Major changes mark the return of the Academy Awards

Actress Emilia Jones signs “I really love you” in the movie CODA. CODA is nominated for Best Picture at the 2022 Academy Awards (Photo courtesy of

Alexis Cornett, Editor in Chief

A staple of the film awards circuit, the Academy Awards are the pinnacle of old Hollywood glitz and glamor. Actors and actresses adorned with jewels and silk grace our screens each year on the legendary red carpet. Change has been slow-coming since the first Oscar was presented more than 90 years ago, with lack of diversity being one of the main issues. With this in mind, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences has made several large changes to the 2022 ceremony in hopes of modernizing the Academy Awards. 

After going three years without a host, the 2022 Academy Awards will now have three hosts for the 2022 ceremony. Comedians Amy Schumer, Regina Hall and Wanda Sykes will each be leading one of the three “acts” of the show, according to Vogue

In addition to a host, another new development is the introduction of the Oscars Fan Favorite Award. Twitter users could vote for their favorite film released in the past year, with the winner set to be announced during the ceremony. Popular films like Marvel’s Spider-Man: No Way Home and Amazon Prime’s Cinderella are among the top contenders for this new award. This seems to be another, albeit cheesy, marketing strategy by the Academy to bring in a fresh wave of viewers. 

One of the most controversial changes to the 2022 Academy Awards ceremony is the removal of eight award categories from the live broadcast. These categories include film editing, makeup and hairstyling, original score, production design, sound, documentary short subject, animated short and live-action short. 

In a letter to the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, Academy President David Rubin detailed the reasoning behind this change, “We must prioritize the television audience to increase viewer engagement and keep the show vital, kinetic, and relevant. This has been an important focus of discussion for quite some time.” 

Initially proposed in 2019, removing categories from the live broadcast had been vehemently criticized as diminishing the work of the artists in these areas. The Academy quickly reversed their position three years ago, but they have yet to budge on their decision this year. 

The plan is to present these awards in the hour before the ceremony and incorporate parts of this presentation into the live broadcast according to the LA Times. The long-winded ceremony is due for an added level of entertainment, but this adjustment did not even alter the lengthy three-hour run-time. It has yet to be seen what will replace these categories during the broadcast, but for now, this change has wrought more harm than good. 

Unfortunately for the Academy Awards, COVID -19 worsened their already struggling viewership ratings. According to CNBC, viewership in 2021 dropped by a staggering 56% from 2020’s broadcast. Viewership peaked for the Academy Awards in 1998 with 55.25 million viewers, over two decades later, only 10.4 million Americans tuned into last year’s event.

Several controversies in recent years have plagued the Academy Awards and contributed to their diminishing audience size. The #OscarsSoWhite Twitter campaign criticized the overwhelmingly white and male Oscar nominees, while comedian Kevin Hart stepped down as the host in 2019 after a series of homophobic tweets resurfaced. 

Last year’s ceremony saw significant improvement in the area of diversity: Chloe Zhau became the second woman to win best director and Korean actress Youn Yuh-Jung and black actor Daniel Kaluuya won their respective Best Supporting Actress/ Actor categories. After a record-breaking nine actors of color were nominated in 2021, only four actors of color were nominated this year, according to Variety

This comes on the heels of the cancellation of the 2022 Golden Globes live broadcast after the Hollywood Foreign Press Association’s lack of black members sparked an outcry of anger. The Academy has focused on broadening its viewership this year, but must maintain its commitment to representation. 

With reduced COVID-19 safety protocols, the past year has seen several films flourish in the areas of acting, directing and producing. 

Director Jane Campion on the set of The Power of the Dog. Only two other women have won the Academy Award for Best Director (Photo courtesy of

After the 2022 Academy Award nominations were announced on Feb. 8, Netflix’s The Power of the Dog garnered 12 nominations, the most out of any film this year. The Power of the Dog follows Benedict Cumberbatch’s Phil Burbank, a hardened Western rancher, and his relationship with his brother’s new wife and son. The Power of the Dog is one of the front-runners for the Best Picture race, and after her Golden Globe and BAFTA win, director Jane Campion is leading the Best Director race. If Campion is victorious, it would be the first time in Oscar history that two women won back -to-back Best Director awards. In a tight Best Supporting Actor race, Kodi Smit-McPhee has potential after receiving the Golden Globe for Best Supporting Actor. 

Apple’s CODA analyzes the relationship between Ruby, a passionate singer, and her deaf parents. After a surprise Best Ensemble win at the SAG Awards, CODA is right next to The Power of the Dog in the Best Picture category. Neck-and-neck with Smit-McPhee for the Best Supporting Actor trophy, Troy Kotsur was awarded the BAFTA and SAG award for Best Supporting Actor for his role as Frank, Ruby’s father. 

Actress Ariana DeBose played the role of Anita in West Side Story. DeBose was the first openly queer actor of color to be nominated for an Academy Award (Photo courtesy of

Steven Spielberg’s West Side Story remake is the quintessential Spielberg production with big musical numbers and vivid cinematography. Rival gangs the Jets and the Sharks feud over their New York City neighborhood in the late 50s. While it certainly has the possibility of receiving Best Picture, it’s far more likely that first-time nominee and openly queer actress Ariana DeBose will take home an Oscar for Best Supporting Actress for her turn as Anita. It was in this very same role that Rita Moreno was awarded her Oscar in 1962. 

In King Richard, Will Smith’s portrayal of the titular Richard Williams, father of tennis stars Serena and Venus Williams, is the favorite for the Best Actor race. King Richard’s poignant family story has also set it on a path towards possible Best Picture victory. 

Other films such as Dune, Belfast, Don’t Look Up, Nightmare Alley, Licorice Pizza and Drive My Car could all make a surprising jump for the Best Picture award. 

After finally being able to return to movie theaters, moviegoers and film lovers alike were immersed into the world of cinema. A plethora of phenomenal performances and films will be honored at this year’s Academy Awards on Sunday, March 27 at 8 pm.