'There is a place for us': The wins for women at the Oscars 2022

‘There is, indeed, a place for us’: The extraordinary firsts and wins for women you may have missed at the Oscars

Oscars

You know the big story of the 2022 Oscars by now.

The one that involves Chris Rock making a joke about Jada Pinkett Smith live on stage, and Pinkett Smith’s husband Will Smith then walking on stage, striking Rock on the face, and then returning to his front-row seat to yell “Keep my wife’s name out of your f***ing mouth.”

It was an ugly display of violence that has since sparked countless reactionary think-pieces dedicated to analyzing the incident.

But today, we want to give the issue a bit of air to turn our attention to some of the things that went a little lost during the Oscars, including the brilliant achievements made that night, by women — whose accomplishments can so often continue to be overshadowed by the actions of men. 

We’re talking about the extraordinary win for Jane Campion, for Best Director — just the third woman in history to win the award.

A win for singer-songwriter Billie Eilish, who took home an Oscar for Best Original Song for ‘No Time To Die’.

And a win for Ariana DeBose, whose performance in West Side Story won her Best Supporting Actress — the first queer woman of colour to win an Oscar.

Below, we look at more of these moments:

Best Director | Jane Campion, The Power of the Dog

Winning the award for Best Director, Campion becomes only the third female director in Oscars’ history to win the award — after Kathryn Bigelow won in 2010 for The Hurt Locker and Chloé Zhao won in 2020 for Nomadland.
 
“I just wanted to say big love to my fellow nominees. I love you all, you’re all so extraordinarily talented, and it could have been any of you,” Campion said accepting her award.

“I love directing because it’s a deep dive into story, yet the task of creating a world can be overwhelming. On ‘The Power of the Dog,’ I worked with actors I’m moved to call my friends. They met the challenge of the story with the depth of their gifts.”

Campion, who made other critically acclaimed films including Bright Star and The Piano, made history by becoming first woman to be nominated twice for Best Director at the Oscars.

Last month, Campion stirred controversy when she compared her Critics Choice Award achievement to the Williams’ sisters’ tennis accomplishments, insinuating that she had to work harder and ‘play against the guys’, where Venus and Serena did not.

She issued a statement of apology less than 24-hours after the incident.

Best Supporting Actress | Ariana DeBose, West Side Story 

Ariana DeBose made history by becoming the first queer woman of colour to win an Oscar for her role as Anita in Steven Spielberg’s rendition of Leonard Bernstein, Stephen Sondheim and Jerome Robbins’ classic musical West Side Story. 

Addressing those who “has ever questioned your identity” or “lived in the grey spaces”, she said in her speech, “there is, indeed, a place for us”.

“Imagine this little girl in the back seat of a white Ford Focus, look into her eyes,” she said. “You see an openly queer woman of colour, an Afro-Latina, who found her strength in life through art. And that is, I think, what we’re here to celebrate.”

“Now you see why Anita says ‘I want to be in America’, because even in this weary world that we live in, dreams do come true, and that’s a really heartening thing right now.” 

DeBose also took the opportunity to praise Rita Moreno, the actress who played Anita in the original film and won the Oscars for it in 1962. 

“I’m so grateful – your Anita paved the way for tons of Anitas like me, and I love you,” she said, addressing Moreno in the crowd.

Best Animated Film | Encancto

Yvett Merino, of the film’s producers, made history as the first Latina to win an Oscar for an animated feature.

During her acceptance speech, Merino, who is known for her work in Big Hero 6 (2014) and Meet the Robinsons (2007) said: “I am so proud to be a part of a film that puts beautiful, diverse characters in front and centre, and that people everywhere are seeing themselves in the film.”

Best Actress | Jessica Chastain, The Eyes of Tammy Faye

We know Jessica Chastain can portray extraordinarily complex, female characters — we saw her in Scenes from A Marriage, and Molly’s Game.

On Sunday night, she took home her first ever Oscars for her role in Michael Showalter’s The Eyes of Tammy Faye, a film based on a 2000 documentary of the same name which tells the story of Tammy Faye Bakker and her husband, Jim, (played by Andrew Garfield) and their rags to riches story building the world’s largest religious broadcasting station and theme park.

Chastain used her win to address “discriminatory and bigoted legislations.” 

“We’re faced with discriminatory and bigoted legislation that is sweeping our country with the only goal of further dividing us,” she said.

“There’s violence and hate crimes being perpetuated on innocent civilians all over the world. And in times like this, I think of Tammy and I’m inspired by her radical acts of love.”

“We’ve talked about love a lot. And I’m inspired by her compassion, and I see it as a guiding principle that leads us forward. And it connects us all in the desire that we want to be accepted for who we are, accepted for who we love, and to live a life without the fear of violence or terror. And for any of you out there who do in fact feel hopeless or alone, I just not you to know you are unconditionally loved for the uniqueness that is you.”

Best Original Song | No Time to Die, Billie Eilish and Finneas O’Connell

Billie Eilish and her brother Finneas O’Connell won their first ever Oscar for best original song for “No Time to Die” from the latest James Bond film. 

Speaking backstage after her win, Billie told reporters, “It’s so weird.”

“There’s no confusion at all about Bond. It’s been such a big part of our lives for so long, that the fact that we are involved at all was unbelievable. And the approach was very, very exhilarating and like, peak life. And also scary. And we just had so much pressure we put on ourselves. We just wanted to be perfect and represent Daniel Craig’s last film – and all of his films, and how much he put into it. It just was the most amazing experience ever.”

Eilish and her brother performed the song live at the ceremony. 

Best Costume Design | Jenny Beavan, Cruella 

Martin Scorsese is famous for being nominated 9 times for Best Director, but English costume designerJenny Beavan has been nominated for the Academy Award for Best Costume Design eleven times.

ELEVEN!


Sunday night’s win for her costume design in Cruella marks her third Oscars — she has won the same award for A Room With A View (1985) Mad Max: Fury Road (2015)

“Go team Cruella,” Beavan said in her acceptance speech.

“I have to say when [producer] Kristin Burr and [director] Craig Gillespie asked me to do this movie, I truly didn’t think we had time. I mean, I actually nearly said no.”

“Glad I didn’t. The only reason I didn’t was because Clare Spragge, who’s sitting just there sparkling said she would come on board as costume supervisor and bring the team, the team of the most phenomenal, creative, clever, generous, amazing people without whom obviously it wouldn’t have happened.”

Stay Smart! Get Savvy!

Get Women's Agenda in your inbox