The Conversation: Was There Anything Good About the 2012 Oscars?

The Conversation: Was There Anything Good About the 2012 Oscars?

Feb 27, 2012

Due to personal reasons, I missed last night's Oscars telecast. To be honest, I didn't mind at all. Not just because I was at a friend's bachelor party in Vegas and winning money, either. While unsuccessfully trying to find one place, any place, showing the Academy Awards, I did begin following my Twitter feed and within minutes gave up my search due to all the snark, negativity and criticisms about Billy Crystal's familiar yet borderline offensive opening bits. I decided to just celebrate movies by playing slots based on movies. Best Picture in that regard goes to the awesome Top Gun machine that blasts "Danger Zone" and features animated jets flying all over the screen. 

Anyway, I caught up with what I missed today thanks to our own live blog of the telecast as well as our post recapping the night's best moments. While it was hard to find some positive highlights about the 2012 Oscar ceremony, I gave it a shot. I wanted to prove that editor Peter S. Hall isn't an a-hole because he "actually enjoyed Billy Crystal and the Oscars." I can add that, having only seen the one video recommended to me that the Christopher Guest bit was pretty good at least. And going by the list of winners, I am surprised and ecstatic that my favorite of the documentary short nominees, Saving Face, actually won. 

Critics and commentators around the web have other favorite parts of this year's Oscars, some of which technically occurred outside the ceremony on the red carpet or inside the Kodak Theater and specific only to those fortunate to be in attendance. Do you agree these were the best bits of the 2012 Academy Awards? 


What are people saying was the best part of the 2012 Academy Awards? Here's The Conversation heard around the Internet:

Despite an overriding sense of inevitability, the 84th annual Academy Awards had its share of memorable moments (including a hilarious faux-film of a 1939 "focus group" critiquing "The Wizard of Oz," courtesy of Christopher Guest and company). - Joe Neumaier, New York Daily News

It has been a way, way too long six years since the last Christopher Guest outing “For Your Consideration,” and while it was a lacklustre effort, his appearance last night with the rest of his regular crew of players (except Parker Posey, Harry Shearer and Michael McKean) was  a reminder of why we need him back. The gang appeared in an enjoyable little segment playing the test audience for MGM’s “The Wizard Of Oz” back in the day. Bob Balaban played the studio suit getting their feedback and thoughts on the film, with delightfully clueless responses from the whole gang. It was a clever way to acknowledge the nostalgia fueled year at the movies that still felt fresh and funny. More please. - Oliver Lyttelton, The Playlist

This bit was a welcome oasis in a desert of Crystaline humor. When they offered the heavy-handed introduction to the skit, I let out a slow audible groan, which was quickly silenced when it became apparent that the troupe tasked with the short were the Christopher Guest players. I’m guessing Parker Posey was in the hospital or something. Though the skit wasn’t actually that funny by CGP standards, the novelty of seeing these guys gave it a big leg up over the things that came before and after it. Plus, seeing Fred Willard harp on monkeys like some sort of speed freak was almost worth the price of admission all by itself. - Penn Collins, Screen Junkies

Billy Crystal expertly guided the night's Academy Awards away from the wreckage that was last year's telecast co-hosted by Anne Hathaway and James Franco, and back into familiar territory. - Julie Miller, The Hollywood Blog (Vanity Fair)

Billy Crystal did a solid job as host once again - Alex DiGiovanna, Movie Buzzers

Octavia Spencer’s emotional response to her Best Supporting Actress win for The Help – and, yes, to the standing ovation she justly received -- was by far the evening’s most affecting moment. Unable to hold back tears, Spencer came across as at once genuinely apologetic for losing control – “I’m sorry, I’m freaking out!” – and fiercely determined to thank everyone she wanted to thank before the “Get the hell off the stage” music started to overwhelm her words. At that point, I strongly suspect that even folks who had been rooting for rival nominee Melissa McCarthy were a little bit in love with her. - Joe Leydon, Culture Map

Her tears were genuine and her acceptance speech made all the more adorable because we were watching someone's life change right before our eyes. - Entertainment Weekly


Spencer's win was amazing, and the Bridesmaids cast was fun. [...] A breath of fresh air and excitement. They seemed like they were genuinely thrilled to be there. - Kristy Puchko, Cinema Blend

The thing about the Bridesmaids cast-- and also Emma Stone, who I thought was terrific-- is that they brought this youthful, fresh energy, and I really think part of it was just them being female. In their small doses they were able to do one thing and do it really well, whereas last year Anne Hathaway was struggling trying to keep this whole ship afloat. It makes you wonder if the whole idea of the host is maybe outdated-- maybe they should focus on making individual bits work instead of having a host guide the whole thing. [...] The idea of "being excited to be there" is an interesting note. Obviously James Franco failed at that entirely last year, and as good as Crystal is, he's too used to it. But then you get stuff like those mini-movies about actors talking about how much they love movies, and you're reminded of how exciting that can be. I feel like something onstage could better capture what the viewing audience imagines being at the Oscars would be like. - Katey Rich, Cinema Blend

