The biggest moments of the 2022 Oscars

A monumental win for a Massachusetts movie, an unscripted dust-up between Will Smith and Chris Rock, and more.

Will Smith accepts the award for best performance by an actor in a leading role for "King Richard" during the 94th Academy Awards at the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles, on Sunday, March 27, 2022. (Ruth Fremson/The New York Times)
Will Smith won the award for best performance by an actor in a leading role for "King Richard." Ruth Fremson/The New York Times

Heading into the 2022 Oscars, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences promised a ceremony unlike any other. In the end, the Academy was right — but not for the reasons many expected.

Prior to Sunday night’s show, the Academy announced that it would award winners in eight categories before the telecast and air pre-taped acceptance speeches. And yet, the show ran late — again.

To drum up publicity, the Academy booked countless buzzworthy presenters, added a trio of hosts, increased the number of musical performances, and even awarded “popular movie” awards determined by votes on Twitter. And yet some of the most memorable moments of the night came from the same emotional speeches that the Academy tried so hard to micromanage.


As for why the show ran long, Will Smith has to claim at least some responsibility for that.

Here are the biggest moments of the 2022 Oscars.

Beyonce opens 2022 Oscars with stunning performance

The 2022 Oscars started off on a distinctive note, one that immediately called attention to the Academy’s efforts to make this year’s ceremony different than prior years.

Following an introduction from Venus and Serena Williams, ABC aired a pre-taped performance of “Be Alive,” an Oscar-nominated song by Beyonce Knowles from the Williams sisters’ biopic “King Richard.”

Knowles stood tall in a tennis-green dress, surrounded by similarly-dressed backup dancers and musicians on a tennis court in Compton, where the Williams sisters began their tennis-playing journey decades ago.

The Williams sisters have been vocal about their appreciation for the support of Knowles and her husband, Jay Z.

“It’s great to have Beyoncé and Jay Z supporting,” Serena told E News. “It’s always wonderful to see them at tennis and it’s always good when you can just rely on someone and know that they’re always in your corner, whether they are there or not. That’s kind of how it is with us.”

Amy Schumer, Wanda Sykes, and Regina Hall bring the jokes

The 2022 Oscars became the first Academy Awards since 2018 to have a host — or hosts, in this case.


Shortly after a bravura performance from Beyonce Knowles, co-hosts Regina Hall, Amy Schumer, and Wanda Sykes took the stage for an opening monologue, with the comic actresses slinging hilarious one-liners that skewered the assembled talent.

Among the trio’s targets included the Academy itself, the Massachusetts-filmed “Don’t Look Up,” and its star, Leonardo DiCaprio.

Here are a few of the best jokes and one-liners from the trio’s opening monologues. For a full list, check out this article.

— “This year, the academy hired three women to host because it’s cheaper than hiring one man.”

— “After years of Hollywood ignoring women’s stories, this year we finally got a movie about the incredible Williams’ sisters… dad.”

— “‘Don’t Look Up’ is nominated. I guess the Academy members ‘don’t look up’ reviews.”

— “Leonardo DiCaprio, what can I even say about him? He’s done so much to fight climate change and leave behind a cleaner, greener planet for his girlfriends.”

— “Aaron Sorkin, a genius. The innovation to make a movie about Lucille Ball without even a moment that’s funny. You’re Aaron Sorkin, how do you make a movie about the most iconic female comedian with not one laugh. Brilliant! It’s like making a biopic about Michael Jordan and only showing the bus trips between games.”

Troy Kotsur wins Best Supporting Actor for ‘CODA’

Actor Troy Kotsur became the second actor who is deaf to win an Academy Award for his performance in “CODA,” a drama filmed in Gloucester, Massachusetts which later went on to win Best Picture.


Kotsur thanked the director of “CODA,” Cambridge native Sian Heder, for bridging the gap between the deaf world and the hearing world.

“Sian Heder, you are the best communicator,” Kotsur signed. “And the reason why is you brought the deaf world and the hearing world together. You are our bridge. Your name will forever be on that bridge — Sian Heder Bridge —here in Hollywood.”

Kotsur also paid tribute to his father in his speech, who he said was “the best signer in his family.”

“But he was in a car accident and he became paralyzed from the neck down, and he was no longer able to sign,” Kotsur continued. “Dad, I learned so much from you. I’ll always love you. You are my hero.”

