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Regardless of how you feel about who won Oscars, there's no doubt the telecast was terrible



billycrystal.jpgFans will argue for days over the results of this years Academy Awards: Viola or Meryl? The Artist or HugoJean Dujardin or George Clooney?

But on this, there is no argument: The telecast Sunday was terrible.

Turns out, there is a reason Oscar show producers didn't talk much about what was coming before Sunday's event. Beyond the way-cool opening number, in which Clooney locked lips with host Billy Crystal during his obligatory insertion in all the Best Picture nominees, there wasn't much there to anticipate.

Many of Crystal's jokes fell flat, including a quip based on The Help which drew bucketloads of ire online: ""When I came out of The Help I wanted to hug the first black woman I saw," he cracked. "Which, in Beverly Hills, was a 45 minute drive."

reg_634.oct_.ls_.22612.jpgThe decision to give out a long string of lesser known awards at the show's start -- makeup, set design and editing among them -- meant 40 minutes passed before a high profile category was awarded -- providing viewers with plenty of incentive to bolt for an NBA game or the latest episode of The Walking Dead.

And some kind of odd auditory feedback kept popping up during the telecast. I remember a similar problem marred much of last year's broadcasts of The Voice, making the audio sound tinny and strange.

Those missteps further marred a ceremony which just felt a bit off-kilter, from Robert Downey Jr. indulging a too-long bit about filming a reality show while presenting an award and supporting actress winner Octavia Spencer being rushed offstage to make room for long montages of stars talking about why they love movies (forgive the snark, but I'm not surprised Seth Rogen wasn't able to articulate what makes a great movie).

Mostly, the long montages of past classics served to remind viewers how obscure modern Oscar nominees often are, compared to years past -- has anyone in the TV audience actually seen Best Picture winner The Artist?

And Crystal's shtick, once so freewheeling and effortlessly witty, now felt tired as some nominees looked by the time the show ended, more than 30 minutes late. (Nick Nolte, looking like a hobo wedged into an old Karl Lagerfeld tuxedo, looked like he was ready to shank somebody when Christopher Plummer won supporting actor award).

I'm not going to write the "Viola Davis was robbed" story. Thanks to the Los Angeles Times, we know old white guys do all the Oscar voting, but Meryl Streep's turn in The Iron Lady was a tour de force worthy of the honor. I just feel bad that Davis had to endure weeks of people challenging her for playing a maid in a major film, only to lose the award in a way some will use to validate their gripes about Oscar's unfairness.

I feel worse for Oscar producers, who have precious few highlights to hang their hats on in the show's aftermath.

Right about now, the original plan to have Eddie Murphy on as host doesn't look quite so bad.


[Last modified: Monday, February 27, 2012 12:15am]


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