2022 Academy Awards: ‘CODA’ wins three Oscars, including Best Picture; ‘Dune’ wins six Oscars

March 27, 2022

by Carla Hay

Members of the “CODA” team at the 94th annual Academy Awards at the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles on March 27, 2022. Pictured from left to right: producer Patrick Wachsberger, actor Eugenios Derbez, writer/director Siân Heder, actress Marlee Matlin, actor Troy Kotsur, actress Emilia Jones, actress Daniel Durant, actress Amy Forsyth, producer Philippe Rousselet and producer Fabrice Gianfereme. (Photo courtesy of ABC)

With three prizes, including Best Picture, Apple TV+’s drama “CODA” made Oscar history by being the first movie from a streaming service and the first movie with several deaf actors to win Best Picture. This historic victory happened at the 94th annual Academy Awards, which were presented at the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles on March 27, 2022. Regina Hall, Amy Schumer and Wanda Sykes hosted the show, which was telecast in the U.S. on ABC. Eligible movies were those released in U.S. theaters between March 1 and December 31, 2021. The nominations and awards are voted for by the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences.

Troy Kotsur of “CODA” also made history by becoming the first deaf male actor to win an Oscar. Kotsur took the prize for Best Supporting Actor. Marlee Matlin, who was the first deaf actress to win an Oscar (Best Actress for 1986’s “Children of a Lesser God”), also starred in “CODA.” Kotsur and Matlin portray a married couple in “CODA,” an acronym for “child of dead adults.”

In “CODA,” a hearing teenager named Ruby Rossi (played by Emilia Jones) has parents named Frank and Jackie (played by Kotsur and Matlin) and an older brother named Leo (played by Daniel Durant), who are all deaf. Ruby has to decide if she will stay in their hometown of Gloucester, Massachusetts, to help in the family’s fishing business or pursue her dream of being a singer at Berklee College of Music.

“CODA” is a remake of the 2014 French film “La Famille Bélier,” thereby making “CODA” the second movie remake (after 2006’s “The Departed”) to win the Academy Award for Best Picture. Unlike “La Famille Bélier,” which cast hearing actors as deaf people, “CODA” had deaf cast members in the roles of deaf people. “CODA” won all three of the Oscars for which it was nominated. In addition to Best Picture and Best Supporting Actor, the Oscar haul for “CODA” included Best Adapted Screenplay. “CODA” director Siân Heder adapted the screenplay.

Warner Bros. Pictures’ sci-fi remake of “Dune” won six of its 10 Oscar nominations: Best Film Editing, Best Cinematography, Production Design, Best Sound, Best Original Score and Best Visual Effects. Netflix’s Western drama “The Power of the Dog” went into the ceremony with the most nominations (12) and ended up winning just one: Best Director, for Jane Campion. The only other movie to win more than one Oscar at the ceremony was Searchlight Pictures’ Tammy Faye Bakker biopic “The Eyes of Tammy Faye”: Jessica Chastain won Best Actress, and the movie won the prize for Best Makeup and Hairstyling.

Ariana DeBose, Troy Kotsur and Jessica Chastain at the 94th annual Academy Awards at the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles on March 27, 2022. (Photo courtesy of ABC)

Ariana DeBose became the first openly queer woman to win an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress. She won the prize for playing the role of Anita in the 2021 remake of “West Side Story,” which was DeBose’s acting debut in a feature film. It was the same role for which Rita Moreno won a history-making Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress in 1961’s “West Side Story,” which made Moreno the first Latin person to win an Oscar. Moreno attended the Oscar ceremony in 2022, and she looked on with pride and joy when DeBose took the stage to accept the award.

Despite all the accolades during the show, it will probably be most remembered for an unscripted moment when “King Richard” star Will Smith went on stage and punched presenter Chris Rock in the face, after Rock made an insulting joke about Smith’s wife, Jada Pinkett Smith, looking like G.I. Jane because of her close-cropped, shaved head. Pinkett Smith went public in 2021 about shaving her head because she has alopecia, a condition which causes large clumps of hair on a head to fall out. Rock was on stage to present the award for Best Documentary Feature. According to Variety, Smith also yelled Rock after slapping him: “Keep my wife’s name out of your fucking mouth!”

This surprising altercation, which was followed by spurts of audio blocking and other technical interruptions to TV audiences, happened about 30 minutes before Smith won Best Actor for “King Richard,” in which he portrays Richard “Richie” Williams, the father and first tennis coach for tennis superstars Venus Williams and Serena Williams. Smith gave a tearful acceptance speech about protecting his family and being called to spread love.

Smith also said during the speech: “I want to apologize to the Academy. I want to apologize to all my fellow nominees. This is a beautiful moment and I’m not crying for winning an award. It’s not about winning an award for me. It’s about being able to shine a light on all of the people.” The Smith/Rock altercation is bound to be ranked as one of the most notorious moments in Oscar history.*

Other presenters at the show were Serena Williams, Venus Williams, Daniel Kaluuya, H.E.R., Josh Brolin, Jason Momoa, Wesley Snipes, Woody Harrelson, Rosie Perez, Jacob Elordi, Rachel Zegler, Tony Hawk, Kelly Slater, Shaun White, Stephanie Beatriz, Halle Bailey, Lily James and Naomi Scott, Naomi Scott, Tiffany Haddish, Simu Liu, Mila Kunis, Ruth E. Carter, Lupita Nyong’o, John Leguizamo, Jennifer Garner, Elliot Page J.K. Simmons, Shawn Mendes, Tracee Ellis Ross, Rami Malek, Tyler Perry, Jamie Lee Curtis, Bill Murray, Jill Scott, Sean Combs, Zoë Kravitz, Jake Gyllenhaal, Kevin Costner, Samuel L. Jackson, Uma Thurman, John Travolta, Anthony Hopkins, Lady Gaga and Liza Minnelli.

There were also performances of four of the five songs competing in the Best Original Son category: Beyoncé opened the show with her Oscar-nominated “Be Alive” from “King Richard,” by performing the song at a tennis court in Compton, California, as a nod to where Venus Williams and Serena Williams got their start. Sebastián Yatra sang “Dos Oruguitas” from “Encanto.” Reba McEntire sang “Somehow You Do” from “Four Good Days.” Billie Eilish and Finneas O’Connell performed the title track to “No Time to Die,” which won the Oscar. Van Due to touring commitments, Morrison did not attend the ceremony to perform his Oscar-nominated song “Down to Joy.” Instead, there was a performance of the “Encanto” hit song “We Don’t Talk About Bruno” by members of the “Encanto” cast with a special guest appearance by Megan Thee Stallion.

*April 1, 2022 UPDATE: After much controversy and media coverage of Smith’s physical assault of Rock at this Oscar ceremony, Smith has resigned from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Science. Read the full story here.

*April 8, 2022 UPDATE: The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences has announced that it is banning Smith from all Academy events for 10 years. Read the full story here.

