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Oscarcast was 'a bore and a sporadic thrill,' TV critics say

February 25, 2008 |  9:41 am

In his encore as host of the Oscars, Jon Stewart fared slightly better than he did with the TV critics two years ago. However, most of them found fault with the Oscarcast itself, chiding the academy for sticking with a clip-heavy show even though the resolution of the writers strike should have allowed for more original material.

Oscar_reviews

As Mary McNamara of the Los Angeles Times writes, "All the film clips and montages of past winners seemed left over from Plan B (what the show would have looked like had the writers strike continued), causing the 80th Academy Awards to look and feel weirdly as much like an Oscar BYOB as an Oscar ceremony. " However, she gave the academy the benefit of the doubt, noting that, "Katherine Heigl's case of stage fright when delivering the award for makeup; Tilda Swinton and Marion Cotillard's obvious astonishment upon winning, even Cameron Diaz's snappy comeback from her mispronunciation of cinematographer ('Oh, I can do this,' she said with a sassy head toss) all lent a we're-all-in-this-together air, which seemed eminently appropriate given the circumstances."

For Frank Scheck of the Hollywood Reporter, "The short prep time for this year's Oscars was easily discernible during a broadcast that was Oscar_reviews_2aheavy on clip montages and videotaped recollections from former winners and light on, uh, the awards." His main criticism? "Somehow, the producers failed to notice that the best moments in those endless montages came from memorable acceptance speeches. Instead they were in such a rush to get winners off the stage that at one point host Jon Stewart was forced to drag one of them back (Marketa Irglova, co-composer of the song 'Falling Slowly' from 'Once') to deliver her remarks."

Frazier Moore of the AP found, "This three-hour-and-20-minute affair had an underwhelming feel that left the clear impression it was put together on the fly. Host Jon Stewart was strong, but there were no eye-popping production treats (unless you count the brief computer-animated opening sequence, which viewers might have mistaken for a UPS commercial). No outrageous comedy bits. He did think Stewart "was vastly improved from his 2006 appearance. He proved equal to the challenge posed by Oscarcast's quick turnaround. His crash-deadline material worked. And even when it didn't, he was genial, relaxed, and seemed utterly at home."

Alessandra Stanley of the New York Times wrote, "The show, with Jon Stewart as host, seemed less polished than usual but not much more spontaneous. If anything, the evening was weighed down by insecurity: the producers, worried that the strike would not be over in time, commissioned many montages of acceptance speeches and odd moments of Oscar ceremonies past –- a streaker, Cher -– and then, even after the strike was settled, kept them in as filler. It was as if they felt they needed an insurance policy against dullness." But, as she points out, "those flashbacks reminded viewers of what they were missing. And showing other actors’ memorable acceptance speeches –- especially Cuba Gooding Jr.’s -– seemed to leave the new winners self-conscious and subdued."

And says Robert Bianco of USA Today, "Maybe settling the strike in time for the Oscars wasn't such a good idea after all. True, Oscar has been less than scintillating before, but has it ever felt like more of a padded bore than it did Sunday night? If so, blame the writers' strike, which left the producers with only a few weeks to prepare for the ABC broadcast and persuaded them to lean less on the host and more on old clips. The goal, no doubt, was twofold: to distract us from a crop of nominees who, to put it nicely, failed to stir much popular interest; and to make up for the writers' inability to create more elaborate, host-driven bits."

While Matthew Gilbert of the Boston Globe was bored with the show, he thought, "It was good to see Jon Stewart being Jon Stewart. He is shaping up to be a dependable Oscar host for the post-Billy Crystal years. He's not musical, but he's versatile enough to swing smoothly between jokes about politics, Hollywood, new media, and, most importantly, hair. Last night, after every Oscar moment of ego bloat, and after the many long stretches of highlight-reel nostalgia, his aggressively ironic smile was a welcome sight at the podium."

Brian Lowry of Variety was relatively impressed with the Oscarcast. As he notes, "Nobody starting from scratch would ever design a TV special with all the hurdles that assail this one -- where technical categories far outnumber those for stars and the playing field has shifted toward movies that relatively few people have seen." To that end, "Based on that grade-on-a-curve yardstick, this Academy Awards was alternatively a bore and a sporadic thrill. Sure, even streamlined compared with past marathons, the show easily could have been 20 minutes shorter. But it's a definite improvement over last year, and any extensive nitpicking requires a short memory -- forgetting that Oscar's 'good ol' days' are generally best viewed through the prism of three-minute montages."

Not so, says Tom Shales of the Washington Post who thought, "The show was so overstocked with clips from movies -– from this year's nominees and from Oscar winners going back to 1929 -– that it was like a TV show with the hiccups. There were hardly any emotional moments from winners on the stage and there was little in the way of drama for viewers who watched, especially those who stayed with the tedious drag all the way past 11:45, when it finally drew to a close." For Shales, one of the few highlights –- "Javier Bardem did move the crowd when he concluded his speech with a message to his mother in his native Spanish; she was sitting in the audience, surrounded by the usual suspects and celebrities" -– was almost ruined by the host. "Jon Stewart, the cable TV comic brought in to host, did only a fair-to-middling job, mostly middling, and in fact threatened to ruin the poignancy of Bardem's speech by later informing the audience, 'That was a moment,' in case we were all too dumb to have figured that out for ourselves."

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Comments

I doubt any of these whining critics can contribute anything to liven up proceedings. It isn't as if critics awards do much entertainment wise. I guess this is the big thing with critics, to whine and whine about everything. I think too much credit is given to these idiots!

