Will Smith appears to slap Chris Rock during Oscars ceremony

Published March 27, 2022 at 8:34 AM EDT
Chris Rock and Will Smith are seen onstage during the 94th Annual Academy Awards in what appeared to be an altercation following a joke Rock made about Smith's wife, Jada Pinkett Smith.
Neilson Barnard
ABC via Getty Images
Chris Rock and Will Smith are seen onstage during the 94th Annual Academy Awards in what appeared to be an altercation following a joke Rock made about Smith's wife, Jada Pinkett Smith.

The Oscars are here! Follow along as the nominees find out who's getting a statuette. NPR critics and reporters are highlighting the best of the night.

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The winners

'CODA' brings home the Oscar for best picture, a historic win for the Deaf community

Posted March 27, 2022 at 11:38 PM EDT
"Coda" producers Philippe Rousselet, Fabrice Gianfermi and Patrick Wachsberger accepts the award for Best Picture for "CODA" onstage during the 94th Oscars at the Dolby Theatre in Hollywood, California on March 27, 2022.
Robyn Beck
AFP via Getty Images
The cast, producers and director of "CODA" celebrate their best picture win at the Academy Awards.

CODA has been named best picture, beating out the likes of Belfast, Drive My Car and Power of the Dog at the 2022 Academy Awards. It's a historic win for a film that brings Deaf culture, and Deaf actors, to the forefront.

Written and directed by Sian Heder, CODA is based on the 2014 French film La Famille Bélier. The English-language remake centers on Ruby Rossi, the only hearing member of a deaf family, who struggles to balance family obligations and her love of music.

"CODA does have a double meaning in the title because it's Children of Deaf Adults, but it's also the end of a piece of music," director Sian Heder told NPR's Here and Now. "It's a story about the end of childhood."

Distributed by Apple TV+, it is also the first best picture win for a streaming service.

The Winners

2 fun facts about the best original song Oscar winner

Posted March 27, 2022 at 11:30 PM EDT
Finneas and Billie Eilish accept the Music (Original Song) award for ‘No Time to Die’ during the 94th Annual Academy Awards.
Neilson Barnard
Getty Images
Finneas and Billie Eilish accept the Oscar for the best original song during the 94th Annual Academy Awards.

"No Time To Die" is the third song from a James Bond film to win best original song.

Adele’s "Skyfall" and Sam Smith’s' "Writing's on the Wall" are the others.

Billie Eilish is the second youngest winner in the category. Eilish, who co-wrote the song with her brother, Finneas, is 20.

The youngest to win was Markéta Irglová who was four days shy of turning 20 when she won for co-writing “Falling Slowly” from Once.

The winners

After onstage slap, Will Smith wins his 1st Oscar

Posted March 27, 2022 at 11:11 PM EDT
US actor Will Smith accepts the award for Best Actor in a Leading Role for "King Richard" onstage during the 94th Oscars at the Dolby Theatre in Hollywood, California on March 27, 2022. (Photo by Robyn Beck / AFP) (Photo by ROBYN BECK/AFP via Getty Images)
Robyn Beck
AFP via Getty Images
Will Smith accepts the award for best actor in a leading role for "King Richard" at the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles

Editor's note: This post contains information that some may find offensive.

Twenty years after his first nomination, Will Smith finally won his first Oscar — awarded for best actor in a leading role for his portrayal of Richard Williams, the father of tennis superstars Venus and Serena.

The win was overshadowed by an incident earlier in the night, when Smith went onstage and appeared to attack presenter Chris Rock after the comedian made a dig about his wife, Jada Pinkett Smith, and her shaved head. (Pinkett Smith has been public about her alopecia.) After Smith took his seat again, he appeared to yell at Rock twice to “keep my wife’s name out of your f***ing mouth.”

In an emotional acceptance speech, Smith told the audience, "I know to do what we do, you gotta be able to take abuse, you gotta be able to have people talk crazy about you. In this business, you gotta be able to have people disrespecting you. And you gotta smile and you gotta pretend like that's OK."

