Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Final Oscar thoughts

Wow! People have strong opinions when it comes to the Oscars. Thanks to everyone for your comments on my review yesterday – even the ones who disagreed with me (and left their names). So let me respond to your responses.

If you thought it was a good entertaining show – great. If you enjoyed Billy Crystal, thought he was affable and amusing – terrific. You’re clearly not alone. Even some reviewers agreed with you. But I was so bored I looked foreword to the GCB promos.

I used to like Billy Crystal. Thought he was funny, charming, and very serviceable playing all the parts that now go to Ben Stiller. And I thought his looks were fine. He was never a matinee idol. But so what? He was a Jewish character actor who was attractive enough to get the girl. The fact that the young Meg Ryan could be his love interest was every bit as believable as the young Meg Ryan being Tom Hanks’ love interest (twice). It’s not like Woody Allen and Elizabeth Shue… or Julia Roberts… or Tea Leoni… or Goldie Hawn… or Mariel Hemingway when she was a teenager. (Time out while I take a shower.)

So I was looking forward to Billy returning as host. (Hell, after last year’s debacle with Anne Hathaway and James Franco, I would have welcomed Carson Daly.) But when Billy came out I did a double-take. He was unrecognizable. Someone had replaced his face with a rubber mask of Jackie Mason. And then his opening was a mere rehash of what he had done eight times before. I was disappointed. This was Lucille Ball in LIFE WITH LUCY.

People forget that when Billy first introduced that feature where he’s inserted into movies it was original and new. And fucking GREAT. Same with the song-and-dance. It was a revelation.

But that was twenty years ago. Aren’t there any NEW ideas for show openings? Or at least ATTEMPTS? You have a versatile performer in Billy Crystal. He can do skits or dance numbers or faux documentaries or whatever somebody dreams up. This puts him way ahead of James Franco, Whoopi Goldberg, John Stewart, Chris Rock, or David Letterman.

So I was expecting more from the opening. But that’s just me. Ray Kroc didn’t build an empire changing the menu at McDonald’s.

A number of you thought the problem with the show was the writers. I’ve never written for the Oscars, but from what I know it’s a Kamikaze mission. Unless you’re a writer who has creative say in the direction of the show you’re just a punching bag.

Let’s say you’re writing a bit for two presenters. You have to have the material approved by the producers, the Academy, probably the network, the actors, their manager, agent, and in all likelihood – their hair stylist. And if it’s for two actors, one might like it and the other doesn’t. You change it to suit the one and now the other doesn’t like it. Then they both decide they want to change it. And their hairstylists get into it. Before you know it, what is left is a horrible, grotesque, painfully unfunny bit and you’re still considered the writer. Actors also sometimes bring on their own writers to “work” with you. And by writers, that could mean their Pilate teacher or life coach. You have three Emmys and now you need your material approved by a Yoga instructor.

And after that, the actor can’t read a teleprompter or remember a line and what results is a trainwreck. Congratulations. You’re still the writer-of-record.

Going in, writers are usually handed guidelines – restrictions. This actor won’t broach this subject, that actor won’t do this type of joke. In other words -- all the areas you were considering Not to mention, some movie stars are so self-absorbed and take themselves so seriously that they couldn’t be funny if it ended world hunger. Good luck writing comedy for them.

Throw in last minute changes, cuts for time, and all of that is just the beginning. Once the show is actually on you’ve got to come up with jokes on the spot and adjust bits as a result of the results.

I would probably do it once for the experience. The year after I’m guessing I would fly back to Australia to be as far away from it as I could.

For the show to ultimately be better the Academy first must decide what they want the show to be. If you’re going to have Morgan Freeman introduce the show and set a tone of elegance and prestige then don’t do shit-in-the-sink and dick jokes. Go one way or the other.

Then find a new host. Use Billy Crystal as your model – someone who is multi-talented, accessible, and spontaneous. Who is that? I don’t know. Neal Patrick Harris? Patton Oswalt? Tina Fey? I’m assuming the Academy has scratched Sacha Baron Cohen off the list. But someone is out there. It might take a year or three to find him or her, but once you do you’re set.

Don’t give out all the Oscars on TV. Sorry but no one gives a shit about make-up, costumes, and short documentaries. I can hear you now – nobody gives a shit about writers either. Not true. A) Top-tiered screenwriters are well known, B) people have definite opinions about the scripts, and C) writers generally deliver entertaining speeches. What was the best moment of Sunday's show?  Writer Jim Rash mocking Angelina Jolie.  Use the time to either shorten the show, find entertaining performances, or both.

Cut the practice where actors speak directly to nominated actors and tell them how fucking brilliant they are.  Natalie Portman might think you're a national treasure, but a billion viewers worldwide now hate you. Stop that practice and never ever do it again. 

And then pass the baton to Hollywood. If the studios made some decent popular movies that were not comic books or Adam Sandler dreck the Oscar audience would increase because they have seen the movies and have a rooting interest. But Hollywood knows this. They don’t care. Ask Warner Brothers if they’d be willing to trade their upcoming Batman movie for THE ARTIST with all its Oscars. You can throw in SLUMDOG MILLIONAIRE too.  See what they say.


The Oscars still can be a terrific show.  There will always be appalling presenters or production numbers that suck, but that's the fun of it.  I look forward to the year that my readers are up in arms because my review was too nice. 

77 comments:

Ray Barrington said...

I suggested Neil Patrick Harris to some friends and was told "well, he's not big enough in movies (sorry Harold and Kumar)" and that you have to be big in movies to be a successful Oscar host or the room wouldn't take you seriously.

I responded with two words:

Johnny Carson.

Todd Ayres said...

I believe Meg Ryan and Tom Hanks have been love interests in not two, but THREE films. I believe you're forgetting a little gem called "Joe Vs. the Volcano." How dare you sir.

Blaze said...

Make good, popular movies that invest the audience? I recall Oscar nights when movies I watched and enjoyed were contenders. They were popular money makers and not "artsie". And, after the third or fourth of these evenings, I realized The Fix Was In. Popular, entertaining movies are not allowed to win anything more significant than "Best Craft Services Table".

