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8 Ways the Oscars Could Have Been Less Excruciatingly Boring Than They Regretfully Were

By Rebecca Pahle | Seriously Random Lists | March 3, 2014 | Comments ()


ellen oscars.jpg

Last night’s Oscars were boring wrapped in dull wrapped in a waste of three and a half hours of my life. It’s like after Seth MacFarlane’s controversial run last year AMPAS decided to play it safe… by making absolutely nothing happen. Ellen with with her folksy “I’m just here in the audience engaging in some friendly banter” routine worked well for the first hour or so, but by the time the third hour (and fifth pizza interlude—my God, it was fun at first, but make it stop) rolled around she looked like she was ready to text Portia Di Rossi to meet her at the back door of the Dolby Theater so they could go home and organize their silverware drawer, or do something less boring than finishing out that ceremony.

Seriously. You get Ellen to host, and you don’t have her participate in a musical number? Disgraceful.

Here are eight things, some more serious than others, the Oscars should have done so as to not be quite such a cure for insomnia.

1) Release the Velociraptors

They’d come in at the back of the building, meaning all the non-A listers would be swiftly gobbled up like so many goats. The time it takes for the raptors to eat their way through the crowd to the front of the room would give the Hollywood royalty in attendance more than enough time to realize what’s coming and split into factions, one of them headed by a brutal Harvey Weinstein. The In Memoriam segment is especially long next year, and Bette Midler’s not around to provide musical accompaniment.

Dame Judi Dench laughs from inside her dinosaur-proof bunker.

2) Have Travolta Present Everything

After pronouncing Idina Menzel’s name as “Adele Dazeen,” I really want to know what Travolta would do with Philomena. Or, joy of joys, Chiwetel Ejiofor.

3) Give Us a Musical Number

I never thought I’d miss the days of pointless Cirque de Soleil interpretive dancing, but for the love of God, AMPAS, give us, something. There wasn’t even an opening number, or a dumb montage of Ellen making her way through the year’s Best Picture nominees. (12 Years a Slave is conspicuously absent; the Ellen-floating-through-space gag is twice as long as it needs to be). The Best Song performances were all well and good for what they were, but I need a Hugh Jackman cameo. I need a chorus line. I need razzle dazzle. I don’t expect the Oscars to be good, because I’m not delusional, but they should at least be entertainingly bad. To that end…

4) Bring Back Seth MacFarlane

This might make me a bad feminist or a bad human being, but I don’t care: I would rather sit through a repeat of MacFarlane and his tasteless jokes than another Ellen snoozefest. MacFarlane’s Oscars featured at least some genuine entertainment—Joseph Gordon Levitt and Daniel Radcliffe’s softshoe, that The Sound of Music joke—and hell, I can take a bathroom break during “We Saw Your Boobs 2: Even Boobier.”

5) Or, Even Better, Hire Tina Fey and Amy Poehler

They have two successful Globes hosting gigs under their belt, and sure, they’re both really busy with multiple TV shows. I don’t care. This is serious, Academy. We can’t have a repeat of this in 2014. You do what you need to do to get Fey and Poehler onboard. Offer to make George Clooney their personal masseuse.

6) More Jamie Foxx

I don’t know what in the heck was going on with Foxx’s teleprompter when he was presenting Best Original Score with Jessica Biel, but I do know his Chariots of Fire jig at least woke me up for a few seconds. Ditch the Wizard of Oz tribute and give us Jamie Foxx dancing to whatever the hell Jamie Foxx feels like dancing to for five minutes.

7) Cut the Number of Best Picture Nominees Back to Five
Upping the number of best picture nominees was a good idea at the time. Supporting indie films! Making the Oscars less predictable! Yay! Except that doesn’t really work if the winners are still exactly as predictable as they always were. Even moreso, this year: There wasn’t a single surprise. The District 9s of the world getting industry recognition is cool, I guess, but does getting a nod at the Annual Hollywood Circlejerkathon really matter when you’ve already achieved ultimate Hollywood success: Making a sh*tton of money? Seriously, cut down on the Best Picture nominees, cut down on the amount of clips you have to show, cut down on time. (Don’t cut down the montages. This is hypocritical of me, I know, and it puts me in the minority, but I love love love a good Oscar montage).

