Monday, February 25, 2013

My 2013 Oscar review

The Oscars broke new wind last night. For the first time ever they were hosted by a man who left visible slime trails. The only awards show that Seth MacFarlane is qualified to emcee is the Adult Video Awards. Even then, they should shoot higher. This was that smarmy, unfunny, egotistical cousin at a wedding who stands up and tells the room the bride has herpes.

But more on that later. The big story was that Steven Spielberg was not able to buy any Oscars this year. Despite his “important” film, an ad campaign that cost more than the Civil War, numerous industry screenings, free coffee table books, and Bill Clinton the Best Picture went to ARGO and the Best Director went to Ang Lee for LIFE OF PI. (Considering PI’s story about a tiger I assume Steven’s next film will be THE SIEGRIED & ROY STORY.)

The truth is LINCOLN was ponderous and ARGO was an entertaining film where Hollywood saves the day. Who do you think the Academy is going to pick?

Was it personal? Is there a Spielberg backlash? Considering Michelle Obama announced that LINCOLN lost from the White House I’d have to say yeah. My feeling?  Steven Spielberg is a great filmmaker when he's not trying to make great films. 

This was maybe the first time ever that the Red Carpet show was more entertaining than the actual ceremony. As always I tuned to KTLA for babbling bootlicker, Sam Rubin and (to use fashion jargon) his side boob, Jessica Holmes. The intro promised “intimate conversations with Hollywood’s newest stars and royalty.” Royalty included Seth MacFarlane’s father. And intimate questions like Sam asking Quvenzhane Wallis: “Do you have Milky Ways in your purse?” He also asked this 9-year-old nominee if she was “used to all this stuff?” Jessica followed with, “Do you still have to clean your room even though you’re an Oscar nominee?”

Sam to Bryan Cranston: “Is ARGO going to win Best Picture primarily because of you?” To 83-year-old Christopher Plummer he asked, “You cast an Oscar ballot. Was it difficult to figure out?” Why not just ask if he brought his nurse? And finally, to nominee Jacki Weaver: “We’ve had this discussion about this embrace Hollywood has given you at this point in your career and now to be embraced by Chris Tucker!”  Sam & Jessica are the Romy & Michele of TV journalists. 

Seth MacFarlane’s opening monologue of Borsht Belt one-liners was painful. Ron Jeremy jokes (he’s in the hospital, by the way)? Chris Brown? Mel Gibson? Jodie Foster? The only amusing part was when William Shatner appeared as Captain Kirk and correctly said he’s the worst Oscar host ever. 80% of Americans were still asking who the fuck this guy was? They wouldn’t actually hate him until the appalling production number celebrating tits (Rob Lowe and Snow White – you’re finally off the hook), and then the deal was sealed when he harassed dear sweet, Sally Field dressed as the Flying Nun. By the way, Seth – the Flying Nun was television! Hard to be funny when you can’t be Stewie, huh?

Seventeen minutes of pointless jokes, sock puppet sketches, gay references, and dance routines. The show itself lasted over four hours. Producers Craig Zadan and Neil Meron were quick to yank winners off the stage yet allowed time for Seth to personally thank them during the show and then had not one but two tributes to CHICAGO, a movie they produced.

The most egregious winner being cut off was the LIFE OF PI visual effects gentleman who acknowledged the bankrupt studio Rhythm & Hues. After the movie was done all the workers were fired. My daughter Annie and her writing partner Jon said: Hopefully Cash4Gold accepts Oscars.

There was a big protest about this outside the Dolby Theater, but you never saw any of that. Instead you saw Jeffrey Katzenberg saluted as a great humanitarian.

Annie & Jon also added: “This was the first year the orchestra was brought in on remote. Next year musicians in China will be cutting off stars for twenty cents on the dollar.”

Paul Rudd & Melissa McCarthy were so unfunny they should host the show next year.

Reese Witherspoon added a touch of old time Hollywood glamour with her wavy hair swept off to one side. And Halle Berry was a throwback, wearing Joan Crawford’s wetsuit.

Not a lot of fashion disasters this year. Most of the women looked elegant and spectacular. At the after-parties I’m sure half of them will be eating for the first time in a week.
Christoph Waltz winning Best Supporting Actor was a pleasant surprise. Everyone thought it was going to be Tommy Lee Jones because he had the only good lines in LINCOLN.

Spielberg will hire Waltz to play Siegfried.

The set decoration looked like the leftover props from HUGO.

What was with Jennifer Aniston’s scowl the entire time she presented? Did someone just tell her she had to make another movie with Adam Sandler?

Where was Price-Waterhouse? Probably bumped for the Ted “Jews-run-Hollywood” routine – Seth’s desperate attempt to win back the south.

Michael Douglas looked great. Actors talk about their arduous “journeys” but this guy went through hell and back. Having worked with him I can tell you he’s a mensch.

How was AMOUR nominated for both Best Foreign Film and Best Picture? If Spielberg knew that, LINCOLN would have been in French.

One argument people had with ARGO was that it made up facts. So was Ben Affleck the best choice to present the Best Documentary category?

Nice to see Amy Adams can still get into her ENCHANTED costume.

The Bond tribute was heartfelt considering that before Sunday, the last Bond film to win an Oscar was THUNDERBALL in 1966. I loved the montage and Bond music. Even though there were quick cuts that bounced from film to film it still made more sense than the story for MOONRAKER.

What a great night for divas. Shirley Bassey could still hit many of the GOLDFINGER notes, Jennifer Hudson screeched through her DREAMGIRLS song, Adele was wonderful although I have no idea what any of the lyrics of SKYFALL mean, but the best of them all was still Ms. Barbra. 

Annie & Jon observed: The clip reel for AMOUR made the In Memoriam segment look upbeat.

Thank you Academy for not extending the Bond tribute by playing “Live and Let Die” over the In Memoriam segment.

Helena Bonham Carter looked like Marge Simpson after robbing a thrift shop.

Did it bother Seth that most of his jokes about assassinations, Nazis, children having sex with George Clooney, gays, Latinos, Adele’s weight, and Jews got huge groans not laughs? Not since Rush Limbaugh announced Monday Night Football has there been a worse casting decision. Denise Richards playing a nuclear physicist made more sense than Seth MacFarlane hosting on the biggest stage of the world.

How come actors all have “teams?” That's a fancy word for people who just take your money. 

Note to Anne Hathaway: your phony humility and surprise is ridiculously transparent. To see what real surprise and genuine emotion is like study Adele acceptance speeches. And you’re not fooling anybody either with the short hair. You’re not Audrey Hepburn. Grow your hair and eat something.

After the LES MIS number I was hoping the producers would corner Hugh Jackman and say, “Would you do us a favor and take over hosting?”

From Annie & Jon: LES MIS won Best Make Up meaning it's easier to turn a man into a dwarf than it is to make Anne Hathaway look dirty.

During one cutaway to Steven Spielberg you could see him thinking: “I went in the wrong direction. I should have told the story of how Lincoln introduced tax breaks for motion picture productions.”

Do all winning crew guys have long stringy blonde hair and look like the goon in DIE HARD?

For those who missed it, here are the lyrics to the Best Song nominee from LIFE OF PI: “Oooooooo oooooooo ooooooo oooooo.”

Did Kristen Stewart forget to shoot up before going on stage?

Thrilled that Jennifer Lawrence won. If a Best Actress nominee had to trip on the stairs I’m sure glad it was her and not Emmanuelle Riva. Seth and Kristin Chenoweth would have been doing their snide closing number while avoiding the paramedics.

HUNGER GAMES 2 will now star Oscar Winner Jennifer Lawrence.

Charlize Theron looked like the world’s sexiest white cremation urn.

But no gown was as white as Jessica Chastain’s skin.

Notice that Quentin Tarantino’s wrap-it-up song was “Gone With the Wind?” At least they didn’t play him off with something from “Song of the South.” I guess Seth was over-ruled.

Daniel Day-Lewis was hilarious. He should host the Oscars next year. Ang Lee was also amusing. Let him emcee.

Always great to see Jack back. Even a four-hour Oscar show is better than a Lakers game these days. He still has that wild-eyed look that probably prompted Kristen Stewart to approach him offstage and ask if he had any horse.

All in all, this was one of the worst and longest Oscarcasts in recent history. A bad lounge singer as host, random indulgent production numbers, and disrespect for the winners in favor of self-praise for the producers. The Golden Globes were a thousand times better. Tina & Amy indeed!

