2022 Oscars Review: the most laughable, disastrous show of my lifetime


Consistently embarrassing and downright disrespectful, the 2022 Academy Awards have set a new low for Hollywood’s most prestigious awards show.

Jake Panek, Staff Writer

Once (and technically still, I guess) the crowning awards show for the medium of film, the Academy Awards has slowly become less about honoring the best movies of the year and now seems to exist so its continually dwindling viewers can bet on mostly disappointing outcomes and tune into a trainwreck of presenters and musical guests, and the 2022 Oscars were no exception. With each passing year, it’s seemingly gotten more difficult to predict what bad decisions the Academy will make and what other random incidents will happen in the Dolby Theater, and me and everyone else who actually cares about the art of filmmaking were given plenty of laugh-through-the-pain moments this past 27 March. Let’s just get into it, because there’s a lot, to say the least.

I’ll just get it out of the way now since it’s the last thing that deserves attention from the night, but it’s admittedly pretty fascinating to see just how unnecessarily big of an issue Will Smith slapping Chris Rock has become. I, like everyone, was pretty shocked when my screen froze on an image of Will Smith and everyone flocked to Twitter to see just what was happening (shoutout to Japanese and Australian television for blessing us with the uncut footage) but you’d think that he shot Chris Rock point blank in the forehead with a pistol and jumped around on his corpse with just how deadly serious some people have taken it. I’d say all the needless reactions that have spawned out of it are funny and/or insufferable in equal measure, and the efforts made by terminally online people with nothing better to do to cancel celebrities who shared their take on the matter is a whole other issue. The only thing really worth saying in my opinion is that it’s objectively hilarious that not even ten minutes later, he was on stage accepting the award for Best Actor. It was just a slap; could we please shut up and move on?

In terms of the actual awards, it was, as usual, a mess. I guess I’ll begin with the theme for this year’s show (because I guess we’re doing that now), which was “Movie Lovers Unite.” Not bad at all in theory, and we did get to see the casts of “The Godfather” and “Pulp Fiction” reunite for their respective 50th and, uh, 28th anniversaries (I love “Pulp Fiction,” but is that really a number worth celebrating? We couldn’t have waited two years?), but I can’t be the only one that was mildly confused by the tribute to “White Men Can’t Jump,” a movie with a 20 year anniversary that was nominated for… zero Oscars in 1992. It makes sense when you think about it; after all, who cares about “Blade Runner,” “E.T.,” ”Poltergeist” or literally any movie from 1982?

True movie lovers united in one event on that night, though: the Oscars Fan Favorites. In a useless effort to get more common moviegoers to tune in that definitely wasn’t a ploy to get “Spider-Man: No Way Home” at least one award after Jimmy Kimmel whined about a movie that grossed nearly $2 billion dollars not getting enough recognition, the Academy let Twitter users vote on two categories, the Oscars Cheer Moment and the Oscars Fan Favorite. Anyone with a brain would have one of two immediate reactions to this: that is a bad idea, or that is a truly inspired and terrible idea. I was personally very excited to see which fanbase could brigade the votes the hardest, and the joyful laugh me and my Twitter feed let out when “The Flash enters the Speed Force” from “Zack Snyder’s Justice League” won the Oscars Cheer Moment is probably worthy of next year’s award. Another Zack Snyder film, “Army of the Dead,” took home the Oscars Fan Favorite, and I can’t express how proud of and happy I am for every Zack Snyder fan out there; you all made this possible! In all seriousness, the Oscars Fan Favorites are the best example of just how low the Academy is willing to stoop to try and get viewers that never had any interest in the show to begin with, and even if it is funny to see Zack Snyder technically win two awards, it’s also a pretty worthless idea. Let’s hope they do it again next year!

Sadly, most of the disaster that was the 2022 Oscars wasn’t an enjoyable one. Halle Bailey, Lily James and Naomi Scott, all of whom have played and are going to play Disney princesses in live-action, made some eye-roll worthy remarks during their presentation of Best Animated Feature about how animated films are formative experiences for children and seemingly nobody else. (Because I bet all of the kids were rushing to see “Flee,” a documentary about a gay man having to flee Afghanistan that was present in the nominees!) Even weirder than the casual condescension towards a pretty major category was the fact that the entire evening was sponsored by none other than Crypto.com, and if that’s not disappointing enough, they ran an ad about how viewers at home can support Ukraine by donating to their website. I’m all for helping people in need, but as with most cryptocurrency and NFT-related things, it just felt like an unwanted presence.