8) Nix the No Alcohol Rule

Ellen already challenged the foodlessness of the Oscars with that godforsaken pizza gag. What the attendees really could’ve used was some booze to help them get through all those jokes that never quite landed. It was a tough crowd, but they all might’ve let loose a bit and been freer with their chuckles with a little liquid cheer. Bonus: Most interesting acceptance speeches!

(Photo by Michael Yada / ©A.M.P.A.S.)







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Comments Are Welcome, Bigots and Trolls Are Not


  • Ram6

    Why does anyone with half a brain watch this tripe to begin with? I would think Hollywood thanking Hollywood for being Hollywood would bring out enough Hollywoodites and they really wouldn't need or care if the rest of us watched or not. After all it's all about their wonderfulness anyway, isn't it?

  • hapl0

    Damned if you do, damned if you don't.

  • RDubs

    I also love a good Oscar Montage. The montages from the King's Speech/Winter's Bone/Black Swan/Social Network etc. year were SO good.

  • "Chiwetel Ejiofor" is apparently "Catherine Pozorter," according to Travoltify. http://www.slate.com/articles/...

  • E Robb

    The lack of musical numbers was not one of that show's problems.

  • morejoy68

    You are right. Jamie Foxx is the answer. He was a stand-up comic among other things. He could host, and sing, and dance. But he would never do it because he still has an active dramatic acting career and wouldn't want to do anything that would compromise future awards.

  • e jerry powell

    I'm not mad. But I was also multitasking, and I have very little to do on a Sunday night anyway.

  • e jerry powell

    At least the Globes have everyone sitting AT TABLES so they can't spill things on the carpet once they're good and lit..

  • googergieger

    Well it was Ellen hosting. Da fuck you expect? Macfarlane was controversial? He must be the most boring controversial man ever.

  • So, basically make it the Golden Globes?

    And bring back Macfarlene? Watching him caper around like a 12 year old on Pixie sticks belting out "Seen your boobs"? Dear crap, no.

  • BendinIntheWind

    Your list is bad and you should feel bad.

    I'm with you on Fey and Poehler, and the addition of alcohol, but I COULD NOT DISAGREE MORE on the rest of this list.

  • Some Guy

    I think they should get rid of scripted teleprompter presentations and just make the presenters wing it.

    You have this much time to talk about the award and read the names of five people and five movies.

    They're actors and they spend their lives on stage, in front of people. They should be able to banter wittily, read some names and open an envelope without someone spelling it out for them word for word.

    I mean, is there anything more painfully ironic than presenters, presenters who are typically lauded and awarded for their acting skills mind you, standing before everyone and reading a prewritten statement like a robot?

    If someone can't sell me on their skills at reading a teleprompter, then I question their acting skills and see no reason to spend money on them to watch them do the same.

    Combine this with the alcohol and you've got a recipe for pure, hilarious entertainment.

  • morejoy68

    Yes! Drunk improvisation by famous people in fancy clothes IS entertaining. They either say something genuinely interesting or make fools of themselves, either way, I am so all in.

  • Meg

    Not ironic at all. Most actors are incredibly shy, as scared of public speaking as the rest of us. Probably more so. They don't have a character to hide behind here. Reading a teleprompter is not acting.

  • Jim

    Next year, have everyone wear "I am Adele Dazeen" t-shirts a la "I am Spartacus"?

  • Jim

    "Dame Judi Dench laughs from inside her dinosaur-proof bunker."

    I am SO stealing this and there's nothing, NOTHING you can do about it.

    Ok, I feel bad. I'll give you credit. I guess my scruples grew back.

  • DangerBlouse

    I can't believe that people aren't crushing Ellen for that horrendous performance. I get that people like her, but if Seth or Anne had walked around making "sweating the oldies" jokes and offering pizza, I doubt that the reception would be the same. Rank amateur stuff compared to what we've seen from Poehler and Fey.

  • Some Guy

    That and her Liza Minnelli jab at the beginning was a very cheap blow, especially considering she was only there to honor her mother, whom hollywood adores.

  • Lloyd_The_Bartender

    I was drinking heavily with a bunch of my catty friends yelling at the TV.
    So not really boring for me. Lots of fun actually.