He mentioned speaking to Denzel Washington off camera, who told him, "At your highest moment, that's when the devil comes for you."

Smith thanked the Williams family "for entrusting me with your story," saying he wanted to be an ambassador for love. "Art imitates life," he said. "I look like the crazy father, just like they said about Richard Williams. But love will make you do crazy things."

Smith apologized to the academy and his fellow nominees, but not Chris Rock. He wrapped up his speech by saying he hopes that the academy invites him back.

Smith's performance in King Richard was his third Oscar nomination, after Ali and The Pursuit of Happyness.

King Richard is the origin story of the Williams sisters. Isha Price, one of Venus and Serena's older sisters, told NPR that they have been approached many times to make a movie about Venus and Serena. This one was different, she said.

Instead of following a story that is still being written, King Richard became a snapshot of the early days, when Richard Williams served not only as the sisters' trainer, but also as their fierce proponent.

"The size and scope of the dream was so huge that it bordered on insanity," Smith told NPR. "It's sort of where you have to live if you want to do something that's never been done before."

The winners

Jane Campion is the 3rd woman to win the Oscar for best director

Posted March 27, 2022 at 11:01 PM EDT
HOLLYWOOD, CALIFORNIA - MARCH 27: Jane Campion accepts the Directing award for ‘The Power of the Dog’ onstage during the 94th Annual Academy Awards at Dolby Theatre on March 27, 2022 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Neilson Barnard/Getty Images)
Neilson Barnard/Getty Images
Getty Images North America
Jane Campion accepts the best director award for "The Power of the Dog" on Sunday night.

Jane Campion has won this year's best director Oscar for helming the Western drama The Power of the Dog. She is now the third director who is a woman to win an Oscar, following Kathryn Bigelow (in 2010 for The Hurt Locker) and Chloé Zhao (in 2021 for Nomadland).

Campion also wrote the screenplay based on Thomas Savage's 1967 novel of the same title. Benedict Cumberbatch plays a cruel, complicated cowboy who is enraged when his brother (Jesse Plemons) brings home a wife (Kirsten Dunst) and her son (Kodi Smit-McPhee).

"I'm not telling one of the crusty old Western stories," she told NPR. "You know, from deep in the mythology where it's really only told from a kind of alpha male perspective."

Two weeks ago, Campion caused a stir at the Critics' Choice Awards with comments about tennis superstars Venus and Serena Williams, who are the executive producers of the film King Richard, which tells the origin story of their family.

"You're such marvels," she said to the sisters during her acceptance speech. "However, you don't play against the guys, like I have to."

Campion faced backlash from many who pointed out, for one thing, that the Williams sisters absolutely did compete against men. Campion apologized the following day.


The slap that stopped the Oscars

Posted March 27, 2022 at 10:54 PM EDT

Editor's note: This post and an embedded video contains language that some may find offensive.

Tonight’s presentation of best documentary feature was something the Oscars strives to be — indelible and unforgettable. But it achieved that goal by being something the Oscars never wants to be — legitimately disturbing.

While presenting the Oscar for the category, comedian Chris Rock joked that Jada Pinkett Smith, who has publicly acknowledged dealing with a condition that causes hair loss, might be in the running for “G.I. Jane 2," a howlingly dated reference to the 1997 film starring Demi Moore, about a woman who undergoes special operations military training. (Moore’s character shaves her head in the film.)

Pinkett Smith’s husband, Will Smith, who was heavily favored to win best actor in a leading role for King Richard, stormed onto the stage and appeared to slap Rock. He then returned to his seat, and appeared to shout, “Keep my wife’s name out of your f***ing mouth.”

Viewers in the U.S., however, did not hear Smith’s invective, as the Oscar producers cut the sound. Instead, they saw only a visibly shaken Rock staring after Smith.

Social media lit up with conjecture that the heated exchange was a pre-prepared bit, though it did not appear to be. The event cast a long shadow over the rest of the evening, including an emotional acceptance speech from Questlove, who won for his documentary Summer of Soul.