Speaking of unwanted presences, Amy Schumer! I’ve put off talking about her until now—even though she’s probably the biggest controversy to come out of the night behind the slap—solely because I just can’t stand thinking about that nuisance of a woman. From uncomfortable incest jokes about Jake and Maggie Gyllenhaal to calling Kirsten Dunst a seat-filler—I swear, at this point I’ll handcraft my own Oscar and send it to her; can we please show her some respect?!—there wasn’t a single bearable line that came out of her mouth. I will give her this, though: she did make by far the most baffling slip-up of the night when she said “…and there’s a genocide going on in the Ukraine and women are losing all of their rights. And now, please welcome last year’s winner—and trans people—for Actor in a Leading Role, Anthony Hopkins.” This came right after the slap, so it hasn’t received much attention, but her late delivery was just confoundingly hilarious. (On an unrelated note, maybe don’t publicly admit that you wanted to make a joke about the Alec Baldwin shooting after saying that watching a man get slapped “traumatized” you, but what do I know)

What definitively cements this as the worst Oscars ceremony I’ve seen in my lifetime, though, is that the Academy just doesn’t really seem to like or care about the movies and people they’re honoring, a trend that’s been going on for years but has never felt more visible than now. In 2019, Bob Persichetti wanted to thank Stan Lee for creating Spider-Man while on stage accepting the Best Animated Feature award for “Into the Spider-Verse,” but the microphone got cut off right as he started speaking, and in 2020, the lights went down right in the middle of the speeches for “Parasite”’s monumental Best Picture win, but thankfully were brought back up because of a chant led by Charlize Theron and Tom Hanks. This year, it was Ryusuke Hamaguchi that got robbed of a full speech while accepting Best International Film for “Drive My Car”—which especially hurts seeing as how, at least in my opinion, his film was by far the best film out of all of the nominees across every category. Even including what he said after he interrupted the music that rudely interrupted him to continue thanking the film’s actors, his speech didn’t even last for 90 seconds before he got shoved off the stage. (On an unrelated note, Jenny Beavan, winner of Best Costume Design for the Disney film “Cruella,” got to talk for over two minutes during the Disney-owned ABC show. Sure.)

Speaking of Disney and their ever-looming presence over the show, Troy Kotsur, winner of Best Supporting Actor for “Coda” and the first deaf man to win an Oscar for acting, gave probably the sweetest speech of the whole night… and it was immediately followed by a video of Chris Evans going, “Congrats, I guess. Now, here’s a trailer for my new Pixar movie ‘Lightyear!’” A gross move, to say the least. Also irrelevant and somehow more annoying even though I knew it was coming was the first live performance of “We Don’t Talk About Bruno,” which wasn’t even nominated for Best Original Song. As if it hasn’t already been played into oblivion over the past few months, the live version of the song felt oddly butchered; not even Megan Thee Stallion doing a rap verse for half of the performance could save it. Of course, even if it went flawlessly—which really nothing did that night—it was just plain unnecessary, which seemed to be a pervasive trend that night.

Somehow, I haven’t gotten to the worst of it. The Academy’s choice to pre-record eight of the 23 awards, yet another one of their ploys to streamline the show, was widely lambasted as an insulting disregard to the craft of filmmaking. Even some of the people who were nominated and ended up winning awards, including Steven Spielberg, Jane Campion, Jessica Chastain and Denis Villeneuve, spoke out against it and urged Academy president David Rubin to reverse it and present them live, which sadly didn’t work. It’s not like cutting out over a quarter of the awards made the show shorter—it ended up being nearly four hours, making it the longest Oscars since 2018—but save for a bit that was essentially an ad for the Academy Museum of Motion Pictures with Wanda Sykes that got a few chuckles out of me, everything they replaced the actual awards with was pretty bad. It’s an equally frustrating and fascinating ouroboros where with each attempt to resuscitate the Oscars’ former glory, they only drive away more potential viewers, and I imagine that if such blatant neglect stays on display in the future, the people who actually care about film will start to tune out over time. I mean, cutting out Best Editing? You know, the thing that you literally would have no movie without? Actually, they’re right, that is boring; I’d rather watch more Amy Schumer!

Even when it was at its most “fun,” the 2022 Oscars reeked of unprofessional carelessness. And yet, despite all of the cringey moments, I watched it. I bet some of you are probably wondering why I put myself through this show year after year knowing that, as I already said, I’ll just end up laughing through the pain, and that’s because at the end of the day, as I already said, I care about the art of filmmaking. Sure, “Drive My Car” only won one of its four nominations, but I got to see Ryusuke Hamaguchi go up on that stage and accept an award honoring his astounding work. Jessica Chastain may not have been my pick for Best Actress, but her speech—along with Best Supporting Actress winner Ariana DeBose’s speech—was genuinely beautiful and touching. For every ten idiotic things the Academy does that I sit through like “Belfast” winning Best Original Screenplay and “CODA” winning Best Picture (which is nowhere near as bad as “Belfast”’s win, mind you, but still an undesirable outcome), there’s moments where they get things right like giving Best Director to Jane Campion, Best Score to Hans Zimmer, Best Documentary to Questlove and Best Live Action Short to Riz Ahmed. Whenever I get to watch people that I greatly respect and admire get recognized by a major organization, it makes all of the insufferable garbage surrounding these beacons of light worth it.

Those occasions and how many of them there are are essentially the sole factors that determine whether or not the Oscars are a net positive or negative each year, and (if you can believe it) this year was most definitely negative. I’ll hold onto the hope that they’ll right some wrongs for next time, and with that, I’ll see you all next year at the 2023 Academy Awards.