And here’s the worst thing about Seth MacFarlane – I bet he thought he did GREAT.

Truly, Seth, go back to the drawing board.


Bg Porter said...

I blame the writers.

No, gotta blame whoever hired McFarlane.

Lois Bernard said...

Ken you expressed what I and I assume the majority of the world was thinking. What I find curious is the Captain Kirk bit. They knew. They already knew how bad it was and did it anyway. Very strange.

MrCarlson said...

I thought the closing number was particularly tasteless, so people lost, no need to rub it in. Also not wise that it was sang by someone who could be carried off ithe stage in the palm of one hand.

Steve said...

Ken, you sure hate Seth Macfarlane. He wasn't THAT bad. Easily better than Anne Hathaway and James "I'm Stoned" Franco. Asidef rom the opening bit and the show in general running too long, it was a good show.

Will said...

Man. You have officially made the jump to 'curmudgeon'.

Michael Stoffel said...

Thank you Ken, for putting into words the bewilderment us "regular" folk in middle America felt watching this go on.
Amazing what an insular world some of these movie people live in.

RJ Hope said...

I watched it, and agree with much of what you wrote.

When I first heard that Seth MacFarlane was hosting the Oscars, I thought he would bring something that was never seen before. He did that, and it was a bitter disappointment.

Daniel Day-Lewis as host sounds intriguing. He won't make another movie for at least five years, so he has the time.

The music was good overall. Even at 70, Babs still has it.

Though I am a huge Trek fan, Shatner did not save anyone. The show was dead already.

Worst Oscars ever? It's up there, for sure.

normadesmond said...

your anne hathaway remarks
may just be nominated. ✓✓✓

Daniel said...

Sorry Ken, but I think Seth was funny, at least most of the time. But I'm 26, so maybe it's a generation thing. You have to admit he was way better than Billy Crystal last year. That was REALLY awful.

Anyway, thanks for your funny review!

Anonymous said...

"Note to Anne Hathaway: your phony humility and surprise is ridiculously transparent. To see what real surprise and genuine emotion is like study Adele acceptance speeches. And you’re not fooling anybody either with the short hair. You’re not Audrey Hepburn. Grow your hair and eat something."

Thank you. A million times, thank you.

OrangeTom said...

My wife and I both enjoyed Seth, and we had no idea who he was. Don't think I've ever watched one of his shows but he still seemed charming and brought a "presence" to the Oscar stage which has been lacking for years. Unless you're counting Billy Crystal's plastic surgeon . . .

Good catch on Aniston's sour looks. Was odd. Like occasionally she would forget the camera was on her and let her perpetually perky face drop.

Pizzagod said...

Wow-I am so surprised that you disliked the show that much. By your admission earlier, it's a thankless task, and what so many seem to overlook is that MacFarlane is a genuine Hollywood fan. He tips his hat regularly to show business, and while you could never describe him as "fawning" he is appropriately respectful.

I guess we just have to agree to disagree, I found him a lot more enjoyable than Hathaway/Franco (btw, the haircut and anorexic look was for Les Mis), Letterman, last years Billy Crystal attempt, and a lot of others. I wonder if you'll change your mind on this one given time?

Anonymous said...

Your review of the Oscars presentation was incredibly mean spirited and hipocritical, your review seems to mirror that which you criticize! “One example, Barbra's "work". Not that I enjoyed Seth. and prior to his presentation he sure rubbed me the wrong way, however I found some redeeming features and talents, like the singing, dancing, and the manner of dress for most attendees (excepting of course "Helena Bonham Carter looked like Marge Simpson after robbing a thrift shop" that was a good one! That was amusing on your part of the review.. question for it me reading into things or is it that you don’t like Steven Spielberg? Good luck to you, ...Charles

Whore Hey Loo Cuss said...

You're getting a little bitchy in your old age, Ken. Take a viagra. Smoke some weed or something.

Charles said...

Your review of the Oscars presentation was incredibly mean spirited and hipocritical, your review seems to mirror that which you criticize! “One example, Barbra's "work". Not that I enjoyed Seth. and prior to his presentation he sure rubbed me the wrong way, however I found some redeeming features and talents, like the singing, dancing, and the manner of dress for most attendees (excepting of course "Helena Bonham Carter looked like Marge Simpson after robbing a thrift shop" that was a good one! That was amusing on your part of the review.. question for it me reading into things or is it that you don’t like Steven Spielberg? Good luck to you, ...Charles

Anonymous said...

Seriously, this commentary is funnier than all award show jokes from recent years combined. YOU should write the next Oscars. They need a writer who writes FUNNY jokes. Funny AND truthful.

One thing I disagree with: "Thrilled that Jennifer Lawrence won."

A completely forgettable performance in a completely forgettable movie. Jennifer Lawrence is a lovely girl (a funny and lovely girl), but the performance is... forgettable.

But then, there weren't any alternatives in the Best Actress category I WOULD HAVE been okay with because all were forgettable. And that goes for pretty much every category. So many forgettable movies. 2012 was the year in film we'd all like to forget, the sooner the better.

BK said...

The best Oscar hosts -- Bob Hope, Johnny Carson, Whoopi Goldberg, Steve Martin, Billy Crystal -- had their roots in TELLING JOKES ON STAGE. Even Fey and Poehler started in improv. And they've all done pretty well. The hosts who have proven most cringeworthy (MacFarlane, James Franco, etc) come from a scripted, pre-produced background. What does that tell you? That the innate ability to be funny -- live and in-person -- is a good gauge of what the public/audience/viewers will enjoy, right? I'm guessing Seth and his buddies scribbled these things out all week, tittering to themselves, and are now decrying how "stodgy" and "lame" Hollywood is.
(I realize that David Letterman could be considered the exception here, but in retrospect he did just fine). Hey, this argument could even be extrapolated to the whole "single cam v. multi-cam" argument for sitcoms! And btw, I'm in my early 30s -- last night's "target audience" -- and I found the show to be a desperate and failed laugh-grab. Maybe if he'd just been the host and not determined the "direction" of the humor as a writer (assuming he was credited as a writer). But at least "Argo" won!

Anonymous said...

Your review of the Oscars presentation was incredibly mean spirited and hipocritical, your review seems to mirror that which you criticize! “One example, Barbra's "work". Not that I enjoyed Seth. and prior to his presentation he sure rubbed me the wrong way, however I found some redeeming features and talents, like the singing, dancing, and the manner of dress for most attendees (excepting of course "Helena Bonham Carter looked like Marge Simpson after robbing a thrift shop" that was a good one! That was amusing on your part of the review.. question for it me reading into things or is it that you don’t like Steven Spielberg? Good luck to you, ...Charles

Eduardo Jencarelli said...

Over four hours?

Ken, I can assure you it wasn't THAT long. It may have felt like it, but it wasn't. I timed it. It ran at 3:25.

KenNYC said...

Seth wasn't as bad as you made him out to be. His opening joke about Tommy Lee Jones was perfect.

The Captain Kirk bit was poor. Although I did enjoy the sock puppet re-enactment. That was just strange enough to be funny.

The fake humility by Anne Hathaway made me want to vomit. She must have had lunch with Taylor Swift and taken notes.

It's too bad Meryl didn't congratulate Jennifer Lawrence. Or better yet, if Meryl had run over to JL and grabbed the statue from her hands.

Meryl should have just worn her glasses. My guess is she decided to memorize the script instead of don her spectacles. The result was embarrassing.

Jack was channeling Harry Carey. I really thought he was going to shout "Holy Cow!" when Argo was announced.

How awesome would it have been if Michelle Obama had announced the winner from the Lincoln Bedroom.

olucy said...

Other than that, how did you enjoy the awards show Mrs. Spielberg?

Anonymous said...

Wow, Ken, you chastise Seth for making fun of Adele's weight, and then you tell Anne Hathaway to eat something. Do you not see the hypocrisy here?

Michael said...

BK, you nailed part of why I thought MacFarlane was bad. Guys like Hope and Carson and Crystal (and even those not considered great hosts) at least have experience in that meat grinder. I knew it was bad when Bill Maher posted that MacFarlane nailed it after the long opening skit.

By the way, it brings to mind the period when networks loved game shows in prime time again and all of the hosts were older, and Regis Philbin was asked why. He said because a game show requires you to adapt immediately to whatever is going on and all of the older hosts had experience in live radio and TV, where they had had to be able to handle anything. So it continues.