Watch the interaction here:


Catching up on the awards

Posted March 27, 2022 at 10:24 PM EDT
Siân Heder accepts the award for best adapted screenplay for CODA.
Robyn Beck
AFP via Getty Images
Siân Heder accepts the award for best adapted screenplay for CODA.

Best adapted screenplay goes to Siân Heder for CODA, and Kenneth Branagh wins best original screenplay for Belfast. The Eyes of Tammy Faye takes home the award for best makeup and hairstyling.

Keep up with all the awards given tonight on our running list of winners.


The Oscars honored Ukraine with a song from Reba, a moment of silence and a crypto ad

Posted March 27, 2022 at 10:03 PM EDT
A call-to-action message regarding the war in Ukraine is projected on a screen during the 94th Annual Academy Awards.
Neilson Barnard
Getty Images
A call-to-action message regarding the war in Ukraine is projected on a screen during the 94th Annual Academy Awards.

The Academy Awards addressed Russia’s ongoing invasion of Ukraine halfway through Sunday's ceremony.

Actor and activist Mila Kunis introduced Reba McEntire's performance of the Oscar-nominated song “Somehow You Do” by alluding to “recent global events,” adding that the song is a story of “hope, perseverance, and survival.”

Kunis, who comes from a Ukrainian family, has raised over $30 million for various charities supporting Ukraine.

After the performance, the show cut to a moment of silence with title cards announcing the Oscars’ support for Ukrainians “currently facing invasion, conflict and prejudice within their own borders.”

The somber moment was followed by an ad encouraging us all to donate to the efforts through the cryptocurrency website crypto.com.

The winners

The best cinematography category remains a man’s game

Posted March 27, 2022 at 9:24 PM EDT

In one key Oscars category this evening, history was not made: For Dune, Greig Fraser took home the award for best cinematography.

Also nominated in that category was cinematographer Ari Wegner for The Power of the Dog, and had she won, she would’ve becomethe first woman to take home the award.

Best cinematography has been dubbed the “final frontier” for being the only Academy Award category where a woman has never won. It was only four years ago when a woman was even able to break through with a nomination — Rachel Morrison, for Mudbound.

The winners

Troy Kotsur of 'CODA' is the 1st deaf man to win an Oscar for acting

Posted March 27, 2022 at 9:21 PM EDT
Troy Kotsur accepts the Actor in a Supporting Role award for "CODA" from Youn Yuh-jung onstage.
Neilson Barnard
Getty Images
Troy Kotsur accepts the best supporting actor Oscar for "CODA" from Youn Yuh-jung.

Troy Kotsur is now the first man who is deaf to win an Academy Award for acting, collecting the trophy for best actor in a supporting role.

"This is dedicated to the Deaf community, the CODA community and the disabled community. This is our moment," he signed when accepting the award. The crowd signed their applause while he walked to the stage, and presenter Youn Yuh-jung held his award during his speech so he could sign.

His CODA costar, Marlee Matlin, was the first actor who is deaf to win an Oscar back in 1987, receiving the best actress award for Children of a Lesser God.

In CODA, Kotsur plays Frank Rossi, a fisherman in Gloucester, Mass., and the patriarch of a family whose wife and son are also deaf. His character struggles to understand his hearing daughter's dreams of being a singer.

Kotsur's winning performance in the film includes a scene in which he asks his daughter to sing while he touches her throat, so he can hear the vibrations of her voice. He also improvised hilarious and graphic American Sign Language gestures while talking to his embarrassed teen daughter and her friend about safe sex.

Before the Oscars, Kotsur's performance in CODA racked up top acting awards with the British Academy of Film and Television Arts, the Screen Actors Guild, Film Independent Spirit and Critics Choice movie awards.

The show

Oscar clips! They’re back, baby

Posted March 27, 2022 at 9:00 PM EDT
The stage of the 94th Oscars at the Dolby Theatre in Hollywood, California.
Robyn Beck
AFP via Getty Images
Cheese is a big reason all eyes are on the Dolby Theatre. In this vein, we welcome back the performance clips.