I enjoyed the What Movies Mean To Me clips—directed by Moneyball’s Bennett Miller, doing his best Errol Morris impression—because the emotions of the actors seemed genuine, and some of the movies they chose to talk about were wonderfully weird. (Who knew Brad Pitt was such a big fan of The War Of The Gargantuas?) Reduce those bits down to one package, stick it at the beginning of the telecast instead of Crystal’s tedious “Look, I’m in the movies” routine, and it might’ve been a highlight. I also have no problem with Robert Downey Jr. clowning around with Gwyneth Paltrow (though I didn’t think it was all that funny), or Emma Stone goofing with Ben Stiller (which I did find pretty charming), because I appreciated the effort to entertain. - Noel Murray, A.V. Club

Angelina Jolie’s “Look how high my dress-slit goes” wide stance was bizarre, so kudos to Best Adapted Screenplay co-winner Jim Rash for adopting it himself when he got up there, in a silent parody. I appreciated the Best Film Editing winners, Angus Wall and Kirk Baxter, acknowledging that they didn’t expect to win for The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo, and weren’t entirely prepared: More award-recipient speeches should end with a half-panicked “Let’s get out of here!” And more awards recipients should, as Philip Stockton did when he won for Best Sound Editing for Hugo, cut to the chase by thanking “everybody who’s ever been born, or may be born or be born again, or reborn.” This was a good year for quick, funny, non-maudlin speeches. - Tasha Robinson A.V. Club

Jim Rash’s Adapted Screenwriting Oscar victory for The Descendants may not have been as much of a milestone as Streep or Allen’s win, but people are already speculating that it could bring extra attention to the struggling cult-favorite comedy TV show Community (which Rash co-stars on). How’s that for keeping those hopes of six seasons and a movie alive? - Sandy Schaefer, Screen Rant

Carl the seat filler -- This guy has been filling seats at the Oscars for 59 years, and he couldn't look happier. I also vote for him as best dressed! - Whitney Matheson, Pop Candy (USA Today)

Esperanza Spalding's performance of "Wonderful World" during the in memoriam segment . Sure, the song is pure schmaltz, but hey, we are remembering the departed here. A little respect, huh? Her wistful rendition suited the moment perfectly and it also had the wonderful side effect of keeping the audience from those awkward little bursts of sporadic clapping. - David Hinckley, New York Daily News

All in all, the [Sacha Baron Cohen Dictator] bit turned out far better than anyone could’ve imagined. Who could argue with Ryan Seacrest getting dumped on? Classic comedy, fun for all ages. The only way it would’ve been better is if they could’ve somehow worked in Billy Bush getting hit in the crotch with a wiffle bat. - Vince Mancini, Film Drunk

The stunt could have ended up being nothing more than a lazy, shticky publicity move, but instead Cohen--at home in-character amongst the unprepared--really sold his appearance with some genuinely funny lines. Also, he dumps Kim Jong-il's ashes on Ryan Seacrest, and you can tell it kind of makes Seacrest want slam the bedroom door and cry into his American Idol comforter. This is Seacrest's Carrie. - Mark, I Watch Stuff

To later see overhead shots of the carpet covered in the stuff as he had to continue his monotonous and unimportant questioning proved what a joke the entire red carpet experience is. I also love the reactions of the girls with Cohen — straight-faced, all about business and never breaking character. How they didn't burst out laughing when Seacrest started fluttering around is something I will never know. This wouldn't have made my number one if Seacrest had any sense of humor, but the fact Kelly Osborne and Giuliana Rancic are laughing their asses off in the booth while Seacrest struggles to gain his composure just because he was part of a stunt was absolutely hilarious to me. Get a sense of humor Ryan, your job isn't that important. - Brad Brevet, Rope of Silicon

By far the best moment of the night last night was Sacha Baron Cohen’s infiltration of the red carpet as the title character from his new movie, The Dictator [...] Everybody knows Cohen can be wildly offensive and disgusting. That’s the way he rolls. And the Academy would have to keep their eye on him at all times, with the bleep button ready to go. But he also doesn’t buy into the notion that Hollywood is sacred, and that the red carpet is holy ground. He is willing to poke sacred cows. And he’s not boring. [...] The Oscars is constantly offending people. But they’re doing it in the most boring possible way. Why not at least add the risk factor? Why not go all the way? At the very least, [having him host the Oscars would] boost the ratings and keep people from nodding off. - Ben Shapiro, Big Hollywood

Mostly it was all a very predictable ceremony but I thought a good one, at least from the vantage point of the first Mezzanine where the Cirque Du Soleil number looked simply spectacular and the ambience of the setting of an old movie palace was pitch perfect, right down to traditional-looking movie  ushers handing out popcorn and candy during commercial breaks. Nice touch. - Pete Hammond, Deadline Hollywood

Michael Douglas looks great. Sorry, but I don’t make fun of cancer. - Nikki Finke, Deadline Hollywood


Conversation Twitter Poll: I didn't watch the Oscars. Did I miss anything good? 

Meh. - @JoeyMagidson

Nope. - @hunky8970

I liked the Christopher Guest focus group bit - @TheEttenauer

Christopher Guest focus group. That's about it. - @brandonRohwer

Definitely the Bridesmaids presenting the shorts. If only the winners were nearly as entertaining. - @DSWalber

SAVING FACE won best short documentary. Didn't think they'd have the guts to vote for it. Happy it won. - @Count3D



Follow Christopher Campbell on Twitter (@thefilmcynic) to join The Conversation.




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