Hypocrisy? People are actually criticizing Ken for hypocrisy when he's talking about HOLLYWOOD?

And I've said all along that Lincoln would win Best Actor for his portrayal of Daniel Day-Lewis. Note the influence: Lincoln would have been joking about this. Lincoln should host!

Crutnacker said...

The most virulent reviews of Seth seem to pretend he's the first host to have used bad and tasteless jokes, sung lame songs, and had bits that bombed. Maybe I have no taste, but I'd rather have what we got last night than another twenty seconds of Billy Crystal (who has the ego everyone accuses Seth of having) singing "Oscar Oscar".

Was it bad. Of course, much if it was, like every year. . But it seems as though the oscars are the awards version of SNL. Everyone trashes the most recent while praising a past that wasn't that much of a gem either.

Oscar is a thankless job. A host has to appeal to an audience of people who made the movies while appealing to an audience of people who never saw any of them. I'd argue nobody's been that great in the past twenty or twenty five years at least.

John said...

The streaker from 40 years ago running across the stage could have added a touch of class and sophistication to Seth's act. But you hire Peter Griffin, you get Peter Griffin, and the show's producers were going for the demo that on Sunday night normally watches Peter Griffin.

Steve B said...

I caught, er, wind, of a National Review article that rakes McFarlane over the coal. I guess aging is natural for all parts of the political spectrum. But I remember a Simpsons dvd commentary track that mentioned how the writers make fun of old people because they never watch The Simpsons. Here's a writer who never watches "Animation Domination", which includes The Simpsons in the middle of its Seth McFarlane Love Package!

Mac said...

I didn't see it but I enjoyed Ken's filleting. He's usually usually pretty bang on the money and if someone does a good job, he'll acknowledge that. I think "opinion is sharply divided" seems to be the verdict on Seth, so Ken's take is not out of sync with about half the reviews I've seen.

I did see Seth present an awards show about 4 years ago and it was interminable - he burst into song every ten minutes - some excellent jokes that would have been wonderful from Peter Griffin or Stan Smith, but to me the guy looks like the lost Osmond Brother - I love Family Guy and American Dad but I just don't find him funny. However, plenty others do - such is comedy.

Mike Bell said...

I remind myself every year that the Oscars are just the show business version of some trade union awards dinner. It helps to mitigate, well, everything.

Anonymous said...

"Whaaaa. I'm not relevant so I'm going to bash everything about the award's show. That will show them!"

This gets old. Don't listen to losers and hacks who ridicule everything, but contribute nothing. You did a fine job Seth.

ScottyB said...

The only segment I saw was Sandra Bullock doing her little intro to whatever category she announced the winner for. Jeez, is her face stretched on too tight these days or what?

Bob Dobbs said...

Mr. Anonymous who posted about Ken's Anne Hathaway joke: If I may borrow your own hyperbolic dysfunction in making an argument, Do YOU not see the difference in making a joke on a blog post, and making a joke as the host of the awards ceremony?

The commentor who said there is no pleasing everyone (live audience vs. TV audience) is so correct. In any case, I think Mr. McFarlane's fans might argue that his "irreverence" is a good thing. But there was not much truly inspired irreverence, just a lot of tired jokes. And little charm or sincerity.

So in other words, the awards ceremony had all the panache of Hollywood itself.

I'm not a Andy Samburg fan, but I did enjoy his "F*&K Hollywood" joke at the Independent Spirit Awards. And the timid audience response was even more priceless.

Bottom line, as an awards show host, you can either be bland and semi-charming, or the guy at the office Xmas party who ends up getting fired the following week. There is a very narrow middle ground for achieving anything better than that.

Mike Botula said...

I'm thinking that maybe next year the academy should cancel the telecast and just email everyone the results of the voting. Everybody just tries to hard here. That's been the problem ever since Alan Carr produced the Oscar Show back in the '70s.

Don Jennett said...

I always enjoy when a smart-ass like Letterman or MacFarlane hosts the most pompous "awards" show ever created. It eases to pain of watching the film industry shamelessly pat itself on the back. Sure, there were some cringing moments, but Seth's line about John Wilkes Booth being "the only actor to really get inside of Lincoln's head" had me on the floor. Maybe it's an old joke, and I hadn't heard it before. Come on Ken, isn't that just the thing Norm would have said after one of Cliff Clavin's long-winded history lessons?

I knew early on, however, that I was out of it when last year's Supporting Actress winner came out, and I had absolutely no idea who she was. Like the Grammys and the Stanley Cup (except for last year), who remembers a year later who won?

Really, does anyone take this program seriously anymore?

Jack said...

I'm a big fan, Ken, but in this case you swung for the fences and whiffed hard. I'm not saying that Seth MacFarlane is the best host in Oscar history (Carson!), but he was WAY better than you give credit for.

Spot on about Anne Hathaway, though.

Don Jennett said...

Anne Hathaway seemed to be channeling Jane Hathaway.

Karl said...

This was an incredibly schizophrenic show. McFarlane has a love for old Hollywood and big band music, that much comes through in numerous instances in his shows and appearances. Unfortunately, he shares that love with the frat boy sensibilities that made him famous. He should have fanned the former and stomped out the latter. But as you mentioned, it looked like the producers were too busy getting their own interests in to help him with that.

I don't get the Hathaway hate. In her career she's done an incredible range of film from comedic to action to drama to musical, with the chops to back it all up. Shrug, it's your opinion but it seems like piling on.

Three-fourths of the way through the ‘In Memoriam segment’, I thought “Hey, they finally kept it classy.” Understated music, a minimum of applause. And then Streisand came on. Talk about your lounge act. I get that she was there for her friend, but making him the focus after showing all the other notables that passed away came across as tacky. Her performance should have been kept a private affair.

Who the Oscars should get next year: Stephen Fry (see BAFTAs), Neil Patrick Harris, Fay and Poehler, or Hugh Jackman. Who they’ll actually get: Russell Brand or David Spade.

A_Homer said...

I find Ken's closing summary paragraph hits the mark:

"A bad lounge singer as host"
--- Yes, unfortunately:
First, Seth wasn't giving that powerful kind of musical / singing number that, for example even Hugh Jackman managed in his Oscar-hosting opening number. He looked a bit concentrated on having to do everything and not let go and perform. But he is able. He didn't really have the feeling of understanding a rigor of an old Hollywood training that comes through even in the "lounge" era he quotes, and that is the extra-something that is always missed in nostalgia. Surprisingly, he couldn't even stand still when reading the teleprompter, always shuffling side to side. "

"random indulgent production numbers"
----- Who can argue. It was ridiculous, why play some nominated songs and not others. The songs are in cinema, not cinema is in song, and it is a cinema night, not musical night. No one asks actors to read their scenes on stage either.

" and disrespect for the winners in favor of self-praise for the producers."
----- Totally agree. And those are the guys we're to believe would have helped in Argo...

The Golden Globes were a thousand times better. Tina & Amy indeed!"
----- Everyone and Seth knew the problem was there had just been proof it was possible to do something intelligent and funny as a host of these awards shows. And from TV people as well.

I think he hasn't decided on what he wants to be or act as and so you get big mistakes, like something that woudld have been a snippet in Family Guy (the side-boob song) running far too long. Why? Probably because to get it as a clip on youtube if it works, and so on. Too many things and not one good thing.

GRayR said...

I kept hoping that Captain J T Kirk was going to come on at the end and say, "Sorry Seth, we were unable to change the timeline."

Murray said...

In an amazing bit of serendipity, I had a meeting to attend and only came home in time to see "Best Picture". I sat with my wife and watched the thank yous. And then this smirking cretin came on and sang this grindingly unfunny and rude song about losers. "Who's that??" "I don't know, but he's the worst host ever."

After her description and yours, I can only thank the sky and stars I missed the whole train wreck. Why would they hire an ass like that?

Doug Thompson said...

Ken, another excellent and, as always, funny Oscar review. I laughed out loud many times.

To pizzagod who said, "(btw, the haircut and anorexic look was for Les Mis)".
The movie was finished well over a year ago. She certainly had plenty of time to grow her hair out...or get extentions.

By my 'clock on the wall', the Oscars ran almost exactly 3:30 (but of course, that's Canadian time).