They’re often some of the cheesiest things about Oscar night: Those brief clips from the nominated performances that producers slot in after the presenter reads a given nominee’s name but before a cut of the nominee gazing up at the monitor, smiling at their own performance.

Yes, they’re cheesy, especially when the performance clip in question is searingly emotional, as it contrasts so sharply with the sight of a millionaire sitting in tight formalwear while attempting to look humble.

Cheesy, yes. But cheese is good. Cheese is tasty. Cheese is a big reason we’re all here tonight.

Recent Oscar broadcasts have held the noble Oscar clip at a distance, attempting to do its work in other ways — by having the previous year’s winners in a given category standing on stage to offer fulsome praise to the current year’s crop (deep cringe!) or some assorted business with graphics.

No, the clips don’t offer a meaningful sense of the performances in question, but they’re back, with all their faintly fusty old-school charm AND they’re welcome.

Live from Compton

Beyoncé, decked out in tennis green, gave us what might be the Blackest Oscars opening yet

Posted March 27, 2022 at 8:34 PM EDT
Beyoncé's performance is broadcast on a video screen during the 94th Annual Academy Awards at Dolby Theatre.
Neilson Barnard
Getty Images
Beyoncé's performance is broadcast on a video screen during the 94th Annual Academy Awards at Dolby Theatre.

The Oscars might be taking place at its usual location at the usual intersection between Hollywood and Highland, but it opened in Compton.

Forgoing an overwrought skit or a jokey montage that goes on for two beats too long, the Oscars tonight opened with Beyoncé performing her Oscar-nominated song “Be Alive,” from King Richard.

Presented by the Williams sisters, Beyoncé and the other musicians ripped it at the tennis courts where they came up. Everyone was decked out in the yellow-green (green-yellow?) of tennis balls as they crushed what is possibly the Blackest opening the Oscars has ever seen.

The winners

Ariana DeBose makes history with a best supporting actress win

Posted March 27, 2022 at 8:25 PM EDT
Ariana DeBose accepts the Actress in a Supporting Role award for "West Side Story."
Neilson Barnard/Getty Images
Getty Images North America
Ariana DeBose accepts the Actress in a Supporting Role award for "West Side Story."

Sixty years ago, Rita Moreno became the first Latina to win an Oscar, given for the role of Anita in West Side Story.

Today, Ariana DeBose won best supporting actress for the same role, becoming part of an elite club of Oscar winners who've received the accolade for playing the same character. They're the first pair of women ever to accomplish this.

DeBose, who is Black, Latina and white, is now the first openly queer woman of color to win for her acting, and the only to be nominated.

The original West Side Story film has received widespread criticism about its historical lack of diversity and misrepresentation of Puerto Ricans. In the 1961 movie, the cast meant to portray Puerto Ricans was made up of white people, their skins darkened with makeup. Early in the production process of the remake, director Steven Spielberg said he would strive for authenticity, but critics have argued that the film cannot be salvaged and that its problems run deeper than representation.

DeBose, however, told NPR in a 2021 interview that she believes the film got it right.

"It is not every day that an Afro-Latina gets to be part of the main event," DeBose told NPR. "And [Anita's] identity as an Afro-Latina informs the story. So it's not really an afterthought. It's everything about this character."


See the 2022 Oscars red carpet looks

Posted March 27, 2022 at 7:29 PM EDT

The Academy Awards red carpet is where the world’s most prestigious stars present themselves in the way they’ll be remembered decades from now.

Each year, the Oscars red carpet serves as an opportunity for nominees to share their personal style while wearing the most legendary designers.

Check out all the red carpet looks here.

By the numbers

Here's what it takes to produce the Oscars this year

Posted March 27, 2022 at 6:33 PM EDT

It will take more than 5,000 broadcast technicians, stagehands and associate directors, among many other professionals, to produce the Oscars this year.

