The 87th Academy Awards are, mercifully, now over. Another year of hope was dashed away by a little more than three and a half hours of a dull and, let’s face it, not very memorable show. There was a tribute to The Sound of Music! Nothing against The Sound of Music, but who was clamoring for this? But, in a ceremony that already felt unnecessarily slow, spending time on Lady Gaga’s rendition of “The Hills are Alive” kind of sums up the evening. (Though, it was nice to see Julie Andrews!) Regardless, there were still some moments that stood out for one reason or another. Let’s remember those, shall we?
1. The Speeches
It’s such a weird thing that the speeches are always what’s blamed for the show running long. “Oh, you mustn’t speak too long during your finest moment. Please, the show will be too long and it will all be your fault.” Right, it’s the speeches and not, say, the unnecessary tribute to The Sound of Music or, say, a running joke about Oscar predictions. No, the problem is definitely those impassioned speeches. Anyway, Patricia Arquette’s speech about the inequality of women’s wages; J.K. Simmons asking everyone to call their parents; and Graham Moore admitting that he tried to commit suicide when he was 16 were all real moments. I understand that the time limit is to guard against the speeches that just list off a bunch of names, but that’s not what was happening. Speeches like these should be encouraged, not played off so we can get to the Birdman parody. Speaking of that…
2. Neil Patrick Harris
During the show, host Neil Patrick Harris got stuck outside in a hallway in his underwear, riffing off Michael Keaton’s scene in Birdman. I’m only including this because it almost illustrates how tame last night’s show was that this is really the only moment that anyone tried anything fun. With Neil Patrick Harris hosting, I thought there would be a lot more moments like this, but instead Harris relied more on kind of stale one-liners. I’m not sure what happened, but this moment was really the only time, despite its kind of awkward intro, that the host we were all waiting for showed up.
I think it’s fair to say that he was a disappointment as host. And I also think it’s fair to say that this is a totally unfair thing to say. Hosting the Oscars seems like a less and less appealing job as every year goes by, and I think we looked at Harris as some sort of savior who could come in and invigorate the whole proceeding. This is totally unfair. And if he couldn’t do it, well, I think we can officially call hosting the Oscars a fool’s errand. The Oscars are just never going to be “fun.” What made them at least interesting in the past was the surprise moments, but we get less and less of those now. Which brings us to…
3. The Lack of Surprises
And not just in the department of who won what Oscar, but those have become pretty predictable. When exactly did this happen? Granted, 15 years ago, I didn’t pay attention to the guild awards as much as I do now – and there were certainly favorites – but not like the almost certainty there is now where we all knew Birdman was winning long before the show started. Remember when Best Supporting Actress used to be the wildcard category where anything could happen? That doesn’t happen anymore! By the time we get to the Academy Awards, these are forgone conclusions, and, yes, that does take away from the proceedings. But, also, remember the days when actors would go off the cuff just presenting awards. Eddie Murphy showed up last night, introduced an award as quickly as possible, read the nominees, then got off stage. I couldn’t help but be reminded of the Eddie Murphy who showed up in 1988 and gave this speech to introduce Best Picture. Nothing like that happened last night. (Well, unless we count John Travolta touching Idina Menzel’s face. At least that happened. Thank you, John Travolta. You are welcome back every year.)
4. Botching the “In Remembrance” Montage
Oof. First, Twitter was in an uproar that Joan Rivers wasn’t included. Sure, she was known better for being a comedian and personality than for acting, but they zoomed through each of the people so quickly, and I don’t buy this “there just wasn’t time” excuse. What’s two more seconds? (This has more to do with the politics of the Academy. There’s always a behind the scenes scrum to get people included on this montage, which is all kinds of gross.) Regardless, this is always a great moment in any Oscars show as we get to say goodbye to the people we lost by seeing a montage of their greatest work… except this year where, instead of seeing an emotional scene from Dead Poets’ Society or Good Will Hunting to honor Robin Williams, we get sketch drawing of him on the screen for about three seconds. Unfortunately, another flub in a night full of flubs. Well, except for…
5. “Everything is Awesome” and “Glory”
Boy, these were both great for completely different reasons. John Legend on “Glory” was just powerful. He made Chris Pine cry! And the “Everything is Awesome” spectacle was so delightful and so weird, it’s too bad the entire show wasn’t like that.
Mike Ryan has written for The Huffington Post, Wired, Vanity Fair and New York. He is senior entertainment writer at Uproxx. You can contact him directly on Twitter.