And speaking of Canada, at least Ben Affleck mentioned our little country to the north of you in his triple speed acceptance speech, unlike his movie that gives most of the credit to getting the 6 hostages hidden at the Canadian embassy out of Iran to the CIA. You should listen to the CNN Jimmy Carter interview more closely.

And What was with Paul Rudd & Melissa McCarthy? Did they deviate from the script and ad lib?
BIG mistake...HUGE!

The ratings should be interesting anyway.

Howard Hoffman said...

Using Oscar logic, Matt Stone and Trey Parker should host next year. At least they have the triple crown: TV, film and Broadway...and much more movie experience than "Ted."

J. Allison said...

"...the best of them all was still Ms. Barbra." Couldn't disagree more. Streisand sounded thin and weak, especially coming after earlier powerful vocal performances. Props to her for going out there and singing, but she doesn't have it any more.

Johnny Walker said...

Yikes. That got pretty brutal. You lost me when you attacked Anne Hathaway for being thin and having short hair. (I'm not sure how having short hair, due to chopping it off for a role, is in some way deceitful?).

For someone so disdainful for the lack of respect Seth McFarlane showed to various people, you weren't shy about insulting some yourself. (Poor Helena Bonham Carter!)

Keep this up and maybe they'll ask you to host the next Golden Globes!

My thoughts on the night:

This was a million times better than Anne Hathaway and James Franco -- but it still wasn't great. For some peculiar reason the producers of the Oscars haven't made the connection the rest of us have: Comedians with honed stagecraft make the best presenters. It's really that simple.

That said, I was surprised at McFarlane's hosting skills. He seemed very comfortable and professional. Or maybe that should be "slick". Ken's description was right: There was definitely an aura of a bad lounge singer from the Catskills lingering around him.

I was really shocked when they cut off the VFX guy's microphone just as he was about to mention the protest going on outside the venue. I didn't know the Oscars could be so evil -- but maybe I'm naive.

Also, using the theme from Jaws to cut people off was pretty rude. (At least they didn't return to "And the winner is...".)

I don't understand how another 30 seconds of a guy's heartfelt acceptance speech was more important that watching song from Dreamgirls and Chicago being performed.

Still, the moments that are usually the most interminable turned out to be some of the most enjoyable: The singing. The LES MIS medley left me wanting to watch the film again -- although whoever choreographed that number should have noticed that placing six foot tall Sasha Baron Cohen directly in-front of five foot tall Helena Bonham Carter isn't ideal.

I agree with Ken that Anne Hathaway's acceptance speech was particularly cringe-inducing. Oh, well. She still did a great job in Les Mis.

The best line I heard regarding the two separate sound guys having weird white hair was: House Targaryen is cleaning up this year.

Kristen Stewart was a bit of a shock. I haven't seen anyone looking that stoned on stage since... James Franco two years ago.

Watching the memoriam I was reminded that Ernest Borgnine had passed. And that no amount of masturbation will save you when your time is up.

Carl Reiner tweeted: "I was so excited to discover I was not in the in memoriam!"

I swear Renée Zellweger was on something -- anyone else notice that? Michael Douglas walked into her and she didn't even notice.

Who knew Seann William Scott wrote ARGO? (I guess everyone thought that when Chris Terrio got up on stage?)

Michelle Obama -- what the hell? I thought sleep deprivation had finally caught up to me. Her speech seemed to celebrate movies while just skating on the edge of being highly political. But maybe that's because it was 4.30am. Very strange indeed - although I thought she did a good job. (Definitely a better presence than James Franco, at least.)

On the whole, it was a weird Oscars. It didn't seem to have much heart, and it felt a bit lost. Each year I hope for a truly amazing ceremony -- but it never seems to come.

Please! Oscar producers. Stop trying to think outside the box and just get somebody good for next year. And by "good", I mean someone who is likeable, has talent, is genuinely funny, and has plenty of stage experience. Jerry Seinfeld? You've got a YEAR to plan and write a show. Surely that's enough time to produce something genuinely entertaining?

I bet Ken could put out enough material for a decent three hour show in a month. With ease.

Slyhook said...

So, if you had your way it would have been Tim Conway and Harvey Korman hosting? You make some valid points but what you and I are going to have to realize someday is humor is changing or we're getting older...or both. I have constant battles with my son who finds "humor" in what I think is definitely crass! I think part of the problem is, we don't think like a 15 year old. If I show my son a great Woody Allen film he's bored to death. Let's face it, if you wanna make it in comedy these days be as immature as possible. In closing I think Seth had some low points but I also heard some good lines...I'd give him medium marks.

Bob Gassel said...

Everybody always wants Billy Crystal to come back...until he actually came back.

Johnny Walker said...

@DougThompson, Actually Les Miserables was still filming in June of last year. And they were still doing last minute pick-ups in October (although I don't know if Hathaway was involved in any of them.

That means that, at most, she had eight months to grow out the hatched job they did to her hair (they just went at it with a razor blade -- deliberately making it look uneven), to the point where it could be styled to something it resembles now. That doesn't seem too unlikely to me.

Laurie Gelman said...

I think the scowl on Charlize Theron's face pretty much summed it up.

MJ said...

I seldom watch the Oscars, let alone all of it. But I did this year because I happened to have seen Argo and Lincon. Your observations are spot on. I must've fastforwarded through at least 80% of it.

On the Best Documentary Award presenter, I laughed aloud thinking the same thing in light of the historical flaws of Argo...

Seth McFarlane was horrible. Canned, thoughtless laugh-grabs that simply fell flat over and over. Sadly, cringeworthy does come to mind.

Unknown said...

I knew we were in trouble when Seth had the chutzpah to think the world was ready for Seth Macfane doing josh Groban!

I'm With Stupid said...

Hey, I'm no sexist like Seth MacFarlane, but what's up with all these ugly actresses? I mean, Jessica Chastain looks like she achieved Michael Jackson's dream of pure whiteness. Hey-OOOOOO! And how 'bout if get the guys from the rape scene in "The Accused" to hold a topless Anne Hathaway down and force feed her a cheeseburger?

Seriously dude, I'm going to assume that this is the greatest piece of satire ever because nobody could be this much of a mean-spirited, petty asshole.


Anonymous said...

While I almost completely disagree with your review of Macfarlane, you did share one brilliant observation. "Spielberg seems to make great movies only when he's not trying to make great movies." So true.

Erika said...

Seth sucked. And assholes like Jerry Lewis say WOMEN aren't funny? Tina Fey and Amy Poehler kicked ass at the Golden Globes! Seth MacFarlane isn't in the same galaxy as those comedy goddesses.

Patricia said...

If you think Seth McFarlane was tasteless and unfunny you obviously were not following the Onion Twitter feed.

Lizbeth said...

I think it's funny that Seth McFarlane was supposed to be hip and relevant and there to attract the under-30 crowd because his entire schtick is so minute he's boozy Dean Martin of the Rat Pack and the next he's a Catskills comedian rolling his eyes about "broads."

The jokes weren't just offensive, they were lazy and reductive...and so dated, it's as if they went back in time and wrote jokes for Milton Berle.

And yet, I think McFarlane probably is very talented...I had no idea he could sing...but he lacked the timing of true host, and rushed through ever lame joke as if he were embarrassed to say it.

Oliver said...

MacFarlane was a bad choice for a Globes host that was somehow doing the Oscars.

Neil Patrick Harris next year, please.

Roger Owen Green said...

Daniel Day-Lewis was hilarious; I didn't expect that.

LAprGuy said...

Although the CBS Super Bowl debacle showed us that experience being on live TV does not qualify someone to actually BE on live TV, just about the only persons who do live TV are sportscasters. It strikes me that Joe Buck or Bob Costas would do a highly competent job hosting the Oscars, and better writing would give them funnier quips than most.

DJ from CT said...

Nice work Ken...

From here, it's incredibly difficult to understand why a person (two in this case) with at least a pea for a brain would be so transparently self-serving as those "Chicago"/Oscar producers.

A. Didn't they know their "Chicago" bits would come off, to those who know, as a) pathetically vain; b) ridiculously stupid; and c) odd vis a vis the more topical musical which (get this) is also a 2013 Best Picture Nominee?

B. And to those who wouldn't know, didn't the producers (small "p") consider it would appear WEIRD to highlight last year's winner when the awards are about this year's films & dead people?

Those aside, if I assume they have more than sh** for brains, and figure they've "done the math" and calculate that the benefits of showing Chicago crap again outweighs A+B, I STILL don't understand it because what's the benefit of humping a year-old film that's already been everywhere (theatres, DVDs, B'dway, etc.) for such a long time?