Here's a glimpse at the large undertaking the production will take this year, according to Sunshine Sachs Morgan & Lylis, an independent full-service communications and narrative consulting firm:

  • 55 cameras are used across the Oscars, pre-show, digital show and international feeds
  • 12 broadcast mobile units and more than 20 technical support and office trailers are used in the production
  • It requires 30 days to load, set up, rehearse and strike the show
  • All electrical power is provided by Los Angeles DWP. In the event of a power failure, a dual UPS backup system is used saving hundreds of hours of generator time and diesel fuel use
  • 14 miles of fiber optic cable are used to support the broadcast infrastructure
  • 1,500 lighting instruments and 18 miles of data and power cable are used to light the show
  • There are over 120 musicians and 80 dancers performing on this year’s show
  • More than 45 presenters participate in Saturday rehearsals. The orchestra rehearses and records at the world-famous Capitol Studios in Hollywood prior to moving into the Dolby Theatre
  • The stage is 120 feet wide and 75 feet deep
  • There’s a 32-foot-wide elevator on-stage that descends 50 feet into the basement to assist in changing scenery
  • The set is embedded with almost a mile of custom LED tape and is covered in 3,500 yards of pleated fabric
  • The on-stage video wall surface totals 2,400 square feet
  • There are more than 3,000 linear feet of red carpet created in custom “academy” red
  • It takes 600 man-hours to install and remove the carpet. The entire length of carpet is cleaned the morning of the show
  • There’s a 70-person COVID team administrating over 14,000 PCR tests for the cast and crew
  • More than 200 countries air the Oscars, many of them live.
Critic’s corner

We gotta talk about the changes to the ceremony

Posted March 27, 2022 at 5:00 PM EDT
Oscars statuettes
Chris Pizzello

Hey Oscars, NPR critic Glen Weldon would like a word.

About that ceremony … why are we getting a bunch of montages instead of recognizing eight categories on stage?

Glen takes you inside a (make-believe) conversation.


Lin-Manuel Miranda will miss the Oscars after his wife contracts COVID

Posted March 27, 2022 at 4:10 PM EDT
US director-producer Lin-Manuel Miranda arrives for the 33rd Annual Producers Guild Awards at the Fairmont Century Plaza in Los Angeles on March 19, 2022.
Michael Tran
AFP via Getty Images
Lin-Manuel Miranda won't be on the red carpet for Sunday night's Oscar ceremony. He is skipping the event because his wife has tested positive for COVID-19.

If Lin-Manuel Miranda wins an Oscar on Sunday night — thus completing his “EGOT” (that’s an Emmy, a Grammy, a Tony and an Oscar) — he won’t be there in person to enjoy it.

Miranda said Saturday that he would be staying at home after his wife, Vanessa Nadal, tested positive for COVID-19. He said she is “doing fine” and assured his followers that he and their kids had all tested negative thus far, but that “out of caution,” he would be staying at home.

An unforgettable year: Miranda had a big year on the film side of his very busy career.

His nomination is in the category best original song, where “Dos Oruguitas,” from Encanto, faces off against songs from No Time To Die, King Richard, Belfast and Four Good Days. His first feature as a director, the musical Tick Tick …Boom!, earned nominations for editing and for its lead actor, Andrew Garfield. This is Miranda’s second Oscar nomination for best song; he was nominated for “How Far I’ll Go” from 2016’s Moana, but didn’t win.

Miranda also has a rich history working on awards shows themselves, including the fact that — and this gets complicated, so hang on tight — he won an Emmy with composer Tom Kitt for the opening number of the 2013 Tony Awards, performed by host Neil Patrick Harris. So yes, he won one of his Emmys for the Tonys, taking the other as a producer of the Disney+ special presentation of his show Hamilton. He also won two of his three Tonys for writing Hamilton; the other was for writing In The Heights.

The film adaptation of In The Heights also came out in 2021. Miranda won Grammy Awards for both Hamilton and In The Heights and for that song from Moana that lost the Oscar. Awards-wise, the guy gets around.

An elite club: If Miranda does EGOT on Sunday night, he’ll join a fairly small group that includes Rita Moreno, who appeared in one of this year’s best picture nominees, Steven Spielberg’s take on West Side Story.

She’s not nominated for that film, but Ariana DeBose is a favorite to win best supporting actress for her work as Anita, the same role Moreno won her Oscar for in 1961.


