Well, they did say it would be exciting.
After another long Oscar season the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences revealed the winners of the 94th Academy Awards tonight from the Dolby Theatre in Hollywood, celebrating best in film for 2021 where the Sundance hit CODA won Best Picture, making Oscar history as the first film to win the top prize without a directing and editing nomination and with three or less total nominations since 1932’s Grand Hotel. The film, which details the story of a grown hearing daughter of deaf parents who wants to forge out on her own, won all three of its nods, Supporting Actor for Troy Kotsur and Adapted Screenplay for its director Sian Heder. Despite it’s low nomination total and no below the line support, the film hit a momentum in the post-nomination phase of the Oscar race, winning SAG, WGA and the PGA leading up to tonight. The cast charmed stars and voters alike on the way to the Dolby stage and Apple, who bought the film for a record-setting $25M became the first streamer to win Best Picture, much to the chagrin of Netflix, who have been angling for this award for a few years.
Here’s a rundown of the stats that CODA broke tonight:
- First film to win Best Picture with three or less nominations since 1932’s Grand Hotel.
- First film to win Best Picture without directing and editing nominations since 1932’s Grand Hotel.
- First film to win Best Picture after skipping all fall festivals since 2006’s The Departed.
- First film to win Best Picture as a remake of a non-English langue film since 2006’s The Departed.
- First film to win Best Picture without a BAFTA Best Film nomination since 2004’s Million Dollar Baby.
- First film to win Best Picture without a Golden Globe screenplay nomination for since 2004’s Million Dollar Baby.
- First film to win Best Picture without a DGA nomination since 1989’s Driving Miss Daisy.
- First film to win Best Picture as a Sundance Film Festival premiere.
- First film to win Best Picture from a streamer.
The night was hosted by Regina Hall, Amy Schumer and Wanda Sykes. It’s the first time ever a multiple host lineup has been comprised entirely of women. Venus and Serena Williams open the 94th Academy Awards and introduce the “Be Alive” performance by Beyonce, which was pre-recorded at a tennis court in Compton. The hosting trio took over with jokes like “The Oscars, where movie lovers unite and watch TV” and “You know what’s in the In Memoriam this year? The Golden Globes” but despite being a group of three and on their own hour to hour their presence often felt non-existent outside of one gag with Schumer dressed as Spider-Man coming down from the rafters, Sykes as (King) Richard Williams and Hall as Tammy Faye.
Despite its field-best 12 nominations, The Power of the Dog only won for Jane Campion’s direction, making it the first film to only win Best Director since 1967’s The Graduate, where Mike Nichols prevailed over heavy competition.
After a quieter and smaller ceremony at Union Station in Los Angeles last year (due to higher rates of COVID than this year), the Oscars returned to the Dolby Theatre, produced by television and film producer Will Packer. But, while last year had its share of controversy when its producer, Oscar-winning director Steven Soderbergh, took a big gamble by having Best Picture announced before Best Actress and Best Actor, thinking that the late Chadwick Boseman would be winning the latter and hoping for an Oscars ‘moment.’ That didn’t happen and it backfired spectacularly. Packer and his team did keep one thing from last year; the small table and intimate atmosphere for the front row seats, which had a great birds eye appeal, an angle that was used liberally throughout the show.
Dune led the overall wins with six; Film Editing, Cinematography, Score, Sound, Production Design and Visual Effects. Acting wins also went to Jessica Chastain as Best Actress for The Eyes of Tammy Faye and Ariana DeBose as Supporting Actress for West Side Story. DeBose used her speech to highlight kids at home who feel or felt alone, saying “Look in these eyes and you’ll find an openly queer woman of color…there is indeed a place for us,” echoing one of the musical’s most famous numbers.