Here is the complete list of winners and nominations for the 2022 Academy Awards:

*=winner

Best Picture

“Belfast,” Laura Berwick, Kenneth Branagh, Becca Kovacik and Tamar Thomas, producers

“CODA,” Philippe Rousselet, Fabrice Gianfermi and Patrick Wachsberger, producers*

“Don’t Look Up,” Adam McKay and Kevin Messick, producers

“Drive My Car,” Teruhisa Yamamoto, producer

“Dune,” Mary Parent, Denis Villeneuve and Cale Boyter, producers

“King Richard,” Tim White, Trevor White and Will Smith, producers

“Licorice Pizza,” Sara Murphy, Adam Somner and Paul Thomas Anderson, producers

“Nightmare Alley,” Guillermo del Toro, J. Miles Dale and Bradley Cooper, producers

“The Power of the Dog,” Jane Campion, Tanya Seghatchian, Emile Sherman, Iain Canning and Roger Frappier, producers

“West Side Story,” Steven Spielberg and Kristie Macosko Krieger, producers

Best Director

Kenneth Branagh (“Belfast”)

Ryûsuke Hamaguchi (“Drive My Car”)

Paul Thomas Anderson (“Licorice Pizza”)

Jane Campion (“The Power of the Dog”)*

Steven Spielberg (“West Side Story”)

Best Actor in a Leading Role

Javier Bardem (“Being the Ricardos”)

Benedict Cumberbatch (“The Power of the Dog”)

Andrew Garfield (“Tick, Tick … Boom!”)

Will Smith (“King Richard”)*

Denzel Washington (“The Tragedy of Macbeth”)

Best Actress in a Leading Role

Jessica Chastain (“The Eyes of Tammy Faye”)*

Olivia Colman (“The Lost Daughter”)

Penélope Cruz (“Parallel Mothers”)

Nicole Kidman (“Being the Ricardos”)

Kristen Stewart (“Spencer”)

Best Actor in a Supporting Role

Ciarán Hinds (“Belfast”)

Troy Kotsur (“CODA”)*

Jesse Plemons (“The Power of the Dog”)

J.K. Simmons (“Being the Ricardos”)

Kodi Smit-McPhee (“The Power of the Dog”)

Best Actress in a Supporting Role

Jessie Buckley (“The Lost Daughter”)

Ariana DeBose (“West Side Story”)*

Judi Dench (“Belfast”)

Kirsten Dunst (“The Power of the Dog”)

Aunjanue Ellis (“King Richard”)

Best Adapted Screenplay

“CODA,” screenplay by Siân Heder*

“Drive My Car,” screenplay by Ryusuke Hamaguchi, Takamasa Oe

“Dune,” screenplay by Jon Spaihts and Denis Villeneuve and Eric Roth

“The Lost Daughter,” written by Maggie Gyllenhaal

“The Power of the Dog,” written by Jane Campion

Best Original Screenplay

“Belfast,” written by Kenneth Branagh*

“Don’t Look Up,” screenplay by Adam McKay; story by Adam McKay and David Sirota

“King Richard,” written by Zach Baylin

“Licorice Pizza,” written by Paul Thomas Anderson

“The Worst Person in the World,” written by Eskil Vogt, Joachim Trier

Best Cinematography

“Dune,” Greig Fraser*

“Nightmare Alley,” Dan Laustsen

“The Power of the Dog,” Ari Wegner

“The Tragedy of Macbeth,” Bruno Delbonnel

“West Side Story,” Janusz Kaminski

Best Film Editing

“Don’t Look Up,” Hank Corwin

“Dune,” Joe Walker*

“King Richard”, Pamela Martin

“The Power of the Dog,” Peter Sciberras

“Tick, Tick…Boom!” Myron Kerstein and Andrew Weisblum

Best Sound

“Belfast,” Denise Yarde, Simon Chase, James Mather and Niv Adiri

“Dune,” Mac Ruth, Mark Mangini, Theo Green, Doug Hemphill and Ron Bartlett*

“No Time to Die,” Simon Hayes, Oliver Tarney, James Harrison, Paul Massey and Mark Taylor

“The Power of the Dog,” Richard Flynn, Robert Mackenzie and Tara Webb

“West Side Story,” Tod A. Maitland, Gary Rydstrom, Brian Chumney, Andy Nelson and Shawn Murphy

Best Original Score

“Don’t Look Up,” Nicholas Britell

“Dune,” Hans Zimmer*

“Encanto,” Germaine Franco

“Parallel Mothers,” Alberto Iglesias

“The Power of the Dog,” Jonny Greenwood

Best Original Song

“Be Alive” from “King Richard,” music and lyric by Dixson and Beyoncé Knowles-Carter

“Dos Oruguitas” from “Encanto,” music and lyric by Lin-Manuel Miranda

“Down to Joy” from “Belfast,” music and lyric by Van Morrison

“No Time to Die” from “No Time to Die,” music and lyric by Billie Eilish and Finneas O’Connell*

“Somehow You Do” from “Four Good Days,” music and lyric by Diane Warren

Best Animated Feature Film

“Encanto,” Jared Bush, Byron Howard, Yvett Merino and Clark Spencer*

“Flee,” Jonas Poher Rasmussen, Monica Hellström, Signe Byrge Sørensen and Charlotte De La Gournerie

“Luca,” Enrico Casarosa and Andrea Warren

“The Mitchells vs. the Machines,” Mike Rianda, Phil Lord, Christopher Miller and Kurt Albrecht

“Raya and the Last Dragon,” Don Hall, Carlos López Estrada, Osnat Shurer and Peter Del Vecho

Best International Feature Film

“Drive My Car” (Japan)*

“Flee” (Denmark)

“The Hand of God” (Italy)

“Lunana: A Yak in the Classroom” (Bhutan)

“The Worst Person in the World” (Norway)

Best Documentary Feature

“Ascension,” Jessica Kingdon, Kira Simon-Kennedy and Nathan Truesdell

“Attica,” Stanley Nelson and Traci A. Curry

“Flee,” Jonas Poher Rasmussen, Monica Hellström, Signe Byrge Sørensen and Charlotte De La Gournerie

“Summer of Soul (…Or, When the Revolution Could Not Be Televised),” Ahmir “Questlove” Thompson, Joseph Patel, Robert Fyvolent and David Dinerstein*

“Writing With Fire,” Rintu Thomas and Sushmit Ghosh

Best Makeup and Hairstyling

“Coming 2 America,” Mike Marino, Stacey Morris and Carla Farmer

“Cruella,” Nadia Stacey, Naomi Donne and Julia Vernon

“Dune,” Donald Mowat, Love Larson and Eva von Bahr

“The Eyes of Tammy Faye,” Linda Dowds, Stephanie Ingram and Justin Raleigh*

“House of Gucci,” Göran Lundström, Anna Carin Lock and Frederic Aspiras

Best Costume Design

“Cruella,” Jenny Beavan*

“Cyrano,” Massimo Cantini Parrini and Jacqueline Durran

“Dune,” Jacqueline West and Robert Morgan

“Nightmare Alley,” Luis Sequeira

“West Side Story,” Paul Tazewell

Best Production Design

“Dune,” production design: Patrice Vermette; set decoration: Zsuzsanna Sipos*

“Nightmare Alley,” production design: Tamara Deverell; set decoration: Shane Vieau

“The Power of the Dog,” production design: Grant Major; set decoration: Amber Richards

“The Tragedy of Macbeth,” production design: Stefan Dechant; set decoration: Nancy Haigh

“West Side Story,” production design: Adam Stockhausen; set decoration: Rena DeAngelo

Best Visual Effects

“Dune,” Paul Lambert, Tristan Myles, Brian Connor and Gerd Nefzer*

“Free Guy,” Swen Gillberg, Bryan Grill, Nikos Kalaitzidis and Dan Sudick

“No Time to Die,” Charlie Noble, Joel Green, Jonathan Fawkner and Chris Corbould

“Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings,” Christopher Townsend, Joe Farrell, Sean Noel Walker and Dan Oliver

