It didn’t take long for 2022 to arrive and depart. This year saw the return of crowded in-person events, box office blockbusters, unexpected weddings, and the assurance that pop culture never has a dull moment.
With the Johnny Depp and Amber Heard defamation trial and, of course, the Oscars slap, celebrity controversies dominated social media.
Many icons died during the year, including Sidney Poitier, Bob Saget, Taylor Hawkins, Anne Heche, Olivia Newton-John, Naomi Judd, Ray Liotta, Takeoff, and Stephen “tWitch” Boss.
We take a look back at some of the biggest moments in entertainment this year.
Recap of the most important moments
At the Oscars, Will Smith slapped Chris Rock after he made a joke about his wife, Jada Pinkett Smith.
Queen Elizabeth II died after reigning for more than 70 years, ushering in major changes in the United Kingdom.
The world couldn’t look away as Johnny Depp and Amber Heard faced off in an ugly defamation trial.
Kim Kardashian made headlines with her Met Gala gown and an unexpected romance.
Matthew McConaughey delivered an emotional speech about guns.
Tom Cruise and Kate Bush made a triumphant return.
At the Oscars, Will Smith slaps Chris Rock.
The 94th Academy Awards, held on March 27, were not the most talked-about event. The incident between Will Smith and Chris Rock on the Oscars stage, now known as The Slap, captivated audiences that night and for months after.
Rock joked about Jada Pinkett Smith’s baldness, joking that she could star in a “G.I. Jane” sequel. Pinkett Smith has been outspoken about her alopecia diagnosis, prompting her husband to storm the stage and smack Rock.
Smith returned to his seat and cursed at the comedian, telling him not to mention his wife’s name. Everyone in the Dolby Theater was taken aback, especially when Smith later accepted the Oscar for best actor for his performance in “King Richard.”
Smith apologised for his actions that night, both in the days after and months later in a YouTube video. For ten years, he has been barred from attending any Academy events, including the Oscars.
The world mourns the death of Queen Elizabeth II.
Queen Elizabeth II, Britain’s longest-reigning monarch, died on September 8 at the age of 96 at Balmoral Castle in Scotland. While the public mourned her death, they also celebrated the queen’s illustrious career, which spanned more than 70 years.
Tens of thousands of people waited hours in line to pass by Queen Elizabeth’s coffin and pay their respects at Westminster Hall for four days; soccer great David Beckham reportedly waited 12 hours. Many other celebrities took to social media to express their feelings about the queen.
On September 19, billions of people watched as Queen Elizabeth was laid to rest in a state funeral. Many eyes were on the United Kingdom’s new monarch, King Charles III, and others in line for the throne, including Prince William and his oldest children, Prince George and Princess Charlotte, who all attended the Westminster Abbey service.
In a televised defamation trial, Johnny Depp sues Amber Heard.
The defamation trial of Johnny Depp and Amber Heard turned into an online spectacle, rehashing the exes’ dysfunctional marriage as fans quickly took sides and “Saturday Night Live” cracked jokes.
Depp and Heard testified in May on competing libel charges. Depp filed a $50 million lawsuit against Heard, claiming she defamed him in an opinion column in which she claimed to be a victim of domestic abuse. Heard countersued Depp after Depp’s former lawyer, Adam Waldman, called her abuse allegations a hoax.
On June 1, after six weeks of intense testimony and 13 hours of deliberation, a Virginia jury sided with the “Pirates of the Caribbean” actor, awarding him more than $10 million in damages and confirming his claim that Heard fabricated claims. In her countersuit, the jury also awarded Heard $2 million in damages.
In December, Heard filed an appeal of the verdict, and Depp’s team filed its own notice of intent to appeal the jury’s award to his ex-wife. Then, on December 19, Heard announced that she and Depp had reached an agreement. According to Depp’s attorneys, Heard will pay $1 million, which he will “donate to charities.”
Heard has remained out of the spotlight since the trial, while Depp has attended the MTV Video Music Awards and Rihanna’s Savage X Fenty show.
Kim Kardashian dazzles and stirs up controversy in a Marilyn Monroe gown.
When Kardashian arrived at the Met Gala on May 2 in the original skin-tight, sparkling Bob Mackie gown that Marilyn Monroe wore to sing “Happy Birthday” to President John F. Kennedy in 1962, it was an unforgettable moment.
Kardashian was praised for her stunning appearance, but there was some criticism, both for her rapid weight loss in order to wear the dress and for fears that she might have damaged the historic piece. The reality star revealed that she lost 16 pounds in order to fit into the figure-hugging nude dress she borrowed from Ripley’s Believe It or Not before changing into a replica.
‘Top Gun: Maverick’ returns audiences to theatres.
The 36-year wait for a “Top Gun” sequel paid off when “Top Gun: Maverick” debuted in theatres on May 27. The film, which stars Tom Cruise in a reprise of his role from the 1986 original, grossed an estimated $156 million in its first four days in North American theatres. And, thanks to positive reviews and a global promotional tour, ticket sales remained strong in the second weekend, when they would normally drop.
The film received a 312 out of 4 star rating from USA TODAY’s movie critic Brian Truitt, and our own Bryan Alexander took readers inside a flight on an aerobatic stunt plane – without losing his lunch.
Other 2022 films, such as “Elvis,” “Minions: Rise of Gru,” “Black Panther: Wakanda Forever,” and “Avatar: The Way of Water,” have also achieved pre-pandemic ticket sales.