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That Oscar Telecast on Sunday Left a Lot to Be Desired

Sunday night should have been a moment of celebration. After the Academy Awards, like everything else last year, were forced to do things very differently, this was supposed to be the night Oscar came back. Of course, once ABC and producer Will Packer decided to start almost sabotaging the ceremony, that went out the window. Still, with the 94th Academy Awards in the books (and articles to come all week on the various parts of it all), I wanted to take a bit of a look at the show itself. So, today, we’re going to be focusing our coverage on the Oscar telecast, which left something to be desired, all in all.

While there were obviously inspiring and moving moments, it all rang very off and even weird. Even when the In Memoriam managed to make me cry with some touching tributes, the presentation comes off strangely. Steve and I spoke about this a bit on yesterday’s bonus podcast episode (here), but Packer and company didn’t make it feel like the Oscars. The glitz and glamour were only sort of there, replaced by desperate attempts at finding an audience that just isn’t interested. I’ve bemoaned this in the past, notably in an article right here on the site, but in practice, it really was noticeable.

First of all, presenting eight of the categories before the show and then editing the speeches into the broadcast didn’t work. Some of it seemed more seamless than others, but it didn’t speed up the telecast. Instead, it made room for comedy bits and tributes. Some of those weren’t bad, but more than not, they fell flat. Even the already odd choice to have a presentation of Encanto‘s hit song “We Don’t Talk About Bruno” fell well shy of the intended mark.

Then, there was the Twitter influenced moments, which were embarrassing if not for the fact that they were so bungled that you could easily ignore them. The tension about if CODA or The Power of the Dog would win Best Picture barely existed, not because the race wasn’t close, but because the show torpedoed its own tension. The trio of hosts were fine, but it was at best, one step forward, one step back.

Of course, Will Smith slapping Chris Rock is all anyone will talk about now. We’ve covered it on the site, and you all know it verbatim, but what a travesty. No one came off looking good, from Rock and Smith down to the Academy itself. I don’t want to give it any extra attention, but beyond the sideshow aspect of it, it was bad behavior and an embarrassment. Not only did Smith end up taking the attention away from the other nominees and winners, but he did it to his own film, too. King Richard is an anecdote in all of this. Plus, his speech, which going for emotion, never fully addressed what happened, leaving a bad taste in everyone’s mouth who was watching. Imagine being in the room?

The ratings rebounded from last year, like we knew they would, but another bit of Oscar luster has vanished. Their reputation takes another hit, and that’s a shame. Hollywood’s biggest night should be a celebration for cinephiles the world over. Instead, it’s becoming something that people hate-watch. I’m not there yet, but if that ever happens to me? Then we’re truly in uncharted waters.

All in all, the Oscar telecast did nothing to further the Academy or the Academy Awards. If anything, it’s becoming more and more of a joke, which is a shame for me to say. Those of us who love the Oscars and literally have made its coverage our livelihood should be mourning this. Whether it was the worst telecast or not is irrelevant. It was simply one that no one should be proud of…

What were your thoughts on the Oscar telecast? Let us know!


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Brian H.
Brian H.
6 months ago

I don’t think the show was that horrible. I think the hosts did a very good job. Not the best by any stretch but far from the worst. They seemed more comfortable in the moment than most hosts do and a lot of the jokes hit…especially from Schumar and Sykes.

I think you’re completely right about any awards tension or lack there of. Which was a shame. Even though I would have been shocked if Coda didn’t win.

I think they’ve dropped the ball on the In Memoriam segment a few years in a row and this might have been the worst for me. I don’t want to be distracted in that segment. I want all the focus being on what it’s there to do…and what they did was very distracting. I would have rather seen that performance right after the segment maybe cut a little shorter and the orchestra playing during the segment. If you’re going to have a performance make it very low key ala Vedder playing Petty’s room at the top. My girlfriend thought I was nitpicking but I really hate when they screw up that part of the show.

Speaking of my girlfriend…I also got a very harsh “enough already!” because I think I mentioned how bitter I was about the 8 pre recorded awards every single time one came up. I still don’t get it…I hate the idea of it and the way they tried to make it work just didn’t work at all. I’m shocked no winner of the awards on the telecast criticized it. And if they did I missed it.

Obviously the Smith/Rock thing will be remembered forever…more so than Moonlight/La La Land. And you said it perfectly…it takes away just like that incident did from the recognized movie. It was bizarre and just weird. I think both people will end up ok even though both were in the wrong.

I did like the history of going back to 50 years, 30 years, 15 years and of course 28 years …Not that I prefer any of the choices ahead of Pulp Fiction…and I know they wanted to do something on stage with Sam Jackson but that was weird. Maybe they couldn’t get people from Titanic or Chicago….but honestly with Spielberg there I was expecting 40 years since ET to be one.

But in the end I’ll love an even sub par show that celebrates movies from the current year and years past.

As always great job covering this and keep up the great work with the podcasts/articles.

Richard Green
Richard Green
6 months ago

Joey, I love the Oscars from the build up to the nominations to the awards themselves and for me the quality of the show itself has been declining a little each year including this year which is very disappointing.. But to cock up In Memoriam two years in a trot is unforgivable. All you need to do is show the faces/ play clips with music such as John Williams’ theme from Schindler’s List playing in the background. Keep it simple, sensitive and respective… Off topic, will the Academy allow Will Smith to present the Best Actress Oscar next year?



Written by Joey Magidson

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