Leads one to ask merely:

Do they wanna hump C Z-J?
Do they wanna hump RZ?
Do they wanna hump Richard Gere?
Do they wanna hump all three?

If they're Hollywood producers, they've already done that, so there you go -- back to being confused.

My guess?

They're conceited, naive, idiots who suck at math.

Anonymous said...

Never liked Tina Fey. Always snide and boring. Amy Poeler is ten times worse. I don't find midgets automatically funny, in general, or scrunch-faced hobbits with a bad dye job, in particular.

benson said...

I don't believe it's a generational thing because I'm mid 50's and I thought Seth was brilliant. The best since Crystal in his hey day, maybe one of the best ever.

My problems were with the In Memorium. Obviously the public thinks this is an important segment. In the time that woman wailed, you could have honored 50 more deserving people. And I'm sorry, but the message sent was the only important dead person was Marvin Hamlisch. With all due respect, that ain't so. I watched TCM In Memorium this morning. Amazing how many greats died last year.

So many folks mention how great previous host were. Were they? It's like all the folks who wax poetic about the old SNL, and if you watch the originals, you see they were dreadful, save for a few inspired bits that survive.

Steve McLean said...

A big orchestra behind her is much more flattering to Adele than a little Kristin Chenowith in front of her

Anonymous said...

Since many are thinking it, but few are saying it, I'll do it:

Seth is genetically unfit for prime time.

He looks like the beneficiary of a talented surgeon of a Burn Unit. His tuft of hair looks like a burn surgeons work, as does his unfortunately clefted ears. His tiny slits for eyes look like the had recently been burned shut. His left eye looks horribly deformed.

The only other explanation, aside from thyroid cancer, is that he was a premature baby, whose malformed face, like many pm babies, is frozen in time like a bakery good, taken out of the oven too soon..

Will the readers of this blog please tweet about Seth's disturbing face, so that we can at least approach his inevitable failure as a host of anything aside from a charity drive for the St Jude's children's burn victim unit, with some degree of honesty?

Jokes aside, Seth is some kind of genetic miscreant. Looking at him for very long saddens people. He doesn't belong on a stage for long. It wears the audience down.

Why can't people just be honest, and say it?

Anonymous said...

I had better things to do on a Sunday night than watch this shit. After all, I can read the next twitters and blogs the next day and you tube what I can loathe the most.

Anonymous said...

Charles H. Bryan said...

This is the first Oscar telecast that I recall where I just bailed out at a certain point. (During the Best Movie movie trailers that Reese Witherspoon introduced, but the whole "We Saw Your Boobs" thing had primed me for escape. I've heard and watched Seth McFarlane in other places where I thought he was very funny but I don't think it translated well to the Oscars.)

I don't think the Oscar telecast knows what it wants to be -- reverent or irreverent? It should probably just go with reverent -- bring out somebody who won't upset anyone at all, who won't try to be funny, and just promote promote promote the nominated movies and the movie industry because that is what the show is about. Get someone who's affable, like Tom Hanks or the reanimated corpse of Bob Hope (Isn't that wild?), but stop trying to find people with stand up chops -- just axe that opening crap altogether. I would almost always rather watch the Grammys or the Tonys, because either of those features people who know how to be on stage which makes for a better show.

VP81955 said...

Jerry Seinfeld as Oscars host? Not a bad idea. By now, standup Jerry has eclipsed sitcom Jerry, and Seinfeld probably has enough wit about him to change material on the fly, unlike MacFarlane. We could do worse...and have.

Courtney Suzanne said...

I'm in my mid-30's and I'm in the Midwest, and I thought he was funny. As my husband remarked, "they should just give him a variety show so he could do his Dean Martin schtick." He was trying to entertain two demographics, people who remember Bob Hope and people who watch Family Guy, which I think is near impossible (unless you're Neal Patrick Harris, who can host the sh*t out of anything.)

Anonymous said...

Wasn't Seth MacFarlane hired to be edgy? Isn't that synonymous with sex, religion and death? And yet when he goes there you're all over him.

When a winner has run his list of thank-yous down to where he's thanking his lawyer, it's time to cue the music--and loudly.

Seth MacFarlane's real hair looks like a toupee, like he's running for Hair Club president under false pretenses.

George Clooney was the best guy in the whole show. His adlib of twistng open the honor bar-sized bottle of booze MacFarlane tossed him as an insult was as funny as anything else in the evening. And he was wise and gracious enough not to take any mike time when ARGO won, letting Affleck and the unkown producer have their moments; he didn't feel the need for the liemlight. A very cool guy.

RCP said...

Oh Oscars: Each year I tune in hoping you'll live up to your hype - but you never do. Guess that's called tradition. There's always Ken's column to look forward to, at least.

Shirley Bassey hit it out of the park - she and Jane Fonda have to be two of the world's hottest 75 year olds. I couldn't hear Adele over the orchestra half the time, but liked her unpretentious acceptance speech - Day-Lewis's too. Streisand wasn't in her best voice (much stronger in recent Brooklyn concerts) but it's always a pleasure to see the "established" stars: her, Douglas, Streep, Nicholson, Fonda. Caught myself berating Tarantino for his sloppy appearance, then realized I sounded like my mother.

I didn't think MacFarlane was awful, he just lacks the required presence of a great host. Thought the John Wilkes Booth joke was funny, but I have questionable tastes - your blog being one of the exceptions.

Debby G. said...

Very funny blog post, though I disagree with your take on the host. I thought McFarlane was a million times more entertaining than stoned Franco/cheerleader Hathaway, who didn't even attempt to be funny, or the previous year's Crystal of the stale jokes and creepy plastic surgery face. And he never said Clooney slept with children. He said Clooney slept with young women, which he does. So what if he takes the narcissistic Hollywood "royalty" down a few pegs? I perked up every time McFarlane came onstage. He was the only thing that made the incredibly long show bearable.

After seeing the untouched Christopher Plummer and Meryl Steep vs. all the creepy unmoveable plastic faces (I'm talking to you, vampire John Travolta and ruined Renee Zellweger and just about every other actor over 40), I am NEVER using Botox, fillers, or plastic surgery.

The Chicago producers showcasing their ten-year-old movie was horribly transparent. What a time waster.

Jennifer Lawrence charmed me. Melissa McCarthy, who's usually so funny, was a huge disappointment. And what an a-hole Samuel Jackson was for going off script, like he knew better than the four other presenters and writers.

I didn't see Lincoln because my mom, who likes every movie, said it was boring. Every time they showed a clip of Lincoln last night, it was of people talking in a dark room, which affirmed my decision to give it a pass.

Maele Genge said...

On Seth MacFarlane... sorry, not funny. If your total body of work for three-and-a-half hours never gets above misogyny, Jew-bashing, gay-bashing, and racism, your platform is pretty darn shaky. You'd need a sprinkle of extra bathroom humor to elevate it! Our couch potatoes for the event ranged from 8 to 78 and none of them enjoyed it.

Diane L. said...

I thought the show had it's moments. Some of the random MacFarlane bits were funny and familiar - if you've ever watched Family Guy. The Loser Song was a complete embarrassment. And while I thought Zeta-Jones did a great job with her Chicago number, it was distracting because it didn't really transition into any other similar showcases of previous musical movies from the past (other then Dream Girls). The show was disjointed, but not the worst.

Unknown said...

Looks like someone doesn't like Spielberg. Glad you have a forum for your agenda.

Unknown said...

Looks like someone doesn't like Spielberg. You were really subtle about letting us know that. Shame, because Lincoln was actually a nice and unexpected film. And though I'm no fan of Seth, I personally thought he did a better than average job.

John Fox said...

Could have been worse. Could have been hosted by Anne Hathaway and James Franco. Or maybe James Franco and Kristin Stewart. Now that would have boosted the suicide rate. Even Taylor Swift has a thing or two to teach Anne H. about accepting awards. McFarland was pretty much the train wreck everyone was expecting, but maybe not for the reasons they were expecting. He wasn't zinger-naughty. He was boring-naughty ... a child of television adrift in a world he does not understand. I kept thinking the show's director would finally cop some honesty and show reaction shots of the audience with jaws hanging slack to a soundtrack of crickets chirping. Boobs? Really? That's your A-game, Stewie? Finally, outsourcing the orchestra and the Best Picture presentation was the final insult to this cut-rate afterthought of an Oscar telecast. Thankyoucomeagain!

