How are audiences trashing the 2022 Oscars? Let us count the ways ...

Tony Hawk, Kelly Slater and Shaun White burst into laughter onstage at the 94th Academy Awards
Tony Hawk, Kelly Slater and Shaun White share a laugh at the 94th Academy Awards.
(Myung Chun/Los Angeles Times)

Even before Will Smith’s onstage assault of Chris Rock at the Academy Awards on Sunday decidedly changed the vibe of Hollywood’s biggest night, sharp criticism of the telecast flew fast and furious from viewers at home and industry insiders alike.

Complaints began well before the Oscars hit the air, when eight categories relegated to an untelevised preshow by producer Will Packer were awarded with less fanfare than usual.

As winners in editing, makeup and hairstyling, production design, score, sound, animated short, documentary short and live-action short took the stage, the academy’s own Twitter account did not immediately post the news, leaving movie fans to learn about winners from the tweets of journalists and filmmakers inside the Dolby Theatre.


“Knives Out” director Rian Johnson tweeted: “I knew this was absolute bulls—, but the full metric volume of bulls— is only landing for me now, as I refresh my twitter feed to see what craftspeople are winning oscars while a red carpet fashion show plays on ABC.”

The eight winners in the preshow ceremony were later edited into the telecast, but their full speeches were cut down. Onstage comments by live-action short winner Riz Ahmed made it to the telecast, but his co-director for “The Long Goodbye,” Aneil Karia, did not.

Some viewers noted the awkward telecast editing and lack of suspense during the announcement of these winners; others questioned just how much time producers saved by changing the show format. “Why not just have the winners just say their speech live if you’re gonna play damn near the entire thing,” tweeted director Matthew Cherry, who got his moment onstage as the winner of the 2020 Oscar for the animated short film “Hair Love.” “That pre-show move was some bulls—.”

Throughout the telecast, viewers also clocked cringe-inducing music cues. Toto’s “Africa” played for presenters Daniel Kaluuya and H.E.R. as the Black performers walked onstage. “Vivir Mi Vida” by Puerto Rican American singer Marc Anthony played with the animated feature winner “Encanto,” which is set in Colombia.

To present the animated feature category, three live-action Disney princesses took the stage — and proceeded to imply that animated films were only for kids. “So many kids watch these films over and over...” said “Cinderella” star Lily James, echoed by soon-to-be “Little Mermaid” Halle Bailey. “I see some parents out there know exactly what we’re talking about,” said “Aladdin” actor Naomi Scott.

“Super cool to position animation as something that kids watch and adults have to endure,” tweeted Oscar-winning “Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse” filmmaker Phil Lord, an animated feature co-nominee again this year for “The Mitchells vs. the Machines.”


Several speeches ran long, but whoever was manning the “wrap up” button in the Oscars control room faced the wrath of viewers offended by the early music play-off for Japanese director Ryûsuke Hamaguchi as he accepted the award for international feature for his critically acclaimed drama “Drive My Car.” Hamaguchi waved off the music and proceeded to thank his cast. (The film was also nominated for best picture, director and adapted screenplay.)

The show ostensibly moved technical and short film winners to the pre-show as a time-saving measure, and yet the telecast devoted precious minutes to honoring the James Bond franchise, the 30th anniversary of “White Men Can’t Jump” and the academy’s inaugural Twitter polls for “Oscars Fan Favorite” and “Oscars Cheer Moment.”

The No. 1 “Oscars Cheer Moment” in particular inspired many a mocking tweet for the winner: The Flash Speed Force scene from “Zack Snyder’s Justice League.”

“Where were you when the Flash entered the speed force?” Tweeted “Jeopardy” host Ken Jennings.

And in a telecast featuring fewer political moments than expected, the ways in which the war in Ukraine was mentioned, and not mentioned, drew puzzled reactions.

As Mila Kunis took the stage to present Reba McIntyre’s performance of the song nominee “Somehow You Do” from her film “Four Good Days,” many expected the Ukrainian-born actor, who recently raised more than $30 million for Ukrainian refugees, to mention Ukraine by name — but she did not.


“Recent global events have left many of us feeling gutted,” she said, “yet when you witness the strength and dignity of those faced with such devastation, it’s impossible to not be moved by their resilience.”

The brief statement was soon followed by an expression of solidarity few watching were expecting: a moment of silence and onscreen text expressing support for the people of Ukraine. That was followed by a ad calling for donations for the relief effort.

The Will Smith moment stole the Oscars, while ‘CODA,’ Ariana DeBose and Troy Kotsur all made history.

March 27, 2022