Will Smith’s slap on the face of Chris Rock, and his F-bomb comment which ABC censored, reflect the heroes and zeroes of this year’s Oscars.
Unfortunately, that surprise walk-up-and-wallop instance became the hot topic on social media. A slap on the face of Oscar, for sure.
And today, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences is reviewing the outburst, with Smith filing a sort-of-delayed Instagram apology to Rock. Point to remember: Both are known to have temper issues; and this is the second time Rock has picked on Jada Pinkett Smith, Will’s wife.
Looking back at last night’s proceedings, it wasn’t the only double-edged moment of the Academy Awards.
High and low, hit and miss, call ‘em what you want. We’re sharing Hero and Zero reflections from watching the telecast :
Hero: Smith demonstrated, physically and literally, the protective spirit of the character he played in his first Best Actor win, Richard Williams, the misguided father of tennis stars Serena and Venus Williams. Smith became the night’s hot button, giving Oscar more life than ever with that slap. Thus, his abusive slap resulted in talkfests aplenty today. When was the last time you reacted to the Oscarcast?
Zero: Smith apparently didn’t hear the “Cut!” call. Last night was real life, not role-playing. Last night was a surprise that shouldn’t have happened. His apology to the Academy was made to voting members, but he snubbed Rock, until today’s lame apology. But Rock has got to button up his attacks — he’s a grenade with the pin pulled out.
Hero: Liza Minnelli clearly was the pre-show “surprise guest” the academy touted; with guidance from co-presenter Lady Gaga, they presented the Best Film award to “Coda.” An honorary Oscar surely goes to Gaga, who was denied a nomination, for her good cheer in a risky situation and lovingly guided Minnelli through some shaky moments.
Zero: While it was nice to see Minnelli, it was an uncomfortable circumstance; her hands were quivering, she had moments of memory gaps, not certain what was happening. And in a wheelchair? A cruel display of a woman’s health issues. Who decided to stage this unstable uncertainty?
Hero: The Best Picture wins for “CODA” and Best Supporting Actor winner Troy Kotsur awardee were well deserved. Lesson here: Release a film timed to Oscar-voting, when the memories are fresh and current.
Zero: “The Power of the Dog” released its film early enough to generate advance Oscar buzz, but the momentum was overtaken by “CODA,” a feel-good movie. From early hero, the film became a zero, despite Jane Campion’s win as Best Director. And shouldn’t the academy finally combine the Best Picture/Best Director categories? Campion won, but her film didn’t? Wazzup?
Hero: Kevin Costner, the actor-director and former Oscar winner. His brief comments, on the role and wisdom of a director, was spot on. He articulated like a true warrior of his multi-craft. He’s not usually on the front tier of movie-making these days, settling into films that are streaming. Maybe a welcome back soon, in the form of a script he likes?
Zero: There is a gap between the academy and its members; we need more Costners in the limelight.
Hero: The trio of female co-hosts of the show, Amy Schumer, Wanda Sykes and Regina Hall. And Schumer uttered the evening’s best quote: “This year the Academy hired three women to host because it’s cheaper than hiring one man,” she said. “I’m representing unbearable white women who call the cops when you get too loud.”
Zero: The Academy under-utilized the powers of these comedians. If you hire ‘em, use ‘em, too…
No perfection in predictions
So I missed two categories, from nine predictions, in an earlier column on Oscar picks.
I have yet to see “Coda,” the Best Film winner, since I don’t have an Apple TV+ subscription, so I felt obliged to select “The Power of the Dog” which I viewed on Netflix twice, because I dozed off during my first attempt to watch the film.
I erred on the Best Song category, too, figured the flow-over appeal of “We Don’t Talk About Bruno” (which was splendidly sung and choreographed live in the Oscarcast) might have carry-over votes for “Dos Oruguitas,” the Disney nominee from “Encanto,” but the winning “No Time to Die” by Billie Eilish and Finneas O’Connell was my second choice. …
Finally, a bit of good news: Last night’s telecast from the Dolby Theatre drew more viewers than last year’s streamlined version from Union Station. The Oscars nabbed 15.36 million viewers and a 3.2 rating among adults 18 to 49, according to Nielsen. That’s a skosh better than last year’s no-host show, which had 13.73 million and 2.9 in demos. As adjustments are made over the next few hours, the ratings should go skosh up.
And that’s Show Biz. …