    If it weren't for a few of my friends holding annual the Oscar party w hard liquor and gambling (Oscar pool) I wouldn't watch them at all most likely.

    I sort of blacked out towards the end, but I remember thinking at one point that poor Ellen looked like she was about to cry.
    The pizza joke was rrrrreeeal dumb.

    Also, Cate Blanchett rules the earth and the heavens... and U2 needs to retire...

  • lowercase_ryan

    completely agree with the Jamie Foxx idea.

  • ZbornakSyndrome

    Have a speech rule: As soon as an award winner mentions god, a publicist, or an agent in their speech, an award is up for grabs -- first person to rush the stage and grab the Oscar gets to keep it.

    Also: Whoopie Cushions

  • Some Guy

    All of one person mentioned god this past show, if I'm not mistaken. If one person thanking someone they deem of more importance than them, who might or might not be imaginary, gets your knickers in a twist I think you're the one with the problem.

  • ZbornakSyndrome

    Just so I'm clear -- You're cool with the publicists and the agents, right?
    When you thank god like that, you're not really recognizing someone that's more important than you. You're thanking god for confirming that you're more special than everyone else. Does God watch the Oscars? Or is this just another "thanks for the favor" like thanking a publicist?
    I was under the impression that this list was about our pet peeves.

    Apparently my comment would be on your list.
    God bless.

  • Some Guy

    It just seems to me that, as you were watching the show getting riled at all the shout outs to agents and publicists; people who actually do get a lot of praise from oscar recipients, the moment the one guy thanked god, you immediately rolled your eyes and muttered "they always do that," despite the lack of evidence to support your ire, because as you say, it's your pet peeve to hear someone thank an imaginary being for winning an award.

    I get it, you don't think believing in and thanking god has anything to do with acting ability and winning an award.

    I'm just pointing out that it is possible that some people draw inspiration from said figures, be they God, Jesus, Moses, Muhammad, the Flying Spaghetti Monster, or even the spirit of their dead father/mother without entering into the "I'm special realm, you're not" realm.

    Again, your immediate reaction is to think that by thanking god, Matthew McConaughey was implying that he was somehow special when he gave one of the most humbling speeches of the night.

    Maybe in your mind he thinks he's special and god singled him out, but being humble is a real thing, and you don't really know what's in the man's head and heart, so why penalize/chastise him for expressing his beliefs?

    Again: you got so annoyed that a single person thanked a deity that you thought it necessary to bring it up and declare that people can steal their award because of it.

    No talk of the waste of money, time and everything else wrong with america that hollywood often represents. I just think your priorities are a little off base.

  • ZbornakSyndrome

    Dude, I feel like you're probably a nice well meaning person. However, this was a joke list on a pop culture site, so I commented in kind with a silly joke because well, those long thank you speeches are unnecessary and boring. Perhaps your panties are the ones that need a little straightening out?
    God is a common entity to thank on awards stages, be it the Grammys, the Emmys or The Academy Awards. Perhaps Matthew was the only one who thanked god last night, my Jesus counter is off so I'll have to trust you, but he did thank God in the same speech in which he stated he was his own hero 10 years from now.
    So yeah, it seemed self-aggrandizing to me at worst, silly at best.
    As for my priorities, they are baying at the moon, Satanic rituals and pop culture websites, so I think they're pretty much right where I need them to be. But thanks for the very sincere concern about my shriveled little soul.
    I think you need to ask yourself: What would Jesus do? Nothing. He wouldn't care.

    God Bless.

  • bonnie

    There can never be enough Tina and Amy. So, yes, please let them host the Oscars.

  • chanohack

    I really liked Ellen. Standing there until it gets a little awkward is kind of her thing, and I enjoy it. That said, I'm on board with all of these except PLEASE don't bring back MacFarlane! (I will not forgive all just for his Sound of Music joke.)

  • Slim

    Agreed. MacFarlane is the worst. Bringing him back is a terrible idea. I enjoyed this show, but mostly because we just caught glimpses while cleaning the house.

  • Mustapha Mond

    I think Ellen was told to keep things pretty 'safe' ..she has the ability to be a lot funnier but it seems her script was dull, I still enjoyed her but not as much as I thought I would

  • ZbornakSyndrome

    While I felt Ellen was the Xanax of hosts, I totally agree about MacFarlane. Just because I don't want to sleep doesn't mean I want a misogynist who thinks he's Frank Sinatra stinking up the joint.

