Another Oscar ceremony has come and gone, marked with the same predictable success, shocking snubs, surprise victories and viral moments, as Hollywood exhales and welcomes in a whole new year of cinema.
Summing up the best of cinema in 2021 with ten prestigious nominees each defining the emotional trauma, intensity and optimism of a tough year past, this year’s selection of films was fairly well-rounded, representing a large demographic of filmmakers and genres, standing out as one of the most balanced line-ups of the past decade or so.
So let’s look back on a night that featured one of the tightest Best Picture races in recent memory, where several technical awards were snubbed from their own awards ceremony and big winners and unfortunate losers were made.
Oscars 2022 – Winners and Losers:
Winner: Ariana DeBose
Ariana DeBose became the first Afro-Latina queer Oscar winner after taking home the statuette for Best Supporting Actress at the 94th Academy Awards in Steven Spielberg’s West Side Story. Taking to the stage to thank her friends, family and co-stars, DeBose also discussed how she was the first person to make such a significant breakthrough in the awards show.
Showing a significant stride forward for diversity in the Academy Awards, DeBose’s win is further proof that the Oscars are headed in the right direction.
Disney’s Encanto may have been a highly popular animated movie musical, though there’s little question that the innovative Jonas Poher Rasmussen documentary Flee was a little more deserving of the prize. Snubbed for Best Animated Feature Film along with Best International Feature film and Best Documentary, the Danish animation has been unfairly treated by the Academy.
Telling the story of Amin Nawabi, a gay refugee trying to rebuild his life in Denmark after fleeing from Afghanistan, Flee deserved a higher profile at the awards ceremony.
Whilst Denis Villeneuve’s science fiction epic was unfortunate enough to miss out on Best Picture among many other major categories, the film swept the floor of technical awards. Taking home Best Sound, Best Achievement in Production Design, Best Original Score, Best Achievement in Film Editing, Best Visual Effects and Best Achievement in Cinematography, the astonishing film deserves every technical award it was lucky enough to receive.
Not only a win for Villeneuve and his team, Dune’s technical success is fantastic for the future of blockbuster filmmaking, with production companies now more willing to pump in money for visual effects if a glistening Oscar is their reward.
Loser: Benedict Cumberbatch
Losing out on an Oscar for the second time, despite being the bookies favourite for a number of months, Benedict Cumberbatch came second to Will Smith in the award for Best Leading Actor. His efforts playing the protagonist of Jane Campion’s The Power of the Dog wasn’t enough to see him over the line.
Having lost in 2015 for The Imitation Game, Cumberbatch, one of the greatest actors of the 21st century will have to wait a little longer to claim an Oscar.
Winner: Troy Kotsur
The star of the unlikely Oscar hopeful, CODA, made Academy Award history this year, becoming the first deaf male actor ever to take home the statuette for an acting category. Whilst his deaf co-star Marlee Matlin won the Oscar for Best Leading Actress back in 1987 for her performance in Children of a Lesser God, Kotsur has become the first male to receive the award.
Highly deserved, Kotsur provides the emotional core for a film that so often lacks in genuine heart that doesn’t feel manipulative or artificial.
Loser: Chris Rock
No doubt, the biggest talking point from the 94th Academy Awards was the moment Will Smith got up from his seat and appeared to punch Chris Rock before shouting colourful language from his seat in the audience. Later winning the award for Best Actor, Smith gave a heartfelt apology, and considering Rock’s history with jokes toward Jada Pinkett Smith, it seems as though Smith could be in the right.
Unfortunately for Smith, this doesn’t make him look like much of a winner, despite winning the award for Best Leading Actor, but it certainly doesn’t make Chris Rock look great.
For a film that was originally considered to be a token of appreciation toward an independently made feature film by the Academy, CODA took the 94th Academy Awards by storm by winning Best Picture, Best Original Screenplay as well as Best Supporting Actor for Troy Kotsur, two of its three nominated categories.
For a film with a majority deaf cast, this shows a decent step forward for the Academy as it strives to widen its reach of diversity.
Loser: The Power of the Dog
Despite being nominated for 12 Academy Awards, Jane Campion’s western masterpiece walked away from proceedings with just one award win for Campion in the directing category. Having been the bookies favourite for a good number of months, this is one of the most considerable upsets in the history of the Oscars.
Losing out in big categories including Best Picture and Best Leading Actor, Campion’s film will still go down as a classic of the modern western genre.