CODA is Oscar Best Picture

All the news from a ceremony full of surprises

by Jennie Kermode

Best Supporting Actress winner Ariana DeBose
Best Supporting Actress winner Ariana DeBose Photo: Al Seib / A.M.P.A.S.

It was a small independent film up against some really big hitters, but CODA wowed everybody by winning Best Picture at this year's Oscars. Over the course of the night, rumours had been circulating around the event to the effect that it might have won, with so many people quietly voicing their support that it began to seem that an upset was possible, but the announcement, when it came, was still a huge surprise, and it was clear that the team behind the film had not dared to believe that it was possible.

Jessica Chastain at the Oscars
Jessica Chastain at the Oscars Photo: Michael Baker / A.M.P.A.S.

The event also saw Jane Campion became only the third woman ever to be named Best Director. It was a big relief for the team behind The Power Of The Dog, who had to wait a long time for their film, which had been in the lead with 12 nominations, to win its sole award. Campion is also the first woman ever to have won the Palme D'Or and has long been tipped for Oscar success, with one previous nomination under her belt.

Jessica Chastain was named Best Actress for her work in The Eyes Of Tammy Faye, and used her speech to express her love for vulnerable people struggling in these difficult times, referencing Tammy Faye Bakker's longstanding support for LGBTQ people and expressing her concern about anti-LGBTQ legislation currently being passed in many US states. Although she was tearful and stumbled a little over her speech, it was clear that it came from the heart, and despite being the frontrunner she seemed surprised to be up on stage on what was a highly emotional night.

Winning Best Actor for his work in King Richard, Will Smith spoke of feeling overwhelmed by what he is currently trying to do, and of being profoundly impacted by a role which was focused on the need to protect family members. He took the opportunity to apologise for a shocking moment earlier in the night when he abruptly lost his patience with presenter Chris Rock for making a joke about his wife, Jada Pinkett Smith, and stepped up to the stage to give him a slap. Rock was quick to suggest that the joke was an innocent reference to a character and had been misinterpreted.

Will Smith and Jada Pinkett Smith on the red carpet
Will Smith and Jada Pinkett Smith on the red carpet Photo: Michael Baker / A.M.P.A.S.

The Smiths have been subject to a lot of snide remarks recently due to rumours about their relationship, so they may well have been feeling the pressure. Jada was particularly sensitive about her hair because she felt she had no choice but to shave it off after suffering from alopecia. Fortunately for her, she still looked stunning, and her magnificent emerald gown would always have been eye-catching. Everyone calmed down again as Denzel Washington and Tyler Perry reassured Will, and in his tearful speech, Will thanked Denzel for his advice.

The main ceremony this year began with an upset as Ariana DeBose beat out tough competition to win Best Supporting Actress for her work in West Side Story. She said in her acceptance speech that she was thrilled to win as an openly queer woman of colour, and that her victory shows that dreams really can come true. Winning Best Supporting actor for CODA, Troy Kotsur gave his acceptance speech in American Sign Language, thanking those who originally gave him his break on the stage, and saying that this was a moment for all Deaf and disabled people.

CODA also took the award for Best Adapted Screenplay, leading to an incredibly emotional speech from writer Sian Heder, who said it made her glad that she had dressed up like a disco ball. Best Original Screenplay was won by Kenneth Branagh (for Belfast), who has been nominated for Oscars in more different categories than anybody else in the history of the awards: a total of seven.

Timothée Chalamet and friend
Timothée Chalamet and friend Photo: Chloe Rice / A.M.P.A.S.

Some of the awards were handed out early at this year's Oscars, before the main ceremony began, and Dune, well placed in the technical categories, took an early lead which it continued to build on, becoming the overall winner in terms of numbers. Many people felt that its shot at Best Picture was stymied by the fact that it told only the first part of the story, suggesting that the second part, which make-up designer Donald Mowat recently confirmed is definitely going ahead, has a strong chance of finding itself a Best Picture nominee in due course.

There was no live television coverage of these awards being presented, which has upset a lot of people, nominees and viewers alike. Jessica Chastain decided to arrive early and go to the room where they were being handed out in order to show the nominees her support. Clips of acceptance speeches were played later, during the main ceremony.

Stars began gathering on the red carpet early in the evening, and with Covid still part of the picture, there was a lot of uncertainty about who would make it, as the Academy has put strict testing rules in place. Lin Manuel Miranda, nominated for his score for Encanto, was sadly in isolation and not able to attend. In his absence, a number of viewers noted their surprise at seeing its award for Best Animated Film picked up by four white people.

Lupita Nyong'o
Lupita Nyong'o Photo: Al Seib / A.M.P.A.S.

There were some fabulous gowns on display, with Lupita Nyong'o in glittering gold and Kirsten Dunst sizzling in scarlet while David Oyelowo sported a spectacular yellow and grey suit. Kristen Stewart made quite an impression in a tuxedo and shorts combination. Kodi Smit-McPhee worse an Eighties-style powder blue suit and Timothé Chalamet turned up without a shirt, which seemed like cheating. His Dune co-star Zendaya conveyed modern cool in a silver crop top and shimmering skirt. The careful testing protocols meant that nobody had to wear a mask, and the general mood was upbeat, with many stars clearly relishing the chance to dress up again.

One of the early arrivals, Jamie Lee Curtis made use of her moment in the spotlight to talk about the crisis facing people in Ukraine, and there were references to the crisis throughout the night, though the event was not politically focused to the extent that some have been in the past.

Those awards in full:-

Best Picture

Best Director – Motion Picture

Best Performance By An Actress In A Motion Picture

Best Performance By An Actor In A Motion Picture

Best Performance By An Actor In A Supporting Role

  • Troy Kotsur - CODA

Best Performance By An Actress In A Supporting Role

Best Animated Feature Film

Best International Feature Film

Best Documentary Feature

Best Documentary Short Subject

Best Animated Short Film

  • The Windshield Wiper

Best Live Action Short Film

Best Original Screenplay

Best Adapted Screenplay

Best Cinematography

Best Editing

Best Production Design

Best Visual Effects

Best Costume Design

  • Cruella

Best Makeup and Hairstyling

Best Sound

Best Original Score

Best Original Song

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