“Spider-Man: No Way Home,” Kelly Port, Chris Waegner, Scott Edelstein and Dan Sudick

Best Documentary Short Subject

“Audible,” Matt Ogens and Geoff McLean

“Lead Me Home,” Pedro Kos and Jon Shenk

“The Queen of Basketball,” Ben Proudfoot*

“Three Songs for Benazir,” Elizabeth Mirzaei and Gulistan Mirzaei

“When We Were Bullies,” Jay Rosenblatt

Best Animated Short Film

“Affairs of the Art,” Joanna Quinn and Les Mills

“Bestia,” Hugo Covarrubias and Tevo Díaz

“Boxballet,” Anton Dyakov

“Robin Robin,” Dan Ojari and Mikey Please

“The Windshield Wiper,” Alberto Mielgo and Leo Sanchez*

Best Live-Action Short Film

“Ala Kachuu – Take and Run,” Maria Brendle and Nadine Lüchinger

“The Dress,” Tadeusz Łysiak and Maciej Ślesicki

“The Long Goodbye,” Aneil Karia and Riz Ahmed*

“On My Mind,” Martin Strange-Hansen and Kim Magnusson

“Please Hold,” K.D. Dávila and Levin Menekse

2022 Academy Awards: ‘The Power of the Dog’ is the top nominee

February 8, 2022

by Carla Hay

Kodi Smit-McPhee and Benedict Cumberbatch in “The Power of the Dog” (Photo by Kirsty Griffin/Netflix)

With 12 nods, the Netflix drama “The Power of the Dog” is the top nominee for the 94th Annual Academy Awards, which will take place at the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles on March 27, 2022. ABC will have the U.S. telecast of the show. The nominations were announced on February 8, 2022, by Tracee Ellis Ross and Leslie Jordan.

The nominations for “The Power of the Dog” are Best Picture; Best Actor (for Benedict Cumberbatch); Best Director (for Jane Campion); two nods for Best Supporting Actor (for Jesse Plemons and Kodi Smit-McPhee); Best Supporting Actress (for Kirsten Dunst); Best Adapted Screenplay; Best Film Editing; Best Cinematography; Best Production Design; Best Original Score; and Best Sound. The movie, which is set in 1925 Montana, is about a rancher family that is plagued by jealousy, toxic masculinity and homophobia. Dunst and Plemons are a couple in real life (and they portray a married couple in “The Power of the Dog”), so their nominations are a rare situation where a co-star couple received Oscar nominations for the same movie.

The other contenders for Best Picture are Focus Features’ “Belfast,” Apple Studios’ “CODA,” Netflix’s “Don’t Look Up,” Janus Films/Bitters End’s “Drive My Car,” Warner Bros. Pictures’ “Dune,” Warner Bros. Pictures’ “King Richard,” United Artists/Focus Features’ “Licorice Pizza,” Searchlight Pictures’ “Nightmare Alley” and 20th Century Studios’ “West Side Story.” The 2021 remake of “Dune” had the second-highest number of Oscar nominations this year (10 nods), followed by “Belfast” and “West Side Story,” which had seven nods each. (Click here to read Culture Mix’s reviews of all these movies that are nominated for Best Picture.)

The awards are voted for by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. For the 2022 ceremony, eligible movies were those released in the U.S. cinemas in 2021. As of 2022, the Academy is requiring the Best Picture category to have 10 nominees. From 2009 to 2021, the rule was that there could be five to 10 movies per year nominated for Best Picture.

Snubs and Surprises

Lady Gaga and Jared Leto in “House of Gucci” (Photo by Fabio Lovino/Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Pictures Inc.)

It’s been an unpredictable awards season for the Best Actress category. Lady Gaga of MGM/United Artists’ “House of Gucci” has been getting nominated at every major award ceremony for movies—except for the Academy Awards, where she was widely predicted to get a nomination. Meanwhile, Kristen Stewart of Neon’s “Spencer” was chosen by many awards pundits as an early frontrunner for a Best Actress Oscar, but Stewart’s performance in “Spencer” ultimately failed to get nominations at the Screen Actors Guild Awards and the BAFTA Film Awards—two major award shows that often indicate who will be Oscar winners and Oscar nominees. Despite those snubs, Stewart scored her first Oscar nomination for “Spencer,” when many awards pundits counted her out of the Oscar race because of the SAG and BAFTA snubs. Stewart’s nomination for Best Actress is the only Oscar nod for “Spencer.”

The category of Best Supporting Actor and Best Supporting Actress had a few snubs and surprises. Caitríona Balfe of “Belfast” was getting nominated at every major award show for movies—except for the Academy Awards. Instead, “Belfast” co-star Judi Dench got an Oscar nomination for Best Supporting Actress, even though Dench was passed over in this category for “Belfast” at other major award shows. For “The Power of the Dog,” Best Supporting Actor nominee Smit-McPhee was widely predicted to get an Oscar nomination, but “Power of the Dog” co-star/Oscar nominee Plemons failed to get a Best Supporting Actor nod at other major awards shows, except for the BAFTAs. Meanwhile, Jared Leto of “House of Gucci” was shut out of an Oscar nomination for the Best Supporting Actor category for this movie. Leto has been nominated at other award shows for “House of Gucci,” which got an expected Oscar nomination for Best Makeup and Hairstyling that includes the much-talked-about prosthetic makeup that Leto wore in the movie. (It’s the only Oscar nod for “House of Gucci.”)

Movies that have been getting awards or nominations elsewhere were completely snubbed by the Academy Awards. They include the Netflix drama “Passing,” the Focus Features comedy “The French Dispatch,” the Netflix drama “The Harder They Fall” and the A24 drama “C’mon C’mon.” Movies that win the Academy Award for Best Picture always get a screenplay Oscar nomination too. That’s why “Nightmare Alley” and “West Side Story” (which are both remake films) have little or no chance to win Best Picture, since both movies failed to get Oscar nominations for Best Adapted Screenplay. In the category of Best Film Editing, “Belfast” and “West Side Story” were snubbed, even though both movies were widely predicted to get Oscar nods in that category. And although “Dune” earned a massive 10 Oscar nominations, one of them wasn’t for director Denis Villeneuve in the Best Director category, although he did get an expected Best Adapted Screenplay nod for co-writing the movie.

Some of the biggest surprise nominations came from international films. Neon’s Danish movie “Flee” (directed by Jonas Poher Rasmussen) made Oscar history for being the first movie to get Oscar nominations for Best International Feature Film, Best Animated Feature and Best Documentary Feature. While many pundits had floated the possibility that these three nominations would happen for “Flee,” many people predicted that “Flee” would get one or two Oscar nominations. “Flee” is an Afghan refugee’s first-hand account of his life, which is depicted in animated form. He currently lives in Denmark and used an alias in the movie to protect his privacy. Neon’s Norwegian drama “The Worst Person in the World” was expected to get a nomination for Best International Feature Film, but a surprise nomination came when the movie got an Oscar nod for Best Original Screenplay. “The Worst Person in the World” was written by Joachim Trier (the movie’s director) and Eskil Vogt.