Will Smith hits Chris Rock after joke about wife Jada Pinkett Smith

In a night full of emotional speeches and memorable moments, the 2022 Oscars may ultimately be most remembered for a seemingly unscripted confrontation between presenter Chris Rock and actor Will Smith.

Rock, who was on stage to present the award for Best Documentary, began with a joke about Javier Bardem and wife Penelope Cruz, who were nominated for Best Actor and Best Actress, respectively.

“If she loses, he can’t win,” Rock said. “He is praying that Will Smith wins.”

Rock then made a crack about the haircut of Smith’s wife, Jada Pinkett Smith, comparing it to the buzz cut Demi Moore sported in the 1997 movie “G.I. Jane.”

“Jada, I love you,” Rock said. “Can’t wait for ‘G.I. Jane 2,’ can’t wait to see it.”


Pinkett Smith has been open about her struggle with the hair-loss condition alopecia in the past.

At that point, Smith, who was seated near the stage with Pinkett Smith, walked on stage and hit Rock.

The American broadcast of the Oscars cut audio from the immediate aftermath of the confrontation, but audio aired in other countries like Japan and Australia showed that Smith twice told Rock to “keep my wife’s name out of your f****** mouth.”

“Will Smith just smacked the s*** out of me,” a stunned Rock said.

“Keep my wife’s name out of your f****** mouth,” Smith said.

“Wow dude. It was a G.I. Jane joke,” Rock replied.

“Keep my wife’s name out of your f****** mouth!” Smith repeated.

“I’m going to, OK,” Rock said.

Rock then attempted to regain his composure.

“That was… greatest night in the history of television,” Rock finished, still seemingly stunned.

After Rock walked off stage, the next presenter, Sean “Diddy” Combs, attempted to broker a peace between Rock and Smith.

“Will and Chris, we’re gonna solve that like family at the Gold Party,” Combs said. “But right now we’re moving on with love.”

Will Smith gives tearful acceptance speech following Chris Rock confrontation

Shortly after creating the biggest moment at the 2022 Oscars, Smith experienced the biggest vindication of his acting career, winning his first Best Actor Oscar for his role in “King Richard.”


Smith tearfully addressed the incident with Rock in his speech, drawing a parallel between his actions and his portrayal of Richard Williams, the father of tennis stars Venus and Serena Williams.

“Richard Williams was a fierce defender of his family,” Smith said. “In this time in my life, and this moment, I am overwhelmed by what God is calling on me to do and be in this world.”

Smith thanked the Williams family and his co-stars, then noted something that fellow nominee Denzel Washington told him a few minutes before the award was announced.

“In this business, you gotta be able to have people disrespecting you, and you gotta smile and say that’s OK,” Smith said. “Denzel said a few minutes ago, at your highest moment, that’s when the Devil comes for you.”

Smith finished his speech by apologizing to the Academy, and hoping that he would be welcomed back to the Oscars in the future.

“Art imitates life,” Smith said. “I look like the crazy father, just like they said about Richard Williams. Love will make you do crazy things.”

“CODA” wins Best Picture

Following wins for Best Adapted Screenplay and Best Supporting Actor, “CODA” won Best Picture, completing its journey as the little indie that could.

A Sundance smash subject to a fierce bidding war earlier this year, “CODA” stars Emilia Jones (“Locke and Key”) as a 17-year-old CODA (child of deaf adults) living in Gloucester. When her choir director suggests she pursue music school for college, she must decide between pursuing her dreams and helping her deaf parents and brother run the family fishing business. 


Filmed in Gloucester, Massachusetts in 2019, Apple paid a Sundance-record $25 million for the worldwide rights to “CODA,” and as a result, the movie was released simultaneously in theaters and on its Apple TV+ streaming platform Aug. 13.

Leading up to the Oscars, Netflix’s western drama “The Power of the Dog” was the presumed Best Picture frontrunner. But one week before the Oscars, “CODA” captured Best Film at the Producers Guild Awards, making it a two-horse race.

In his acceptance speech, producer Philippe Rousselet spoke of barriers the film had to overcome, including bad weather on their first day of shooting in Gloucester.

Rousselet thanked director Sian Header for being “the best captain a producer could ask for.”

“Sian, it hasn’t been an easy ride,” Rousselet said. “From our first day shooting, when our cast and crew were supposed to be up at 4 a.m. at sea, fishing, when we were told a giant storm was about to hit us. It was only the beginning of our problems, but you’ve kept the boat afloat.”


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