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The cast and crew of CODA accept the award for best picture at the Oscars on Sunday, March 27, 2022, at the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles.Chris Pizzello/The Associated Press

CODA has won best picture at the Oscars. The small, coming-of-age film about the only hearing member in a family of deaf adults written and directed by Sian Heder took the top prize over bigger-budget contenders at the Academy Awards on Sunday night.

The win might have been considered a major upset when the nominations were announced on Feb. 22, but CODA gained momentum and buzz throughout awards season, and took top awards at the Screen Actors Guild and Producers Guild awards.

The Oscar is also a big victory for Apple, which becomes the first streaming service to win the best picture crown after several years of vying for the prize alongside Netflix and Amazon.

The 94th Academy Awards steadily maintained a buoyant spirit but was rocked by an unbelievable exchange after Will Smith took offence to a joke made by Chris Rock about his wife, Jada Pinkett Smith.

After Mr. Rock joked to Mr. Smith that he was looking forward to a sequel to G.I. Jane, Mr. Smith stood up from his seat near the stage, strode up to Mr. Rock and slapped him. After sitting back down, Mr. Smith shouted at Mr. Rock. When Mr. Rock, who joked about Jada Pinkett Smith while hosting the Oscars in 2016, protested that it was just a GI Jane joke, Mr. Smith repeated the same expletive.

“That was the greatest night in the history of television,” Mr. Rock said, before awkwardly returning to presenting best documentary, which went to Questlove’s Summer of Soul.

Later in the ceremony, a tearful Mr. Smith won the best actor Oscar, his first.

“I know to do what we do, you got to be able to take abuse. You got to be able to have people talk crazy about you in this business. You got to be able to have people disrespecting you and you got to smile and you got pretend like that’s OK,” Mr. Smith said.

The moment shocked the Dolby Theatre audience and viewers at home. At the commercial break, presenter Daniel Kaluuya came up to to hug Mr. Smith, and Denzel Washington escorted him to the side of the stage. The two talked and hugged and Tyler Perry came over to talk as well.

Up until that moment, the show had been running fairly smoothly. Ariana DeBose became the first Afro-Latina to win an Academy Award for supporting actress, while Troy Kotsur became the first deaf actor to win an acting award.

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Jane Campion, walks off stage after accepting the award for best director for The Power of the Dog at the Oscars.Chris Pizzello/The Associated Press

Jane Campion won the Oscar best director for The Power of the Dog, her open-plains psychodrama that twisted and upended western conventions. Ms. Campion, who had been the first woman ever twice nominated in the category (previously for 1993′s The Piano), is only the third woman to win best director. It’s also the first time the directing award has ever gone to women in back-to-back years, after Nomadland filmmaker Chloe Zhao won last year.

Jessica Chastain won the Oscar for best lead actress for her mascara-laden title role as the on-air preaching partner and wife of Christian televangelist Jim Bakker in The Eyes of Tammy Faye, chronicling the couple’s rise and fall.

The Oscar triumph for Ms. Chastain, 45, virtually unrecognizable in heavy makeup as Tammy Faye Bakker, followed a Screen Actors Guild Award for her performance and capped the third Academy Award nomination of her career.

After record-low ratings during a pandemic-marred 2021, show producers this year turned to one of the biggest stars around – Beyonce – to kick off an Oscars intended to revive the awards’ place in pop culture. After an introduction from Venus and Serena Williams, Beyonce performed her King Richard nominated song, “Be Alive,” in an elaborately choreographed performance from a lime-coloured, open-air stage in Compton, where the Williams sisters grew up.

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Will Smith accepts the award for Best Actor in a Leading Role for King Richard on stage during the 94th Oscars.ROBYN BECK/AFP/Getty Images

Hosts Wanda Sykes, Amy Schumer and Regina Hall then began the telecast from the Dolby Theatre.

“All right, we are here at the Oscars,” began Ms. Hall. Ms. Sykes finished: “Where movie lovers unite and watch TV.”

The three hosts breezily joked through prominent Hollywood issues like pay equity – they said three female hosts were “cheaper than one man” – the Lady Gaga drama that Ms. Sykes called “House of Random Accents,” the state of the Golden Globes (now relegated to the memoriam package, said Ms. Sykes) and Leonardo DiCaprio’s girlfriends. Their most pointed political point came at the end of their routine, in which they promised a great night and then alluded to Florida’s “Don’t Say Gay” bill.

“And for you people in Florida, we’re going to have a gay night,” said Ms. Sykes.

The first broadcast award went, fittingly, to Ariana DeBose, who became the first openly LGBTQ actor and first Latina to win best supporting actress. Her win came 60 years after Rita Moreno won for the same role in the 1961 original West Side Story. Ms DeBose thanked Ms. Moreno for leading the way for “tons of Anitas like me.”