By all means, it seemed that this year would have to be vast improvement on that but AMPAS, ABC (who airs the Oscars) and Packer said ‘hold my beer’ and unveiled in February a plan to take eight craft categories off the live show, announce them in a non-televised portion in the Dolby during the one-hour red carpet between 4-5pm PT, and then integrate them into the main show, albeit severely edited for time. The idea was met with immediate backlash, as they had in the past when AMPAS entertained the idea, but with just a month before the show it was too late. Despite guilds, hundreds of technical artists and even big name directors like James Cameron and Steven Spielberg, the die was cast and Film Editing, Production Design, Makeup and Hairstyling, Original Score, Sound plus all of the shorts – Animated, Documentary and Live Action – were not moving back to the main show in their entirety. Some acting nominees, including Jessica Chastain and Javier Bardem, vowed to not appear on the red carpet and instead support the nominees in the eight categories and several tech contenders have said they’ll wear their guild signatory pins upside down in protest. The pre-winner segment will be presented by Dune stars Jason Momoa and Josh Brolin and winners were announced via the Academy’s Twitter and other social media. Dune dominated, winning 4/4 of those awards (see below).
To add insult to injury, in an effort to boost ratings after last year’s all-time low, the Academy created two fan-based categories set to be announced on the main show. The ‘Oscars Fan Favorite’ and ‘Oscars Cheer Moment’ nominees and winners were selected by voting on Twitter and the Oscars website and also featured a sweepstakes were one winner will find themselves presenting an Oscar on stage at the 95th Academy Awards next year.
But the biggest moment of the night was as unscripted and shocking as they come. During his opening bit before presenting Documentary Feature, Chris Rock (a previous Oscar host) made a joke about Jada Pinkett Smith’s shorn hair (she suffers from alopecia). Almost instantly, Will Smith walked up on stage and slapped Rock in the face, open-handed. At first it seemed like a bit but Rock was in shock and the U.S. feed went mute and tried to cut away. But an Australian feed of the show revealed that it was dead serious, with Smith repeatedly yelling at Rock from his seat “You keep my wife’s name out of your FUCKING mouth!”
Near the end of the show, when it was time for Best Actor, Smith, the favorite, won and used his speech to apologize to the Academy (but not Rock) in a roundabout way and then use the most of the rest to defend his actions as ‘protecting’ his family and women.
“I want to apologize to the Academy. I want to apologize to all my fellow nominees. This is a beautiful moment and I’m not crying for winning an award. It’s not about winning an award for me. It’s about being able to shine a light on all of the people. Tim and Trevor and Zack and Saniyya and Demi and Aunjanue and the entire cast and crew of ‘King Richard,’ Venus and Serena, the entire Williams family. Art imitates life. I look like the crazy father, just like they said about Richard Williams,” Smith said, crying through his acceptance speech.
He continued, “Richard Williams was a fierce defender of his family. In this time in my life, in this moment, I am overwhelmed by what God is calling on me to do and be in this world. Making this film, I got to protect Aunjanue Ellis, who is one of the strongest, most delicate people I’ve ever met. I got to protect Saniyya and Demi, the two actresses that played Venus and Serena,” he said, as he began to tear up. “I’m being called on in my life to love people and to protect people and to be a river to my people. I know to do what we do, you got to be able to take abuse. You got to be able to have people talk crazy about you. In this business you got to be able to have people disrespecting you. And you got to smile and you got to pretend like that’s okay.”
The night was filled with several anniversary groupings as presenters including Juno’s Jennifer Garner, Elliot Page and J.K. Simmons, Pulp Fiction’s Samuel L. Jackson, Uma Thurman and John Travolta and White Men Can’t Jump’s Wesley Snipes, Rosie Perez and Woody Harrelson. Tributes to 60 years of James Bond and one for the 50th anniversary of The Godfather, with director Francis Ford Coppola and stars Al Pacino and Robert De Niro filled out the nearly 3h 45m runtime.
Oscar winners Lady Gaga and Liza Minelli presented Best Picture where Minelli, in a wheelchair, was visibly confused at times with Gaga at her side to assist.
Here is the complete list of winners of the 94th Academy Awards.