  • bonnie

    THIS. A thousand times. Seth MacFarlane was the worst host ever, and I never want to sit through that Oscars again. Hell, I'd take Franco and Hathaway again over him.

  • kimk

    Totally agree. Ellen is sort of "meh", but McFarlane managed to be "meh" while at the same time sticking with his "oh my, aren't I a bad boy?" schtick. So, I guess I would prefer "boring" over "boring AND annoying". Franco and Hathaway were enthralling in a watching a car crash sort of way, so would still prefer them over McFarlane too.

  • Last night was worse than both of those shows, although I'm not sure that's all attributable to Ellen. Felt like the writers wen't on strike after the monologue. Those bits would be excusable during a power outage. But a perfectly functioning show? No way.

  • The whole broadcast had a dress rehearsal feel to it. Ellen seemed desperate to find people who were game for her shenanigans. The pizza gag should have been two segments, tops. First one you talk about ordering food and roll out the pizzas. Second, you pass the hat and have Harvey Wienstein chip in a planted roll of cash into the hat. Joke over.

    Something I've noticed the last couple of years is the show producers have gone away from themes for the show and I think it's hurt. Last year was 50 years of the Bond franchise this year was 75th anniversary of the Wizard of Oz. Why not dress the sets and use the music from those films to spice up the broadcast.

    Tina and Amy would bring energy to keep the show moving. Maybe it's been two weeks of watching the Tonight Show, but I think Jimmy Fallon would do a good job of being energetic without being controversial.

  • Energetic without being controversial is exactly why you bring in Jimmy Fallon. My mom loves him. And she much preferred Letterman to Leno so she's got pretty good taste for a mom.

  • Unfortunately with Tina, Amy and Jimmy F. all being NBC people, there's little chance any of them will host the Oscars.

  • LL

    How does that logic make sense when they had Seth MacFarlane last year and he's on FOX. Since they award film, I don't think there's as much controversy as a rival network star hosting something like the Emmy's.

  • 1. It's just his voice on FOX. 2. He made a movie that grossed $218 million domestic the year before he hosted.

  • Emilie

    excellent point. i then nominate sophia vergara.

  • Lots of energy yes. High chance of Travoltarian mispronunciation, also yes.

  • mswas

    So just how could we get John Travolta to present something to Chiwetel Ejiofor, Gabourey Sidibe, Benedict Cumberbatch AND Lupita Nyong'o?

  • Aaron Schulz

    I think hed give up and just call them john and jane doe

  • ZbornakSyndrome

    You're forgetting Quvenzhane Wallis!

  • Jay Logan

    I'm sorry, but the sequel to "We saw your boobs" has to be called "We saw your bush". It's the logical next step.

  • morejoy68

    um, that was funny. I'm a feminist, and I thought that was funny. That was more funny than the original song, which I found both offensive and dull.

  • Sara_Tonin00

    There was a bit of "we saw your dick" for Jonah Hill.

  • In the interest of equal time probably "we saw your junk"

  • Sara_Tonin00

    What good Oscar montage?

    The Hero montage was terrible. Discuss.

  • I knew it was misplaned when they show a movie Superman that isn't Christopher Reeve

  • Sara_Tonin00

    I think they showed TWO and neither were Reeves. So dumb

  • morejoy68

    It was so boring and random that I kept looking away and doing other things. I heard there were not enough women in it. I don't know because I kept getting distracted away from it. I didn't even understand what they were trying to do, but I know that they failed at it.

  • JJ

    1 Way the Oscars Could Have Been Less Excruciatingly Boring Than They Probably Were:
    Don't watch them and catch the highlights the day after.

    Because I enjoyed the pizza and selfie gags as well as the monologue, but probably more so because I didn't make myself sit through what by some accounts was a three and a half hour root canal.

  • Some Guy

    Or just start watching in the last hour and a half and catch all the good stuff.

  • Dominic

    well there were some good acceptances early ....
    but yes if u thought ias boring why didn't you STOP watching ?
    like i did . switch to other stuff .... but someone else in my house was watching all the way thr , and overhearing her TV told me when to click back ...
    It is what it is people it can't change . Without losing pomp and grandeur and an excess of back-slapping ....but if ur not in the theatre , you've got other stuff to check out

  • http://www.washingtonpost.com/...