Beef Supreme said...

It was exactly what an Oscars flashback on "Family Guy" would be - only stretched out to 3.5 hours instead of 3.5 seconds.

I thought it was pretty funny myself. Crude, but funny. Like everything else I've seen by McFarlane

Beef Supreme said...

By the way I agree about Hathaway's acceptance speech. But that's how a lot of the winners are, especially female. They seem to have to feign that whole "so surprised and honored I am out of breath" thing for some reason. I wish someone would tell them it's really OK to go up there and be happy to win.

Then again, actors of both genders often seem to be the worst awards recipients. I don't know if it's just because they are used to having lines handed to them and memorized, but it mostly seems like any random sound effects winner is a hell of a lot more eloquent and interesting than the actors.

Anonymous said...

Ok, first off, I actually liked Seth last night. Granted, I'm 26 and love Family Guy and just bought TED... But even my parents, 63 and 60, who have never seen or heard of Seth before, thought he was both hilarious and talented. I'll quote my father "He has leading man looks, can sing, can dance and is hilarious." So, I really think you're off on your analysis. And can we stop saying he was the worst Oscar Host Ever? First off, Captain Kirk's time traveling obviously changed that outcome, except with E.W. And secondly, here's a list of Oscar Hosts and Co-Hosts that were, by magnitudes, worse than Seth.

1. Donald Duck - 1958
2. Jerry Lewis - 1959
3. James 'Stoned' Franco - 2011
4. Letterman - 1994
5. NO BODY - 1989 - Seriously, no body!

And come on people. The boobs musical number was funny. Not only was it funny, the pre-taped staged reactions were on the ground laughing funny (at least to me).

Ken, if you had a problem with the boob number and the other "crass" jokes, I'd like to remind you, that you wrote on Cheers and Mash, both of which used somewhat crass and sexist jokes on a weekly basis. Your audience was expecting it. That's why Sam worked on the show. He WAS sexist, he WAS crass and he WAS dimwitted. Now, I loved Cheers, but if you cannot see the parallel between what you've been a part of and then what Seth did, you're crazy.

Oh the joys of being a critic... You can berate someone for being crass, sexist and insulting to the talent, and then in the next paragraph, do the exact same thing without fear of repercussions.

So, good luck sir, critique away.

Ralph from Manhattan said...

Ken, wise takes...thnx

The only minority SMcF didn't hit was liquid know, diarrhea.

Guess they thought that was too sophisticated and went with 'boobs' instead...

Maybe in their run-throughs they patted themselves on the back happy for no penis jokes and instead said,

"I know, how about that movie musical we produced? Let's put that in four times..."

"Much better than organ jokes..."

The Indian Bustard said...

Fan of your blog, Ken.

But I still thought the opening sequence anticipated many of your gripes, and also made them seem a bit petty, old, outdated, and even cur... whatever.

For what it is worth, I read your blog first, and then watched the parts of the show you most disliked.

The host and the jokes were not too bad, I think.

By Ken Levine said...

Thank you all for the comments. I appreciate them all, even the ones that disagree with me. It's fun for me to hear what YOU thought.

The only comments I'm not reading are by anonymous posters. I just skip them.

Disagree with me all you like. But leave a name.

Thanks again!


Liggie said...

Missed the first half due to work, and from what I've heard, that seemed like a good thing.

Suggestions to save time: No opening production number, limit the host's intro monologue to around five minutes, less ostentatious Best Song productions (unless it was from a razzle-dazzle musical), announce the tech awards during commercials and show a snippet of the acceptance speech like during the Tonys.

Suggestions for host save those already mentioned: Tom Hanks, who's Hollywood royalty but also has a comedic history;
Matt Damon, based on his funny "takeover" of Jimmy Kimmel's show;
Denzel Washington, if you're going the serious route;
Graham Norton, London-based talk-show host who can be bitingly funny but never mean-spirited (yes, it's possible!);
Meryl Streep, who owns the town;
Conan O'Brien, as he's the talk-show host who annoys people the least (that would be "settling", I know)
heck, Michael Bublé, who can unleash Robin Williams-like zingers when he's not a commanding singer on stage.

The Indian Bustard said...

Some (not truly) anonymous persons who comment leave their names after their comments.

How do you deal with that?

David T. said...

How old are you? 85? The show was fine, with some old Hollywood glamor, the usual mix of eloquence and confusion in acceptance speeches, and perfectly welcome bits of silliness from the host. The only surprising thing was that Seth kept the edginess on the edge, without falling over. This is the guy who runs some of the bawdiest and weirdest shows on TV, who also *played a sassy, talking bear* in one of the year's giant hits. He can also sing and dance. Kudos to Seth - I'd be happy to have him back in the future.

Liggie said...

(Thought of this right after I hit "send"):

Regardless of how classy Mrs. Obama's pre-Best Picture speech may have been, keep politicians and their immediate family members away from the Oscars. Their involvement just stokes partisan fury, no matter how benign their message may be, and detracts from the nominees and winners. When Michele appeared, the fiercely anti-Obama family members I was watching with went so berserk, I heard only about three unconnected words she said, and they didn't calm down until well into Ben Affleck's acceptance speech. And I'm sure that had Romney won the election and Ann gave the same speech Michelle did, the liberals in my family would have gone just as berserk. Keep the presenters nonpartisan.

The only way I would allow it is if a politician is actually up for / wins an award, like Al Gore and his documentary a few years back.

Tim McGeary said...

The show is always bad. It's supposed to be bad so that that people like Ken and Nikki Finke will write about how bad it is. It's the award show equivalent of a NASCAR race - people want to see wrecks. Besides, how could it possibly be good with so many egos involved? I can't imagine trying to write for this show and dealing with producers and actors and agents and mangers and network people and all their stupid opinions (and they are undoubtedly stupid opinions).

MacFarlane wasn't great, but he made the show seem a bit fresher, at least to me. I think Billy Crystal is a funny guy, but he's just not relevant anymore and we've been there and done that.

The "we saw your boobs" song was my favorite part of the show. Specifically, the cut to Jennifer Lawrence in the audience. She's cool and I'll happily give her my money in the future.

I did think the homage to CHICAGO was weird. Who gives a shit other than the producers? Those guys have no shame (which probably explains their success).

- Tim McGeary

Mike said...

>“Jews-run-Hollywood” routine – Seth’s desperate attempt to win back the south.

Actually he was trying to curry favor with Obama and his new about to be confirmed Secretary of Defense.

Cap'n Bob said...

If I'd know the show was going to be that bad I would have watched it. Well, I saw about five minutes of red carpet banter and the last three awards, but that's all. My one observation is that we should all be scared shitless now that Michelle Obama has joined the Sea Org.

Johnny Walker said...

Respect and admiration to Ken for taking the disagreements and criticisms here so graciously. I doubt I'd be so pleasant about it.

Well done, sir.

Nobody Will Read This said...

I think you are being too hard on Anne Hathaway. Just because she was expected to win, and therefore shouldn't have been "surprised," does not mean she was being "phony." You can't rule out the emotions and excitement of the moment. Her reaction could well have been genuine, so for her to try to disguise the fact and attempt composure would have been the "phony" response....just a thought.

Joe said...

Rush Limbaugh was not an announcer for Monday Night Football. You can claim to be technically correct as I believe he was cast for it, but then vetoed by higher-ups at ABC/Disney. I think this would have been a good decision to have him be the announcer.

He was an analyst for ESPN's studio show when he got fired for the McNabb comments. Somehow the people on-air with him at the time understood what he was saying, and responded accordingly, that in fact McNabb has been good.

Eduardo Jencarelli said...

Going by the end credits, there were 11 writers involved with the ceremony.

There were 3 main staff writers, plus another 8 writers who served the personal interests of presenters, host, etc.

cshel said...

For next year's host(s), I vote for either Amy and Tina, or Jimmy Kimmel, or Jon Stewart again, but this time with Stephen Colbert as co-host, or Tom Hanks.

Like that other poster said, I thought I wanted Billy Crystal back - until he came back.

I do like Seth McFarlane, and thought he'd be a good host, because he can be funny, and he's a good singer. But the jokes were only 50% funny, and the rest were poor and stale. And his musical numbers were boring.