On a side note, though, a special clip show of the Oscars should be mandatory viewing. It might deflate the insane celebrity worship in our culture. Nothing like watching actors speak as themselves to realize they are no different than a convention of dentists or bus drivers or farmers. They are the stumble-tongued mortals like the rest of us.

DJ said...

Perhaps if Neil Patrick Harris continues to do a good job hosting the Tonys, some "genius" in Hollywood might decide that he couldn't be any worse than some of the clunkers in the past.

Has Alec Baldwin hosted, either alone or in tandem with Steve Martin? He might be a good choice.

Sebastian said...

Hey Ken,

knowing you love Aubrey Plaza and consider Adam Sandler movies dirt (dreck is German for dirt and of course we are on the same page about both Sandler and Plaza) what's your opinion on "Funny People"?

I think that was also Seth Rogen's last fat movie... and now kinda also one of the last fat movies of Jonah Hill... and it's an Apatow movie, which also reminds me about The Daily Show talking about how he could make a kid raping joke but couldn't mention abortion on "Knocked Up" while abortion as a topic wasn't a problem in the 80s. Which would be a nice question about topics in comedy that might have become a no-go area in the past and if you know of any other.

Doug said...

Harris is a good option, Hugh Jackman is another. Hell, Anne Hathaway by herself, is a good choice. As for the nominated pictures, the whole idea behind taking the number of best picture nominees back up to nine was to allow popular films back in. It was done, almost exclusively, in response to The Dark Knight getting snubbed. The majority of the membership is apparently too clueless to understand this.

Dan Fiorella said...

>>People forget that when Billy first introduced that feature where he’s inserted into movies it was original and new. And fucking GREAT. Same with the song-and-dance. It was a revelation.
But that was twenty years ago.<<<

>>So I was expecting more from the opening. But that’s just me. Ray Kroc didn’t build an empire changing the menu at McDonald’s.<<

Well, if I ate at McDonalds everyday, you'd have a point. But if you're doing something once every eight years, then, no that's not exactly a rut. And if you go back to McDonald's after an absence, then, yeah, you're expecting hamburgers and fries.

I've learned you can't watch entertainment shows around entertainers. It's like watching cop shows with real cops. All they do is point out the stuff they got wrong.

Great Big Radio Guy said...

"Funny people" certainly doesn't include the Adam Sandler strain of performers. Bob Hope was Oscar's host for decades when it first came to TV. Hope is every comic's acting model. If he weren't nominated so many times (even to this day), Tom Hanks would have been ideal. That's what made Hope so perfect. He knew he'd never win one (never even nominated) and he played off that hilariously. Yet he still looked great in a tux and was adaptable to any mood and situation.

Who's our Bob Hope today?

Dave from Athens said...

Bill Murray would be ideal, but I'm guessing that that will never happen.

sophomorecritic said...

I think my newspaper reviewer put it well, the Oscars are never as bad or never as good as people make it out as people say. It's hard to please everyone and I think you're a bit hard on Billy Crystal. I wrote in my review that it's a shame that they didn't stick with Eddie Murphy but if we were stuck with Billy Crystal, I'd rather see him do what he does best, even if it is a little dated, then try to mix it up into something more modern and bomb.
My review is here: http://www.examiner.com/film-industry-in-washington-dc/the-morning-after-the-great-the-bad-the-undecided

Also, I think fix the Oscars by reducing the hype leading up to it: http://exm.nr/mzJuns

Tom Quigley said...

Great Big Radio Guy said...

"He [Bob Hope] knew he'd never win one (never even nominated) and he played off that hilariously. Yet he still looked great in a tux and was adaptable to any mood and situation..

Great Big Radio guy got it right. One of Hope's (and his writers') abilities was to be able to take his career-long oversight by the academy and mix it in, conveying the glitz and glamour of the Oscars while at the same time still poking fun at Hollywood's self-preoccupation and pretentiousness. Perhaps his best opening line one year was "Welcome to the Academy Awards celebration -- or as it's known in my house, 'Passover'."

Breadbaker said...

Nice review, "sophomorecritic" or "Orrin" as I suspect more people call you to your face. I totally agree with you on the weakness of the writing in "The Artist"; it was not just entirely derivative of Singin' in the Rain and A Star is Born, you could guess the plot in about two seconds and there wasn't a single twist or surprise in it. Even the subtitles were based entirely on cliche. You rarely needed to read them.

The reality is that the extra Best Picture nominations don't fool anyone. People don't watch because their favorite film is nominated if they are led to believe that it has zero chance of winning. The only really popular film on the list this year, The Help, was given zero chance of grabbing Best Picture, and the second most popular film was Midnight in Paris, which also was given no chance. If they'd nominated Harry Potter as the tenth film it wouldn't have moved the ratings a smidge because in 2012 there's so much information out there not a soul would have been fooled. People know the difference between "you guys have changed and really are supporting awards for popular films" and "you guys have some new consultant telling you to do something different to try to manipulate your audience." And all that is on the producers and the Academy itself, not the host.

Anonymous said...

"writers generally deliver entertaining speeches"

YES! That's why I always look forward to the screenwriting awards (the director awards are usually good too). They deliver funny, heartfelt, CONCISE speeches.

The absolute worst are the acting awards. My God, they always emote too damn much (really, we believe you are thankful and moved, you don't have to emphasize it by stuttering and pretending to shake), and go ON AND ON with nothing to say (usually just names).

I thought Billy Crystal did fine, by the way. The Oscars is comfort food - I sit down to experience the same thing I did over the last 30 years. Leave the innovations to the MTV Movie Awards.

Tim W. said...

I was one who mostly agreed with you, and especially about how Billy Crystal looked. One thing, though. Maybe it's wishful thinking, but I'm guessing Natalie Portman (and Colin FIrth, who handed out the Best Actor Award) was simply doing as she was told. An opinion backed up up by the fact that she hadn't memorized her lines and read quite a bit off the teleprompter.

@Great Big Radio Guy

I never once found Bob Hope funny, so if there's an equivalent for me, it would be Adam Sandler.

Ken Levine said...

