It is the night when Hollywood’s biggest stars come out to shine. I like that the juggernaut of film has to submit to its kid sister of television to get its pageant to the masses. This year I went full boar to take it in as one of the biggest nights on the television calendar. Snacks! Bubbly liquor! Extensive red carpet pre-show watching! So I was already committed to this monstrosity of tuxes and bouffants for hours before the telecast itself began.
The Academy Awards is long show. It has a flawed format going in. Even the Super Bowl has halftime. To try and do a three-and-a-half hour (in essence) variety show is something that Jerry Lewis doesn’t event attempt anymore. With these Oscars the pall of the lack of diversity in the acting nominees almost made it so these awards were tainted. Dave Grohl’s memoriam song was off “The White Album”! For shame, Hollywood. That if you yourself were watching it – you the viewer are socially insensitive. Even though I mainly watch for cleavage and gamble on who will go last in the “In Memoriam” montage. (Leonard Nimoy over Maureen O’Hara was a big upset!) And the winners themselves have little stank on them – the comparison can be made of how you can’t say Babe Ruth is the greatest baseball player ever because he never faced pitching from the Negro Leagues. “Oh you one the Oscar in THAT year….hmmm”.
Chris Rock was faced with leading the diversity charge and did about as a good a job as one could. He chided without unleashing Holy Hell as he has the power to do. His line about “Rihanna’s panties” had me legitimately cackling. I like how the appearance of Stacy Dash went over everybody’s head. The people I was watching with were very perplexed as to why Cher’s friend from Clueless was on the biggest entertainment night of the year. Dash is a Fox News contributor who believes there should not be Black History Month or a Black Entertainment TV channel. I liked it because I was the only one who knew what was going on. The comedy highlights for me was when they had the bear from The Revenant act as seat filler, and then cut to Leonardo Dicaprio’s face who was none to pleased to be ridiculed on his magical night. Louis C.K.’s comedically honest tribute to documentarians was great as he either cemented a future job as host or was too honest to ever be considered. It is a prestigious gig, but it is a bad audience. They are not there to see you. And you aren’t really hosting. You’re stalling. To the audience this is twenty minutes they have to tack onto finding if they are awesome and getting drunk or high. The whole Girl Scout cookie bit; well that was cute and didn’t offend anybody. Thank goodness it didn’t drag on like when Ellen did a similar pizza bit a few year’s ago that seemed to go for about 25 minutes. In the words of Norm Macdoanld’s tweet “ ..so long that they are going to have to put Kirk Douglas in the dead persons’ montage”. Rock’s vox pop of Compton movie goers was pretty funny too. He did a similar bit last time he hosted, actually I’m pretty sure it’s the exact same bit. But funny none-the-less
The problem with the Oscars itself is that it is too stodgy. The self importance is off-putting. You get to make and be in movies! The dream! Enjoy it. As an audience we want to enjoy it through you. The Oscars instead gives off the idea that sure Doctors Without Borders are cute, but filmmaking is the most important thing ever! The Golden Globes gets past this. The reason may be because it’s not as prestigious, but the Globes are just a big party with pretty rich people happy that that are just that. They even invite the TV people. I think they do this so than can secretly look down on them. “Oh you’re on TV, that’s adorable.” The Tony’s are also always a much better show. That can be chalked up to people who know how to do live performances and everyone being extra excited about being on TV. I take umbrage with the Emmy Awards as they are usually a drab affair but they have welcomed streaming services to their show. The Oscars maintain the integrity of the film. It has to be shown in a theater despite how minimal the audience. On the Emmys the best show on TV doesn’t have to be on TV.
One already has to look to next year as to who will host this show that wants to be part Occupy Wall Street rally and part multi-hour figurative felattio session. Don’t go edgy if you don’t want edgy. Having Chris Rock only be 60% Chris Rock is like entering a donkey in the Kentucky Derby. So I hereby nominate Jimmy Fallon and Justin Timberlake. They won’t offend anybody, and will still be entertaining. Fallon loves being on TV. He can do his goofy songs and play ping-pong with Jack Nicholson and it would be a hoot. Most celebrities like him and will help him out with bits.Then you have the Martin to Fallon’s Lewis. Actually Justin Timberlake is our generation Frank Sinatra: Movie star/recording star/pop culture icon, all while being the best SNL host in the past 20 years. I saw him live in Winnipeg. He can sing, dance, play the keytar …whatever it takes to get the job done. His movies aren’t great, but Chris Rock’s movies aren’t that great either. He can put on his pork pie and play the piano to slow things down too.
Probably the best thing the Oscars has produced in the past years is the Jimmy Kimmel post Oscar show. Everybody can undo their girdles and top buttons and enjoy Jimmy ragging on the show, done so in the way we all do at home. He always gets an A level guest and does a big elaborate pre-taped segment. From taking a bath with Oprah to Tom Hanks entering a kid’s beauty pageant to this year’s Trump musical with the cast of The Producers. It’s a shame though because justifiably one is plum tuckered after the Oscars themselves.
It’s not that there was anything wrong with this year’s effort. Any criticism would be geared toward the event rather than this year’s version of it. “I don’t like that steakhouse because I’m a vegetarian. or I didn’t like that UFC because there was too much kicking.” It has just become this perfunctory occurrence rather than a special event though. It’s like a license renewal or eggnog purchase. Sometimes exciting, always takes too long and Lou Gossett, Jr. is present in the background.
Raphael Saray is writer/broadcasting based in Flin Flon, MB. His girlfriend was once propositioned by the Fonz at an autograph session at a car show.