Diversity and Inclusion

Aunjanue Ellis, Mikayla Bartholomew, Will Smith, Saniyya Sidney, Demi Singleton and Daniele Lawson in “King Richard” (Photo by Chiabella James/Warner Bros. Pictures)

“The Power of the Dog” director Campion made Academy Awards history, by becoming the first woman to get two Oscar nominations for Best Director. She was previously nominated for 1993’s “The Piano,” but lost the award to “Schindler’s List” director Steven Spielberg. It’s a rematch of sorts for Campion and “West Side Story” director Spielberg, since they’re both nominated again for Best Director in the same year. In another male-dominated category (Best Cinematography), Ari Wegner of “The Power of the Dog” became the second woman ever to get an Oscar nomination for Best Cinematography. The first woman to break this Best Cinematography gender barrier was Rachel Morrison, who was nominated for another Netflix period drama: 2017’s “Mudbound.”

Racial diversity is in every actor/actress category at 2022 Academy Awards, except for Best Supporting Actor. Black people are represented the most with “King Richard,” which has six nominations: Best Picture; Best Actor (for Will Smith); Best Supporting Actress (for Aunjanue Ellis); Best Original Screenplay; Best Film Editing; and Best Original Song (for Beyoncé’s “Be Alive”). “King Richard” is a biopic about Richard “Richie” Williams, the father and early coach of tennis superstars Venus Williams and Serena Williams.

Two African American-oriented films were nominated for Best Documentary Feature this year: Showtime’s “Attica” (directed by Stanley Nelson and Traci A. Curry) and Searchlight Pictures’ “Summer of Soul (…Or, The Revolution Could Not Be Televised”), directed by Ahmir “Questlove” Thompson. Meanwhile, Denzel Washington scored his 10th Oscar nomination: Best Actor, for A24/Apple TV+’s “The Tragedy of Macbeth,” making him the most Oscar-nominated African American in Academy Awards history. Nine of his Oscar nominations are for acting, while one nomination is a Best Picture nod for being a producer of 2016’s “Fences.” Washington has won two Oscars: Best Actor (for 2001’s “Training Day”) and Best Supporting Actor (for 1989’s “Glory”).

Asians were represented the most with “Drive My Car,” a Japanese drama about a grieving widower who goes on a road trip with a young actress. “Drive My Car” earned four Oscar nods: Best Picture; Best Director (for Ryusuke Hamaguchi); Best Adapted Screenplay; and Best International Feature Film. As previously mentioned, “Flee” is about an Afghan refugee. Two other Asian-oriented movies were nominated for Best Documentary Feature: MTV Documentary Films’ “Ascension” (about consumerism in China) and Music Box Films’ “Writing With Fire” (about Indian female journalists). Chinese American director Jessica Kingdon is one of the nominees for “Ascension” while Indian American directors/producers Rintu Thomas and Sushmit Ghosh are nominated for “Writing With Fire.”

Disney’s “Raya and the Last Dragon,” which takes place in China and has an all-Asian cast, is nominated for Best Animated Feature, but none of the nominated producers and directors of the movie is Asian. Pakastani British entertainer Riz Ahmed, who got an Oscar nomination for Best Actor in 2021 for the Amazon Studios drama “Sound of Metal,” is nominated for an Oscar in 2022—this time, for being a producer of “The Long Goodbye,” which is nominated for Best Live-Action Short. Meanwhile, Indian American producer Joseph Patel is one of the Best Documentary Feature nominees for “Summer of Soul (…Or, When the Revolution Could Not Be Televised).”

Hispanic/Latino people nominated for Oscars this year included Oscar-winning spouses Javier Bardem of “Being the Ricardos” (Best Actor) and Penélope Cruz of “Parallel Mothers” (Best Actress); Guillermo del Toro (Best Picture), for being one of the producers of “Nightmare Alley”; “Parallel Mothers” composer Alberto Iglesias (Best Original Score); “Raya and the Last Dragon” co-director Carlos López Estrada (Best Animated Feature); and Ariana DeBose of “West Side Story” (Best Supporting Actress). DeBose, who is multiracial (Hispanic, African American and white) in real life, depicts a Puerto Rican in the 2021 remake of “West Side Story” and is the only cast member and the only person of color to get an Oscar nomination for the movie. “West Side Story” is a musical about racial tensions between white people and Puerto Ricans in early 1960s New York City.

Disney’s Colombian-oriented animated film “Encanto” picked up three nominations: Best Animated Feature (whose nominees includes Latina producer Yvett Marino); Best Original Song (for “Dos Oruguitas,” written by Lin-Manuel Miranda); and Best Original Score (for Germaine Franco, one of the few women ever nominated in this category). Meanwhile, there are Latino nominees in the short film categories: Best Animated Short nominees include writer/director Hugo Covarrubias and producer Tevo Díaz of “Bestia (Beast)” and writer/director Alberto Mielgo and producer Leo Sanchez of “The Windshield Wiper.” “Please Hold” director K.D. Dávila is nominated for Best Live-Action Short.

LGBTQ representation in the Oscar nominations can be found in the animated documentary “Flee” (whose subject is a gay Afghan refugee); Cruz’s queer character Janis Martínez Moreno in “Parallel Mothers” and Cumberbatch’s closeted gay character Phil Burbank in “The Power of the Dog.” In real life, Stewart of “Spencer” and DeBose of “West Side Story” identify as openly queer. The disabled community is represented by “CODA” (about a Massachusetts family of mostly deaf people), which got three nominations: Best Picture, Best Supporting Actor (for real-life deaf actor Troy Kotsur); and Best Adapted Screenplay. Meanwhile, Native American director/producer Ben Proudfoot of “The Queen of Basketball” is nominated for Best Documentary Short.

Here is the complete list of nominations for the 2022 Academy Awards:

Best Picture

“Belfast,” Laura Berwick, Kenneth Branagh, Becca Kovacik and Tamar Thomas, producers

“CODA,” Philippe Rousselet, Fabrice Gianfermi and Patrick Wachsberger, producers

“Don’t Look Up,” Adam McKay and Kevin Messick, producers

“Drive My Car,” Teruhisa Yamamoto, producer

“Dune,” Mary Parent, Denis Villeneuve and Cale Boyter, producers

“King Richard,” Tim White, Trevor White and Will Smith, producers

“Licorice Pizza,” Sara Murphy, Adam Somner and Paul Thomas Anderson, producers

“Nightmare Alley,” Guillermo del Toro, J. Miles Dale and Bradley Cooper, producers

“The Power of the Dog,” Jane Campion, Tanya Seghatchian, Emile Sherman, Iain Canning and Roger Frappier, producers

“West Side Story,” Steven Spielberg and Kristie Macosko Krieger, producers

Best Director

Kenneth Branagh (“Belfast”)

Ryûsuke Hamaguchi (“Drive My Car”)

Paul Thomas Anderson (“Licorice Pizza”)

Jane Campion (“The Power of the Dog”)

Steven Spielberg (“West Side Story”)

Best Actor in a Leading Role

Javier Bardem (“Being the Ricardos”)

Benedict Cumberbatch (“The Power of the Dog”)

Andrew Garfield (“Tick, Tick … Boom!”)