There's no doubt that Natalie and Colin just read what was prepared. I don't blame them specifically. It's the practice itself. But if I were asked to present Best Actress and told that was what I had to do I would respectfully bow out or ask to introduce another category. I can't BEGIN to tell you how much I hate those introductions. I can't BEGIN to begin to tell you.

Mary Stella said...

The Oscars for me had about 15 minutes of entertainment in hours of boring stuff. It lacked energy.

I love the eye candy of George Clooney as much as the next woman, but even cutting away to his reaction shot time after time after time triggered the ho-hums.

I realized how unimpressed I was when it was all over and I couldn't cite more than a few memorable moments including Gwyneth Paltrow's dress, the guy imitating Jolie, Octavia Spencer's genuine emotion, Emma Stone skewering Ben Stiller, and the woman's beautiful singing for In Memoriam. Memorable, and not in a good way, was Meryl Streep's acceptance speech which came off, to me, as clumsy and disingenuous.

Breadbaker said...

For years and years, the prior year's acting winners present the opposite gender's award. Colin Firth and Natalie Portman weren't offered their choice of awards to present; they were offered Best Actress and Best Actor, respectively, period.

Mr. Hollywood said...

The host they should use is someone who is right under the nose of everyone at ABC --- Jimmy Kimmel.
Have you seen the last 2 of his post-Oscar shows? Superb writing, superb production and VERY funny.
He's low key, bright, fast on his feet ... let Jimmy and his writing staff do the next Oscar show and a lot of people would be VERY happy!

Paul Duca said...

I'm surprised no one, not even Ken, has mentioned the nun on the red carpet, Mother Dolores Hart. On the verge of reaching top rank stardom from movies like WHERE THE BOYS ARE, Dolores Hart turned her back on Hollywood in 1963 to join a convent. She returned as the subject of one of the short subject documentaries...GOD IS THE BIGGER ELVIS (referring to her role in KING CREOLE, where she gave Elvis Presley his first on-screen kiss).

Actually, Mother Dolores never fully left Tinseltown behind...she remains a member of the Motion Picture Academy, thus being an Oscar voter for the last half-century. And she has been opening up more about her past life for a worthy cause--her Connecticut convent is in need of major repairs and safety upgrade that cost several million dollars. If each and every viewer of the Oscarcast sent in one penny...

Eric J said...

I know of no other industry that spends so much time congratulating themselves for doing their fucking job, even when it's done poorly. The Oscar show reflects exactly what most of the industry is. It is impossible to make such gratuitous, specious flattery entertaining.

The ONLY entertainment to come out of the 2012 Oscars were your reviews.(real flattery)

Charles H. Bryan said...

I second the Kimmel idea -- while not in movies, he somehow managed to convince a bunch of people to be in that "Movie: The Movie" thing. On the other hand, I heard him say inn interview that he likes to piss people off just to see their reactions.

Maybe it's time for a CGI host. Is Jar Jar Binks available?

Ray Barrington said...

Sorry for the second comment, but...

OK, want a solution to make the Oscars better? Move them back to late March-early April, instead of having them in February just so ABC can get extra ratings during sweeps. A later Oscarcast would give more civilians a chance to actually SEE some of these movies!

Phil said...

Ken, blisteringly hilarious and accurate. You only missed Angelina's anorexic celebrity poster child moment. "Still sick and still on top" could be her current memoir title.

donnie said...

Let me be the first to, uh, second the nomination of Tina Fey as host for next year. I can't think of a better choice.

Charles H. Bryan said...

Other suggestions for improving the Oscars:

1. Make it into a bracket-style tournament leading up to a movie vs. movie battle royale. Every week the Academy voters eliminate half the field. Host: Charles Barkley.

2. Reality show where the executive producer of each film has to explain why his/her movie should win Best Picture while they perform degrading tasks. Ben Affleck, Matt Damon, and Joe Rogan can host.

3. Paint the name of each nominee on a racecar at the Daytona 500. Let them race. Excellent cross promotion.

Tim W. said...

While I (somewhat) defend Portman (and Firth), I agree whole heartedly that the incessant worshipping of the best actor and actress nominees. They're good. We get that. If they weren't they probably wouldn't be nominated. The nominees in all the other categories are good, too, but I don't want to hear some presenter deifying them.

And let me third the nomination for Jimmy Kimmel to host. Or Neil Patrick Harris. Really anyone who has shown an ability to host something while being entertaining. Because let me tell you, I'm pretty close to calling it quits on the Academy Awards, which would be a real shame since it's always been one of the few can't miss TV events of the year, for me, in the past.

Dave Scharf said...

Favourite host line ever. Steve Martin, "A lot of you are wondering why so many Hollywood marriages fail. It's because we sleep with so many people."

-bee said...

Oh man, I thought Steve Martin did a great job when he was a solo host too.

He was such a great stand-up comedian back in the day, and it seems like the only thing that lures him back into that format is hosting the Oscars.

Neal Patrick Harris has been a brilliant host on the Tonys and Emmys, but maybe that is what keeps the Oscars from hiring him, he's "used goods".

Ah, Ken, even if its on youtube I wonder if younger people could ever appreciate what a spectacular tranwreck "Life with Lucy" really was.

-bee said...

Eric J said...

"I know of no other industry that spends so much time congratulating themselves for doing their fucking job..."

Y'know, I bet if you went to the yearly national 'carpet cleaners' convention or that of any other industry, you'd find essentially the same thing as you'd find in the oscars. Lame stand-up emcees, lame entertainment, self-important speeches, etc.

Yeah, there have been better vs. worse Oscar shows over the years, but essentially it IS nothing more than a tarted up version of any trade show's awards ceremony. Granted the Tony awards are always the most entertaining, but that's because the performers entire raison d'etre in theater is entertaining a live crowd.

D. McEwan said...

"Tom Quigley said...
Great Big Radio guy got it right. One of Hope's (and his writers') abilities was to be able to take his career-long oversight by the academy"


It wasn't an "oversight." He never gave an Oscar-worthy performance in a movie. And they DID give him a Special Oscar.

I'm known for my loathing of Bob Hope, but he was a good, dependable Oscar host, as I recall, but then, I was very young way back then. When at an age where one still laughs at Jerry Lewis, one is too young to judge comedy.

