A review of the 88th Academy Awards from Feb. 28, 2016: Chris Rock’s monologue was spot on, hilarious, awkward at times for the audience and much needed.
The Oscars are a celebration of the year in cinema.
Producers David Hill and Reginald Hudlin seemed to forget this at Feb. 28’s 88th Academy Awards, held at the Dolby Theatre in Hollywood, California.
Watching from home, this Oscars fan enjoyed the first half hour of the show.
The ceremony opened with a year-in-review film montage that included fantastic editing of some of the most memorable moments from film in 2015.
Chris Rock’s monologue was spot on, hilarious, awkward at times for the audience and much needed.
Where the show really started to slip was once Rock was done. He focused his entire speech on diversity — again, much needed — but didn't spend much time tributing the past year in movies. The rest of the ceremony tended to feel this way. At times, it felt as if the producers forgot what the Oscars are all about.
The iconic theme song “Hooray for Hollywood” was sadly missing from the telecast.
Sure, the audience was told that the awards would be given out in the order in which a film is made, but there didn’t seem to be much of a follow-through of that logic.
A new “Thank You” ticker at the bottom of the screen during winners’ speeches was distracting and ultimately forgettable — except for a promise by one of the Animated Feature winners. Maybe future producers could figure out a way to capitalize on this idea without impacting the speeches.
|"Let's get a dog."|
That seemed to be a theme: lack of polish and unrehearsed. Stagehands were caught multiple times on camera. The performances (except for a much-too-opulent set for The Weeknd) seemed crudely sparse. This is not your standard awards show, make it look good.
The Oscars also seemed a little too irreverent for this reviewer’s tastes. This is the classiest show of the year, not the Golden Globes. Music cut off many a winner, even when the speech was relevant and hit an emotional mark. In addition, the choice of music by producers — especially the use of Wagner’s “Ride of the Valkyries” — was problematic, distracting and in some cases highly distasteful.
The center-stage microphone didn’t seem to adjust to the height of the speaker, even if Rock helped out young actors Abraham Attah and Jacob Tremblay with step stools during their presentation.
And why in the world did the producers make some of the winners walk from the back of the orchestra section to collect their statuettes? Those walks added precious minutes to the clock. Three-time past producers Craig Zadan and Neil Meron seemed to have a good system worked out that was underutilized this year.
Ellen K was an enjoyable announcer, even if she wasn’t given nearly enough material, especially to use during those long walks.
While the on-screen notes about presenters were a little distracting, it was helpful to identify some of the unfamiliar faces during the ceremony — including a bespectacled Kate Winslet!
Overall, while the production of the show lacked polish and shine (unlike that elusive golden statuette), the surprising outcomes, Rock’s comedy and Lady Gaga’s incredible performance made for a night that kept audiences talking. This fan would just have liked an Oscars that celebrated the movies a little more.
The 88th Academy Awards, for outstanding film achievements of 2015, were presented on Sunday, Feb. 28, 2016, at the Dolby Theatre at Hollywood & Highland Center, and televised live on ABC and in more than 225 countries worldwide.