The case for nixing the Oscars' best international feature category

Posted March 27, 2022 at 3:00 PM EDT
This year's Oscar nominees for best international feature film: Hand of God; Lunana: A Yak in the Classroom; Flee; The Worst Person in the World; Drive My Car.
Gianni Fiorito/Netflix; Samuel Goldwyn Films; EF Neon; Neon; Janus Films
This year's Oscar nominees for best international feature film are Hand of God, Lunana: A Yak in the Classroom, Flee, The Worst Person in the World and Drive My Car.

The five nominated films for best international feature film have no legitimate artistic reason to be measured against one another for one Oscar.

Their only qualification (and misfortune) to be judged this way is their non-Englishness.

And in the new age of subtitled streaming and globalized filmmaking, this is a category that is becoming a caricature of itself as a relic of the past.

Cinema today deserves better than an award for "best global miscellanea."

Read more of the argument to get rid of the best international feature category.


The nominations list this year isn’t quite so #OscarsSoWhite

Posted March 27, 2022 at 1:30 PM EDT
Denzel Washington speaks onstage during the 2022 Governors Awards at The Ray Dolby Ballroom at Hollywood & Highland Center on March 25, 2022 in Hollywood, California.
Mike Coppola
Getty Images
Denzel Washington is among the actors who make up the Oscars' not as white nomination list this year.

Nearly 9,500 members of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences are eligible to cast votes this year — that's a more than 30% increase in voting membership since the 2016 #OscarsSoWhite movement drove the academy to take efforts to make its voting pool younger and more diverse.

This year, of the acting categories, only supporting actor is #sowhite. The nominees are:

  • Ciarán Hinds (Belfast)
  • Troy Kotsur (CODA)
  • Jesse Plemmons (The Power of the Dog)
  • Kodi Smit-McPhee (The Power of the Dog)
  • J.K. Simmons (Being the Ricardos)

It remains to be seen whether the academy’s efforts to improve diversity among Oscar voters will mean award wins at tonight’s ceremony for historically underrepresented racial and ethnic groups. Read more about this year's Oscar nominations here.


Who will win and who should win

Posted March 27, 2022 at 12:30 PM EDT
Oscar statuette.
Valerie Macon
AFP via Getty Images

There are always two big questions as we approach the Oscars: Who will win — and who should win.

The Pop Culture Happy Hourteam took a look at this year's nominations to help you win your Oscar pool.

Getting ready

How to watch the Oscars tonight

Posted March 27, 2022 at 8:36 AM EDT
Workers prepare the red carpet area on Friday ahead of the Oscars at the Dolby Theatre.
Angela Weiss
AFP via Getty Images
Workers prepare the red carpet area on Friday ahead of the Oscars at the Dolby Theatre.

The 94th Academy Awards ceremony will air Sunday, March 27, at 8 p.m. ET, with red carpet programming beginning an hour and a half before showtime at 6:30 p.m. ET.

ABC will televise the Oscars live. Cable subscribers can also stream the ceremony on abc.com or via the ABC app by signing in through a cable provider.

Those without a cable subscription can access the ceremony through subscription services like Hulu + Live TV, Vidgo, YouTubeTV, The Roku Channel, AT&T TV, and FuboTV. (Many offer a free trial.)

The ceremony will take place at the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles and will require nominees and guests — though not performers or presenters — to show proof of COVID-19 vaccination. All attendees will be required to present negative test results. After three consecutive years without a host, this year's ceremony will have three emcees: Wanda Sykes, Regina Hall, and Amy Schumer.

While the first Oscars ceremony lasted a very efficient 15 minutes, nowadays the ceremony tends to average around 3 1/2 hours. This year, the Academy has made the controversial decision to cut eight categories from the live broadcast — instead taping them before the broadcast and weaving footage into the actual show. The categories cut include film editing, original score, production design, makeup and hairstyling, animated short, documentary short, live action short and sound mixing. The Academy has also added a new award, the fan-favorite award, decided by a popular vote held on Twitter.