The Oscars’ first-ever preshow ceremony was brisk, banterless and dreary

Two people stand onstage, one holding an Oscar and speaking into a microphone
“Dune” production designer Patrice Vermette and set designer Zsuzsanna Sipos accept the award for production design for “Dune” during the show at the 94th Academy Awards.
(Myung Chun/Los Angeles Times)

Not all of the Oscar winners accepted their awards on live TV this year.

In a dramatic break from decades of Oscar tradition, eight awards were presented in the hour before the telecast begins at 5 p.m. on ABC. These awards — in the craft categories of film editing, makeup and hairstyling, production design, original score, and sound, as well as the three short-film categories — were honored exclusively inside the Dolby Theatre in Hollywood.

“Dune” co-stars Josh Brolin and Jason Momoa emceed the hour and handled the presentations. The winners were announced on social media as they were revealed in the theater, and then clips of acceptance speeches were edited into the official Oscar broadcast.

‘CODA’ became a feel-good best picture winner and Jessica Chastain triumphed for ‘Tammy Faye,’ but all was overshadowed by best actor winner Will Smith.

March 27, 2022

The decision caused significant controversy in the movie business. Prominent nominees including Steven Spielberg, Jane Campion, Denis Villeneuve and Guillermo del Toro denounced the plan, and many believe the decision makes the affected categories look like second (or third? fourth?) tier races.


Ahead of the ceremony, Oscars telecast producer Will Packer promised, “I want these [nominees] to be able to give their speeches and have their moment on that stage in front of their peers ... in terms of the actual show, and treating those categories with the respect and putting them in the right position, all that’s going to happen.”

Ahead of the preshow, stars arrived on the carpet, including Zendaya, of “Dune”; Ariana DeBose, who won for supporting actress honor for her turn in “West Side Story”; and Jessica Chastain, who won best actress for her role in “The Eyes of Tammy Faye.” Earlier this month, Chastain said in an interview that she would “absolutely be present when the makeup category is being called, and if that means I’m not doing press on the red carpet or ABC or whatever it is, then so be it.”

2022 Oscar winners full list, including ‘CODA,’ ‘Dune’ and Will Smith

March 27, 2022

Around 3:40 p.m., the red carpet frenzy slowed down. Nominees and guests stopped near the top of the stairs leading into the Dolby Theatre for a break before going inside. While the venue was decked out with ample hand sanitizer stations reading “be kind, stay safe,” hardly anyone inside was wearing a mask. With guests standing close to one another and servers darting back and forth, empty wine glasses in tow, the mood felt almost pre-pandemic. Anthony Hopkins, Ashton Kutcher, Ava DuVernay, Billie Eilish, Javier Bardem, Mila Kunis, Penélope Cruz and Queen Latifah were among the stars spotted arriving on the red carpet after the preshow began.

Minutes before the untelevised event, the bar temporarily closed and guests began rushing to their seats. Right at 4 p.m., the Dolby went quiet as the lights dimmed. After a 30-second countdown, the preshow ceremony kicked off. Hosts Brolin and Momoa took the stage. Momoa said he’d be “addressing the elephant in the room” given the unusual year, then went on to crack wise about how the Academy didn’t ask Billy Crystal to host but rather Aquaman.

The first award was given to “Dune,” which won the Oscar for achievement in sound and elicited big cheers from the crowd. That moment, like the others in the untelevised show, played strangely in the telecast later on, appearing sped up and edited awkwardly. There was little excitement inside the room, since winners had already been announced on social media.

All told, “Dune” swept four of the eight awards in the untelevised ceremony: Hans Zimmer won for best original score for the film. (Zimmer wasn’t present to accept the award, so Momoa accepted on his behalf.) Joe Walker clinched the best editing honor for “Dune” as well. “The words ‘Oscar-nominated’ can be used in the hands of a skilled 17-year-old, as an insult,” said Walker, who, by referencing his kids in his acceptance speech, scored the first real laugh of the night. And “Dune” won once again for production design.


Ahead of the untelevised events, it was thought that honorees might protest the change from the Academy. But the acceptance speeches lacked the subversive element that many anticipated. A rare exception: While accepting the award for “The Queen of Basketball,” director Ben Proudfoot used his speech to implore President Biden to bring home Brittany Griner, the WNBA star who was arrested at a Moscow airport when vape cartridges were allegedly found in her luggage in February.

Our picks for the best, most surprising and otherwise unforgettable looks on the Oscars red carpet.

March 27, 2022

In their speeches, neither the hosts nor honorees directly referenced the fact that these awards were untelevised. What’s more, jokes and witty banter were scant. The bland ceremony moved along at a staggering clip and took all of 30 minutes to complete. The emotion, surprise and charm that are a hallmark of craft category speeches were absent.

When the final award for hair and makeup was announced, the crowd immediately rose to its feet. Guests all but ran to the doors, before the televised broadcast was set to begin.