Will Smith (“King Richard”)

Denzel Washington (“The Tragedy of Macbeth”)

Best Actress in a Leading Role

Jessica Chastain (“The Eyes of Tammy Faye”)

Olivia Colman (“The Lost Daughter”)

Penélope Cruz (“Parallel Mothers”)

Nicole Kidman (“Being the Ricardos”)

Kristen Stewart (“Spencer”)

Best Actor in a Supporting Role

Ciarán Hinds (“Belfast”)

Troy Kotsur (“CODA”)

Jesse Plemons (“The Power of the Dog”)

J.K. Simmons (“Being the Ricardos”)

Kodi Smit-McPhee (“The Power of the Dog”)

Best Actress in a Supporting Role

Jessie Buckley (“The Lost Daughter”)

Ariana DeBose (“West Side Story”)

Judi Dench (“Belfast”)

Kirsten Dunst (“The Power of the Dog”)

Aunjanue Ellis (“King Richard”)

Best Adapted Screenplay

“CODA,” screenplay by Siân Heder

“Drive My Car,” screenplay by Ryusuke Hamaguchi, Takamasa Oe

“Dune,” screenplay by Jon Spaihts and Denis Villeneuve and Eric Roth

“The Lost Daughter,” written by Maggie Gyllenhaal

“The Power of the Dog,” written by Jane Campion

Best Original Screenplay

“Belfast,” written by Kenneth Branagh

“Don’t Look Up,” screenplay by Adam McKay; story by Adam McKay and David Sirota

“King Richard,” written by Zach Baylin

“Licorice Pizza,” written by Paul Thomas Anderson

“The Worst Person in the World,” written by Eskil Vogt, Joachim Trier

Best Cinematography

“Dune,” Greig Fraser

“Nightmare Alley,” Dan Laustsen

“The Power of the Dog,” Ari Wegner

“The Tragedy of Macbeth,” Bruno Delbonnel

“West Side Story,” Janusz Kaminski

Best Film Editing

“Don’t Look Up,” Hank Corwin

“Dune,” Joe Walker

“King Richard”, Pamela Martin

“The Power of the Dog,” Peter Sciberras

“Tick, Tick…Boom!” Myron Kerstein and Andrew Weisblum

Best Sound

“Belfast,” Denise Yarde, Simon Chase, James Mather and Niv Adiri

“Dune,” Mac Ruth, Mark Mangini, Theo Green, Doug Hemphill and Ron Bartlett

“No Time to Die,” Simon Hayes, Oliver Tarney, James Harrison, Paul Massey and Mark Taylor

“The Power of the Dog,” Richard Flynn, Robert Mackenzie and Tara Webb

“West Side Story,” Tod A. Maitland, Gary Rydstrom, Brian Chumney, Andy Nelson and Shawn Murphy

Best Original Score

“Don’t Look Up,” Nicholas Britell

“Dune,” Hans Zimmer

“Encanto,” Germaine Franco

“Parallel Mothers,” Alberto Iglesias

“The Power of the Dog,” Jonny Greenwood

Best Original Song

“Be Alive” from “King Richard,” music and lyric by Dixson and Beyoncé Knowles-Carter

“Dos Oruguitas” from “Encanto,” music and lyric by Lin-Manuel Miranda

“Down to Joy” from “Belfast,” music and lyric by Van Morrison

“No Time To Die” from “No Time to Die,” music and lyric by Billie Eilish and Finneas O’Connell

“Somehow You Do” from “Four Good Days,” music and lyric by Diane Warren

Best Animated Feature Film

“Encanto,” Jared Bush, Byron Howard, Yvett Merino and Clark Spencer

“Flee,” Jonas Poher Rasmussen, Monica Hellström, Signe Byrge Sørensen and Charlotte De La Gournerie

“Luca,” Enrico Casarosa and Andrea Warren

“The Mitchells vs. the Machines,” Mike Rianda, Phil Lord, Christopher Miller and Kurt Albrecht

“Raya and the Last Dragon,” Don Hall, Carlos López Estrada, Osnat Shurer and Peter Del Vecho

Best International Feature Film

“Drive My Car” (Japan)

“Flee” (Denmark)

“The Hand of God” (Italy)

“Lunana: A Yak in the Classroom” (Bhutan)

“The Worst Person in the World” (Norway)

Best Documentary Feature

“Ascension,” Jessica Kingdon, Kira Simon-Kennedy and Nathan Truesdell

“Attica,” Stanley Nelson and Traci A. Curry

“Flee,” Jonas Poher Rasmussen, Monica Hellström, Signe Byrge Sørensen and Charlotte De La Gournerie

“Summer of Soul (…Or, When the Revolution Could Not Be Televised),” Ahmir “Questlove” Thompson, Joseph Patel, Robert Fyvolent and David Dinerstein

“Writing With Fire,” Rintu Thomas and Sushmit Ghosh

Best Makeup and Hairstyling

“Coming 2 America,” Mike Marino, Stacey Morris and Carla Farmer

“Cruella,” Nadia Stacey, Naomi Donne and Julia Vernon

“Dune,” Donald Mowat, Love Larson and Eva von Bahr

“The Eyes of Tammy Faye,” Linda Dowds, Stephanie Ingram and Justin Raleigh

“House of Gucci,” Göran Lundström, Anna Carin Lock and Frederic Aspiras

Best Costume Design

“Cruella,” Jenny Beavan

“Cyrano,” Massimo Cantini Parrini and Jacqueline Durran

“Dune,” Jacqueline West and Robert Morgan

“Nightmare Alley,” Luis Sequeira

“West Side Story,” Paul Tazewell

Best Production Design

“Dune,” production design: Patrice Vermette; set decoration: Zsuzsanna Sipos

“Nightmare Alley,” production design: Tamara Deverell; set decoration: Shane Vieau

“The Power of the Dog,” production design: Grant Major; set decoration: Amber Richards

“The Tragedy of Macbeth,” production design: Stefan Dechant; set decoration: Nancy Haigh

“West Side Story,” production design: Adam Stockhausen; set decoration: Rena DeAngelo

Best Visual Effects

“Dune,” Paul Lambert, Tristan Myles, Brian Connor and Gerd Nefzer*

“Free Guy,” Swen Gillberg, Bryan Grill, Nikos Kalaitzidis and Dan Sudick

“No Time to Die,” Charlie Noble, Joel Green, Jonathan Fawkner and Chris Corbould

“Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings,” Christopher Townsend, Joe Farrell, Sean Noel Walker and Dan Oliver

“Spider-Man: No Way Home,” Kelly Port, Chris Waegner, Scott Edelstein and Dan Sudick

Best Documentary Short Subject

“Audible,” Matt Ogens and Geoff McLean

“Lead Me Home,” Pedro Kos and Jon Shenk

“The Queen of Basketball,” Ben Proudfoot

“Three Songs for Benazir,” Elizabeth Mirzaei and Gulistan Mirzaei

“When We Were Bullies,” Jay Rosenblatt

Best Animated Short Film

“Affairs of the Art,” Joanna Quinn and Les Mills

“Bestia,” Hugo Covarrubias and Tevo Díaz

“Boxballet,” Anton Dyakov

“Robin Robin,” Dan Ojari and Mikey Please

“The Windshield Wiper,” Alberto Mielgo and Leo Sanchez

Best Live-Action Short Film

“Ala Kachuu – Take and Run,” Maria Brendle and Nadine Lüchinger

“The Dress,” Tadeusz Łysiak and Maciej Ślesicki

“The Long Goodbye,” Aneil Karia and Riz Ahmed

“On My Mind,” Martin Strange-Hansen and Kim Magnusson

“Please Hold,” K.D. Dávila and Levin Menekse

Review: ‘King Richard,’ starring Will Smith

November 21, 2021

by Carla Hay

Aunjanue Ellis, Mikayla Bartholomew, Will Smith, Saniyya Sidney, Demi Singleton and Daniele Lawson in “King Richard” (Photo by Chiabella James/Warner Bros. Pictures)

“King Richard”

Directed by Reinaldo Marcus Green

Culture Representation: Taking place in the early-to-mid-1990s, mainly in California and Florida, the dramatic film “King Richard” features a cast of African American and white characters (with a few Latinos) representing the working-class, middle-class and wealthy.