I agree with some others that the show just felt like a slap-dash, mish-mash filled with boring, irrelevant time-sucks. Whoever put this whole thing together is an idiot. Random actors, who aren't dancers, tap dancing to the little ant song?! Chicago? Captain Kirk? Ted? The Flying Nun? WTF?! And what was the deal with Paul Rudd and Melissa McCarthy? They're usually so funny. It seemed like they purposely tried not to do that bit right. Was it a James Franco sabotage homage?

I did like Babs, Shirley, and Adele. And Daniel Day Lewis was really funny. And I hate to admit I enjoyed the sock puppets. And the John Wilkes Booth joke.

Give Anne Hathaway a break. She delivered a spectacular performance in Les Mis, she'd be criticized no matter how she reacted, and she kept the speech to mostly thanking people by this point. There was a reason she had short hair, and she can pull it off. Don't keep holding her responsible for her bad turn as an Oscar co-host. : )

Why, why, why, with all of the talent in Hollywood at their disposal, have they not been able to put together a decent Oscar show in however many years it's been since Billy Crystal's face looked normal?! It just doesn't seem that hard, but apparently it's impossible.

BMR said...

Having seen Seth host “Saturday night live” I knew I would never cross the street to see him again. I expected a smarmy insincere performance so I spent the night watching Netflix (House of cards is a lot of Kevin Spacey fun!)

I have to take issue with your Anne Hathaway comments though, have always found her to be a good sport on any show she appears on and, the polar opposite of Seth, shows a lot of sincerity and class.

Anonymous said...

Was Seth actually a burn victim? Why is his hair and face like that?

Howard Manning said...

Ken, it sounds like you were hoping for a mild-mannered, milquetoast announcer, and were surprised to see an edgy comic instead. Whether one finds his barbs funny, of course (I did), is where we're all on our own. But if an Oscar host can't make fun of Hollywood and its denizens, they're D.O.A.

Pete Grossman said...

Wouldn't it have been great if the First Lady announced the Best Picture as ARGO Fuck Yourself?

Tod Hunter said...

Ken --

Excellent commentary. even when I didn't agree with you I was laughing out loud.

And oh by the way Ron Jeremy is out of the hospital. He's taking it easy as he recuperates and I'm recommending he not read your stuff until he fully heals lest hearty laughter re-rupture his aorta.



Anonymous said...

I don't know what you were watching but Seth was awesome! Get the pickle out or your christian ass!

Tomas said...

First you criticize Seth for joking about things like Adele's weight, and then you tell Anne Hathaway to "grow your hair and eat something". (And wondering whether "Kristen Stewart forgot to shoot up before going on stage".)

Was this meant as some kind of subtle irony, or is it as hypocritical as it appears?

Michael said...

An additional thought or two:

First, MacFarlane is not from the standup and hosting world. Not that everybody should be, but even if he doesn't control the show, he has to give the appearance of doing so. Yes, Hope and Carson and Crystal were great at that. Yes, Crystal shouldn't have come back. Yes, Letterman proved that isn't always true.

Second, MacFarlane is who he is. Chris Rock certainly is funny, but his humor is not what that night is about. We can agree that it's about ego, but if we are there to celebrate movies we liked, trying to be too edgy isn't going to work. MacFarlane should have known better than to do it and the Academy should have known better than to ask him.

Third, when you're opening routine goes at least 20 minutes, you've blown it.

D. McEwan said...

"Eduardo Jencarelli said...
Ken, I can assure you it wasn't THAT long. It may have felt like it, but it wasn't. I timed it. It ran at 3:25."

You're off by ten minutes. It ran 3:35.

" MikeBo said...
I'm thinking that maybe next year the academy should cancel the telecast and just email everyone the results of the voting."

The TV show is what raises the capital that keeps the Academy's doors open. Cancel the show and the Academy dies. Think before commenting.

"Erika said...
Seth sucked. And assholes like Jerry Lewis say WOMEN aren't funny? Tina Fey and Amy Poehler kicked ass at the Golden Globes! Seth MacFarlane isn't in the same galaxy as those comedy goddesses."

I totally agree.

Michael said...

One addendum. I can think of few things less appealing than a stand-up comedian laughing at his own jokes. To break up during a skit, as would happen with Harvey Korman watching Tim Conway, yes. To laugh at your own joke, no. I can figure out whether it's funny without his help.

Pat Reeder said...

I have to respectfully disagree; I loved Seth MacFarlane as host. I thought he did a good job of balancing the edgy humor that targets the young viewers and the old Hollywood glamor (singing "Just the Way You Look Tonight," etc.) for the older crowd. And since both appeal to me (I like music with actual tunes sung by people who can actually sing, which is as rare in Hollywood these days as a 30-minute Oscarcast), I thought he did great.

Not just my opinion, either: we watched it at a theater full of people in Dallas, and he got a few groans (the Lincoln joke, but that was meant to elicit a groan), but also big laughs and applause throughout. I've noticed this morning that all the worst reviews are coming from Hollywood (and leftist feminist writers in organs like the New Yorker and the Huffington Post whose senses of humor could not be located with an electron microscope), and the best from Middle America. Maybe all those giant egos in the room just have a harder time laughing at themselves than those of us out here in flyover country have laughing at them.

I thought the real jerk of the night was Ben Affleck, who came out looking like he wanted to kill Seth just for mentioning "Gigli" (hey, if you expected audiences to pay to waste two hours of their lives watching it, you can endure a five-second mention of it). All the publicity of the last few months almost had me convinced that maybe he wasn't really a thin-skinned, pompous ass, but that convinced me anew. His acceptance speech, which he used to talk about his struggle not to hold grudges against people, sealed the deal. Seriously, you've just won an Oscar for Best Picture, and that's what you talk about: how hard it's been for you to stop resenting everyone who stood in your way? Congratulations on getting over that and becoming a superior human being.

Mister Charlie said...

Ken, you said everything I was thinking myself last night, and funnily. I was kind of hoping Seth could pull it off, but he just was far less than promised (as they all are, every year). It was a show full of oddness, and you nailed it, so forget the naysayers.

Mike said...

How about having William Shatner host?

Another name is Justin Timberlake

Cody said...

It's the last line that gets me...,31429/

XJill said...

I thought it was fine. There were bits that were awful and bits that were great, true for just about every Oscars ceremony. I, for one, was CRACKING UP at the "Flight" sock puppets. That killed me. And I loved Channing and Charlize's dance number.

One thing that helped the show as well is that besides Anne, DDL and Adele there were lots of categories that were up in the air. That made watching it more interesting to me. I know I let out a HUGe "wooo!!!!" when Lee won but everyone at my party was tipsy by then and didn't care.

Shirley Bassey sounded great!

Muzza said...

I don't eagerly jump onto this blog following the Oscars to agree or disagree with everything Ken says, I just love how he says it. And just like the tired routines at the awards, I'll keep coming back.

Brule Eagan said...

You'd think the Academy would suck it up and hire the people who produce the Tonys to do the Oscars, which is, after all, a stage show. And Ken, you're now officially a Grouchy Old Fart. Welcome aboard.

Cap'n Bob said...

You have a Christian ass, Ken? When did it convert?

DBA said...

I didn't particularly enjoy MacFarlane last night, but based on how terribly unfunny I expected him to be, he came nowhere near my expectations. I also thought the Captain Kirk bit was a cop out. As if by saying "look at this terrible bit" and then doing it, that would make it funnier and not terrible.
I think the Academy does need to decide when they pick hosts whether they're going to go with a theme of self-important with jokes thrown in, or mocking their own self-importance. It always plays awkwardly when the host goes from one second acting like it's a roast, to another second indulging how pompous the whole thing is. Although MacFarlane's track record on Jew-jokes speaks for itself and those bits were the most cringeworthy for me last night. Sock puppets, fine, but stop with the pretend(or-is-it)anti-semitism which he then backs by having a second character draw attention to it. He goes to that well too often AND it rubs me the wrong way AND isn't funny.

John Fox said...

After earlier giving thumbs down to SMcF's hosting, I was reminded of one well written and executed joke he pulled off when talking about Argo ... "the story of a covert action so secret that even members of the Academy don't know who directed it." Easily his cleverest comment of the night.

Anonymous said...

Hmm...with the exceptions of Spielberg and Adele, one can neatly cleave people involved with the Oscars into two categories: those whose careers have peaked since the turn of the century and are thus bad, and those whose careers peaked before it and are thus good. I don't doubt that this opinion reflects much of the Oscar audience. Which explains the audience's rapid shrinkage. Nicholson hasn't made a noteworthy movie in ages, nor has Michael Douglas. Streisand? Not really a singer anymore.

