For movie lovers, there's no bigger night than the Oscars, celebrating movies from the past year, but as time goes on, the Academy Awards ceremony continues to get more and more controversial. This year, the 2022 Oscars are no different.
Beginning with a telecast controversy, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences has decided to not present awards eight categories on television this year. The categories are: original score, film editing, production design, makeup and hairstyling, sound, documentary short, live-action short and animated short.
In a letter sent to Academy President David Rubin, obtained by Variety, Hollywood filmmakers including James Cameron, Guillermo del Toro, John Williams and Kathleen Kennedy requested the decision be reversed to include all categories in the live telecast, stating that this change will "demean" the talented people in these disciplines.
"To diminish any of those individual categories in the pursuit of ratings and short-term profits does irreparable damage to the Academy’s standing as impartial arbiters, responsible stewards of our industry’s most important awards,” the letter reads, according to Variety.
“Seeking new audiences by making the telecast more entertaining is a laudable and important goal, but this cannot be achieved by demeaning the very crafts that, in their most outstanding expressions, make the art of filmmaking worthy of celebration.”
’Power of the Dog’ director slammed
While Jane Campion's The Power of the Dog is largely seen as a front-runner in the awards race, the director was heavily criticized after her "sexist" and "racist" remarks about Venus and Serena Williams at the 2022 Critics Choice Awards.
“Venus and Serena, you’re such marvels,” Campion said. “However, you don’t play against the guys, like I have to.”
This came after Campion called out actor Sam Elliott for “being a little bit of a B-I-T-C-H” for criticizing her movie for not being filmed in the American West and including “allusions to homosexuality.”
my goodness, folks!! appreciate all the support, i really really do. we live in such unprecedented times, and a lot of work behind the scenes goes into making movie magic happen. that goes for film productions (like the one I am so lucky to be currently shooting in london)…
— rachel zegler (she/her/hers) (@rachelzegler) March 20, 2022
Campion's personal drama aside, West Side Story star Rachel Zegler will now be presenting at the ceremony, after a flurry of pushback when fans discovered she never got an invitation for the event, even though the movie is up for Best Picture.
Looking back at history, here are some of the most shocking and controversial moments from the Oscars.
Oscars history of boycotts
Boycotts at the Oscars may have made headlines in recent years but there is a long history of Hollywood stars boycotting the award show.
Back in 1973, Marlon Brando declined his Best Actor award for The Godfather and sent Native American actress Sacheen Littlefeather in his place.
As Roger Moore tries to hand Littlefeather the award, she refuses to take the statue.
“He very regretfully cannot accept this very generous award and the reasons for this being...the treatment of American Indians today, by the film industry…and on television in movie reruns, and also with recent happenings at Wounded Knee,” she said during the ceremony.
“I beg at this time that I have not intruded upon this evening and that we will, in the future, our hearts and our understandings will meet with love and generosity. Thank you on behalf of Marlon Brando.”
Actor George C. Scott famously did not accept his Oscar for Best Actor for his performance in Patton, after previously stating that he would not accept an award from the Academy for his nominated roles in The Hustler (1961) and Anatomy of a Murder (1959).
He called the ceremony “a two-hour meat parade” and “a public display with contrived suspense for economic reasons.”
Fast forward to 2016 when #OscarsSoWhite became the main controversy for the Academy, with a shocking lack of people of colour nominated for awards. That prompted Spike Lee, Will Smith and Jada Pinkett Smith to boycott the event.
In 2017, filmmaker Asghar Farhadi, who was nominated for The Salesman, declined the trip from Iran to the ceremony after then U.S. President Donald Trump’s travel ban, barring people from seven "terror prone" countries.
In a recent interview with the Sunday Times Adrien Brody claims that Jack Nicholson requested that all the other 2003 Best Actor nominees meet up beforehand to talk about possibly boycotting the ceremony, which occurred just after the U.S. invaded Iraq. Brody, Nicolas Cage, Michael Caine and Daniel Day-Lewis all gathered at Nicholson’s home.
“I said, ‘I don’t know about you guys, but I’m going,’” Brody told The Times.
“I said, ‘I kind of have to show up. My parents are coming. This doesn’t come around too often. I know you guys are all winners. You can sit it out. But I can’t.’”
The Oscar streaker
In 1974, the Oscars audience got a shocking surprise when artist and gay rights activist Robert Opel rushed the stage naked.