Culture Clash: Coming from an underprivileged background, Richard “Richie” Williams becomes the first tennis coach of his daughters Venus and Serena, but his unorthodox methods often clash with the traditions of the elite world of tennis.

Culture Audience: “King Richard” will appeal primarily to people who are fans of star Will Smith and the real-life Venus Williams and Serena Williams, as well as people who are interested in well-acted sports movies about people who triumph against the odds.

Saniyya Sidney, Demi Singleton, Will Smith and Tony Goldwyn in King Richard” (Photo by Chiabella James/Warner Bros. Pictures)

The dramatic film “King Richard” is both a tribute and a feel-good Hollywood version of how Richard “Richie” Williams guided his daughters Venus and Serena to tennis superstardom. The movie is set in the early-to-mid-1990s, at the beginning of Venus’ and Serena’s tennis careers. The tennis matches in the story focus more on Venus’ rise to tennis glory, since her championships came before Serena’s.

In the role of Richard Williams, Will Smith gives a very charismatic performance as a flawed but loving and determined father. The movie shows in abundance how Richard Williams’ stubbornness was both an asset and a liability when he became the person who had the biggest impact on Venus’ and Serena’s respective tennis careers. As it stands, this movie is told from Richard’s male and very domineering perspective.

What saves this movie from being unchecked worship of patriarchy is that it gives credit to Oracene “Brandy” Williams (Venus and Serena’s mother, winningly played by Aunjanue Ellis) as being an underrated, positive force in the family. Oracene (who was a nurse when this story took place) was the one who held the family together in their toughest times. She was also the intelligence behind some of the crucial decisions that were made when Venus and Serena were underage children. If Richard was the “king” of the family, then Oracene was undoubtedly the “queen.”

Directed by Reinaldo Marcus Green and written by Zach Baylin, “King Richard” doesn’t shy away from some of the controversial aspects of Richard Williams’ life, nor does the movie portray him as saintly. But the title of the movie says it all: The intention of “King Richard” is to give Richard Williams the same level of respect as the tennis stars who are treated as sports royalty. It’s a bit of a stretch, considering that Richard wasn’t the only coach that Venus and Serena ever had.

The movie acknowledges that Venus (played by Saniyya Sidney) and Serena (played by Demi Singleton) had plenty of other people who helped them along the way. There are moments when “King Richard” puts Richard Williams a little too much on a pedestal for being a “prophet” who predicted, when Venus and Serena were in elementary school, that Venus and Serena would become phenomenal tennis champs. Much ado is made about his 78-page plan where he made these predictions. The movie also depicts how Richard filmed homemade videos as electronic press kits to promote Venus and Serena.

Lots of parents have grandiose plans for their children, but it helps if those kids have the talent for whatever the parents are motivating them to do. This movie could have had a little more insight into the talent that makes Venus and Serena so special, as well as more information on when they started showing an interest in tennis. “King Richard” starts off with Venus at approximately age 11 and Serena at approximately age 10, with Richard as their “tough love” coach, already practicing on run-down tennis courts in their working-class hometown of Compton, California. At the time, Richard worked the night shift as a security guard.

The movie makes it look like all Richard had to do in the earliest days of their tennis career was to get Venus and Serena to practice a lot, in order to put the two sisters on the path to becoming great tennis players. But did Venus and Serena start with that passion for tennis, or were they pushed into it? The movie never says, because Richard (as the protagonist) is the main focus of the story. (It should be noted that Smith is also one of the producers of “King Richard.”) There are countless tennis parents who do the same things that Richard did to prepare their kids to become professional tennis players, but we don’t hear about them because their tennis kids just aren’t talented.

In the movie, Oracene (who was a widow when she married Richard in 1980) is the one who tells Richard that practicing on inferior tennis courts with substandard tennis rackets would get Venus and Serena nowhere, no matter how much hard work they did. Oracene is the one who motivates Richard to make the right connections in the elite world of tennis, where you need the kind of money that’s required to pay for training and entry fees into top tennis tournaments. However, the Williams family couldn’t afford these fees at the time. It’s at this point in the movie that Richard starts to transform himself into a maverick wheeler dealer in the tennis world.

He’s an unlikely tennis maverick. From the opening scene, the movie makes it clear that Richard’s English grammar skills aren’t very good, and he comes from a rough-and-tumble background. In a voiceover, Richard describes the type of upbringing he had: “Tennis was not a game peoples played. We was too busy running from the [Ku Klux] Klan.” (Richard was born in 1942 in Shreveport, Louisiana.)

Later in the movie, Richard tells his daughters: “When I was your age, I had to fight someone every day,” which is why he says that doesn’t get as fazed by setbacks as other people might be. The issues of racial differences and social-class inequalities are ever-present in the movie because a huge part of Venus’ and Serena’s success story is about how they became champions in a sport that’s been accessible mainly to white people who can afford it.

The Williams family members who are also depicted in the movie are Oracene’s three daughters from her first marriage: Tunde Price (played by Mikayla Bartholomew), Isha Price (played by Daniele Lawson) and Lyndrea Price (played Layla Crawford). (In real life, Venus, Serena and Isha are among the executive producers of “King Richard.”) When this movie takes place, the Williams household consists of Richard, Oracene, Venus, Serena, Tunde, Isha and Lyndrea. The girls are seen being being playful and happy around each other, doing things such as karaoke-type talent shows in their home when they spend time together.

However, “King Richard” has fairly shallow portrayals of Tunde, Isha and Lyndrea as nothing but characters whose main purpose in life is to agree with Richard and cheer on Venus and Serena when needed. In a household of five sisters, the sisters are never seen arguing with each other, or having jealousy issues because a parent seems to favor one child over another. This lack of sibling conflict is very unrealistic. The movie doesn’t seem to want to acknowledge that Richard’s single-minded focus on making Venus and Serena tennis champs surely came at a cost to his relationship with his stepdaughters, who must have felt treated differently by him.

Even in the best of circumstances, “King Richard” makes it look like Richard didn’t think his stepdaughters were worthy of the same type of attention that he was giving to Venus and Serena. Richard briefly mentions that he thinks that his other daughters in the household are “future doctors and lawyers,” but if he spent any time supporting his stepdaughters’ career goals, the movie never shows it and never shows what those goals were. “King Richard” doesn’t make an effort to distinguish the personalities of Tunde, Isha and Lyndrea, because the movie just makes them background characters in the Richard Williams show.

The only time Richard is showing individual “protective dad” attention to one of his stepdaughters is in an early scene in the movie where 16-year-old Tunde is watching Venus and Serena practice on a Compton tennis court. Richard and his other stepdaughters are there too. Some guys in their 20s are nearby. One of them, who’s named Bells (played by Craig Tate), tries to flirtatiously talk to Tunde, who seems uncomfortable with his attention. She quickly walks away from Bells when Richard sees what’s going on and tells her to get away from this leering stranger. Richard steps in and orders Bells to leave Tunde alone because she’s only 16 and not interested in dating him.