"Mr. Hollywood said...
The host they should use is someone who is right under the nose of everyone at ABC --- Jimmy Kimmel."


Under my nose is exactly where I do not want Jimmy Kimmel. I do want to smell him. He has his talents, and he has his appeal, but to me, 3 hours of Kimmel would be torture. Really do not enjoy him. I'm not saying he's bad, Adam Sandler is bad, I'm saying I really don't enjoy him. And I don't think the right host for the Oscars is someone who, himself, would much rather be watching "the game," whatever game that would be.

Tallulah Morehead said...

"sophomorecritic said...
I think my newspaper reviewer put it well, the Oscars are never as bad or never as good as people make it out as people say. My review is here: http://www.examiner.com/film-industry-in-washington-dc/the-morning-after-the-great-the-bad-the-undecided:


Oh, well if we're plugging our own reviews than mine is here:


http://www.tallulahmorehead.blogspot.com/2012/02/silence-is-golden-2012-oscar-show.html

Mike said...

Tim W. said...
While I (somewhat) defend Portman (and Firth), I agree whole heartedly that the incessant worshipping of the best actor and actress nominees. They're good. We get that. If they weren't they probably wouldn't be nominated. The nominees in all the other categories are good, too, but I don't want to hear some presenter deifying them.
----

I hate that as well. I can only assume they must have really fragile egos that must be coddled at all times, so that when the ONE winner (sorry, award recipient) is announce, the others won't start crying and run out of the theater. And I'm not really kidding, because I can't see any other reason for the worship of them. Sure, the actors presenting all pay lip service to the writers, cinematographers etc during the evening, but we all know who they REALLY think make the movies...

By the way, why are there so few non-actors presenting the awards? I bet a lot of viewers would find it refreshing to see some less worn out faces up there on stage, and not just the 30 seconds before they're rushed off stage after winning for best costume.

Nana Lana said...

There's nothin' that'll take the sting out of a bad economy like watching millionaires giving each other gold statues.

Frank said...

Adam Sandler dressed as Jill would make a hilarious host.

Jeffrey Leonard said...

Well said, Ken. Thank you for the explanation. However, I still liked the show. Maybe it's because I'm now in that 60-65 demo.

Patrick Daniel O'Neill said...

For all those who have suggested Tina Fey as a host--never going to happen as long as ABC has the rights to the broadcast; they're not going to OK giving such a platform to one of NBC's biggest stars.

Johnny Carson got away with it because he was Johnny Carson.

Kendall said...

I don't mind if the Oscars run a little long, since the show is only on once a year. I think one way to improve the show would be for the host to interact with the audience sitting right there a few feet from the stage. Some of my most memorable moments were when Ellen just walked down the aisle with a mike and riffed of the various celebrities in attendance, or Hugh Jackman bringing Anne Hathaway up on stage. I mean, you've got the biggest stars in the world right there. Utilize them.

Mike said...

What's with the attack on Adam Sandler? He even mocks Mel Gibson in one of his movies.

Good host would be Justin Timberlake.

Carmen said...

I agree that the shit and dick jokes were tasteless, and even worse, not funny. The Golden Globes have it right. Go elegant. Have big name actors do well written tributes, then have Ricky Gervais do the comedy and gross stuff. It adds up to a better evening than turning the show over to SNL performers, doing silly, non-funny things like banging cymbals. In case you didn't notice, Ken, Tina Fey died a hideous death with her joke, also. Tina Fey's mockumentary style is just what is wrong with the Oscars now. As for Billy Crystal, one of the problems he had is how do you make jokes about memorable moments in memorable films when there are NO memorable films. Films nowadays fit Netflix better than real theaters, compared to the films of
the past. Hell, even last year's THE KING'S SPEECH and THE SOCIAL NETWORK towered over most of the field this year. And would it have hurt Meryl Streep to thank one person besides the make-up guy who worked on the film that got her an Oscar.

Anonymous said...

Billy looks his age (63). Get over it.

And the best Steve Martin line when he hosted was "Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon. Sounds like something Sigfried and Roy do on vacation."

Curt From Naperville said...

Last year, you said: "I thought Anne Hathaway was very winning as the co-host. She got a little too revved-up by the end (high fiving kids and almost launching them into the audience) but she was genuine, bubbly, and you didn’t have to watch the red carpet show this year because she wore everyone’s gown." I assume the notes this year about last year's show were about the show in general, not Hathaway specifically.

I wouldn't be surprised if some of the same people who hated this year's show because it skewed too old hated last year's because it skewed too young. Next year they can watch NBC on Sunday night; no matter what they show it'll be lousy.

As for next year, how about teaming up Hathaway with Steve Carell? They've worked together before (and unless someone comes up with a decent "Get Smart 2" script they won't team up again), and they're both legitimate movie stars *now*.

jbryant said...

Okay, folks, if the nominees aren't to your liking, perhaps you can point out which hugely popular films got unfairly snubbed this year? David Poland linked to a list of the top grossing films of 2011, and of those that grossed $100 million or more, only THE HELP got nominated. THE GIRL WITH THE DRAGON TATTOO probably came close. BRIDESMAIDS had a shot. DEATHLY HALLOWS 2 was worthy, but they weren't likely to nominate the 2nd half of the last entry in a series they hadn't nominated before. Some thought RISE OF THE PLANET OF THE APES should have made it. But I'll bet there aren't two people here who would agree with all those choices. And half of you would be saying, "I can't believe they nominated films about gross women and wizards and monkeys and a strange pierced girl."

Complaining about an award-giving body's choices is like complaining about the Homecoming Queen voting results at your kid's high school. She may not be as pretty and smart as YOUR daughter, but that's life.

Blaze said...

I think the dearth of potential hosts may come from changes in TV. Back in the days of myth and legend, the TV schedule had variety shows hosted by a wide assortment of comedians, singers, and movie stars. They introduced, they performed, they quipped, they hosted. People tapped to be a host had a lot of examples to watch and take notes on how it was done.

Currently, we have a handful of talk show hosts and that's it. That's a different gig than variety show host.

Just as I wrote that, I suddenly pictured Colin Ferguson hosting the Oscars. And I rather like that notion.

Pat Reeder said...

