All That (85th Oscars) Jazz
The Big Night: Fun Arrivals, Winner's List, Jennifer Lawrence in the Press Room
The Look Back: Funniest Tweets, & Season Finale Podcast
The Fashions: Fifteen Men, The Ten Nominated Ladies, Goodbye Glamour
The Opening Monologue
As today's reviews will surely attest, Seth MacFarlane bombed badly last night in the unenviable host position. Why anyone would want the job is beyond me. Occasionally someone will get 'good job' reviews (Hugh Jackman, Billy Crystal, etcetera) but those positive reviews almost never come directly after the show but later in context once they're sized up in memory against newer worse hosting gigs. Nearly everyone gets mixed to negative reviews in the moment. Fact: people love to hatewatch the Oscars. To his credit (eep), MacFarlane understood this and even attempted to get out in front of the criticism by mocking it. In his interminable opening monologue (18 minutes!) he was visited from the future by Captain Kirk (William Shatner) - a joke more suited to the Emmys which he'd be a better host of given that he's a television personality -- who showed him the headlines from the next morning.
It was funny because it was true. But the gag continued. As the monologue progressed his reviews improved until he got somewhere around "mediocre". It wasn't funny because it wasn't true. [Editor's Note: The "worst" part isn't true. That title will obviously and forever belong to James Franco who couldn't be bothered to show (in spirit) though he undoubtedly cashed the check.]
See, Captain Kirk was right. His jokes were "inappropriate and offensive" and we all DID wish it were Tina & Amy hosting instead (a weird shoutout to the Golden Globes, which were without question the highlight of this awards season as televised events go though Oscar Night usually plays "no comment" on that precursor). Worse than MacFarlane's fratboy jokes though was that the humor seemed entirely centered around HIM, as if we were watching The Oscars to send 3½ hours with MacFarlane and not with the biggest movie stars in the world. Oops. Somehow doesn't know why people tune in to the Oscars.
Each year the media and the producers and even the general public play a little complicit game of "OOOH, ____ IS HOSTING AND NOW WE'RE EXCITED". But it's never the hosts. It's the movies and the movie stars! Mostly the hosts do best when they show up for brief intervals and make a funny but stay out of the way so we can gawk at stars and remember the year's most celebrated pictures and, for the less devoted, make a mental grocery list of movies we want to see now.
Perhaps Captain James T Kirk can tell us if any future Oscar Producers and Hosts figure that out.
The three most terrible moments:
- That joke about Quvenzhané and Clooney. I've since blocked it out but I have a vague memory of being offended.
- Flight reenacted with sock puppets. (Somehow there was a lot of laughter in the Dolby. Please tell me that was a laugh track and not actual enjoyment)
- That weird flying nun / seducing Sally Field skit.
So as not to be a total downer -- I enjoy the Oscars even when they're lame! -- here were a few things I think worked about Seth's performance.
- He sings well. His love of musicals was obvious and gave us fun expected moments like Charlize Theron (originally a dancer) and Channing Tatum dancing together and even a kickline with Joseph Gordon-Levitt & Daniel Radcliffe who both have a song & dance man inside of them.
- As stupid as that "we saw your boobs" number was -- it would have been much funnier if it were shorter -- the actresses who filmed reaction shots were good sports with solid comic timing and the Kate Winslet punchline was great. (Oh shut up, I bet she laughed from home). In an evening full of dumb jokes, inevitably some of them will land.
- Later in the show when he wasn't taking up so much space he was better. His introductions were sometimes amusing (loved the Channing Tatum / Jennifer Aniston intro) and I especially enjoyed the "needs no introduction" introduction for you know who, didn't you? I mean, she doesn't!
Do you have against-the-grain kind words for Seth MacFarlane or are you already making a mental list of 500 celebrities who would have done a better job last night? (If so care to share a few of them?)
And why does anyone want the job of hosting -- beyond the cash -- given that it's rather like having a worldwide target on your tuxedo'ed back?
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