Belfast (Focus Features) Laura Berwick, Kenneth Branagh, Becca Kovacik and Tamar Thomas, Producers
CODA (Apple Original Films) Philippe Rousselet, Fabrice Gianfermi and Patrick Wachsberger, Producers – WINNER
Don’t Look Up (Netflix) Adam McKay and Kevin Messick, Producers
Drive My Car (Sideshow/Janus Films)Teruhisa Yamamoto, Producer
Dune (Warner Bros) Mary Parent, Denis Villeneuve and Cale Boyter, Producers
King Richard (Warner Bros) Tim White, Trevor White and Will Smith, Producers
Licorice Pizza (MGM/UAR) Sara Murphy, Adam Somner and Paul Thomas Anderson, Producers
Nightmare Alley (Searchlight Pictures) Guillermo del Toro, J. Miles Dale and Bradley Cooper, Producers
The Power of the Dog (Netflix) Jane Campion, Tanya Seghatchian, Emile Sherman, Iain Canning and Roger Frappier, Producers
West Side Story (20th Century Studios) Steven Spielberg and Kristie Macosko Krieger, Producers
Belfast – Kenneth Branagh
Drive My Car – Ryusuke Hamaguchi
Licorice Pizza – Paul Thomas Anderson
The Power of the Dog – Jane Campion – WINNER
West Side Story – Steven Spielberg
ACTOR IN A LEADING ROLE
Javier Bardem in Being the Ricardos
Benedict Cumberbatch in The Power of the Dog
Andrew Garfield in tick, tick…BOOM!
Will Smith in King Richard – WINNER
Denzel Washington in The Tragedy of Macbeth
ACTRESS IN A LEADING ROLE
Jessica Chastain in The Eyes of Tammy Faye – WINNER
Olivia Colman in The Lost Daughter
Penélope Cruz in Parallel Mothers
Nicole Kidman in Being the Ricardos
Kristen Stewart in Spencer
ACTOR IN A SUPPORTING ROLE
Ciarán Hinds in Belfast
Troy Kotsur in CODA – WINNER
Jesse Plemons in The Power of the Dog
J.K. Simmons in Being the Ricardos
Kodi Smit-McPhee in The Power of the Dog
ACTRESS IN A SUPPORTING ROLE
Jessie Buckley in The Lost Daughter
Ariana DeBose in West Side Story – WINNER
Judi Dench in Belfast
Kirsten Dunst in The Power of the Dog
Aunjanue Ellis in King Richard
WRITING (ADAPTED SCREENPLAY)
CODA – Screenplay by Siân Heder – WINNER
Drive My Car – Screenplay by Ryusuke Hamaguchi, Takamasa Oe
Dune – Screenplay by Jon Spaihts and Denis Villeneuve and Eric Roth
The Lost Daughter – Written by Maggie Gyllenhaal
The Power of the Dog – Written by Jane Campion
WRITING (ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY)
Belfast – Written by Kenneth Branagh – WINNER
Don’t Look Up – Screenplay by Adam McKay; Story by Adam McKay & David Sirota
King Richard – Written by Zach Baylin
Licorice Pizza – Written by Paul Thomas Anderson
The Worst Person in the World – Written by Eskil Vogt, Joachim Trier
Don’t Look Up – Hank Corwin
Dune – Joe Walker – WINNER
King Richard – Pamela Martin
The Power of the Dog – Peter Sciberras
tick, tick…BOOM! – Myron Kerstein and Andrew Weisblum
Dune – Greig Fraser – WINNER
Nightmare Alley – Dan Laustsen
The Power of the Dog – Ari Wegner
The Tragedy of Macbeth – Bruno Delbonnel
West Side Story – Janusz Kaminski
Dune – Production Design: Patrice Vermette; Set Decoration: Zsuzsanna Sipos – WINNER
Nightmare Alley – Production Design: Tamara Deverell; Set Decoration: Shane Vieau
The Power of the Dog – Production Design: Grant Major; Set Decoration: Amber Richards
The Tragedy of Macbeth – Production Design: Stefan Dechant; Set Decoration: Nancy Haigh
West Side Story – Production Design: Adam Stockhausen; Set Decoration: Rena DeAngelo
Cruella – Jenny Beavan – WINNER
Cyrano – Massimo Cantini Parrini and Jacqueline Durran
Dune – Jacqueline West and Robert Morgan
Nightmare Alley – Luis Sequeira
West Side Story – Paul Tazewell
MUSIC (ORIGINAL SCORE)