I came on to suggest Jimmy Kimmel and see that others already mentioned him. His post-Oscars special was a tantalizing glimpse of how entertaining the real Oscar show could be if it were in the hands of the right people.

And if they just want a host who's brilliant on his feet, try Craig Ferguson. But the censors had better keep their fingers hovering over the bleep button.

BTW, I may be the only person who actually liked David Letterman as host. Everyone fixates on the "Oprah, Uma" joke, but he had some other great lines. Like, "'Eat Drink Man Woman'...I believe that's how Arnold Schwarzenegger asked Maria out on their first date." I still remember that line. I dare you to quote any lines from last year's Oscars from memory. I think Letterman was considered a failure not because he wasn't funny but because he poked uncomfortable fun at the egos of the stars who'd come there to celebrate themselves as the greatest thing since the polio vaccine.

Anonymous said...

I suggest importing Stephen Fry.

Johnny Walker said...

I agree with everything you say about Crystal and the opening number. I honestly think I was willing to overlook them both simply because they weren't James Franco and Anne Hathaway.

The biggest problem the Academy has at the moment is that they insist on their presenters being people with movies coming out. I'm sure it's to do with them wanting to be "now" and nothing whatsoever to do with studios paying them, but it severely limits their selection.

We got lucky with Crystal this year. I'm pretty sure the only reason we got someone with some actual stage and presenting experience was that they couldn't afford another Bret Ratner situation.

Next year I'm sure we'll be enjoying the charming stage charisma of Angelina Jolie and Johnny Depp. Won't that be fun.

Our best hope is to try and crowd-fund a blockbuster movie for Neil Patrick Harris in time for next year's ceremony.

Yes, the technical awards are boring, but -- dammit -- these folk get hardly any recognition as it is. Don't reduce them to the technical Oscars, educate the viewers on what they do, so we can have an opinion about Sound Editing.

I may be fighting a losing battle with that one.

I also have to take issue with your idea of losing the "talking directly to the actors bit". Yes, it reeked this year, and I'm amazed that Natalie Portman, a Harvard graduate, agreed to read such banal, saccharine waffle. She really scraped the barrel with "your two words filled our hearts", or whatever she said. Not only was it awful, but it was a completely unnecessary spoiler for a fantastic movie.

At least it became a bit more real when Firth addressed Streep.

I almost forgot my point: I remember it working wonderfully the year Hugh Jackman hosted. So my point is, it CAN work, and I remember quite liking it when it did.

Anyways, what's with THE ARTIST doing so poorly in America?? Get your asses to the cinema and witness how a black and white silent movie can entertain you, already! Yes, even you, Transformers fan.

pumpkinhead said...

Okay, a couple of peeves to air here.

First, Anne Hathaway. I'm a little tired of all the venom and/or snarkiness directed her way for her Oscars-hosting stint. I watched it and she was, at the very least, fine. She was fully game, enthusastic, and youthful yet classy. It was Franco who made a mess out of their stint together. She held up her end of the bargain. She should stop getting penalized because she had a partner who didn't hold up his end of the bargain.

Second, stop telling me I need to see and love "The Artist." I do in fact love actual silent movies. I actually sit and watch them on TCM Sunday nights whenever I can. I keep seeing pieces of "The Artist" and I totally have no interest in it. I don't need to see it just because a black and white mostly silent film in 2012 is a novelty and the lead actress is cute. I get the impression that there would be nothing exceptional about it if it had been made in color with dialogue.

Kirk said...

I agree with Pat Reeder that Letterman should be given another chance. Oprah-Uma was ONE joke, people! Did it really spoil the entire telecast for you?

That was the year Quenton Taratino and his writing partner (sorry, too lazy at the moment to look up the name) won Best Screenplay for Pulp Fiction. Upon accepting the award, the writing partner said, "I have to pee." Afterwards, Letterman comes out with a stern expression and says something like, "Well, I have to pee, too, but you don't see ME complaining" which I found hilarious. Maybe it was the delivery.

D. McEwan said...

"Frank said...
Adam Sandler dressed as Jill would make a hilarious host."


Nothing would make Adam Sandler "hilarious" under any circumstances. His great achievement this weekend was breking the World's Record for Most Razzie Nominations in a Single Year, all fully deserved. I hope he sweeps the Razzies.

"pumpkinhead said...
Okay, a couple of peeves to air here.

First, Anne Hathaway. I'm a little tired of all the venom and/or snarkiness directed her way for her Oscars-hosting stint. I watched it and she was, at the very least, fine."


No she wasn't. She was a bumblng amateur. Yes, Franco was much worse, but she was still terrible.

"Anonymous said...
I suggest importing Stephen Fry."


Sugestion noted and rejected. As I posted before: I saw him host the BAFTAs and it was like watching a Maiden Aunt in her 80s give out awards for knitting over tea. He was the dullest awards show host I've ever seen.

Terry said...

It's the same story every year. The show airs, people gripe and make snarky comments and complain about how awful it was compared to past years, yet millions and millions of people watch and it always ends up being one of the top-rated shows of the week. Why should the Academy have any interest in tampering with a winning formula? It's not like nobody's watching.

gottacook said...

"Billy looks his age (63). Get over it."

No, he doesn't - he looks like he didn't want to look his age, chose whatever was done to his face instead, and now has to live with the results. (This is assuming the photo at the top is accurate - for the first time in many years, I saw only a small fraction of the show, so didn't actually see him onscreen, although I caught Best Makeup and Best Supporting Actress.)

Phillip B said...

For the entire 20th Century there was always one monologist widely acknowledged as the very best. I blame the two Leno wars for wiping out a lineage which went back to Will Rogers and later brought forth Bob Hope and Johnny Carson.

The task is actually similar to what is supposed to happen at the White House correspondents dinner - which brings Steven Colbert to mind. Others might pull it off, but only if they have the same sort of balls.

pumpkinhead said...

Mr. or Ms. McEwan, my point was that Anne Hathaway was hosting as 1/2 of a team, and that, if one half of the team doesn't hold up his end, then the other half of the team is trying to perform under adverse conditions that I feel make it unfair to judge that person as if they she were performing as a solo performer. Try teaming up Franco with Abbott or Costello, and you'd think Abbott or Costello was a bumbling amateur too.

