You'd think after the whole James Franco/Anne Hathaway hosting fiasco of last year that I would've been smart enough to at least DVR the Oscars so I can skip through the boring parts.
But considering a bona fide Oscar veteran, Billy Crystal, was taking the reins this time around, well, I was willing to give the whole shebang another chance.
And while I'm thrilled that last night's ceremony wasn't nearly as cringeworthy as the great Franco meltdown of 2011, I still expected more. In fact, if I may be so bold to ask, I'd like my three hours back (I'd say four, but watching E!'s red carpet coverage was my own fault).
Since you went the whole traditional route with selecting Crystal as the host, I wasn't expecting anything laugh-out-loud funny or even edgy in the manner of say, Ricky Gervais. But I didn't think they'd have that stale, just-fished-out-of-mothballs feel either.
Heck, I probably got the biggest kick out of Sasha Baron Cohen dumping Bisquick baking mix all over Ryan Seacrest on the red carpet, and that was a good hour before the Oscars even began. Once the show started, I laughed exactly twice. The first time was when Chris Rock introduced the Animation category, and later on, the chuckles came courtesy of Will Ferrell and Zach Galifianakis playing the cymbals (a cowbell would've been funnier, but hey, I'll take what I could get laughs-wise).
The trouble is, the rest of the show show was downright B-O-R-I-N-G, and when you start out with a technical award that most people don't care about, it sets a bad precedent for the rest of the evening. So in the spirit of being helpful, here are a few suggestions (in no particular order) for future Oscar telecasts.
Stop being so stuffy and give comedy its proper due. I know, I know, you threw Bridesmaids a couple of bones. But everyone knew there was no way Melissa McCarthy was taking home a golden statue for "Best Supporting Actress" when she's up against very deserving "serious" competition like Octavia Spencer. Even as much as I loved last night's big winner, The Artist, it might be nice for the films and actors that everyone loves to get a little recognition, too. After all, being funny isn't exactly easy—just ask the majority of today's modern rom-com screenwriters (yes, I'm calling you out, This Means War).
Axe those superfluous film montages. I get it. You want us to feel all warm and fuzzy about the filmgoing experience. But instead of nostalgic, all you're really doing is making us want to watch those movies instead of this long, boring telecast that highlights flicks most people haven't bothered watching yet.
And while you're at it...As much as I'd like to get excited about the "Best Art Direction" and "Best Sound Editing" categories, I just can't, and I'm sure I'm not alone. Why not save these awards for the pre-telecast and save some major minutes?
Fire the stylists. I know the fashion part of the show isn't technically in your jurisdiction, but work with me for a second. How much fun would the Oscars be if these Hollywood folks dressed themselves? Leave them to their own styling, and the show would probably be 1,453% more interesting. Take Meryl Streep for example. There's no way a stylist would let her leave the house in what she wore to the Golden Globes, SAG Awards, even last night when she was channeling Frieda from ABBA. So how much fun would it be if everyone had the same freedom? I'm guessing the outfits would've made for far more exciting watercooler chatter...
Limit the "Best Picture" nominees to 5. Nine is exactly four too many.
I'm sure if I gave it more thought, I could've come up with a few more surefire ways to improve the annual tradition of Hollywood honoring Hollywood, but I'm afraid I'm out of ideas for now. All I can say is, aside from the color of Penelope Cruz's dress and Octavia's teary acceptance speech, there wasn't much that was inspiring about The Oscars.
One can only hope that'll change soon because I promise, I won't be fooled again. No matter who's hosting, I'll be DVRing, Academy, because Sunday nights are a precious commodity.
Christa Banister, disgrunted entertainment critic
P.S. Could you please send Angelina a sandwich? She looked particularly hungry last night.