When the best thing one can say about last night’s 3-plus-hour Academy Awards is how glad we were that it wasn’t 4-plus-hours, well, you know you’re in trouble.
Of course, following the train wreck of a telecast that was the previous year’s James Franco and Anne Hathaway hosted affair, one pretty much knew what to expect from this year’s host Billy Crystal. “Comfort food,” was how writer/comedian Carol Leifer put it in our pre-show interview with her and in that sense Crystal succeeded on every level.
In fact, from his been-there-seen-that opening number that saw the nine-time master of ceremonies digitally insert himself into a handful of nominated movies (including cameos from George Clooney, Justin Bieber and Jonah Hill, among others), to his traditional opening movie melody in which he gently and very un-Gervais-like poked fun at Hollywood, the only surprising aspect of the Oscars’ opening number was how on earth a multimillion dollar production seen across the globe could allow for so many horrendous sound problems.
Thus, rather than go the all-too predictable blogger route of dwelling on the negative that comes with what inevitably happens when producers combine a self-important and bloated award ceremony with an overly familiar host and a handful of seemingly never-ending montages in which overly important actors fruitlessly attempt to convey the excitement surrounding the vague notion of making “movie magic” by doing their best impersonation of a “talking head” bit from THE OFFICE — we’ll focus on the evening’s few bright spots (Note this won’t take long).
First and foremost, Emma “Can do no wrong” Stone gets our vote for outstanding breath of fresh air for her hilariously over-the-top bit with co-presenter Ben “Good sport” Stiller. Equally exhilarating were presenters Tina Fey and Chris Rock, both of whom completely nailed their “auditions” should the Academy ever want to seriously consider bringing back the funny to future ceremonies as well as the cast of Bridesmaids. The latter of which saw stars Melissa McCarthy and Rose Byrne continue their Golden Globe tradition by doing a shot of Grey Goose vodka on cue after an audience “heckler” shouted out the name of some guy named Scorsese.
Honorable mentions also go to class act Christopher Plummer (Best Supporting Actor, Beginners) for solidifying his status as Canada’s Betty White equivalent, winners Meryl Streep (Best Actress, The Iron Lady) and Octavia Spencer (Best Supporting Actress, The Help) for delivering two of the most memorable acceptance speeches of the evening, Christopher Guest for breaking up the night’s monotony with a short interstitial that saw him reunite with his Waiting for Guffman co-stars (Bob Balaban, Fred Willard, Eugene Levy, Catherine O’Hara and Jennifer Coolidge) to take us behind the scenes of a fictional Wizard of Oz focus group (“Flying Monkeys!”), and Angelina Jolie’s right leg which not only already has its own Twitter account, but gave Outstanding Adapted Screenplay winner Jim Rash (alongside co-writers Alexander Payne and Nat Faxon for The Descendants) the opportunity to generate the kind of publicity for COMMUNITY money can’t buy.
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