers from Australia posted their uncensored broadcast on Twitter. The audio clearly showed the genuine anger in Smith’s voice. From that moment, viewers turned to Twitter to find memes and insider information to determine if it was real or not. 

Following the commercial break, Amy Schumer, one of the evening’s three hosts, returned after their skit of imitating characters from big movies this year. 

“I’ve been getting out of that Spider-Man costume. Did I miss anything?” joked Schumer. “There’s, like, a different vibe in here.” 

The sarcastic joke was followed by a camera angle of the Smith couple laughing, a moment of relief for the audience. 

Smith returned to the stage later that night to accept the Best Actor award for his role as Richard Williams in “King Richard.” The anticipated acceptance speech at the end of the night turned into an emotional breakdown by the 53-year-old actor. 

“Art imitates life. I look like the crazy father, like they said. I look like the crazy father like they said about Richard Williams. But love will make you do crazy things,” said Smith in response to the slap. 

“Art imitates life. I look like the crazy father, like they said. I look like the crazy father like they said about Richard Williams. But love will make you do crazy things.”

Will Smith, in response to the slap

The entire night was hosted by Schumer, comedian Wanda Sykes and actress Regina Hall. They made history as the first trio of women to host the Academy Awards.  

“This year, the Academy hired three women to host because it’s cheaper than hiring one man,” Schumer jokes. 

History continued to be made at the Dolby Theatre, the first show back on Hollywood Boulevard since 2020 and the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, with last year’s subdued affair being held at Union Station.  

The movie “CODA,” an acronym for “Child of Deaf Adults” walked away with Best Picture. A monumental moment for Apple TV+ as they are now the first streaming service to win the Best Picture Oscar.  

The announcement of the Best Picture winner was followed by a special moment when the entire audience stood shaking their hands above their shoulders, which means applause in sign language. The camera panned to a teary-eyed, smiling audience of Hollywood’s biggest names. 

Troy Kotsur won Best Supporting Actor for his role as a deaf father in “CODA.” The deaf actor signed his acceptance speech, expressing gratitude for the opportunity to develop his craft as a deaf actor. Kotsur made history as the first deaf actor to win an Academy Award.  

Jessica Chastain earned her first Academy Award for Best Actress for her transformative role as televangelist Tammy Faye in the ‘The Eyes of Tammy Faye.’ 

“There’s violence and hate crimes perpetrated on innocent civilians all over the world. And times like this, I think of Tammy, and I am inspired by her radical acts of love,” Chastain said about the late Faye. “I am inspired by her compassion, and I see it as a guiding principle that leads us forward.” 

The night also included tributes to Ukraine, including a moment of silence. Many actors wore yellow and blue ribbons as a symbol of alliance.  

This year’s Oscars were one for the books, and included viral moments that will be all over our Internet feeds for the next week. Award show lovers can tune into the Grammys this Sunday, April 3, at 8 p.m.  

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