John said...

Ah, make of this what you will -- Former "Family Guy" guest voice gives props to McFarlane over Oscar show, gets back scratched by Seth in return. Though I'm guessing Ken's not going to be disappointed not to have Rush Limbaugh on his side.

pumpkinhead said...

Oscar host I want to see: Larry David.

SBK said...

I know I'm in the minority here but I rather liked MacFarlane.

I'm assuming no one forced Sally Field to do the "Flying Nun" bit...

Streisand I found insufferable. Do we really need to hear "Memory" again? Bring out the hook.

MrJeff2000 said...

You realize this was William Shatner's first OSCAR appearance since he and Persis Khambatta presented a documentary award in 1980 to Ira Wohl (whose film was about his retarded cousin).

After Wohl had emotionally thanked many family and friends, Shatner quipped, "I'm glad he didn't have a larger family."

fug said...

'D. McEwan said...
MikeBo said...
I'm thinking that maybe next year the academy should cancel the telecast and just email everyone the results of the voting."

The TV show is what raises the capital that keeps the Academy's doors open. Cancel the show and the Academy dies. Think before commenting'
I'm pretty sure he wasn't being serious, maybe you should think before trying to build yourself up,
repulsive jerk of the comments page.

Anonymous said...

I liked Seth. I get that alot of people don't like his humor. But it's gotten to the point where it's "cool" to rag on him. I guess that's a good way of knowing your doing well in Hollywood. What, you would rather have Billy Crystal's frozen face?

Anonymous said...

Ken, you sound like "get off my lawn" grandpa here. I actually said before I read your review; "I bet Ken is going to hate Seth."

It's shown in your previous posts that you don't like the guy so this review was predictable and boring...kind of like the overrated Tina Fey and Amy Poehler.

The Warden said...

Hey, Ken (mostly) right on! The missing element in many recent Oscar broadcasts is not that they lack a funny host, or even that the writing is puerile and facetious rather than humorous and seriously funny. What they lack is a real, huble regard and respect for, and fascination with the potential power of "the movies." Hope, Carson... beneath the wise cracks (written by terrific writers who'd spent years in the comedy trenches) had that fascination in spades. MacFarlane's "edginess" simply skirts the rim of inanity and facile vulgarity. The best hosts and their crack writers delivered seriously funny material, full of wit and satire and "insider" jokes (which those of us out of the Hollywood loop enjoyed trying to decypher.) They lampooned themselves as well as the narcissists, fools, lechers and eccentrics who poulate "The Dream Factory." The sad fact is that the deconstructionist wise ass personalities that make up the current gaggle of zeitgeist darlings are simply pandering and responding to a viewing public which possesses little actual respect for cinema. Their esthetics have been coarsened and degraded by reality TV, mindless internet memes, and increasing tolerance -- even hunger for -- plain old schoolyard nastiness.

Buttermilk Sky said...

As soon as McFarlane began to bomb, I thought of Stephen Colbert at the White House correspondents' dinner. Didn't they know what to expect when they hired him?

Did anyone else notice Meryl Streep pulling her dress out of her ass as she walked out? She said she was stepping on it, but that's not how you adjust your train.

Of course Day-Lewis was funny. He had plenty of time to write (or commission) a speech, having been Oscar-anointed the day LINCOLN opened.

McF. put his Jews-run-Hollywood jokes into the mouth of his alter-ego, Ted. If Mel Gibson had done that, he'd still have a career.

Next year's host: Kevin Spacey. He's personable, a bona fide movie star, and he can sing. But limit him to one number, in case he still thinks he's Bobby Darrin.

Birdie said...

I'm not really sure how in the age of Harvey Weinstein you can talk about Spielberg buying awards - your bias (wherever that comes from) is really showing. On the contrary, of anything, - DDL was in fact the first Spielberg performance to win an Oscar. I have mixed feelings about the ceremony and the Awards themselves, least The Punisher wasn't able to strong arm his way into winning a bunch of undeserved awards this year. When has Spielberg ever done this? He might get visibly pissy when he doesn't win or get nominated, but when has he ever been perceived to have "bought" a win? I enjoy your blog a lot, but I really just smell an agenda here.

I'm not even the biggest Spielberg fan, especially when he goes overboard with the schmaltz, but I was very pleasantly surprised by Lincoln, which I do think has the best ensemble of the year (yes, including Field), an incredibly rich screenplay (when do we ever see that anymore), and detailed, sentisitve, and for the most part (for Spielberg anyway) restrained direction. Of the nominees that I have seen at least, I do think it was the most deserving. And I was prepared to hate it.

Re MacFarlane - I did enjoy the boobs song, the flying nun thing was great, some of the jokes worked, and a lot of the bombs and awkwardness worked too. Yet somehow I feel like he never really found his stride - and even that is not entirely his fault (although the TED bit was lame as can be). You give the one suspenseful acting award first off and then and interminable 2 hours oftech awards and endless musical numbers until the next acting award? That was brutal and I almost stopped watching. But again, you've been bashing MacFarlane since he was announced as host so it's pretty clear you were ready to hate him - let me put on my surprise face.

However, the fact that you are now hating on Hathaway - and I know you have long been a fan - to me is proof positive that she has officially become insufferable. Welcome to our side, Ken. It's more fun over here.

And kudos to you for taking these critiques graciously when some of them are anything but. Appreciate you don't go the Roseanne route and delete any post that deigns to disagee. I only wish that your authentication words and numbers were more legible - sometimes I have to try 5 times before my post clears!

By Ken Levine said...


Tomorrow I will respond to all of today's comments and further explain my approach.

But it makes no sense to ask people to comment and then delete the ones I don't agree with. As long as the person leaves his name.



Unknown said...

Maybe I look for the positive in things, or maybe I have a better memory for Oscar nights than most people, but I have to disagree on MacFarlane. I think he did the best hosting job in a very long time. I'm not sure what people will be satisfied with when it comes to Oscar hosts, but maybe it would be easier to enjoy the show if everyone remembers its just an awards show and nothing more. It's not the be all and end all of movie opinions. It's Hollywood giving itself a handjob.

I agree with everything else you said though.

Storm said...

This morning, my husband realized, "Hey, you didn't watch the Oscars last night! You've watched it every year as long as I've known you. Did you forget it was on?"

"Darling, that was literally the first time in my LIFE that I did not see at least a few minutes of it. I watched it faithfully every year since I was a baby. But I have no desire to see or hear Seth MacFarlane's evil smarminess for several hours, and my ONLY horses in the race was the make-up team for 'The Hobbit' and the late great Eiko Ishioka for Best Costumes [neither of whom won], and that's not enough reason to deal with it at ALL."

My ONLY regret is that I missed the incomparable Dame Shirley Bassey. She gives me LIFE.

Cheers, thanks a lot,


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Anonymous said...

You question Jennifer Anniston's "scowl"? She ALWAYS looks like she walked into a room and smelled something bad.

It's a Blog Blog Blog Blog World said...

You've fallen into your own trap. You've been on the inside so long that you can't realistically view things the way we do. That's sad.
Culture is changing. He owns 18-40 every other day of the week. And the proof is out. He just garnered the highest ratings in six years. This is today's new culture. It's a Blog, Blog, Blog, Blog World. Now everyone has become an authority.

Prof.Madmax said...

My suggestions for improvement-

1. How about Bill Murray to host?
2. A witty running-gag?
3. Best Picture sketches?
4. In-house orchestration, please!
5. More Jack Nicholson!

I liked Seth OK, as least he wasn't bland.
We are lucky the host isn't the winner of a reality show contest.

Anonymous said...

It seemed like Jack was thinking, "Where's Kobe? Where's Kareem? Did I hear that Pat Riley's with the Knicks?"

Canda said...

Couldn't agree more about Anne Hathaway. She is okay as an actress, nothing special, and now she seems to be in the preview of every new movie coming out. How can you give an Oscar to someone singing an emotional song, with orchestra accompaniment? It's ludicrous, and should be sung by Ludacris.

The closing song was taken from the Tonys, wasn't it, where Neil Patrick Harris sang a song about all the things we just saw in the show? Kristen Chenowith is just NOT funny. She can sing and play quirky, but that's about it.