OPINION: And the Best Award Show Goes To…. Well, Not The Oscars
By Alistair Birrell
BU News Service
“Anything can happen tonight,” said Ellen DeGeneres, “so many possibilities.” I suppose anything could have happened and there were so many possibilities, but they just… didn’t. For being the biggest award show of the year, the 86th Academy Awards were slightly tame, too long, and quite frankly a bit boring.
Host Ellen DeGeneres guided the show predictably and without subtlety. The opening monologue meandered through non-offensive jokes including an overlong bit about Jennifer Lawrence falling up the stairs last year, and a joke about Liza Manelli looking like a drag impersonator of herself. High-brow stuff. Choosing DeGeneres as host was an obvious move on the part of the Academy after the controversy of last year’s awards hosted by Seth MacFarlane and his scandalous jokes about boobs, Jews, and Hollywood.
One of the most, or only, talked about moments from the whole event was the celebrity packed ‘selfie’ that DeGeneres took with Meryl Streep, Julia Roberts, Brad Pitt, Bradley Cooper, and a few others. It seemed rather forced and once again highlighted the fact that DeGeneres and the whole ceremony was relying more on creating ‘magical moments’ then on the jokes and presenters. The production seemed to be focussed on bringing the audience watching at home closer to the celebrities in the room, and DeGeneres was the middle-woman in that task.
Another one of the big moments was when DeGeneres returned after a commercial break with a bemused pizza deliveryman to hand out slices to the hungry guests. “Who’s hungry,” she said about fifty times in a dreadfully misguided skit. Once again it just seemed stilted and like something the producers thought of at the last minute when they realised the ceremony really wasn’t funny. If possible the joke was even less funny an hour later when DeGeneres tried to collect money for the pizza.
The musical performances seemed like a strange throwback to ten years ago, the last time that Pink or U2 were at all relevant. Man-of-the–hour Pharrell Williams fared slightly better, but his performance was just a shadow of the one at the Grammy’s, an award show that completely outshone the Oscars. And even though Idina Menzel’s (pronounced Adele Dazim according to Travolta) rendition of Let It Go from Frozen was good, none of the performances were anything to remember.
One of the touching moments of the ceremony came as Bill Murray presented the award for Best Cinematography. “Oh we forgot one. Harold Ramis for Caddyshack, Ghost Buster, and Groundhog Day,” Murray said after the nominees had been announced. It was a sentimental moment, but it only reminded me of the fact that if Murray had not spoken, the show would have gone by without a single verbal mention of Ramis or Phillip Seymour Hoffman.
For the most part favorites mostly won the awards, and a lot of people will have done well in office awards pools over the weekend. 12 Years a Slave won Best Picture, a well-deserved win. Alfonso Cuarón won Best Director for Gravity, a well-deserved win. And Matthew Mconaughey and Cate Blanchett won Best Actor and Actress, respectively, both well-deserved wins. All very middle of the road.
It can be hard to decide where to point the Good Ship Oscars tone-wise. Too offensive and it can cause too much… well offense, like Jon Stewart in 2008 or Chris Rock in 2005. Too much of an inoffensive daytime host like DeGeneres and the show, like this one, becomes boring and the three plus hours drags on and becomes unbearably noticeable. The 86th Academy Awards just seemed to slightly miss the mark, by being just plain. And much like the celebrity ‘selfie’ that DeGeneres took, the Oscars presented an idea that should have been filled with celebrities and exciting moments, but in the end was just an empty gesture.