Think of it this way. If no one else commented on Ken's posts, you wouldn't be able to make your snarky little replies to things other people write. You depend on other people to express their own thoughts before you can forumulate some little smart-alecky reply. If other people didn't write comments, you'd be trying to make your snarky replies to nobody. It wouldn't work, no matter how skilled you are at making snarky little replies. It would be unfair to judge your ability to make snarky little replies if you were trying to make them in response to nothing.

Rick Nye said...

Fred Willard should host. No writers, just let him improvise.

Buttermilk Sky said...

If not Stephen Fry, how about his old comedy partner Hugh Laurie? He's super-bright, he's been in a few movies, and Americans actually know who he is. He's Craig Ferguson without all the cursing, yelling and gesticulating.

Anonymous said...

The Oscarcast should first of all make a decision what it is for the next decade. Then find an adequate host for that. You can't be everything for everyone:

1) Forget being Broadway and "big" numbers on stage, this isn't the Tony Awards, it isn't 1957, no one cares. If anything focus MORE on your MEDIUM which is cinema. Show some invention in your craft.

2) This isn't Grammy awards so forget focusing on movie incidentals like musical numbers as if these mostly maudlin identikit songs need to be heard as a song in their own right. They are backgrounds and atmosphere and accompaniment to visuals, even if written as a complete song, it is about watching in a movie context. There are only a handful (The Way we Were) that made it past that. Don't pretend each year there are 5, let alone 9.

3) Stop that nonsense about applauding everyone as a "winner" and emoting about everyone's amazing abilities. Stop showing actors and directors are deep by using soundbytes, either give them a decent program to discuss their craft like Actors Studio used to once promise, or don't. Their commercial-like soundbytes in the Oscars are worthless, these are actors, please.

4) Make it two hours tops. Cut out some prizes for sure. If obliged, you can do two award shows, one on HBO or C-Span or whatever, and one on the legacy channels.

5)Neil Patrick Harris is too lightweight as a host, leave him at the other hosting jobs. Find someone who is distinct for the Oscars, otherwise you've reduced the last serious awards show down to an interchangeable tv show, which was their big mistake, trying to compete with tv, rather than lead by showing they can bring Hollywood. A presenter who is able to speak on his own, like Hugh Laurie would be the right direction. But I guess he isn't in love with the idea to host others. Also looks to be very moody.

D. McEwan said...

pumpkinhead said...
Mr. or Ms. McEwan, my point was that Anne Hathaway was hosting as 1/2 of a team, and that, if one half of the team doesn't hold up his end, then the other half of the team is trying to perform under adverse conditions that I feel make it unfair to judge that person as if they she were performing as a solo performer. Try teaming up Franco with Abbott or Costello, and you'd think Abbott or Costello was a bumbling amateur too."


It's Mr. I've been half of a comedy team myself, and worked in comedy for over 40 years, and I am perfectly able to analyse both members of a comedy team. Anne was not well-served by Franco, and she lacked the experience and skill to know how to deal with it. She was terrible, just less terrible than he was, since she was at least trying to do a good job.

But Abbott, with whom I worked once in radio near the end of his life (For which I received a nomination for a National Association of Broadcasters award), with decades of experience as one of the finest straight men in the business, would ave known what to do. That's why you don't hire children for a job that requires decades of experience to be able to pull off.

But then, Bud was a comedian. Hathaway is not. It's not her fault that she wsa offered a job for which she was totally unqualified and unprepared, but it is her fault for taking a job she was unable and unqualified to do. Yes , it looks easy. It isn't.

Oddly enough, I used to do a comedy routine in my act many years ago, on radio and in clubs, as the straight man in a comedy team where the comic didn't show up, so I had all straight lines, pauses and then I'd laugh. The bit worked great.

"Think of it this way. If no one else commented on Ken's posts, you wouldn't be able to make your snarky little replies to things other people write. You depend on other people to express their own thoughts before you can forumulate some little smart-alecky reply. If other people didn't write comments, you'd be trying to make your snarky replies to nobody"

Actually, as "Tallulah Morehead," I posted a lengthy snarky piece on the Oscars, and have posted over 200 other such pieces on "her" (my) blog and another 210 snarky pieces on The Huffington Post, where I am certainly dispensing lots and lots of snark all by myself, sans set-ups from commenters. Oh, and there are there are the four books I've written, all snarky, no partner.

Anne Hathaway was a terrible Oscar host, just not as terrible as Franco.

"Rick Nye said...
Fred Willard should host. No writers, just let him improvise"


I think Fred would be a terrific host, but he would insist on having writers, chosen by him, because, skilled improvser though he is (and he is one of the best), he knows the value of having writers.

"Buttermilk Sky said...
If not Stephen Fry, how about his old comedy partner Hugh Laurie? He's super-bright, he's been in a few movies, and Americans actually know who he is. He's Craig Ferguson without all the cursing, yelling and gesticulating."


What have you got against Americans? When an American is asked to host the BAFTAs, we can begin considering a foreign host.

That said, I think Craig Ferguson would be a good Awards show Host. Maybe he could do the Golden Globes. But the Oscars should be hosted by Americans. To use a foreign host reads as a falure to find even one American who can do the job. With all teh foreign winners this year, a foreigen host woulld just make it an entirely European show, and they might as well just do it in London.

ipad roulette said...

I enjoyed every bit of it.

SamHam said...

I don't see why they can't air all the awards. Even the lesser- known people should get their time in the spotlight. The show would run a lot quicker if they left out all the "you're magnificent, you're a creative genius, I want your next child" stuff. That and not let Robert DJ bring out his own camera crew. 5 mins of WTF??!
Just a thought...

Naz said...

Another Oscar year and blah, blah, blah the Oscar goes to me for being smart enough to tune out early and go to sleep.

chalmers said...

Sixteen years on, I think Letterman Oscar Host revisionism is now hitting critical mass. It wasn’t the best performance, but it brought in a huge rating and had numerous funny moments.

My favorite line was something like, “Tonight’s the night when everyone in Hollywood stops secretly rooting against each other and joins together to root against each other openly in the same room.”

