Questlove, Will Smith & More 2022 Oscar Record-Setters


CODA won best picture at the 94th annual Academy Awards, which were presented Sunday (March 27) at the Dolby Theatre in Hollywood. The feel-good movie, directed by Siân Heder, is the third film directed by a woman to win best picture. Nomadland, directed by Chloé Zhao, won last year. The Hurt Locker, directed by Kathryn Bigelow, won 12 years ago.


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Heder won an Oscar for best adapted screenplay, but she wasn’t even nominated for best director. CODA is the third film in the past decade to win best picture without its director being nominated for best director. It follows Argo, directed by Ben Affleck (2012); and Green Book, directed by Peter Farrelly (2018).

Prior to the past decade, only three other films in all of Oscar history had won best picture without their directors being nominated. They were: Wings, directed by William A. Wellman (1927/28); Grand Hotel, directed by Edmund Goulding (1931/32); and Driving Miss Daisy, directed by Bruce Beresford (1989). For whatever reason or combination of reasons, this trend is picking up steam.

Here are more fun facts about the 2022 Oscars.

Summer of Soul won best documentary feature: Ahmir “Questlove” Thompson won for directing the film, which makes a strong case that this concert event, held in Harlem in the summer of 1969 – the same summer as Woodstock — was unjustly overshadowed. It won the same Oscar that Woodstock won 51 years ago. Summer of Soul (Or, When the Revolution Could Not Be Televised) — the film’s full title — is the first music-themed film to win in this category since Amy, a documentary about Amy Winehouse, six years ago.

In accepting the award, an emotional Questlove noted that it was a movie that his mother, who accompanied him to the Oscars, and his late father should have been able to take him to the movie when he was five years old, but because it wasn’t released, they didn’t have that opportunity. “This is about marginalized people in Harlem that needed to heal from pain. Just know that in 2022 this is not just a 1969 story about marginalized people in Harlem,” he said, before being too overcome with emotion to continue speaking.

Encanto won best animated feature: It’s the fifth film released by Walt Disney Animation Studios to win in this category (which was introduced in 2001). It follows Frozen, Big Hero 6, Zootopia and last year’s Soul. (This doesn’t count 10 winning films released through Pixar Animation Studios.)

Hans Zimmer won for best original score for Dune:. In so doing, he set a record. He waited longer to win his second scoring Oscar than any other composer in history. Zimmer won his first Oscar for best original score 27 years ago for The Lion King. The late Henry Mancini was the former record-holder for having waited the longest to win a second scoring Oscar. Mancini won his first for Breakfast at Tiffany’s (1961) and waited 21 years to win his second, for Victor/Victoria (1982).

Billie Eilish and Finneas won best original song for “No Time to Die”: They are the first siblings to win in this category since Robert B. Sherman and Richard M. Sherman, who won the 1964 award for “Chim Chim Cher-ee” from Mary Poppins. “No Time to Die” from the James Bond film of the same name is the third song from a Bond film to win an Oscar; the first that was written by American songwriters. The first two winners, “Skyfall” and “Writing’s on the Wall,” were both written by pairs of English writers.

Will Smith won best actor for King Richard: Smith is the fifth Black actor to win in this category – the fourth since 2000. Sidney Poitier was the first, for Lilies of the Field (1963). The pace has picked up considerably in this century with Denzel Washington winning for Training Day (2001), Jamie Foxx for Ray (2004), Forest Whitaker for The Last King of Scotland (2006) and now Smith. The last three have won for playing a wide range of real-life characters – music legend Ray Charles, dictator Idi Amin and father and coach Richard Williams.

Smith stepped on his own widely expected moment of triumph by overreacting to a joke Chris Rock told about his wife, Jada Pinkett Smith. Smith walked up to the stage during Rock’s remarks and appeared to slap him in the face. In his acceptance speech, Smith apologized to the Academy, but not to Rock. He also repeated something he said Denzel Washington had told him, “At your highest moment, be careful. That’s when the devil comes for you.”

Jessica Chastain won best actress for The Eyes of Tammy Faye: She won for playing televangelist Tammy Faye Messner, widely mocked in her time and now seen much more sympathetically. Chastain spoke of Bakker’s strong championship of LGBTQ people, which was revolutionary in evangelical Christian circles at the time. Chastain received her first Oscar nomination for her role in the 2012 film The Help. Chastain is the fifth principal member of that cast to win an Oscar. Octavia Spencer won for that film, Emma Stone for La La Land (2016) Viola Davis for Fences (also 2016), and Allison Janney for I, Tonya (2017).

Ariana DeBose won best supporting actress for West Side Story: Rita Moreno won in the same category 60 years ago for playing the same part, Anita. This is only the third time in Oscar history that two actors have won for playing the same role in different films. Marlon Brando won best actor for playing Vito Corleone in The Godfather (1972). Robert DeNiro won best supporting actor for playing the same role in The Godfather: Part II (1974).  Heath Ledger won best supporting actor for playing The Joker in The Dark Knight (2008). Joaquin Phoenix won best actor for playing the same role in Joker (2020).

Troy Kotsur won best supporting actor for CODA: He’s the second deaf actor to win an Oscar, following Marlee Matlin, who won best actress for Children of a Lesser God 35 years ago.

Jane Campion won best director for The Power of the Dog: This is the second year in a row that a woman has won in this category. As noted above, Chloé Zhao won last year for Nomadland. Only one other woman in Oscar history has won in this category. Kathryn Bigelow won 12 years ago for The Hurt Locker.

Kenneth Branagh won best original screenplay for Belfast: It’s his first Oscar, following five previous nominations – and three more this year for Belfast. Remarkably, Branagh’s eight career nominations have been in seven different categories – an Oscar record. He has been nominated, over the course of his career, for best picture, director (twice), acting (both lead and support), screenplay (both original and adapted), and short film (live action).

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