The Oscars aired last Sunday, and it’s safe to say a majority of us would not have given it second thought or even known about the ceremony taking place if it weren’t for one split second of the night. Will Smith won best actor, but we’re unsure which performance it was for at this point. The jolt of a slap given to Chris Rock by Smith was the talk of the night and beyond. And while riveting, it seems to have taken away from so many more historic moments from that evening. Here are 4 notable things you missed from Oscar Sunday while the media was glued to the slap.
“CODA” Wins Best Picture
This Apple TV+ film bought at Sundance, was the first movie with a predominately deaf cast to be nominated, let alone win, the category. The film centers a deaf family, with 17 year old Ruby being the only hearing member of the family. It follows her artistic aspirations while helping her family keep their business afloat.
This was a huge celebration within the deaf community. First of all, actual deaf people being cast for deaf roles should be expected but reads as a huge deal for Hollywood. Secondly, closed captions being a part of the viewer experience was something especially unique. It might seem quite small to hearing audiences, but was a way many deaf viewers said they felt seen and like the film was truly for them.
Because of the film’s nomination, the Oscars even made changes such a these to make a more comfortable experience for deaf viewers. The full award ceremony was offered in ASL (American Sign Language) and interpreters were present with the cast as they won best picture.
Additionally, Troy Kostur won best supporting actor, becoming the first deaf man to win the category. The beautiful companionship of fellow actors and nominees in the room waving their hands up as he won, (signaling a deaf clap) as well as Amy Shumer referring to the film in ASL during her opening monologue, has shown optimism towards the future of Hollywood and Inclusivity.
Samuel L Jackson Wins His First Oscar Ever
The legendary Samuel L Jackson received his first ever Oscar that night, long awaited. He has appeared in almost any franchise you can think of. Star Wars, Avengers, and Jurassic Park as well as classics like Pulp Fiction and Coach Carter. At 73 years old and appearing in over 150 movies, well deserved is an understatement. But to top it all off, his award was presented by longtime friend and fellow beloved actor Denzel Washington. This was deemed as a special moment specifically for black men as addressed on social media.
Ariana DeBose Wins Best Actress
Ariana DeBose became the first Latinx women to win an Oscar in over 50 years, and the 2nd Latina Oscar winner ever. She was recognized for her performance as Anita in Steven Spielbergs “West Side Story.” Rita Moreno, who was the first Oscar winning Latina for the same role back in 1962, was there, and thanked by DeBose during her moving speech. She made it known in the acceptance speech that she is the first openly queer woman of color to win an Oscar, adding more celebration to the already historic night.
Jane Campion Wins Best Director
Jane Campion became the 3rd woman in Oscars History to win best director, as well as the first woman to be nominated twice. Her win was followed by a standing ovation, and kisses from her fellow nominees. Her film “Power of The Dog” was up for 12 nominations, with many wins under its belt already. Winning Golden Globes, BAFTAs, and Critics Choice Awards, Campion has truly paved a way for upcoming female directors.
The 2021 Oscars Ceremony was the most diverse Oscars ever, with a record breaking 9 actors of color taking an award home. This year too did not disappoint, and with all the media attention surrounding the smack, it’s important to not overlook the historic firsts for many communities in this industry.