There was a lot working against him. Letterman had enjoyed more than a decade of almost hagiographic press coverage and was overdue for a fall. He wasn’t a movie guy at all, and had built his career mocking the showbiz self-importance that defines the Oscars.

In the weeks before the show, he would joke about calling him “Oscar Boy,” but it was clear that he wasn’t enthralled with the movies, but because hosting was a chance to follow in Johnny Carson’s footsteps.

Yes, “Uma, Oprah” went on too long (though the “Keanu” punchline worked), but I think his biggest sin was that Dave Letterman hosted the show like Dave Letterman.

I agree with Bill Cosby who went on Letterman’s show a few days later and said he thought it was funny and didn’t get what all the carping was about. Given the uneven hosting since then, I think almost everyone would eagerly sign for a performance like that today.

Anonymous said...

Jimmy Kimmel - Too lowbrow. I'm not ready for the Oscars to be hosted by Fred Flintstone.

Neil Patrick Harris - Too Dougie.

Tina Fey - The woman, on being informed her workplace was tainted with anthrax, silently walked right past her show's unknowing host, her cast, her crew, and ran home. There's an underlying creep factor to her I don't like. I don't want to encourage a calculating reptile by allowing it to host the Oscars.

Alec Baldwin - Pierce Brosnan and Jabba the Hut had a mean-spirited, entitled baby, and I don't want to see it hosting the Oscars.

Adam Sandler - Too creepy and still hasn't committed to what sex it's supposed to be. Don't want to see it writhing around onstage for hours..

Anne Hathaway - Too adequate. Like watching your little sister at a talent show. Nothing against her, just don't want to watch her for that long.

Billy Crystal - Too presumptuous of our acceptance. How many viewers in their twenties know who the eff Sammy Davis Jr. is? Blackface should be funny now, because??? Have some respect, Billy. Learn what's currently going on around you, or just retire. Even Bob Hope knew when to retire the Rudy Valley jokes. And finally, pay for a hair dresser who knows how to add highlights to your dye job! The one you have now makes you look like Darth Vader's crabby Jewish uncle.

Bill Murray - Even tho his face has devolved into something resembling a withered anus, he might be entertaining--Nah!

Zombie David Letterman - He shouldn't even be allowed to host his own show. Once a cutting edge comedian, now a bitter old political pundit. Unwilling to pay for good writers. An aimless ghost ship. His only talent now is reminding the viewers that they're going to die after leading a pointless life.

Conan O'Brian - Bottom line, he had the job. Nobody watched. He lost the job. He underestimated Leno. Leno destroyed him. The wailing went on and on. Nobody likes crybabies hosting an event.

Jay Leno - I like his car show. I liked how he handed Conan his ass in a very clever way. Otherwise, too old, cynical, and tired--and I don't trust the fucker.

The Scottish Guy - Kind of funny late night show. Seen it a couple of times. Kind of like him. He'd give it a go. Not well known enough.

All right. I've torn people down enough. Who would I suggest for hosting the Academy Awards?

It should be someone who best exemplifies our entertainment industry today. Someone with daring. Someone who would attempt the unattemptable. Someone who is not afraid to speak the truth.

Okay, most of you are already ahead of me, so let's all say the name together:

Sean Young.

pumpkinhead said...

Mr. McEwan, my apologies, I had no idea you were half of a comedy team. And I never would have guessed, since I can't remember you ever saying anything funny.

I stand by my opinion just like you stand by yours.

Anonymous said...

I thought Billy looked like an older, jowlier, heavier version of his younger self; but I hadn't seen him for years.

Wendy M. Grossman said...

Wondering now why Carol Burnett never hosted the Oscars when she was younger. She was - actually, still is - the whole package and did more movies than Carson ever did.

wg
Captchas are still unreadable. Begging you to go back to the old system.

threeguys1movie.com said...

I know its been said before but I would be all for Neil Patrick Harris hosting. Well as long as he had some decent writers on board. The Oscars have become way to vanilla.

Mike said...

Johnny Walker said...

Our best hope is to try and crowd-fund a blockbuster movie for Neil Patrick Harris in time for next year's ceremony.
---

NPH starred in a movie that grossed $563M worldwide, $143M domestically - if that didn't cut it, I think your plan needs some retooling...

D. McEwan said...

"pumpkinhead said...
Mr. McEwan, my apologies, I had no idea you were half of a comedy team. And I never would have guessed, since I can't remember you ever saying anything funny.

I stand by my opinion just like you stand by yours."


As I was clear about, I am not half of a comedy team, I havebeen half of a comedy team, 38 years ago. Try to pay attention to tenses. As for me never saying anything funny, you've only read me, not heard me.

You're welcome to stand by your opinions, though they'd carry more weight if you had the balls to use your real name, as I do. Or does it say "Pumpkinhead" on your birth certificate? In which case, how homely a baby must you have been?

I stand by my informed opinions also.

"Anonymous said...
Too Dougie."


Asking as a Douglas myself, what does that mean?

"Alec Baldwin - Pierce Brosnan and Jabba the Hut had a mean-spirited, entitled baby, and I don't want to see it hosting the Oscars."

I wouldn't want to see that hosting either, but gorgeous, smart, funny Alex Baldwin did a swell job of co-hosting it a few years back, and he's always welcome on my TV screen. Whom were you referring to, and why did you type Alec's name before your description of someone else?

"Even Bob Hope knew when to retire the Rudy Valley jokes."

No he didn't.

"Bill Murray - Even tho his face has devolved into something resembling a withered anus,"

Classy. Is this why you're anonymous, Anonymous, because you're such an asshole you haven't got the balls to back up your filth with your name? People, like Pumpkinhead for instance (I'm assuming Pumpinhead is human, and not just Jack Pumpkinhead of Oz with Internet access, and whose pumpkin has gone off), may well feel I'm filth too, but at least they know the name of whom they're hating. So, you're a coward taking pot-shots.

"Zombie David Letterman - He shouldn't even be allowed to host his own show."

His millions of devoted viewers, like myself, disagree. When no one watches him, they'll take him off. He's certainly funnier than you.

