The stars all walked down the red carpet wearing fabulous attire. Lady Gaga had a winning dress, so she received some special attention on ABC’s “Oscars: Live from the Red Carpet.” The dress she wore is a white gown, and she said in her interview that it took two months to make. Last to be interviewed was J.K. Simmons, who hoped for a“clean sweep” for “Whiplash”, which received 5 nominations. He was nominated for Best Supporting Actor for his role in the film. Then, the Oscars started up and audiences were all ready to see the inimitable Neil Patrick Harris host the three hour event.
Harris opened with a song and dance routine about “moving pictures,” and it was well done to be sure. I couldn’t help thinking how much more appropriate this was than Seth MacFarlane’s “We Saw Your Boobs” from the 2013 “Oscars”. MacFarlane named several famous actresses and sang about the audience having seen their boobs in different movies (with the exception of Jennifer Lawrence, who has never shown her boobs in a movie). Harris’s song about unreal images capturing the imaginations of audiences, as he moved through projected images on stage, seemed to bode well for the production.
The first winner, Simmons, received the Best Supporting Actor Oscar that he had hoped for. A film clip of him slapping another guy over and over again was shown. But when he got on stage, his demeanor was much softer. He advised everyone to call their parents, not just text, and then thanked his own parents. This was one of the kinder speeches of the night, and it was a pleasant contrast to the character that won him the gold statue.
While there were many other great moments post-Simmons, Harris wasn’t one of those great moments. He faltered after his opening performance. The jokes didn’t quite make sense or fell flat.
When he compared Oprah to “American Sniper,” her look of confusion was priceless. He finally explained, “It’s because your rich.” Basically, “American Sniper” made more money than any other film that year, and Oprah makes more money than any other person who was at the “Oscars”. It wasn’t a very good joke and was kind of a stretch.
Later, he had David Oyelowo read punchlines off of a cue card, because he thought the jokes would sound less harsh with a British accent. Oyelowo did as commanded, and the jokes didn’t pan out. Oyelowo then looked into the camera and made a “so-so” sign by wavering his hand side to side. “How dare you!” Harris pronounced. It didn’t get much better after that.
Other stars helped to pick up the slack. The musical performances were all a treat. I almost started cheering when I saw The Lonely Island performing “Everything is Awesome.” Lady Gaga gave a surprisingly good performance when she sang songs from “The Sound of Music.” Julie Andrews is “incomparable”, as Gaga put it, but Gaga was able to hold her own on that stage. Julie Andrews gave her a big hug after the performance. Yet none of that still felt like enough.
Harris ended the show with his “box trick,” and this again fell flat. Because he played a magician in the last season of “American Horror Story,” his most famous trick being to saw people in half, I assumed there would be something equally dramatic in store for the audience at the “Oscars”. However, the trick was that his Oscar predictions were stored in the box prior to the show starting, and many of those predictions had come true. He informed everyone that this was the trick from the start, but I thought he might throw in a twist somewhere. His closing act, unfortunately, did not match the grandiosity of his opening one.
Because Harris was hosting, I just assumed the show would emphasize his theater background by giving him a lot of song and dance performances, but the show, instead, relied too heavily on jokes that didn’t pan out. Rather than behaving like a stage performer, he was hosting the “Oscars” like he was a late night talk show host that did’t really seem to know how to hold his own. His role as the host of the “Oscars” should have been conceived differently. I realize that he should have been performing as an MC and not a stand up comedian. If his performance had been closer to Joel Grey out of “Cabaret” things might have been more entertaining.