“That was almost bound to happen,” David Niven who was introducing Elizabeth Taylor at the awards show said, while on stage during the incident. “But isn’t it fascinating to think that probably the only laugh that man will ever get in his life is by stripping off and showing his shortcomings.”
The Opel incident was part of an ongoing performance art piece and in addition to streaking at the Oscars, he also had his own costume for the character of Mr. Penis.
Rob Lowe's bizarre ‘Snow White’ performance
Opening numbers at the Oscars can generally be quite divisive but Rob Lowe got the brunt of it in 1989, participating in an odd duet of “Proud Mary” with Eileen Bowman dressed as Snow White.
“Every February, you will see me on the list of Oscar embarrassments,” Lowe said in an interview on The Jess Cagle Show on SirusXM in 2019. “By the way I want to say, these idiots couldn’t even figure out how to say the best picture two years ago, and I’m still the problem?”
“I’m a midwesterner, which means I am a people pleaser… The idea was every elderly Hollywood star would be wheeled out, legitimately wheeled because a lot of them couldn’t walk, and one of the greatest of all the old time stars would be Snow White, who had the hit box office movie of 1937. But she would be played by a real person and she would sing a lyric-changed version of Ike and Tina Turner’s ‘Rollin' On The River’ in a duet with me. By the way, no one was high when they came up with this."
A letter from 17 Hollywood stars, including Gregory Peck, Julie Andrews and Paul Newman, slammed the performance as “an embarrassment to both the Academy and the entire motion picture industry.”
“It is neither fitting nor acceptable that the best work in motion pictures be acknowledged in such a demeaning fashion,” the letter read.
Angelina Jolie gets too close to her brother
At the crest of Y2K, Angelina Jolie made headlines following the 2000 Oscars, not just for her Best Supporting Actress win for Girl, Interrupted, but for pictures circulating of her kissing her brother, James Haven, on the lips.
“I’m so in love with my brother right now,” Jolie said in her acceptance speech. “He just held me and said he loved me, and I know he’s so happy for me, and thank you for that.”
Following the media frenzy, Jolie snapped back, saying reporters had completely taken the situation out of proportion.
“First, we’re the best of friends. And it wasn’t some odd open-mouthed kiss. It was disappointing that something so beautiful and pure could be turned into a circus,” she told People.
James Franco, Anne Hathaway awkwardly lead awards show
The oddest Oscar host pairing has to be James Franco and Anne Hathaway in 2011.
Right from the start, Franco is mostly just starring blankly into the camera, while Hathaway had to overcompensate and giggle through the awkward event.
“It was like the world’s most uncomfortable blind date between the cool rocker-stoner kid and the adorable theatre-camp cheerleader,” Academy Awards writer David Wild told The Ringer.
In an interview with People, Hathaway revealed she actually turned down the opportunity initially and it was Franco who convinced her to do it.
“He didn’t give me anything,” Hathaway said.
“God, I just remember the night before we’re about to go up there, and me turning to everyone and going, ‘Am I too much? This feels really big to me.’ And the producer just went, ‘No! Don’t do less. Do more if you need to.’ And I was like, ‘Oh okay, I guess it’s going great.’ And I didn’t realize what was happening about that whole thing.”
Is it 'Moonlight,' is it 'La La Land'?
One of the most memorable Oscars moments happened in 2017 when we could barely figure out what film actually won Best Picture.
When everyone involved in the Damien Chazelle movie La La Land (starring Ryan Gosling, Emma Stone) went on stage to accept the award for Best Picture, weird looks started to be exchanged. Eventually, someone in a headset came on stage, looked at two envelopes, and eventually La La Land producer Jordan Horowitz revealed there was a mistake and Moonlight actually won, holding up the card revealing the true winner.
Then Warren Beatty, who presented the award with Faye Dunaway, got on the microphone and said he “opened the envelope and it said Emma Stone, La La Land, that’s why I took such a long look at Faye and at you, I wasn’t trying to be funny.”
No matter how many times we watch this clip, it’s still awkward.
Massive Chadwick Boseman snub in 2021
The 2021 Oscars ceremony ended with a massive shock, largely seen as a one of the biggest snubs in the award show's history, when Anthony Hopkins won the Best Actor award for The Father over the late Chadwick Boseman for his role in the movie Ma Rainey's Black Bottom.
It was particularly surprising when the whole category order was rearranged last year to make Best Actor the last award of the night, versus Best Picture, with many assuming it was because Boseman would receive the award, shortly after he died at the age of 43 after battling cancer.