Okay, so the show this year started off promising, with a pretty decent musical opening number that did its best to tribute significant movies. But then it went downhill pretty quickly. I hope this can finally put to rest the myth that Neil Patrick Harris is some kind of amazing awards show host, because he was a disaster tonight. But we'll start out with the positive.
The Musical Numbers- I was not looking forward to all the musical numbers planned for the ceremony, but you know what? They were actually pretty good, most of them. Or maybe it was just that they were better than NPH and his dying comedic "bits." Actually, his opener about movies was good, the one that incorporated Anna Kendrick and Jack Black, but that was the highlight for him personally. After that, Common and John Legend's Selma performance brought everyone to their feet (and to tears), while Lady Gaga overcame the pointlessness of the Sound of Music tribute by just being really, fucking good. I've been a fan of hers for years, and this is the reason, people. Because she's talented and can actually sing. If you never knew that, you do now.
The Speeches- this was a night of emotional, political speeches from several of the winners, and thank goodness, because when you've got a bad host and slow pacing by the producers, you'd better hope the people on stage can make things interesting. Patricia Arquette of course, started things off by using her time at the podium to make a loud defiant call for women's equality (something she didn't do at any other stage this year), and then John Legend made a speech after winning Best Song, that publicly noted America's insanely high incarceration rate for black men. When Graham Moore won Adapted Screenplay for The Imitation Game, he used his mic time to admit to having attempted suicide as a teen and calling on younger kids to "stay weird and different," and finally, Best Director Alejandro Inarritu tributed Mexican immigrants and hoped for them to build a better government here that they deserve. Sorta reminds you of the 1970's, doesn't it? I say bring on all the right wing hatred.
The Host- Sorry guys, but Neil Patrick Harris fell flat on his face tonight. After the opening number, he made us all suffer through a god awful predictions box gag that ran all night even though it was dead from the start, his attempted interactions with every audience member was cringeworthy at best (yikes, David Oyelowo and Oprah were not into that Annie joke), and he just wasn't able to get that uptight audience in the room to relax one bit (not to mention he himself looked utterly terrified for at least half the night on that stage). I'd rank him just a notch above the notorious James Franco/Anne Hathaway year. I think the lesson they need to learn here is to hire a fucking COMEDIAN for this thing. It has to be done, otherwise the stuffiness will be unbearable and last all night long. We need jokes that work, and the Oscar show writers are not the people to provide that. Or at least some presenters who do a funny bit in place of the flailing host- we got nothing this year.
The Categories- what do I mean by that? Well, how about the fact that every category save for acting showed nothing but a still of the movie's name as the nominees were read? Are you kidding me? Um, how about clips that showed off the production design? Or the costumes? Or the scripts? You may think that doesn't make a difference, but it actually does, especially when most people don't even know what 80% of these categories mean. Seriously, all it would take is to flash some stills of the sets, people. It made the awards themselves even more boring than usual.
In Memorium- this kind of ties into the category thing, but why show drawings of the people who died, instead of actual clips from the movies they were in? Again, that would remind people who they were and what they'd actually done. Also, Joan Rivers probably should have been included, despite the fact that most of her career was as a TV personality- but hey, that TV work including popularizing the Oscar red carpet, right? Talk about ungrateful.