The 2022 Oscars recognized the war in Ukraine with a moment of silence, calls for donations and ribbons to remind of the crisis of refugees. “It’s impossible not to be moved by their resilience,” Ukraine-born Mila Kunis said onstage Sunday during the ABC telecast.
But any references to geopolitical causes or pleas for humanity were overshadowed by the blow that Will Smith landed on Chris Rock. It used to be that partisan statements triggered a bit of discord and division in the room; this time it was one of Rock’s crass jokes about Smith’s wife, Jada Pinkett Smith.
Hollywood Reacts To The Oscar Slap: Physical Assault, Say Many; “How We Do It”, Says Jaden Smith
That said, there were moments, starting with Wanda Sykes’ reference to Mitch McConnell, in the opener, followed by a dig at Florida’s “Don’t Say Gay” bill, which has caused a bit of contentiousness at the Walt Disney Company.
“For you people in Florida, we are going to have a gay night,” Sykes said. “Gay. Gay. Gay.”
Sykes later took aim at the wave of new voting restrictions when she presented a shredded piece of paper. “You like democracy? Here is a voter registration form for the state of Texas,” she said.
Oscars TV Review: Will Smith’s Unscripted Slap Of Chris Rock Turns Stumbling Show Into Stunning Spectacle
Later, Jessica Chastain, winning the Best Actress Oscar for The Eyes of Tammy Faye, also referred to the Florida bill. “We’re faced with bigoted legislation that is sweeping our country with the only goal of further dividing us. There’s violence and hate crimes being perpetuated on innocent civilians all over the world.” She then credited Tammy Faye Bakker for her “radical acts of love.”
There were other references, tied to some of the historic wins of the evening, as when Ariana DeBose won Supporting Actress for West Side Story and referred to being an openly gay woman of color winning an acting award. When Troy Kotsur won Best Supporting Actor for CODA, his mention of a visit to the White House last week, and a meeting with President Joe Biden and First Lady Jill Biden, showed just what a moment this was for the deaf community.
The first lady congratulated the movie after it won Best Picture.
Beyoncé, Chris Rock & Regina Hall’s Pat-Down: The Best And Worst Moments From The 2022 Oscars 2022
Congratulations on your win. You captured our hearts. 💕 #Oscars pic.twitter.com/pxC3P201Mm
— Jill Biden (@FLOTUS) March 28, 2022
Accepting his pre-taped award for Documentary Short, The Queen of Basketball director Ben Proudfoot made a plea about the WNBA All-Star who is being detained in Russia. ““President Biden, bring Britney Griner home,” he said.
Some attendees wore blue ribbons to raise awareness for refugees, including those who have fled Ukraine, while others made reference to the situation. “Thank you, and viva Ukraine,” director Francis Ford Coppola said as he finished up an appearance with Robert De Niro and Al Pacino in an onstage tribute to the 50th anniversary of The Godfather.
By the end of this Oscars night, though, celebrities weren’t merely calling for peace in a far-away conflict, but in the Dolby Theatre itself.
Oscars Red Carpet Photos: See Looks From Jessica Chastain, Jason Momoa and Zendaya & More
“Right now we are moving on with love,” Sean Combs assured the crowd.
Shortly after a tearful Smith accepted the Best Actor statue and apologized to the Academy, Anthony Hopkins told the audience that the King Richard star “said it all. What more can be said? Let’s have peace and love and quiet.”
Must Read Stories
Subscribe to Deadline Breaking News Alerts and keep your inbox happy.