Don’t Look Up – Nicholas Britell
Dune – Hans Zimmer – WINNER
Encanto – Germaine Franco
Parallel Mothers – Alberto Iglesias
The Power of the Dog – Jonny Greenwood
MUSIC (ORIGINAL SONG)
“Be Alive” from King Richard
Music and Lyric by DIXSON and Beyoncé Knowles-Carter
“Dos Oruguitas” from Encanto
Music and Lyric by Lin-Manuel Miranda
“Down To Joy” from Belfast
Music and Lyric by Van Morrison
“No Time To Die” from No Time to Die – WINNER
Music and Lyric by Billie Eilish and Finneas O’Connell
“Somehow You Do” from Four Good Days
Music and Lyric by Diane Warren
Belfast – Denise Yarde, Simon Chase, James Mather and Niv Adiri
Dune – Mac Ruth, Mark Mangini, Theo Green, Doug Hemphill and Ron Bartlett – WINNER
No Time to Die – Simon Hayes, Oliver Tarney, James Harrison, Paul Massey and Mark Taylor
The Power of the Dog – Richard Flynn, Robert Mackenzie and Tara Webb
West Side Story – Tod A. Maitland, Gary Rydstrom, Brian Chumney, Andy Nelson and Shawn Murphy
MAKEUP AND HAIRSTYLING
Coming 2 America – Mike Marino, Stacey Morris and Carla Farmer
Cruella – Nadia Stacey, Naomi Donne and Julia Vernon
Dune – Donald Mowat, Love Larson and Eva von Bahr
The Eyes of Tammy Faye – Linda Dowds, Stephanie Ingram and Justin Raleigh – WINNER
House of Gucci – Göran Lundström, Anna Carin Lock and Frederic Aspiras
Dune – Paul Lambert, Tristan Myles, Brian Connor and Gerd Nefzer – WINNER
Free Guy – Swen Gillberg, Bryan Grill, Nikos Kalaitzidis and Dan Sudick
No Time to Die – Charlie Noble, Joel Green, Jonathan Fawkner and Chris Corbould
Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings – Christopher Townsend, Joe Farrell, Sean Noel Walker and Dan Oliver
Spider-Man: No Way Home – Kelly Port, Chris Waegner, Scott Edelstein and Dan Sudick
ANIMATED FEATURE FILM
Encanto – Jared Bush, Byron Howard, Yvett Merino and Clark Spencer – WINNER
Flee – Jonas Poher Rasmussen, Monica Hellström, Signe Byrge Sørensen and Charlotte De La Gournerie
Luca – Enrico Casarosa and Andrea Warren
The Mitchells vs. the Machines – Mike Rianda, Phil Lord, Christopher Miller and Kurt Albrecht
Raya and the Last Dragon – Don Hall, Carlos López Estrada, Osnat Shurer and Peter Del Vecho
Ascension – Jessica Kingdon, Kira Simon-Kennedy and Nathan Truesdell
Attica – Stanley Nelson and Traci A. Curry
Flee – Jonas Poher Rasmussen, Monica Hellström, Signe Byrge Sørensen and Charlotte De La Gournerie
Summer of Soul (…Or, When the Revolution Could Not Be Televised) – Ahmir “Questlove” Thompson, Joseph Patel, Robert Fyvolent and David Dinerstein – WINNER
Writing with Fire – Rintu Thomas and Sushmit Ghosh
INTERNATIONAL FEATURE FILM
Drive My Car (Japan)
The Hand of God (Italy)
Lunana: A Yak in the Classroom (Bhutan)
The Worst Person in the World (Norway)
Affairs of the Art – Joanna Quinn and Les Mills
Bestia – Hugo Covarrubias and Tevo Díaz
Boxballet – Anton Dyakov
Robin Robin – Dan Ojari and Mikey Please
The Windshield Wiper – Alberto Mielgo and Leo Sanchez – WINNER
DOCUMENTARY SHORT SUBJECT
Audible – Matt Ogens and Geoff McLean
Lead Me Home – Pedro Kos and Jon Shenk
The Queen of Basketball – Ben Proudfoot – WINNER
Three Songs for Benazir – Elizabeth Mirzaei and Gulistan Mirzaei
When We Were Bullies – Jay Rosenblatt
LIVE ACTION SHORT
Ala Kachuu – Take and Run Maria Brendle and Nadine Lüchinger
The Dress – Tadeusz Łysiak and Maciej Ślesicki
The Long Goodbye – Aneil Karia and Riz Ahmed – WINNER
On My Mind – Martin Strange-Hansen and Kim Magnusson
Please Hold – K.D. Dávila and Levin Menekse
Photo: Blaine Ohigashi / A.M.P.A.S.