Another year, another Oscar ceremony, and another fierce debate over the merits of the telecast. As The Artist celebrates its five wins, including Best Picture, here’s a look back at the moments being heralded as the night’s best… and those singled out as the worst:
BEST: The Wizard of Oz focus group
With all due respect to Crystal’s ably executed, classic opening sequence, says Ken Tucker at Entertainment Weekly, the night’s best pre-taped bit was a mock focus group (supposedly circa 1939) for The Wizard of Oz that starred the Christopher Guest players, including Bob Balaban, Eugene Levy, Fred Willard, Catherine O’Hara, Jennifer Coolidge, and Guest himself. Willard’s relentless enthusiasm for the film’s flying monkeys coupled with Coolidge’s deadpanned, ridiculous complaints (“There are lots of elevator faces… hatchet faces”) made the segment the “most clever, concise, witty, and laugh-out-loud funny” of the telecast. The Guest crew’s “sarcasm and absurdism was a refreshing dash of humor in an otherwise sludgy show,” says Katie Hasty at HitFix.
WORST: The celebrity interview packages
The producers made a gross miscalculation, says New York, by drafting a confusingly diverse roster of celebrities to wax poetic about why movies are important and assuming that such blather would resonate with viewers. “They’ll believe movies matter if Reese Witherspoon and Adam Sandler say they do! Right?” Wrong. The actors’ often-ponderous soundbytes — “If I see myself on screen, I know that I exist” — were so implausibly masturbatory that they could barely be taken seriously, says Tim Kenneally at The Wrap. “These were spoofs on the self-importance that pervades Hollywood, right?”
Chris Rock slays, Emma Stone delights, and Robert Downey Jr. crashes and burns. More highs and lows from Sunday night’s Academy Awards telecast