Despite a terrifically loose Ellen DeGeneres, the first half of the Oscars was the type of slog that makes you wonder if your friends who don’t watch TV are onto something.
Last night got off to a dreadfully slow start — Ellen’s great monologue aside, which included that surprising and just-this-side-of-cruel dig on Liza Minnelli. From the beginning the show was almost fatally crippled by the thick-with-self-regard theme of “Heroes in Hollywood.” That meant puffy, poorly edited montages of animated heroes, action heroes, and those ordinary among us who commit quiet acts of heroism (you know, average Joes like Abraham Lincoln and Muhammad Ali). Amy Adams spoke for all of us suffering quietly at home when she got caught checking her phone during Harrison Ford’s snoozy line reading of some Best Picture nominees.
The choice to have Bette Midler sing her old weepy “Wind Beneath My Wings” after the In Memoriam montage felt cheap and manipulative. (The segment producers could take notes from the elegance of Bill Murray, whose introduction of Harold Ramis as a 6th Best Cinematographer nominee was as poignant as it was understated.) And I think I speak for parents everywhere who cursed the whole production for holding Idina Menzel’s performance of “Let It Go” until the end after we promised our young children they could stay up and watch. (#John Travolta, you’re a mess.)