“CODA” won best picture, but that historic breakthrough for streaming service Apple TV+ at the Oscars was overshadowed by one spontaneous act, as Will Smith delivered a viral moment that will be remembered and talked about for years.
The most memorable exchange on the film industry’s biggest night wasn’t the kind anyone would have anticipated or wanted. Before winning his Oscar for “King Richard,” Smith seemed upset about a joke that Chris Rock told about his wife, Jada Pinkett Smith, marching to the stage and appearing strike him across the face. Rock looked genuinely stunned, while Smith returned to his seat, shouting words that were bleeped out at Rock.
Wiping away tears, Smith during his acceptance speech referenced that the character he played, Richard Williams, protected his family, then said, without specifically mentioning Rock or what happened, “I want to apologize to the Academy. I want to apologize to all my fellow nominees.” He added, “Love will make you do crazy things.”
In pictures: The 2022 Academy Awards
The best-picture suspense between two streaming nominees perceived as frontrunners lasted throughout the night. “CODA’s” Sian Heder won for best adapted screenplay, but “The Power of the Dog’s” Jane Campion, the first woman to be nominated twice as best director, later became the third woman ever to claim that prize. (Heder was overlooked in that balloting.)
Based on results from other awards leading up to the Oscars, this was already viewed as a landmark year for streaming services, which, led by Netflix, have steadily chipped away at industry resistance to seeing them as full competitors with major studio releases.
For all its hard work, though, Netflix didn’t catch the bouquet, as voters went with Apple’s more uplifting story, about the hearing child of deaf parents. Including this year’s contenders “The Power of the Dog” and “Don’t Look Up,” seven Netflix movies have now been nominated for best picture, but thus far none have won.