The Oscars 2022 Review, Hollywood’s Big Night Returns to Its Roots (and Delivering a Wow Moment)

The Oscars 2022 Review, Hollywood’s Big Night Returns to Its Roots (and Delivering a Wow Moment)

Last year’s Oscars were a trainwreck (ironically, at a train station) plagued by sluggish pacing and a humorless tone, so this year’s ceremony had nowhere to go but up. Viewership plummeted as well, reaching an all-time low of 10.4 million total viewers — less than half of the previous low.

Thanks to falling COVID numbers, the Oscars were able to return to their home turf at L.A.’s Dolby Theatre this year, with first-time producer Will Packer at the helm, and reclaim some of their former glitz and glamour. And, yes, this Oscars ceremony easily surpassed that low bar by returning to what the Oscars do best: showcasing the best of cinema and hosting some unforgettable moments.

It began with a majestic performance by Beyoncé of her nominated song “Be Alive” from King Richard on a Compton tennis court, dressed in tennis-ball yellow. However, putting the number outside the theater took away some of its power. (It felt more like the Grammys than the Oscars.) After an overly sweaty hype-up from DJ Khaled — why was he there again? — hosts Amy Schumer, Regina Hall, and Wanda Sykes took the stage for a joint monologue.

The Oscars 2022 Review: They delivered a few good zingers, but the format was a little awkward, with the trio waiting their turn to deliver the next punchline. Schumer, on the other hand, was really strong in what I guess we could call a secondary monologue (?) filled with stinging burns that made me wish she had the gig all to herself. (In the meantime, Hall’s thirsty bit enlisting handsome celebrities for a backstage “COVID test” landed with a thud.)

When the night’s celebrity lineup began with Tony Hawk and ended with H.E.R. to Anthony Hopkins, I was a little concerned about how, shall we say, eclectic this year’s Oscars would be. It had the air of throwing anything at the wall and seeing what sticks.

(After all, who better than Hawk, Kelly Slater, and Shaun White to introduce a James Bond tribute?) Piling speeches on top of clip packages on top of pre-taped comedy bits made for a frantic pace at times, and the obvious desire to reach a larger audience reeked of desperation, such as bringing on K-pop superstars BTS to talk about Disney movies and announcing the results of a Twitter poll for the top five cheer-worthy movie moments of all time. Okay…?


The Oscars 2022 Review, Hollywood’s Big Night Returns to Its Roots (and Delivering a Wow Moment)

However, with the exception of a few odd choices, the ceremony thankfully returned to basics for the most part, with actual clips from the nominated performances (what a refreshing change!) and montages honoring decades of Hollywood history, including an appropriately grand tribute to The Godfather.

Plus, the nominees were seated in Golden Globes-style chairs and tables right up front, and the intimate close-ups during the acceptance speeches really captured the emotion in the room.

Troy Kotsur’s speech, with Minari winner Yuh-Jung Youn by his side, was a cute highlight… And, hey, it doesn’t get much more unscripted than Will Smith slapping Chris Rock in the face for making fun of his wife! That surprise was an all-time awards show moment, and it transformed Smith’s emotional acceptance speech into riveting, must-see television.

The Oscars 2022 Review: One significant change this year: a full third (!) of this year’s Oscar categories — eight out of 23 — were handed out before the show and pre-taped, infuriating many in the industry who felt the move devalued critical filmmaking elements like editing and score.

But then they went ahead and announced those categories on the live show anyway, as well as showed the winners’ speeches, so the widely panned move didn’t even save that much air time! Was it even worth it, then, to irritate half of Hollywood in order to shave a minute or two of the (still longer than last year!) running time? I say scrap it and bring back the entire show the following year.

No, these Oscars were not flawless, but let’s face it: the Oscars are never flawless. At their best, they entertain us enough to compensate for the inevitable groans and provide us with a few timeless moments that remind us why we love movies in the first place. This year’s wild, freewheeling ceremony hit all of those notes… and made watching the Oscars fun again.

Now it’s your turn: Give this year’s Oscars a grade in our poll, and hit the comments below to share your thoughts.

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