Ok, so maybe it wasn’t on the level of a moon landing, or selection of a pope. But henceforth all you need say is “the slap” and people will know what you mean — that moment Will Smith smacked Chris Rock at the Oscars and a global audience said, “Wait, did that happen?” Even in the room itself — maybe especially in the room itself — there was a sense everyone had imagined it, which helps explain why things went on as normal, for a bit.
The pandemic was over, phew! Well, of course it wasn’t. But live entertainment pushed forward in 2022, with mask mandates dropping and people rushing to buy things like, oh, Taylor Swift tickets!
On the big screen, there were big comebacks. Mourning its dearly missed star, Chadwick Boseman, “Black Panther: Wakanda Forever” was a box office triumph. James Cameron’s “Avatar” made a splashy December return.
Then there was Cruise, turning 60 in ’22 just like the Rolling Stones, swooping into Cannes with his most successful movie and showing, like those still-touring rockers, that when they tell you “The end is inevitable,” as they do in “Top Gun: Maverick,” you can always reply: “Maybe so, sir, but not today.”
Will audiences one day find Cruise – or the Stones, for that matter – too wrinkled and past the sell-by date? Maybe so, but not this year.
Our annual, totally selective journey through a year in pop culture:
It’s GOLDEN GLOBES time. But is a Globes with no telecast, boozy celebs or red carpet a Globes at all? The embattled Hollywood Foreign Press Association, reeling from stunning failures over diversity, holds a private event and plans a comeback next year. Hey, remember the original wardrobe malfunction? Well, JANET JACKSON says she and JUSTIN TIMBERLAKE have moved on, and so should we. The New York Times buys Wordle, and we’re all thinking in five-letter words (though W-O-R-D-L-E is six, just saying.) Meanwhile, it’s a month of loss, heading off a year of loss: pioneering Black actor, director and activist SIDNEY POITIER dies at 94.
Only one wedding, Britney? BENNIFER has two! Maybe what happens in Vegas usually stays in Vegas, but not when you have 227 million followers on Instagram. With a winking reference to being a “Sadie” (married lady) JENNIFER LOPEZ directs fans to her newsletter where she shares pics of her quickie wedding to BEN AFFLECK. “Love is beautiful,” she writes. “And it turns out love is patient.” Speaking of patience, fans of BEYONCÉ are rewarded for theirs with the release of her long-awaited “Renaissance,” her first solo album in six years.
So, we were saying … Bennifer’s second wedding, on Affleck’s compound in Georgia, is bigger and fancier. One wedding, one split: KARDASHIAN and DAVIDSON are no longer. In other summer news, the world remembers PRINCESS DIANA, whose shocking death happened 25 years ago, and whose life is being rehashed for a new generation in the current season of “The Crown.” Only days after the anniversary, that same Netflix series will pause production as a mark of respect for QUEEN ELIZABETH II as Britain — and the world — mourn the beloved monarch, who dies at age 96 after more than 70 years on the throne.
Love ’em or hate ’em, here come HARRY and MEGHAN again, with a Netflix documentary watched very closely by royalty across the pond. Over at Twitter, MUSK says he’ll step down as CEO — after polling users — once he finds someone “foolish” enough to replace him. Cameron’s “AVATAR” sequel finally appears, 13 years after the original broke records, and yes, moviegoers flock to Pandora once again. And bringing the year full circle, SMITH emerges to promote his new film, “EMANCIPATION,” hoping people will forget about … what was it? … at least enough to check out the movie.
In this year of comebacks, will Smith’s be the biggest?
Check back with us in 2023.
This story was first published on Dec. 8, 2022 and was updated on Jan. 7, 2023, to correct a mention about Troy Kotsur’s Oscar win. He is the first deaf male actor to win an acting Academy Award. Marlee Matlin, who won best actress in 1987, is the first and only other deaf actor to win an Oscar.