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The Oscars: Congrats to the winners! The TV show is finally over!

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Hughjackmanhost_l

Hughjackmanhost_lI suspect the litmus test for last night’s Oscars really boils down to this: if you like big, gaudy production numbers, you had a good time. But if your favorite musical moment was hearing the Hives over the action-movie montage–and that’s the camp I’m in–the telecast was even a bit more tedious than it usually is. Really, except for: James Franco and Seth Rogen’s super-funny Pineapple Expressed take on everything from The Love Guru to The Reader; the plainspoken dignity of Heath Ledger’s family; Man on Wire documentary-subject Philippe Petit performing a little magic trick and balancing the Oscar on his chin; the great film critic Manny Farber getting a shout-out during the salute-to-the-dead montage; the sharp whistle of Kate Winslet’s dad; and that clever Jimmy Kimmel house-on-fire commercial with Tom Cruise — except for those moments, and the victories of Name-Your-Favorite-Winner-Here, it was mostly brassy music and maundering speechifying.

Hugh Jackman seems like a nice guy, but every qualm one might have had about having a non-comedian, song-and-dance-prone host was confirmed. The other momentum-clogging bad idea:

having previous winners make little speech-salutes to each nominee in the big acting categories. They spouted nice sentiments, to be sure, but it frequently seemed awkward for the nominees to have to sit through them, and for us to watch them. Sure, I enjoyed Robert De Niro’s remarks about Sean Penn. But Whoopi Goldberg compelling Amy Adams to smile over the fact that they’ve both played nuns? Not so entertaining. Oh, and making Reese Witherspoon explain what a director is before presenting the best-director Oscar–how dumb do the show’s writers think we are?

I respected the producers’ attempt to disrupt that annual, awful moment when pictures of those who’ve died are shown and the segment becomes a popularity contest to see who’ll get the most applause. But having Queen Latifah sing over the clapping wasn’t the way to do it. Especially since she had to abruptly stop singing and let a clip of Paul Newman play though. Didn’t anyone think that through?

What’s the one thing people complain about when they say, year after year, that the Oscars go on too long? The big production numbers. What was the Oscars stuffed with this year? Big production numbers. Mr. Jackman, I appreciate your effort. But next year, more James Franco — on the big screen and the small screen — please.

More on the Oscars: Stewart, Colbert, Kimmel: Who will make the best Oscar jokes tonight?

Oscars: 13 Best/Worst Moments

Oscars: The View From Backstage

having previous winners make little speech-salutes to each nominee in the big acting categories. They spouted nice sentiments, to be sure, but it frequently seemed awkward for the nominees to have to sit through them, and for us to watch them. Sure, I enjoyed Robert De Niro’s remarks about Sean Penn. But Whoopi Goldberg compelling Amy Adams to smile over the fact that they’ve both played nuns? Not so entertaining. Oh, and making Reese Witherspoon explain what a director is before presenting the best-director Oscar–how dumb do the show’s writers think we are?

I respected the producers’ attempt to disrupt that annual, awful moment when pictures of those who’ve died are shown and the segment becomes a popularity contest to see who’ll get the most applause. But having Queen Latifah sing over the clapping wasn’t the way to do it. Especially since she had to abruptly stop singing and let a clip of Paul Newman play though. Didn’t anyone think that through?

What’s the one thing people complain about when they say, year after year, that the Oscars go on too long? The big production numbers. What was the Oscars stuffed with this year? Big production numbers. Mr. Jackman, I appreciate your effort. But next year, more James Franco — on the big screen and the small screen — please.

More on the Oscars: Stewart, Colbert, Kimmel: Who will make the best Oscar jokes tonight?

Oscars: 13 Best/Worst Moments

Oscars: The View From Backstage

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