Seth MacFarlane- le pauvre. (Of course, he’s not- at all.) But he bravely stepped up to the plate to take the best job nobody wants: Oscar host.
Despite his bad reviews, I think he did a decent job. His ideas were original, and the most offensive joke of the night wasn’t even his, it was a tweet from “The Onion”. Perhaps being reminded of the great comedy duos Alec Baldwin & Steve Martin and Anne Hathaway & James Franco will remind the critics that it could have been much worse.
I thought the opening was strong and original. (I wished all the Best Picture nominees had sock puppet interpretations!) Then I realized the show was becoming a chore to watch as it does every year; it started to sag like an old mattress in the middle.
But as I was doing ma toilette way past my bedtime, it hit me how to fix the show.
The fault is not in the host (excepting those aforementioned), it’s in the structure of the show.
The Academy needs to realize that this is an event for the movie-going public, not an insider party they graciously let us watch.
Remember the segment where the beautiful young actress highlights the technical awards ceremony they hosted the week earlier? Why did they do that? Because the audience doesn’t care about technical awards. They didn’t even include this segment this year.
Many of the categories included in the broadcast should be relegated to this non-broadcast ceremony.
I mean no disrespect to those creative, exceptional talents that do the real work behind the scenes. They are essential parts of the entire filmmaking process and deserve the awards and recognition they receive from their peers. But one billion people are not watching around the world to see who will win for best sound editing.
Some of the technical winners this year looked like they traveled to the ceremony from Middle Earth. Their speeches are long because they have so many people to thank; it takes more than a village to do their jobs. Big time-suck. This is why the show runs four hours every year.
I suggest they award only the following categories: Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actor, Best Actress, Best Supporting Actor, Best Supporting Actress, Best Screenplay (original and adapted) Best Foreign Film, Best Documentary, Best Animated Film, and Best Original Song.
Cut the shorts, the score, the editors ,the mixers, the costumes and essentially every category that doesn’t have a potential celebrity nominee. Those awards can be part of the non-broadcast ceremony.
Ultimately, the Oscars broadcast is not about the awards, but entertainment. We like the comedy bits that open the show- there should be more of that. The In Memoriam segment should be longer and not include behind the scenes executives and technicians who aren’t recognized by those outside of the industry. By all means these people should be honored, but not during the broadcast. This segment should include actors. directors, producers, and screenwriters we know by name like Andy Griffith, and maybe by face like Lupe Ontiveros, or maybe by work like Zalman King (producer of 9½ Weeks) all of whom were omitted. Those remembered should be limited to those who have to do with movies, not musicians, journalists, or TV stars.
For those who enjoy seeing the Best Song nominees being performed, make it a medley.
Presenters should be past winners, not actors with projects to promote . Why else would Jennifer Aniston be presenting?
Winners should be relieved of the obligation of having to thank their agents, managers, lawyers, etc. Those people enjoy and expect to have their names announced, but in truth it only matters to a small subset of people in the industry, the number of whom is minuscule compared to the billion people who don’t care. Let the winners give the kind of heartfelt speeches we always hope for. I can still remember being moved as a kid by Dustin Hoffman’s acceptance speech for winning Best Actor for Kramer vs. Kramer.
The Academy can create special gold stationery with which they can write thank you notes. Wouldn’t that mean more in the long run?
As far as finding the right host, think host, not comedian or actor. Bruce Vilanch and his team can take care of the funny.