Travolta, Outrage, And Dancing Legos: Eight Thoughts About The Oscars Telecast

Ah, the old "distract Margot Robbie with a trophy while you stare down her dress" trick, this man is clearly an old pro.
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Ah, the old "distract Margot Robbie with a trophy while you stare down her dress" trick, this man is clearly an old pro.

1. “That Everything Is Awesome” number was amazing and I will fight anyone who disagrees. It had Will Arnett playing guitar in a Batman suit and Mark Mothersbaugh in a Lego Devo hat for God’s sake. What does it take to please you people if not that? Another weepie Tim McGraw number for closeted country fans? More Adam Levine? Your punishment for being a joyless dick should be to have to listen to the last three Maroon 5 albums back to back to back. Hope you like terrible jazz guitar riffs, grouch.

Almost as good as the number itself was the people in the audience still holding their Lego Oscars. Fantastic. The LEGO Movie won the Oscars without winning any Oscars (and I say this as someone who didn’t really like the ending of the movie).

2. I’ve started to get inevitable thinkpiece nausea watching these things (ITN). Whether it was Patricia Arquette’s speech, NPH making a ball joke after the lady who described her son’s suicide, the right wing derp machine’s inevitable spinning of American Sniper not winning any big awards or any number of random things that could be parlayed into page views, it’s like I constantly have one foot in the present and one in some jackass’s inevitable hot take about that present. It’s the worst. Patricia Arquette says women should get paid equally, and Meryl Streep and J Lo are hailed as heroes for clapping for it. Then some idiot writes an op/ed about how it was actually a bad speech (I’ve seen these from both the right and the left, amazingly) and you’re left to wonder, “Gee, maybe they really are heroes for agreeing with something so controversial as the notion that people should get paid equal wages for equal work.” There is nothing too trivial to be spun into a “teaching moment.” It is impossible to agree on anything long enough to get anything done if someone gets up and says “murder is bad!” and everyone still argues about it. I need medication to curb my ITN. A vaccine, perhaps. Oh dammit.

3. Neil Patrick Harris was great. Maybe it’s my low expectations, but I thought he did a fine job. There is no task more thankless than Oscars host. And he kept it moving with jokes throughout, refusing to play the local newscaster game of trying to look sad and grave to milk every low moment for maximum gravitas. He followed a lady describing her son’s suicide with a ball joke. And you know what? I liked that. It doesn’t need to be any more self-serious, it’s the f*cking Oscars. NPH was like the citrus note that cut through the richness of everyone crying every five seconds. And A+ to whichever writer came up with “John Travolta will have to come back next year to apologize to Idina Menzel for all the face touching.” Maybe an obvious joke, but the quick turnaround was impressive.

4. On that note, you have to give John Travolta credit for managing to be so weird that no one even talks about his hair.

True story, I didn't even notice the giant necklace until I uploaded this picture.
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True story, I didn't even notice the giant necklace until I uploaded this picture.

5. I can’t decide if people need to knock it off with all the crying or if the director of the telecast needs to knock it off with all the cutting to people crying. Yes, life is sad, and you’re all very touched. It tends to become a having-feelings contest pretty quickly in a room filled with 200 actors. Come on, what happened to “stiff upper lip?” Half of you are British.

6. Can we make this less predictable somehow? The Vegas favorite won every single time. Choose the best director via rock, paper, scissors if you have to. That makes at least as much sense as Linklater not winning.

7. Allow me to be the thousandth person to say hey, stop it with all the tributes. In memoriam is one thing, but do we really need a 20-minute segment dedicated to a 50-year-old movie in the middle of the four-hour telecast? Is there someone in the world who doesn’t remember The Sound of Music? I’ll take foreigners making crazy speeches over this any day.

8. If the Oscars haven’t reached peak self-parody I shudder to think what that might look like. I’ve already said my piece about Eddie Redmayne and I stand by it. I don’t trust anyone who didn’t find that Theory of Everything clip they played embarrassing.

I just imagine the Oscar voters walk around parroting all the most ridiculous parts of whatever For Your Consideration press release they read that morning. “Did you hear Jennifer Aniston didn’t even wear make-up? That woman. She’s just… so, so brave.”

But even while I was bashing that choice of nomination for being insanely predictable, even I didn’t think he had a chance against Michael Keaton. Oops. And thus, we have a Best Actor who won for playing a guy with ALS and a Best Actress who won for playing a woman with Alzheimer’s (was she good? I’m just going to assume yes and back slowly out of the room so I don’t ever have to watch Still Alice). These aren’t the kinds of roles that should win Oscars, they’re the kinds of roles that win Oscars in the Oscars scene from Naked Gun 33 1/3. This a year after a male model rock singer won an Oscar for playing a transvestite who died of AIDs and used his speech as an opportunity to express the hope that his triumph would inspire the people of Ukraine. The real Oscars continue to put every joke about the Oscars to shame.