In response, Bells turns into a thug and punches Richard hard enough for Richard to fall to the ground. Richard gets up and walks away, but all five of the girls have witnessed this assault while waiting in Richard’s Volkswagen van. When he gets in the van and he’s asked if he’s okay, that’s when Richard says he had to fight someone every day when he was the same ages as his daughters. “And I didn’t have no daddy to stand in the way,” he adds. “They’re going to respect y’all.”

It won’t be the last time Richard takes a beating. He gets beat up physically, emotionally and mentally in various ways during his unstoppable efforts to make Venus and Serena among the greatest tennis players of all time. He gets plenty of rejections, of course. And he’s openly ridiculed for his decision to take Venus and Serena out of junior league tennis tournaments, so that Venus and Serena could focus on their education and go directly to the professional leagues. He often annoys people with his blunt approach, because he can be arrogant.

Richard is not a smooth talker, but the one characteristic that defines Richard in his key to his success is persistence. He’s well-aware that he doesn’t come from an educated, privileged and well-connected background. But that’s exactly why he’s so hungry for the success that he wants for Venus and Serena. He’s also fiercely proud and supportive of Venus and Serena, even if they lose a match. At least that’s how the movie portrays him.

Because of Richard’s persuasive finagling, Venus and Serena sign on with their first professional coach: Paul Cohen (played by Tony Goldwyn), who agrees to coach Venus and Serena for free because he believes in their talent and wants a cut of any prize money they will eventually win. For a while, Oracene helped RIchard with coaching duties for Serena when Cohen initially said he would only coach one of the sisters for free, and Richard decided it would be Venus. Later, Venus and Serena sign on with coach Rick Macci (played by Jon Bernthal), who agrees to relocate the entire Williams household to Macci’s home base in Florida’s Palm Beach County, where he pays for all of their living expenses and buys them the house where they live.

Macci is also motivated by getting a percentage of the millions that he thinks Venus and Serena will eventually earn. At the time, the Rick Macci International Tennis Academy (in Delray Beach, Florida) was best known for training tennis star Jennifer Capriati (played by Jessica Wacnik), who was an idol of Venus and Serena. Macci is shocked and dismayed when the investment he thought he made in Venus and Serena as future junior league champs turns out to be funding for Venus and Serena to not go on the junior league circuit after all.

It’s because Richard didn’t want his future tennis champs to get burned out on the junior league circuit. Richard tells Macci of this plan after Richard got what he wanted in their contract. Richard made the then-controversial and unheard-of decision to take Venus and Serena out of the junior leagues (the traditional route for tennis players to turn pro), so they could go to school like “normal kids” while training to go straight into the professional leagues.

Richard is further convinced he made the right decision when he sees the scandalous downfall of Capriati, beginning with her 1994 arrest for marijuana possession. The arrest exposed many of Capriati’s personal problems, which she has since largely blamed on the pressures and burnout of her junior league tennis career. Many people doubted that Venus and Serena could turn pro in their mid-teens, but Venus and Serena proved the naysayers wrong.

In addition to Capriati, other real-life tennis players are depicted by actors in brief appearances in the movie. They include John McEnroe (played by Christopher Wallinger), Pete Sampras (played by Chase Del Rey) and Arantxa Sánchez Vicario (played by Marcela Zacarias), who is Venus’ opponent in the movie’s big tennis showdown. McEnroe and Sampras are seen training with Cohen during one of Richard’s first meetings with the coach. Don’t expect any of these other tennis stars to have any meaningful lines of dialogue in the movie. Each person only says a few sentences.

In the movie, Richard is depicted as being a proverbial “helicopter dad” who hovers during practice and tries to tell coaches Cohen and Macci how to do their jobs. The movie demonstrates in these scenes that these coaches only tolerated Richard because of Venus’ and Serena’s talent, not because these coaches genuinely liked Richard as a friend or respected him as a business person. Macci, who’s more emotional than Cohen, isn’t afraid to express his anger at feeling deceived or frustrated by Richard. Both coaches are the friendliest to Richard when it’s about how they can make money off of Venus and Serena.

The movie tends to gloss over the fact that for all of Richard’s big talk, what really opened important doors for Venus and Serena were the money and connections of coaches such as Cohen and Macci. Richard was a package deal with Venus and Serena. We’ll never know how differently Richard might have been treated by some of these people if Venus and Serena weren’t his underage children at the start of their tennis careers.

In other words, if Venus and Serena weren’t underage children under Richard’s legal control, would he have been as successful in launching their careers? The movie implies the answer: Probably not, because less people in the tennis industry would’ve tolerated him and his admittedly alienating ways.

However, it’s precisely because Richard was the father of Venus and Serena that he protected them in ways that many coaches or managers probably would not have protected them. The issue of race cannot be underestimated because Venus and Serena got “real talk” from Richard about the racism they would experience in the sport of tennis, which has a reputation for being elitist and catering mainly to white people. As such, one of the movie’s obvious “Oscar bait” clips is a scene where a tearful Richard tells Venus in a pep talk about her groundbreaking role in professional tennis: “You’re not just going to be representing you. You’re going to be representing every little black girl on Earth!”

Venus and Serena are portrayed as polite, hardworking children who have no other interests besides tennis and hanging out with their sisters. In the movie, Richard is shown discouraging Venus and Serena from getting too close to kids outside of their family. When Richard wants a “yes” answer from his daughters, they answer, “Yes, Daddy,” like robotic kids on command. Richard expects Venus and Serena to tell him he’s their best friend when he asks. Venus complies with the answer Richard wants to hear, but Serena says Venus is her best friend first.

It’s all played for laughs and feel-good cheer. But some of this banter just seems a little too phony, giving the impression that a lot of the real story is left out about how Richard would lose his temper and say harmful things to Venus and Serena. It’s hard to believe this movie’s rosy portrayal that Richard never really yelled hurtful things to Venus and Serena, when every hard-driving, tough-talking coach does that one point or another to people whom the coach is training. The perspectives of Venus and Serena are not given much importance in this movie, except when it comes to how they’re going to win tennis matches.

For example, viewers never learn what Venus and Serena liked to study in school or what types of friends they made in school, even if the movie makes it look like Richard was the type of father who didn’t want his underage daughters to invite any friends to visit them in their home. The movie never shows how the family celebrated milestones such as Venus’ and Serena’s birthdays, or when they graduated from middle school to high school. It’s a strange omission, considering that in real life, Richard got a lot of criticism precisely because he wanted Venus and Serena to have “normal” school experiences at that age instead of going on tennis tours.

The movie’s erasure of Venus’ and Serena’s childhood experiences that aren’t related to tennis or family all goes back to the patriarchal purpose of the movie: Showing how Richard programmed Venus and Serena on how to be tennis champs, not how to prepare them for life after tennis. There have been several documentaries about Venus and Serena where the two sisters openly admit that they will have a difficult time dealing with life when they both retire from tennis.

And how hard was Richard on Venus and Serena? The movie hints that people had concerns. There’s a scene where a police officer and a government social worker go to the Williams home in Compton to investigate a complaint that Venus and Serena were being abused because of all the rigorous training that Richard made them do.

