News Column

Where Oscars Went Wrong -- and Occasionally Right

Feb. 27, 2012

Neal Justin

The 84th Annual Academy Awards spent most of Sunday's ceremonies apologizing for last year's attempt to be hip, delivering a show that was as dated as its host's blackface impression of Sammy Davis Jr.

Here's where the show went wrong -- and occasionally right:

--Billy Crystal's opening movie montage was clever (as usual), but the nine-time host's music medley felt as dated as the "Mr. Ed" theme song he used to parody "War Horse." The academy should go back to five best-picture nominees, if only to keep this tradition from droning on so long. Crystal also recycled his "what are they thinking" bit with less-than-spectacular results.

--The academy dared viewers to switch to the NBA All-Star Game by kicking off the ceremonies with five yawner categories. Jennifer Lopez and Cameron Diaz tried to liven things up by showing their rear ends to the audience. At least they cracked each other up.

--Christopher Guest did his former "SNL" partner Crystal a big favor, contributing a hilarious film that imagined a focus group's reaction to an advance screening of "The Wizard of Oz." Fred Willard's obsession with flying monkeys made me want to stop watching the telecast and slip in a DVD of "Best in Show."

--Producers proved they're no longer interested in catering to younger viewers by dedicating five minutes to a massive Cirque du Soleil production that had absolutely nothing to do with cinema and everything to do with convincing my parents to spend a weekend in Las Vegas.

--Robert Downey Jr. and Gwyneth Paltrow stank up the joint with a Joaquin Phoenix parody that was two years too old. Plans for "Iron Man III" were canceled immediately afterward. Emma Stone did far better playing an overly enthusiastic presenter.

--Chris Rock's audition to host next year's Oscars went smashingly well, thanks to a bit about how easy it is to do voiceover work. It's incredible that he's only emceed the Oscars once. Also, let's start a campaign to turn over a future show to Kristen Wiig and Maya Rudolph.

--Melissa McCarthy slipped into her Oscar-nominated "Bridesmaids" role in a funny backstage bit with Crystal. Good choice to reprise the movie's airplane scene and not its bathroom scene.

--Strangest presenter: Angelina Jolie's right leg. She showed it with such gusto, I thought she was doing a commercial for lady shavers.

--Commenters on social media spent much of the broadcast complaining about sound problems. One tweeter asked why the Academy had decided to broadcast audio through a tin can. Others noted that the orchestra was too loud and the microphones too soft.

Memorable tweets

"Awesome job by Eddie Murphy in disguise as Billy Crystal." -- Jay Mohr

"Any straight men watching just turned the channel." -- Kathy Griffin during the Cirque Du Soleil performance

"When people go over, one of the Cirque people should swoop them up into the rafters." -- Patton Oswalt

"Oscar Fact: more people will see this tweet than ever saw 'Tree of Life.'" -- Denis Leary

"Someone call the one phone in Iran & tell them they won an Oscar." -- Aisha Taylor



Source: (c) 2012 the Star Tribune (Minneapolis)


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