History and scandal marked the 94th Oscars held in Los Angeles on Sunday.
Troy Kotsur made history by becoming the first male deaf actor to win the Best Supporting Actor award for CODA. Sian Heder’s film also won the big prize of the evening – Best Picture – as well as Adapted Screenplay.
Will Smith’s Oscar for Best Actor for King Richard was overshadowed by his assault on presenter Chris Rock for a barb about Will Smith’s wife Jada-Pinkett Smith. The slap, telecast live and frozen by photographers and meme makers around the world, was the most viral moment from a sluggish and overly long ceremony.
Before the awards presentation, Hollywood’s finest lit up the red carpet.
The standout moments at the presentation ceremony included Troy Kotsur’s signed acceptance speech and Ariana DeBose’s emotional response to winning the Best Supporting Actress for West Side Story. Dressed in a Valentino custom-made outfit, DeBose said, “You see a queer, openly queer woman of color, an Afro Latina who found her strength in life through art.”
CODA actor Troy Kotsur won the crowd with an equally emotional speech in which he thanked the deaf community and his father.
British costume designer Jenny Beavan won her third Oscar for Cruella. Beaven has previously won Oscars for Room With A View (shared with John Bright) and Mad Max: Fury Road. She described her outfit as a channelling of her “inner Cruella”.
Kenneth Branagh’s Belfast, which is black-and-white except for a few sequences, had seven nominations but won in a single category – Best Original Screenplay. The autobiographical film is set in the Northern Ireland city in 1969, in the year sectarian conflict broke out between Protestants and Catholics.
The Troubles, as they are known, are seen through the eyes of young Buddy (Jude Hill). The cast includes Jamie Dornan and Caitriona Balfe as Buddy’s parents and Judi Dench and Ciaran Hinds as Buddy’s grandparents.
The grace note was provided by Liza Minnelli, marking 50 years since her film Cabaret, and actor-singer Lady Gaga. Denied an Oscar nomination for her performance in Ridley Scott’s House of Gucci, Gaga was the picture of poise and tenderness as she accompanied the wheelchair-bound Minnelli to the stage to present the Best Picture Oscar.
As Minnelli faltered with the names of the nominees, Lady Gaga told her, “I got you.” Minnelli replied, “I know.”
The night included a moment of silence for Russia’s war on Ukraine and several references to the conflict.