There are Oscars surprises, and then there’s watching one A-list star smack another in the face during Hollywood’s biggest night. The 92th Academy Awards was a spectacle that won’t soon be forgotten, in part due to some noteworthy wins for actors like Ariana DeBose and films like CODA, but, at least in the short term, mostly because of Will Smith and Chris Rock.
The Academy and the producers were committed to making a compelling TV product that stayed under three hours, and while they didn’t quite deliver on the latter, they certainly lucked into the former. Beyond the face-five itself, other noteworthy moments included powerhouse musical performances from Beyoncé and Billie Eilish, a solid showing by the trio of first-time hosts, and a more celebratory in memoriam segment complete with a rousing gospel choir.
Below are some of the big takeaways from this year’s show, as well as yet another breakdown of the slap seen ‘round the world.
Beyoncé opened the show in stunning fashion.
King Richard is going to be remembered as one of the two defining movies of the 2022 Oscars (more on that later), so in retrospect, it’s fitting the ceremony began with Beyoncé performing her song “Be Alive.” The much-hyped performance saw the singer and a slew of dancers clad in elegant, tennis ball yellow dresses on the Compton tennis courts where the Williams sisters famously learned to play the sport they would come to dominate.
The performance also featured a clever musical allusion to Compton’s own Dr. Dre, as the unmistakable “Nuthin’ But a G Thang” melody was blended into the live rendition. Always an animated performer, Beyoncé particularly stunned on the soaring final chorus.
Though she didn’t take home Best Original Song, losing out on the award to Billie Eilish’s “No Time to Die,” Beyoncé’s triumphant performance was easily one of the evening’s highlights.
The hosting hodgepodge worked better than expected.
The role of Academy Awards host has felt increasingly snakebit in recent years, to the point that the previous three ceremonies simply opted for no MC at all. For 2022, the show brought in the somewhat surprising combination of Regina Hall, Wanda Sykes, and Amy Schumer, marking the first time three women had hosted, as well as the first time there were three hosts in more than 30 years.
Though there were some hiccups, the trio of Hollywood veterans largely acquitted themselves well. A Hall bit where she gave Jason Momoa a “COVID patdown,” was an ace moment of physical comedy, while Schumer delivered several clever quips during her opening monologue.
“I’m Amy Schumer, or as they know me in Hollywood, ‘Melissa McCarthy said no,’” she joked, later poking fun at the middling critical response to multi-nominee Don’t Look UP. (She also did a pretty commendable job reacting to the Will Smith slap in real time.)
The three also had an excellent costume skit, where Sykes appeared onstage dressed as Richard Williams, Hall showed up as Tammy Faye Bakker (“I always wanted to play a crazy white lady”), and Schumer dangled from the ceiling dressed as Spider-Man.