People want real. The writers strike did everyone a favor. It encouraged people to look elsewhere to fill their entertainment needs. Why go back to television when you can spend time on the internet finding stuff that is really entertaining.

I hate Faux News harpies..closeted Republican actors/actresses with all their conservative, right-winged nutcase dogma in our mainstream, paid by Bush-licking media hypocrites...

Yawn. One of the most boring shows yet. Even the "In Memoriam" tribute, which is supposedly one of the more poignant sections of the show, felt padded. Film producers and executives maybe, but AGENTS?! They're not even on studio payrolls!
It is astonishing that a show which supposedly celebrates the best achievements in the world of cinema could be so incredibly dull. Perhaps broadcasting this bore is a thing whose time has passed. The Academy should consider returning to a private dinner awards ceremony and leave us to hear about it in the news the next day.
Truth be told, I sincerely doubt that even without the writers' strike anything approaching entertainment could have been breathed into this dog.

It looked like someone came to LA with 2 bolts of taffeta (one, red and one, black). The dresses were poor this year.

Oscars is an old fashion show. Bore, slow, and looong. People prefer other things. Besides the Oscars are decided by industry, not consumers.

The reason it was paint-by-the-numbers & speeches boring is because everybody who won had won before...Bardem...Coens...DDL...they had all won at 15,000 awards previously. The Oscars don't matter the way they used to because the movies don't matter....when was the last time you actually CRIED at the end of a movie? Or had a character move you to emotions? That hasn't happened at all this year and the last time for me it was M$B...oh wait! Freedom Writers moved me to tears, but it was a "little" movie and hardly anybody saw it. Nope, we want to award the serial killer movies with no endings....LOL

I think Jon Stewart was brilliant and classy.

I took off work to watch the Oscars and it was so worth it. The stage looked great, The host did a great job and the actresses looked radiant and carried themselves with great dignity. I really enjoyed seeing some of the stars from the past 79 years. I am no critic and I am no fake but in my opinion I thought the show was great. Some Americians can't seem to appriciate. Maybe they aren't happy themselves so they put others efforts down. This year seems to be a lion so I hope the writers get back to work and look back to the past at the movies that helped pick people up and turn things around and not let the mumbo jumbo trouble makers keep Americian spirits down
we have truly amazing people who work hard to entertain us everyday. I just wish people weren't afraid to look at the stars and say aren't they beautiful tonight, I can't wait until tomorrow night or next week or next year to see them shine in a constilation that says to America, we are here for you and we want to see you smile~ Great job guys, I hope you bring the classic styles back and enjoy a bigger boat but dont be at the airport when your ship comes in and remember, no parking the hybrid jets on the city streets...lol Thanks for the show now I can go back to work with a smile just knowing your there. I am one Americian who appriciates your efforts and thinks your an important part of our lives.

I watched the whole thing on my cell phone. cost me 23 dollars for the minutes, and I couldn't see much, but who cares. It's the future of entertainment, right? Now back to youtube, where theres this great video of a talking squirrel wearing a wig, ha ha!

So when has the oscars ever been praised as being entertaining? Why do people expect it will ever change?

Boreing-Boreing Boreing
Frome the Host with bad jokes to spending more time on the first 79 years then on the 80 year winners . Cuting them short and spending more on what was not impotant. This was there night but it seemed that knowone cared

I was actually hoping the writers strike would go on until after the Oscars. It would have been the only way to liven up this diseased mass of an event, buzzing flies and all.

Daniel Day Lewis certainly deserved that Oscar, but Upton Sinclair, the author of Oil! on which this film is based was completely ignored. Lewis couldn't be bothered to give thanks to the originator of his Oscar winning role.

Sinclair has now been screwed over by Hollywood in both life and death.

For shame.

Boring TV...There was little excitement, I kept waiting for some inspirational speech or moving moment. Just a dry laundry list of "thank yous"

After reading the critics take on the Awards, it seems to me that too many of them are getting older and duller. The real problem is that movies aren't as good as they were in the past and the entertainment features have paled badly in the last few years. Jon Stewart was great, but lost in a sea of mediocrity. The Oscars acceptance speeches are part and parcel of getting the awards and should not be "rudely" rushed to a close. The glue to keep it all together is the entertainment features and that plus is totally absent.

It seems the critics can always find something to complain about no matter how good the show is. Jon Stewart was an exceptional host - his comment on "staying the course" when watching a film dealing with Iraq was a devastating parody of our "brilliant" [note the sarcasm, please] President. I enjoyed the clips as well.
The other critics seem to want to have it both ways When there are no overproduced production numbers, they complain, and when there are, the complaint is that they are overproduced.

My big beef with the show was who came up with the notion of using pneumatic tubes as the main set pieces. I felt like I was at the drive-thru at the bank.
And at first I wondered why they left Amy Adams alone, with no toilet scrubbing mice, to sing the "Happy Working Song," but she did it alone with such grace that she didn't need special effects.

WHO CARES. about a bunch of overpaid psych cases.

I hate Hollywood and all the phonies living 5 star life styles and preaching left wing dogma. Hypocrites of the first order.

It was a paint by the numbers kinda show...you can tell how it was rushed to put it all together...Jon Stewart could have been funnier but was quite subdue...The speeches were downright boring...not even Diablo Cody's predictable leopard print--trendoid gown and look couldn't add any excitement...not even her tattoo (oohhh how edgy)...It was an okay show...hopefully there won't be anymore strikes looming at next year's show....


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