    Looks like this is what people want.

  • PDamian

    That article notes that Twitter and other social media may have had a hand in boosting the Oscars' appeal. Personally, I can honestly say that last night's show, watched in tandem with Courtney E.'s excellent commentary and all the lovely snark from Pajibans, was the most fun I've had in a while (okay, at least since my semester started). I used the boring points to catch up on my Pajiba reading, and enjoyed the excellent burns and cheering alike, and even made some comments of my own. In short, Pajiba -- this particular form of social media -- made my night.

    And now, because this thread needs more Cumberbatch: http://www.vanityfair.com/vf-h...

  • I certainly enjoyed the social media aspect of the show (and all awards shows, frankly). But we need to separate that from the quality of the show. Train wrecks get a lot of gawkers.

  • Rebecca Pahle

    I wonder, though. Because people can't know how the Oscars are going to turn out beforehand. Maybe people tuned in because they liked what they saw last year, or at least it had enough buzz around the water cooler the following day that they wanted to see things first-hand this time around.

  • Seems like they stuck around, though. Which really surprises me given how much it dropped off a cliff after the first 30-40 minutes. I'm not sure there was an actual written joke or major award for nearly two hours in the middle.

  • Billybob

    30-40 minutes is about when the booze sets in, at which point the audience would no longer be caring. I've never watched the Oscars, and that's partly because I'm not a habitual drinker. I can't imagine getting through an entire awards ceremony sober.

    (I have watched Eurovision sober. This was a mistake, and the following year I took steps to rectify it)

  • TK

    9) Thunderdome.

  • bastich

    Count me in if they get Fey and Poehler to dress up as Master Blaster.

  • Jim

    Toss in Hugh Jackman in Aunty Entity drag and you got yourself a deal.

  • Billybob

    Except they'd both be Master.

    Two options: Either we bring in Baldwin and Offerman to be their Blasters, or Tina Fey gets to be Master and Amy Poehler plays Doctor Dealgood.

  • - Start it at 8 pm
    - Hand out some of the bigger awards before 11:15 pm
    - In fact, follow the Grammys' lead and hand out some of the lesser awards off screen
    - Have the ceremony in mid-January. By letting all the other awards shows take place before the Oscars, the ceremony is robbed of any tension or surprise. This would drastically change the game and eliminate all the bullshit campaigning ("It's time")
    - Consider modifying the process by which winners are determined (maybe a panel like Sundance).

    I know this is going to sound like hyperbole, but last night was the worst Oscar telecast in two decades, maybe more. Predictable, pedantic, painfully unfunny with a slew of screw-ups. Seriously, how many people flubbed their four-sentence intros? The show was borderline embarrassing, IMO.

  • BWeaves

    "- In fact, follow the Grammys' lead and hand out some of the lesser awards off screen."

    They already do that. There's a shitload of Oscars that get handed out at a non-TV ceremony. I think they should move more of them. People only really care about the 4 actors, director and best movie.

  • Take Makeup, Costume Design, both sound awards, Production Design, and the shorts awards, and move them to a pre-ceremony event. You can even take five minutes and show the winners and clips of their speeches. It would save almost a half-hour.

  • jennp421

    Speaking as someone that watches the Oscars for the gowns, which I think I includes a lot of people, I would have to say Make Up and Costume definitely still fit into the eye candy part of the ceremony. I don't care about sound mixing/editing and still don't know the difference.

  • Mego

    I actually like the technical awards (might be because I'm currently getting my start in that very business). The difference between editing and mixing is relatively simple. The editor puts sound effects where they're needed, adds the music to the respective positions etc, that's a lot of searching for sounds etc. The mixer on the other hand takes the finished sound timeline from the editor, loads it up in a program and adjusts the volume, how the sounds fade in and out and stuff like that. So basically: Editor = original setup, mixer = finetuning

  • bastich

    9) Have the nominees compete for the Oscar live and onstage via random viewer-submitted challenges (jello wrestling, drinking contest, broken-bottle fight, etc.).

  • Rebecca Pahle

    I like the way you think.

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