It’s always interesting to watch the Academy Awards, not only for the designer gowns and the celebrities, but for the performances during the show. The hosting is always a challenging task, and last year Ellen DeGeneres “broke” the Twitter by taking “the largest selfie” ever (RTd 3,362,675 times), and stunned a pizza delivery man — who thought he was bringing pizzas to some executive meeting in the building — by having him pass out slices to celebrities (and giving him a combined tip of about $400, with several celebrities, including Harvey Weinstein and Ellen herself, contributing). I’d never seen Neil Patrick Harris host anything, and actually haven’t seen him doing any acting since he was in “Doogie Howser MD,” so I didn’t know what to expect. Last night’s 87th annual Academy Awards show wasn’t too great. The red-carpet pre-show, the hosting, and most of the show itself, was extremely disappointing, if not embarrassing, though there were some stellar moments.
Hosted on E! by a virtually skeletal Guiliana Rancic and an overweight, messy-haired Chloe Kardashian — in a very inappropriately revealing dress with a crotch-high front slit — the two women attacked the dresses, hair, jewelry, and makeup of virtually every female celebrity at the Oscars. Then, to show equality, I suppose, they attacked a couple of the “non-tailored” tuxes of the male celebrities. Ouch! All I could think was, “Look in the mirror, Ladies.”
Neil Patrick Harris
Neil’s opening number was apparently written for him by the composers of last year’s Oscar-winning song “Let it Go,” from Disney’s Frozen, and while there were obviously similar riffs and tune phrases from that award-winning song, this year’s opening number was unimpressive, to say the least. To make things worse, Neil’s monologue and comments between presentations constantly contained sexual innuendos that were inappropriate and not funny.
His wardrobe — consisting mostly of tuxes that seemed too short and too tight — could easily have been criticized by the ladies on the Red Carpet show. But then came the most uncomfortable moment of the evening: when Neil Patrick Harris walked out on-stage in his underwear. He apparently thinks he has an attractive body and probably thought that incident was going to be amusing. I found it repulsive and ugly. If I want to see a male celebrity’s body, I can assure you that it won’t be Neil’s (and it has absolutely nothing to do with his sexual orientation).
Best Supporting Actors
Kudos to character actor J. K. Simmons for his win for his role in Whiplash. He’s worked in Hollywood for ages, and has not only paid his dues, but has consistently put in fine performances. He was humble in his speech, requesting that everyone who still had “parents who were alive” call them and listen to them “for as long as they want to talk,” before glancing upward and thanking his own parents.
Patricia Arquette, one of the most under-appreciated workhorses in the industry, won for her role in the monumental experiment Boyhood, filmed over 12 years with the same actors. Patricia went “off-script,” as they say in Hollywood, during her acceptance speech, demanding equal pay for all women who do the same jobs as men.
Many of the female celebrities, who have longed complained about the salary discrepancy between male & female actors, even when they are in the co-stars in the same film, applauded madly. But Meryl Streep, sitting next to Jennifer Lopez, was especially supportive of Patricia’s comments.
Scarlett Johansson’s Necklace
I love Scarlett, and think she’s one of the finest actors in the industry. I also think her dress was lovely. The necklace, however, was way over the top. It detracted from the dress. And, as Guiliana Rancic commented on some of the “statement necklaces” being worn by the stars, whether or not Scarlett was “being paid to wear the necklace,” it didn’t make it any less ugly or distracting.
John Travolta’s Hair & Makeup & Hands
John wasn’t up for any awards — he was one of the presenters — and he was a good sport about the way he mispronounced Idina Menzel’s name last year (which he later blamed on Goldie Hawn, who apparently “told him” how to pronounce it). To make up for the faux pas, I guess someone thought it would be a good idea to pair John and Idina. He apologized for saying her name incorrectly last year, she laughed good-naturedly, and then — weirdly — John began touching her face. A lot. Until long after it was clear that she was uncomfortable and embarrassed. And still he kept it up. She even tried to take a step back. John’s hands followed. I thought he was going to kiss her. Fortunately for everyone, including his wife Kelly Preston, who was in the audience, and for Idina Menzel, John refrained. But even creepier were John’s hair and makeup. He looked like a freak-show or something. It was very odd. And Travolta’s “performance” was one of the worst moments of the show.
Lady Gaga’s Tribute
to Julie Andrews & The Sound of Music
I was a huge fan of Lady Gaga from the beginning, and I’ll be the first to admit that her last couple of albums have been sincerely disappointing. So have her appearances on many shows, where she seemed to be aiming for the How Weird Can You Go Award, like when she wore a dress made of meat. Last night, however, she demonstrated that she is not only one of the most talented singers alive, but that she is attractive and has good taste in clothes when she wants to. Her beautiful tribute-medley to Julie Andrews and the 50th anniversary of The Sound of Music was lovely. Her voice was in fine form, and Gaga herself looked absolutely stunning. After her introduction of Julie Andrews, Julie came out onto the stage, hugged Gaga — with tears in her eyes — before addressing the audience. Julie looked very fine. Gaga was wonderful. It was one of the best moments in the show.
The front-runner for best female actor in a lead role was Julianne Moore for Still Alice, where she played a woman fighting to maintain her identity after she’s diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. Moore won, and gave a touching and humble speech thanking her family, as well as expressing her hope that the film will give more attention to Alzheimer’s victims.
And to the their families, Julianne, who bear the brunt of the suffering by “losing” their loved ones to the disease before losing them to death.
Eddie Redmayne, who’s had roles in such things as The Other Boleyn Girl, Pillars of the Earth, Black Death, Les Misérables, and My Week with Marilyn, was obviously stunned to hit the Oscar jackpot last night for his role as ALS-afflicted Stephen Hawking in The Theory of Everything. He gave a humble and gracious speech, telling all who were “responsible” for his win that the Oscar “belonged to all of them,” but that he would be a conscientious caretaker of it, “polishing it” every day if necessary. That touch of humor was refreshing — especially since the show’s host wasn’t hitting any of his marks. Bravo, Eddie.
Director, Producer, Writer of Birdman
One of the best multi-winners of the evening was the director, writer, and producer of Best Picture winner Birdman. Alejandro González Iñárritu, who claimed the others onstage with him wanted him to speak because his English “was the least bad,” was consistently humble, endearing, and, at the same time, both stunned and proud of his wins. His jokes about being a Mexican who’d “won twice” — he eventually won 4 awards — which might “alert Immigration” were more amusing than any of Neil Patrick Harris’ jokes. Furthermore, they led, almost casually, to a comment about his love for his adopted country and hopes that immigration would be reformed in a way to keep other artists welcome. It seemed heart-felt and appropriate. He was one of the most loveable and humble winners of the night.
Finally, the worst moment of the show, besides Neil Patrick Harris’ hosting, which was most unfunny, was Neil Patrick Harris on-stage in his underwear. It was so horridly inappropriate and unprofessional that I’m guessing most of the audience was really glad that the Oscars serves the food after the ceremony instead of before, as does the Golden Globes. So, Neil, on the off-chance that you’re ever asked to host the Oscars again, please, drop the underwear-bit, and I don’t mean drop the underwear.
87th Academy Awards
Despite its few stellar moments, and the fact that quite a few people felt that Clint Eastwood, Bradley Cooper, and American Sniper got “snubbed” — hey, they’re big boys: they’ll live — the show was ultimately disappointing, having more boring moments than entertaining ones, which is really weird considering the fact that virtually everyone there was a performer.