By Sean Kelly
It is no secret that the biggest problem with the Oscars has always been its length. It is by far the longest of the award shows and I remember a time, not so long ago, that the ceremony would end at nearly 1am (or 10pm if you are going by the local time of Oscar’s LA location). The Academy has tried many methods in the past to cut down on the show’s length, one of the most infamous being the year they either had all the nominees on stage or presented awards in the crowd.
This year, the Academy had the added trouble of having to show highlights from ten nominated films. As such, there were some stricter time-saving rules. After being compressed last year into a single performance, the best song performances were axed altogether. In addition, the Academy vowed to be more strict on the 45 second acceptance speech limit – though based on what I saw, the major winners seemed exempt.
After watching this year’s show, I have to say that some of those time-saving choices seemed questionable when one takes into consideration what actually turned up in the program. So let me go through some of the Oscars’ filler segments that may or may not have been a waste of time – dependingly mainly on whether or not you enjoyed them.
Neil Patrick Harris’ Opening Number
This was a very obvious bait and switch, with NPH showing up at the start instead of hosts Steve Martin and Alec Baldwin. The comedy-filled song was very reminiscent of the Billy Crystal-era Oscars and one had to wonder if Harris would have been a better choice to actually host the show, especially since Martin and Baldwin didn’t have any super-standout moments.
John Hughes Tribute
In addition to the usual montage of Hollywood figures that passed, the Academy decided to give an extended tribute to John Hughes. It was great seeing the now grown-up stars of Hughes’ films on stage together, especially since most of them – i.e. pretty much the entire Breakfast Club – aren’t really seen much anymore.
Horror Film Montage
This continues the recent trend of the Academy Awards showing a montage of a certain genre. Since horror is a genre that is usually frowned upon, it was good seeing a montage showing classics like Halloween, Rosemary’s Baby, A Nightmare on Elm Street, and… The Twilight Saga: New Moon?!
Best Score Nominees: Interpretive Dancing
I’m going to be completely honest here. This was the major “what the hell” moment of the ceremony for me. After completely scrapping the best song performances, the Academy brings on some troupe to do a bunch of dances that barely match the music that was playing. I would have rather had the song performances.
Best Actor and Actress Testimonials
Out of all these segments, this is the one I am most definitively labelling a time waster. The Academy brought out ten individuals, with some relation to the nominees, to give their memories of working with the nominee. I suppose that this was done to emphasize the importance of the acting categories, but I swear that each person spoke for at least five minutes. This was all on top of having the presenter come out to give out the award.
Whether or not each of the above segments were good or not, they could all be categorized as filler. It’s a bit hypocritical that the Oscars would cut out the best song performances, while keeping segments that are meant to pad the time slot. The Academy seems to change their minds about things every year, so I’m sure that next year will see even more time saved only to be wasted in new ways.