With CODA’s win, Apple TV became the first streamer to win Best Picture.
Marlee Maitlin, Kotsur’s co-star from CODA, was the first-ever deaf actor to win an Oscar, back in 1986.
“I want to thank all the deaf theatre stages where I was allowed to develop my skill,” Kotsur said in American Sign Language. He also thanked Heder, and said, “You brought the deaf world and the hearing world together. You are our bridge.”
Kotsur went on to add, “This is dedicated to the deaf community, the CODA community, the disabled community. This is our moment!”
“This was an independent film, and it was incredibly hard to get made,” Heder said while accepting the Best Adapted Screenplay award. “Writing and making this movie was truly life-changing as an artist and as a human being. I want to thank all the collaborators in the deaf community and the CODA community for being my teachers.”
The 94th Oscars, held at the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles, also saw a few other firsts.
Jane Campion, who earlier became the first woman to be nominated twice for the Best Director Oscar, won the award for The Power of the Dog, thus marking the first time that female directors have taken the title for two consecutive years. Oscars 2021 saw Chloe Zhao win the Best Director award for Nomadland.
“In this business, we’ve got to be able to have people disrespecting you, and you’ve got to smile and pretend like that’s okay,” Smith said.
The actor also apologised in his winning speech for having hit Chris Rock, earlier in the evening, for cracking a joke on his wife Jada Pinkett-Smith. “I want to apologise to the Academy. I want to apologise to all my fellow nominees,” he said.
Ariana DeBose won the Best Supporting Actress honour for her role as Anita in Steven Spielberg’s musical adaptation West Side Story, making her only the second Latina actress to win an Oscar. Interestingly, Rita Moreno was the first Latina actress to win an Oscar, for playing Anita in the 1961 adaptation of the musical.
DeBose is also the first Afro-Latina queer woman to win the honour. Accepting her Oscar, she said, “You see an openly queer woman of color, an Afro-Latina, who found her strength and life through art. And that is, I think, what we’re here to celebrate. So if anyone has ever questioned your identity, I promise you this — there is indeed a place for us.”
The Best Actress award was bagged by Jessica Chastain for her performance in the film The Eyes of Tammy Faye. Chastain took the chance to throw light on the menace of suicide in the US, and the crisis in Ukraine. “Suicide is a leading cause of death in the United States. It’s touched many families as it has touched mine. Especially, members of the LGBTQ community, who oftentimes feel out of place with their peers. We are 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 said in her acceptance speech.
Ryusuke Hamaguchi’s road-drama Drive My Car won the Oscar in the International Feature Film category. The film, which was also nominated for Best Picture, revolves around a stage actor and director who takes up a job shortly after his wife’s death.
Disney’s Encanto won the Best Animated Feature Film award, besting the Danish film Flee, which failed to convert any of its three nominations.
Billie Eilish and brother Finneas O’ Connell won their first ever Oscar for the track, No Time to Die, from the 25th James Bond film of the same name.
The Academy also paid tribute to a few films, including The Godfather, which marks its 50th anniversary this year. Director Francis Ford Coppola and actors Robert De Niro and Al Pacino graced the stage.
The days following up to the Oscars were ridden with controversies, including actor Rachel Zegler not being invited as a guest. Netizens had criticised the Academy for inviting DJ Khaled and athlete Shaun White, while leaving out Zegler, who starred in West Side Story. The Academy later added her to the list of presenters.
The Academy had also announced the exclusion of eight categories, namely Documentary (Short Subject), Film Editing, Makeup and Hairstyling, Music (Original Score), Production Design, Short Film (Animated), Short Film (Live Action), and Sound, from the live telecast.
Following heavy backlash from industry members and netizens alike, Academy President David Rubin clarified in an email that the in-person ceremony would begin an hour earlier than the broadcast and these eight awards would be presented before the live telecast and then edited into the live televised show.
However, dissatisfaction still persisted. Over 80 sound artists signed a petition last week to oppose the Academy’s decision, and said that they would wear their guild badges upside down in silent protest.
The Oscars broadcast included no mention of this controversy.
The show was broadcast live on Star World channels and on Disney+ Hotstar in India. The event was hosted by Regina Hall, Amy Schumer, and Wanda Sykes.