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7 Oscars 2022 moments that raised the bar for women

Will Smith's slap made headlines. But elsewhere women won big — all night.
Beyonc? performs at the Academy Awards on Sunday.
Beyonce performs at the Academy Awards on Sunday.ABC

From the unbridled comedy of three female hosts to a best director win, the Oscars 2022 featured a long list of historic highlights for women on Sunday night.

The 94th Annual Oscars made an epic return to the live stage after a fully remote broadcast last year due to Covid-19. Apart from Will Smith's much-discussed punch and tearful acceptance speech, the atmosphere was celebratory and women were front and center.

Here are some of the biggest moments for women at Oscars 2022:

1. Beyoncé's performance of "Be Alive" from "King Richard"

Beyoncé did not disappoint with her incredible opening performance of "Be Alive," which was nominated for best original song from the film "King Richard." Tennis legends Venus and Serena Williams, the subjects of the film, kicked off the performance with an introductory cameo. Then, Beyoncé and an army of women dressed in tennis ball yellow performed a breathtaking live show on the very court in Compton, Los Angeles, where the Williams sisters got their start.

2. Three women hosts: Regina Hall, Wanda Sykes and Amy Schumer

94th Annual Academy Awards - Show
Co-hosts Amy Schumer, Wanda Sykes, and Regina Hall speak onstage during the Academy Awards in Los Angeles on Sunday.Neilson Barnard / Getty Images

For the first time in Oscars history, three women hosted the Oscars together. Comedians Regina Hall, Wanda Sykes and Amy Schumer brought their raw comedy to the Oscars by roasting their fellow actors and calling out misogyny; Schumer opened the event by saying: "This year, the Academy hired three women to host, because it's cheaper than hiring one man."

The last woman to host the Oscars was Ellen DeGeneres in 2014.

3. Ariana DuBose's win for best supporting actress

Image: Ariana DeBose
Ariana DeBose accepts the award for Best Actress in a Supporting Role for her performance in "West Side Story" onstage during the 94th Oscars at the Dolby Theatre in Hollywood, Calif. on March 27, 2022.Robyn Beck / AFP via Getty Images

Ariana DuBose won the best supporting actress award for her role as Anita in "West Side Story," making her the first openly queer woman of color to win an Academy Award for acting. DuBose beat out legendary actresses Judi Dench ("Belfast"), Kirsten Dunst (“The Power of the Dog”), Jessie Buckley ("The Lost Daughter"), and Aunjanue Ellis (“King Richard”). In her emotional acceptance speech, DuBose said, "You see an openly queer woman of color, an Afro-Latina who found her strength through art. And that's what I believe we're here to celebrate."

4. "The Queen of Basketball" won for best short documentary subject

Image: Queen of Basketball
Ben Proudfoot, Gabe Godol, Lusia Harris and Brandon Somerhalder attend the 2021 Tribeca Festival Premiere Shorts: "Go Big" at Hudson Yards on June 10, 2021 in New York City.Cindy Ord / Getty Images file

The best short documentary subject award went to "The Queen of Basketball," a film about Lusia Harris, the first and only woman to be drafted to the NBA. Harris starred in the film, but passed away in January, so she was unfortunately unable to see the awards show. "The Queen of Basketball" was executive produced by basketball legends Shaquille O'Neal and Stephen Curry and was directed by Ben Proudfoot, who said in his acceptance speech: "If there is anyone out there that still doubts whether there is an audience for female athletes, let this Academy Award be the answer."

5. Jane Campion won best director for "The Power of the Dog"

Image: Jane Campion
Jane Campion accepts the Oscar for Best Director for "The Power of the Dog" at the 94th Academy Awards in Hollywood, Los Angeles, Calif., on March 27, 2022.Brian Snyder / Reuters

Jane Campion became the third woman in history to win a best director award for "The Power of the Dog," behind Chloe Zhao in 2021 ("Nomadland") and Kathryn Bigelow in 2010 ("The Hurt Locker"). Campion thanked her cast and crew, as well as Thomas Savage, the deceased author of the original book "The Power of the Dog." Campion is the first woman to receive a best director nomination twice - she also garnered the honor in 1993 for "The Piano."

6. Jessica Chastain's inspiring acceptance speech for the Best Actress Award

Jessica Chastain accepts the award for best performance by an actress in a leading role for "The Eyes of Tammy Faye" at the Oscars on Sunday in Los Angeles.Robyn Beck / AFP via Getty Images

After winning the best actress award for "The Eyes of Tammy Faye," Jessica Chastain delivered an inspiring acceptance speech, honoring gay rights, victims of hate crimes and those who are contemplating suicide. "For any of you out there who do in fact feel hopeless or alone, you are unconditionally loved for the uniqueness that is you," she said.

7. Female-directed independent "CODA" wins best film, and many other awards

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

The independent film "CODA" chronicled the lives of two deaf parents and their hearing daughter. Sian Heder, a mom, directed and wrote the film, which swept several awards last night, including best film. "CODA" actor Troy Kotsur won the best supporting actor award, making him the second deaf actor to win an Academy Award for acting behind his co-star Marlee Matlin, who won in 1986. Heder also accepted the award for best adapted screenplay, saying that "CODA" was "incredibly hard to get made." She thanked the deaf community for teaching her throughout the process of making the film.