And the winner is…

Hollywood’s annual Academy Awards broadcast honoring best actors and films of the year has always been a long, drawn out event. I expected this year’s show to be the same tired affair. Thanks to Will Smith and the slap heard around the world, there’s plenty to discuss.

Smith’s confrontation with comedian Chris Rock overshadowed anything else that happened during the broadcast. Before I get to that moment, I want to acknowledge this season’s hosts. Amy Schumer, Wanda Sykes in Regina Hall each did an outstanding job. They were edgy and funny, if slightly underutilized. I would have liked to have seen more of them.

The awards show was packed with entertainment. The musical numbers were lively. Singer Billie Eilish’s performance of the title song from the latest James Bond film No Time To Die was no Goldfinger, but it was impressive. The tribute to 60 years of Bond films made me want to watch all of those movies again.

I thought the show would have been more political given the current situation in the world. Amy Schumer’s request to have Ukrainian president Zelensky appear via live satellite link was nixed by the producers (probably for the best). Ukrainian-born actress Mila Kunis spoke briefly about the dire situation in her home country. A moment of silence was followed by a list of supplies in need for the war effort followed by a QR code to link to donations ended any further political discussions for the night.

The sad memorial tribute to those in the industry who passed away this year was lightened by an upbeat gospel performance of the song Spirit in the Sky, an odd juxtaposition in a night full of oddities.

This year’s awards ceremony was marred by the temper tantrum of best-actor nominee Will Smith. Comedian Chris Rock took the stage and, as he often does, made offhand remarks to celebrities in the audience. A G.I. Jane joke aimed at Jada Pinkett Smith touched a nerve with her husband Will Smith who stormed the stage and forcefully slapped comedian Rock across the face. The audio was cut as a few f-bombs flew. I thought the whole thing was staged until I found the uncensored version broadcast on Australian television posted by someone on Twitter.

A stunned Chris Rock continued his presentation and Will Smith returned to his seat, only to be called back to the podium minutes later to accept the award for Best Actor for his role of Venus and Serena Williams’ overprotective father in the film King Richard. It seems Smith still has some of the character traits in his blood.

It’s unfortuante Will Smith’s assault on Chris Rock put a damper on the proceedings. Smith’s tear filled acceptance speech did nothing to smooth over what had just taken place. I’m still not sure why there were no security guards preventing someone from walking up to the stage area. I don’t know why Smith was allowed to remain in his seat for the rest of the show as if nothing happened. I do know for the first time in a long time I didn’t need toothpicks to keep my eyelids open until the end. I didn’t want to miss a thing.

As far as the relevancy of the Academy Award show goes, I was ready to give up on it this year. I wasn’t really a fan of most of the nominations. The night didn’t seem to be important given what’s happening in the world today. If the Academy Awards are on the verge of extinction due to low ratings or no interest, it looks like they are going out not with a whimper, but a bang. Something tells me next year’s ratings will be through the roof. There’s talk of changing the Oscar tag line from “And the winner is…” to “Let’s get ready to rumble…”. Grab the popcorn and save me a seat!

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