Much as I've grown to dislike Jay Leno, since I am exactly one month younger than Jay, I disagree with his being "too old." Your gross imaturity and ageism is showing -- again.

You're a coward with bad taste, Anonymous, rendering your opinions moot.

the great and powerful pumpkinhead said...

Ah, Mr. McEwan, resorting to personal attacks about how I must have looked as a baby (which would be forgivable had it been funny or clever), and making some dumb irrelvant statement about my paying attention to tenses because you're grasping for something to chide me on. Seriously?

Really, it's not a big deal that I don't use my real name because usually what I post here is either positive, innocuous, or in someone else's defense. Nothing I post here is important enough that I need to advertise my name to stand by it. So who cares what goofy pseudonym I use to make innocuous comments (although I will break for a moment and agree that it is cowardly for people to anonymously post POTSHOTS, which I don't).

I can see why you would feel the need to use your own name to stand by your comments (well, your first initial and last name generally), however, since you're the one whose modus operandi is quoting something someone else says in their own comments, which are not directed at you, and then attacking them or dismissing them like they're stupid.

I again stand by my (just as valid) opinion that Anne Hathaway did a good job working under adverse conditions, and my (more objective than yours) opinion that you're obnoxious and unfunny. At least here.

I'm not someone who has the time to waste on flame wars, so I'll let you have the last word.

LAprGuy said...

Enjoyed the flame war at the end.

Tom Hanks would be terrific, of course.

Why doesn't Christopher Guest ever get consideration in these discussions? Or Michael McKean? (Harry Shearer would be too politicizing, although another fine choice.)

Somehow I see Oscar-winner Oprah hosting before too long. She could use the work.

D. McEwan said...

"the great and powerful pumpkinhead said...
Ah, Mr. McEwan, resorting to personal attacks about how I must have looked as a baby (which would be forgivable had it been funny or clever)"


Let's see, let me scan back up our discussion and see who launched a personal attack first.

Ah, found it:

"pumpkinhead said...
Mr. or Ms. McEwan, Think of it this way. If no one else commented on Ken's posts, you wouldn't be able to make your snarky little replies to things other people write. You depend on other people to express their own thoughts before you can forumulate some little smart-alecky reply. If other people didn't write comments, you'd be trying to make your snarky replies to nobody. It wouldn't work, no matter how skilled you are at making snarky little replies."


Followed later by...

"Mr. McEwan, my apologies, I had no idea you were half of a comedy team. And I never would have guessed, since I can't remember you ever saying anything funny."

So it's bad when I do it, and okay when you do it? Double standard there Pumpkin. Time for you to go be a pie.

But what can you expect from someone who thinks Anne Hathaway did a good job hosting the Oscars?

second cousin twice removed from the great pumpkin said...

Oh, D, silly me to think I could offer you the last word and not have you say something I'd feel I have to reply to.

Yes, fine, I said you made a personal attack against how I must have looked as a child, not that it's one I took seriously, or even thought you meant seriously, but if we're going to get this silly and argue semantics, then so be it. Commenting on my imagined looks as a child is personal. It's against the person. I just made mention of it because I thought it showed a desparation for something negative to say about me.

My saying that you single out other commenters and make snarky little replies to them when they aren't talking directly to you isn't an attack against your person. It's an expression of disapproval against your actions. Actions we all see you taking here day after day. Has nothing to do with your person. (And by the way, are you suggesting that you don't make snarky little replies directly to people who weren't commenting specifically to you?)

Commenting that you had never said anything funny also wasn't a personal attack. Again, not against your person. It was just my opinion of your posts - one to which you flung the door wide open by going on about your supposed creditials that are supposed to somehow make your opinion of Ms H's performance valid and mine garbage.

So let me just finish my last in this sad series of exchanges with you by saying this. This stopped being about Anne Hathaway - or anything you said directly to me - a long time ago, and is really simply about my loathing for the obnoxious, arrogant, comtemptuous, dismissive, and unfunny manner in which you address your fellow commenters on a seemingly daily basis. This isn't my blog, so it's not my call whether you should be welcome to continue doing so. But now I've expressed my opinion about it and you can do with it what you will.

D. McEwan said...

"second cousin twice removed from the great pumpkin said...
your supposed creditials that are supposed to somehow make your opinion of Ms H's performance valid and mine garbage."


Yes, my informed opinion is valid, and yours in mistaken, not garbage, garbage would be you defending Franco, but quite, quite wrong.

Second Cousin, no one will blame you from being removing yourself twice from whom-or-what ever Pumpkinhead is.

Johnny Walker said...

It needs to be an UPCOMING movie.

Kevin Jq said...

Billy Crystal was funny in the 80's, he had a good run, so why try and recapture that and subject us to whatever the hell that was? It was like another bad Hollywood remake, I'm surprised he even said yes to hosting. If he'd let his hair gray naturally he'd look better – he has Paul McCartney man-boy syndrome (who now looks a lot like Angela Lansbury) Just look your age, what's wrong with that? Ted Danson looks good (and normal) with gray hair.

I heard a story from a ballplayer about Crystal and Mickey Mantle and I've always wondered if it was true – Crystal idolized Mantle and they sort of became friends and Mantle being the grump that he was decided he had had enough of him hanging around and as Crystal walked into some sort of Yankee greats gathering looking for Mantle, Mickey turned to the guy next to him and said "Keep that fucker away from me" and walked out and never spoke to him again. Ouch.

cadavra said...

I asked a friend at the Academy if they would consider asking Letterman back. His answer surprised me: "We HAVE asked him, several times. He always declines. Apparently he gets a ton of mileage out of his bombing-at-the-Oscars jokes, and he'd have to give that all up if he came back, kinda like if Bob Hope really had won an Oscar: there goes the best running gag ever."

My vote would be for Nathan Lane. He's hosted the Tonys, he's quick on his feet, and he does do movies. But most of the world would gripe that he's just a gay, gentile Billy.

D. McEwan said...

"Kevin Jq said...
Billy Crystal was funny in the 80's, he had a good run, so why try and recapture that and subject us to whatever the hell that was?"


And in the 90s. But the answer is right there in the ratings. Billy's presence gave the show a ratings bump it desperately needed. (And he was a vast improvement over last year's "hosts".)