“You see an openly queer woman of colour, an Afro-Latina, who found her strength and life through art. And that is, I think, what we’re here to celebrate,” said Ms. DeBose. “So if anyone has ever questioned your identity or you find yourself living in the grey spaces, I promise you this – there is indeed a place for us.”

Later, Mr. Kotsur became the first male deaf actor to ever win an acting Oscar, and joined his CODA co-star Marlee Matlin at the only deaf actors to win an Academy Award. He received a standing ovation while many in the Dolby gave the Deaf clap, waving both hands in the air.

“This is for the deaf community, the CODA community and the disabled community,” said Mr. Kotsur, signing from the stage. “This is our moment.”

Encanto, the Disney hit propelled by its chart-topping soundtrack, won best animated film. Lin-Manuel Miranda, who penned the film’s hit songs, missed the ceremony after his wife tested positive for COVID-19. Ryusuke Hamaguchi’s three-hour Japanese drama Drive My Car, one of the year’s most acclaimed films, won for best international film.

The Academy Awards got under way Sunday off-camera, with the first eight awards on the night being handed out at the Dolby Theatre before the start of the ABC telecast. The Dolby was largely full in time for the 7 p.m. EDT pre-show, dubbed the “golden hour” by the academy. Speeches were later edited into the broadcast.

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Best Supporting Actress winner Ariana DeBose poses with her Oscar in the photo room during the 94th Academy Awards.MARIO ANZUONI/Reuters

It was a strange and controversial beginning to the first fully in-person Oscars in two years. Earlier this month, more than 70 Oscar winners, including James Cameron, Kathleen Kennedy and Guillermo del Toro, warned that the shift would turn some nominees into “second-class citizens.”

Dune got out to an early lead it was likely to keep through the night, winning six Oscars for its majestic craft. The biggest blockbusters of this year’s 10 best-picture nominees, Dune won for production design, cinematography, editing, visual effects, sound and Hans Zimmer’s score. Though it’s not favoured in the top awards, Dune was widely expected to clean up in the technical categories.

Greig Fraser’s cinematography win denied one chance for Oscar history. Some had been rooting for Ari Wenger, who lensed Jane Campion’s The Power of the Dog, to become the first woman to win best cinematography, the sole Oscar category that has never been won by a woman in the Academy Awards’ nine decade-plus history

Best makeup and hairstyling went to Linda Dowds, Stephanie Ingram and Justin Raleigh for The Eyes of Tammy Faye. That film’s star and producer, Jessica Chastain, had been among the many academy members who thought all the awards should have been handed out live during the broadcast. Ms. Chastain hugged each winner as they took the stage.

“I just hope that each and every day on set everyone takes a moment to just look around and look at all those talented people who work hard,” said Ms. Dowds, the makeup artist.

The Queen of Basketball, about the basketball great Lusia Harris, took best short documentary film. Its executive producers include Steph Curry and Shaquille O’Neal. Best animated short went to The Windshield Wiper, while The Long Goodbye, a blistering fictional short starring Riz Ahmed, took best fiction short.

“This is for everyone who feels like they’re stuck in No Man’s Land,” said Mr. Ahmed. “You’re not alone. We’ll meet you there.”

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Filmmaker Ben Proudfoot accepts the Documentary Short Subject Award for The Queen of Basketball on stage during the 94th Annual Academy Awards.Neilson Barnard/Getty Images

But after two years of pandemic, and beneath a warm California sun Sunday, a Hollywood rite of glamour again got into swing, with a jammed red carpet and a COVID-19-tested audience. The early hour of awards was one of many shifts, both slight and tectonic, around this year’s ceremony. After a socially distanced 2021 edition, the Academy Awards sought to recapture their exalted place in pop culture with a revamped telecast that’s expected to see a streaming service win best picture for the first time.

The film industry recovered significantly from the pandemic in 2021, but despite one of the biggest hits in years in Spider-Man: No Way Home, the rebound has been fitful. The global movie industry sold about half the tickets last year as it did two years ago, $21.3-billion in 2021 compared to $42.3-billion in 2019, according to the Motion Picture Association. Hollywood pushed more of its top films directly into homes than ever before; half of this year’s 10 best-picture nominees were streamed at or very near release.

Then there were the challenges of commanding worldwide attention for a night of Hollywood self-congratulation after two years of pandemic and while Russia’s war ravages Ukraine. Some stars, like Sean Penn, have lobbied the academy to have Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky speak at the ceremony. A small number of blue ribbons supporting Ukraine could be seen on the red carpet.

Behind the telecast changes was alarm over the Oscars fast-falling ratings. While drops have been common to all major network award shows, last year’s show attracted only about 10 million viewers, less than half of the 23.6 million the year before. A decade ago, it was closer to 40 million.

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