The Oscars got off to a musical start thanks to Neil Patrick Harris, a song from Frozen songwriters Robert Lopez and Kristen Anderson-Lopez, Anna Kendrick dressed as Cinderella from Into the Woods, and a very angry Jack Black.
The song “Moving Pictures” was a loving tribute to cinema’s history—there was an even a mention of one that changed Harris’ life, Clue—completely with sincerity and some gags. On the lyric “and no one’s drunk and bitter yet because no one has lost,” the camera cut to Benedict Cumberbatch wielding a flask.
Thanks to some technical wizardry, Harris’s silhouette became larger than life, and he was inserted into movie scenes from the likes of The Wizard of Oz to Ghost to Into the Woods. He emerged from that last scene with a shoe belonging to Kendrick, who joined him in song, belting the line, “with such happy endings except for in Gone Girl when that lady slit your throat.” Harris responded: “Spoiler alert.”
But there was an added dollop of cynicism thanks to Black, who (in song) bemoaned superhero movies, how “after Fifty Shades of Grey, they’ll all have leather whips,” and the “screens in our jeans.” Here’s a full transcript of Black’s bit:
Stop! This is what you sound like: movies, movies, wow, they rock. Listen up, kid, it’s all a big crock. Now it’s market trends and fickle friends and Hollywood baloney. Believe me, Neil, you’re better off just polishing your Tony. This industry’s in flux, it’s run by mucky-mucks pitching tents for tentpoles and chasing Chinese bucks. Opening with lots of zeroes, all we get are superheroes: Spider-Man, Superman, Batman, Jedi Man, Sequel Man, Prequel Man, formulaic scripts! And after Fifty Shades of Grey they’ll all have leather whips! In a world where our greens dropping common machines, only screens we’ll watch them on are the screens in our jeans. Screens in our jeans! Screens in our jeans! The only screens we’ll watch them on are the screens in our jeans!
Black, however, did not get the last word, and the number concluded with a swath of dancers, some of whom were in Stormtrooper costumes, and Harris singing about the glory of the nominated films and “magic Meryl F-ing Streep.”