Richard and Oracene are naturally insulted and defensive. They deny any abuse, and nothing comes of the complaint. The movie makes it look like a jealous neighbor named Ms. Strickland (played by Erika Ringor) is behind the complaint, but you have to wonder if that neighbor character was created in the movie as a villainous stand-in for well-meaning people in real life who had concerns about Richard’s parenting skills.

Whether or not there was any abuse, the family did have serious problems, which is acknowledged in one of the movie’s best scenes. It’s when Oracene confronts Richard for letting his ego stifle Venus’ wishes to play in the professional leagues at the age of 14. Oracene and Richard have an argument, which leads to Oracene verbally ripping into Richard for abandoning the family he had with his first wife and not seeming to care about having a relationship with the children he left behind in the divorce. (Richard had five biological kids and one stepchild with his first wife Betty Johnson, to whom he was married from 1965 to 1973.)

During this argument, Oracene reminds Richard that he’s had a string of failed businesses because he gave up too quickly when things got a little too hard for him. It’s easy to read between the lines, even though the movie doesn’t come right out and say it: Venus and Serena were Richard’s last-ditch attempt to get rich after he failed at starting his own businesses. He needed their talent because his own skills as an entrepreneur were questionable at best.

In the movie’s zeal to put Richard on a “prophet pedestal” and to make Oracene and Richard look like a loving couple that will stay together “’til death do us part,” the movie’s epilogue leaves out this reality: Richard and Oracene divorced in 2002. In 2010, Richard married his third wife Lakeisha Juanita Graham (who’s young enough to be his daughter), they had a son, and then the marriage ended in divorce in 2017. Maybe the “King Richard” filmmakers think that the public shouldn’t care about these details of Richard being a failure as a husband because Venus and Serena turned out to be rich and famous.

Despite the flaws in the movie’s screenplay, “King Richard” has exemplary acting from Smith, who gives one of his best movie performances as the gruff but compelling Richard. Sidney’s portrayal of Venus gets more of an emotional journey than Singleton’s portrayal of Serena, who is mostly in Venus’ shadow at this point in the sisters’ lives. (In real life, Serena would later emerge has having a more assertive personality than Venus.)

In the movie, Richard explains to Serena that he planned for Venus to become a star first. Richard predicts Venus will be ranked No. 1 in the world before Serena achieves that same goal, but Serena will eventually be considered by many to be the “greatest of all time” in tennis. He tells Serena: “I knew you was rough, you was tough, and you was a fighter.”

Sidney and Singleton both adeptly handle the movie’s tennis-playing scenes. A big highlight of the movie is an emotionally gripping, climactic scene at the 1994 Bank of the West Classic tournament in Oakland, California. One of the movie’s strengths is that it doesn’t fall into the usual clichés of how sports dramas usually end. However, the tropes of a “tough love” father/coach are played to the hilt.

As a sports movie, “King Richard” might disappoint some viewers who are expecting more screen time devoted to tennis matches. But more tennis matches on screen should be expected if Venus and Serena were the central characters. “King Richard” never lets you forget that the central character is someone who was never a pro tennis player: Richard Williams. However, the movie has the grace to admit that Venus and Serena turned out to be extraordinary people because of their mother Oracene too.

Warner Bros. Pictures released “King Richard” in U.S. cinemas and on HBO Max on November 19, 2021.

2021 AFI Fest: ‘Bruised,’ ‘Swan Song,’ ‘Tick, Tick…Boom!’ among the world premieres

September 28, 2021

The following is a press release from AFI:

Halle Berry in “Bruised” (Photo by John Baer/Netflix)

AFI announced that FEST 2021 will include the World Premieres of Academy Award® winner Halle Berry’s directorial debut “Bruised” from Netflix and Academy Award®  winner Benjamin Cleary’s feature directorial debut “Swan Song” from Apple Original Films. Both World Premieres will screen at the film festival in-person at the historic TCL Chinese Theatre on Saturday, November 13 and Friday, November 12, respectively.

“Bruised” stars Berry as a washed-up MMA fighter who struggles for redemption as both an athlete and a mother. “Swan Song” stars two-time Oscar® winner Mahershala Ali as a man diagnosed with a terminal illness who is presented with an alternative solution by his doctor, portrayed by eight-time Oscar® nominee Glenn Close, to shield his family from grief. The film also stars Oscar® nominee Naomie Harris, BAFTA Award nominee Awkwafina and Adam Beach.

“Now more than ever it is important to lift up and shine a light on new voices and new stories that inspire empathy,” said Sarah Harris, Director of Programming at AFI Festivals. “Halle Berry and Benjamin Cleary are vital artists whose visions we are proud to celebrate at AFI FEST.”

The films join the previously announced titles which include Pulitzer Prize and Tony Award® winner Lin-Manuel Miranda’s “Tick, Tick…BOOM!” and Reinaldo Marcus Green’s “King Richard,” starring Will Smith. AFI FEST 2021 film festival takes place from November 10–14 in Los Angeles.

This year’s hybrid festival will feature both in-person screenings and events, as well as virtual screenings, showcasing transformative stories from groundbreaking artists. With health and safety being top priority, AFI FEST 2021 film festival will require all festival-goers who attend in-person events and/or screenings to be fully vaccinated. Tickets and passes will be available soon on FEST.AFI.com. AFI Members receive exclusive discounts and benefits to the festival. To become an AFI member, visit AFI.com/join/.

BECOME A MEMBER

ABOUT THE FILMS

In “Bruised,” Jackie Justice (Halle Berry) is a mixed martial arts fighter who leaves the sport in disgrace.  Down on her luck and simmering with rage and regret years after her fight, she’s coaxed into a brutal underground fight by her manager and boyfriend Desi (Adan Canto) and grabs the attention of a fight league promoter (Shamier Anderson) who promises Jackie a life back in the octagon. But the road to redemption becomes unexpectedly personal when Manny (Danny Boyd, Jr.), the son she gave up as an infant, shows up at her doorstep. The film marks the directorial debut of Academy Award®  winner Halle Berry and also stars Adriane Lenox, Sheila Atim, Valentina Shevchenko and Stephen McKinley Henderson in a triumphant story of a fighter who reclaims her power, in and out of the ring, when everyone has counted her out. The film is helmed by Berry from an original screenplay written by Michelle Rosenfarb, and produced by Thunder Road Pictures, Entertainment 360 and Romulus Entertainment.

“Swan Song” is set in the near future and told through the eyes of Cameron (two-time Academy Award® winner Mahershala Ali), a loving husband and father diagnosed with a terminal illness who is presented with an alternative solution by his doctor (eight-time Academy Award® nominee Glenn Close) to shield his family from grief. As Cam grapples with whether or not to alter his family’s fate, he learns more about life and love than he ever imagined. Academy Award® nominee Naomie Harris, BAFTA winner Awkwafina and Adam Beach also star in the ensemble cast. The film is helmed by Academy Award®-winning filmmaker Benjamin Cleary (“Stutterer”), from an original screenplay written by Cleary and produced by Anonymous Content and Concordia Studio. Producers are Adam Shulman (“Defending Jacob”) and Jacob Perlin (“The Amazing Johnathan Documentary”) on behalf of Anonymous Content; Jonathan King (“Stillwater,” “Dark Waters”) on behalf of Concordia Studio; Rebecca Bourke (“Wave”); Mahershala Ali and Mimi Valdés (“Hidden Figures”) through Know Wonder.

Learn more about AFI’s annual film festival at FEST.AFI.com.

Copyright 2017-2022 Culture Mix
CULTURE MIX