Keeping with tradition, the days following the Oscars have been full of rampant debate. The Internet is brimming with the ranting and raving of both critics and casual viewers. It is not the intent of this article to add to the noise, but to give a balanced evaluation of Sunday’s Oscars. One could discuss at length either Seth MacFarlane as host, the Oscar winners, or the night’s performances. But this article's focus is on the success of the night as a whole, particularly with entertaining its targeted audience.
It is no big secret that the Oscars have been aggressively pursuing changes to reach a broader, younger audience. Choices for the Oscars ceremony in the last several years have made disparate progress towards this goal. There was the infamous 2011 hosting pair of Anne Hathaway and James Franco as well as reactionary increase in 2009 films nominated for the Best Picture category. This year's host, Seth MacFarlane, and performance by Adele were new incentives to watch.
The decision to have MacFarlane host left a lot of potential viewers unsure of what to expect. Those who are not fans of “Ted” or “Family Guy” had a great deal of skepticism that MacFarlane would resort to frequent bawdy gags or jokes told in a heavy Boston accent. Shortly into his opening routine, MacFarlane tried to put those fears to rest with self-satirizing humor and attempts to embody a classically charming host by singing and dancing. As can often be the case with comedians who do impersonations, MacFarlane has a hidden range of talents and it was nice to see those on display without the guise of a character.
MacFarlane opening established a fault-conscious tone the Oscars sorely needed and in doing so opened up the proceedings to allow for some quality entertainment. It was an insightful move to bring a satire-comedy writer to host a show so susceptible to clichés and pitfalls. MacFarlane was sharp in addressing the disconnect between the Academy and the viewing audience. Examples were jokes about Ben Affleck’s lack of nomination for Best Director and last years’ winner, “The Artist.” He was able to create curiosity for what was to come and in this way he was an excellent choice.
The other noticeable effort made at this year’s Oscars was the musical performances. While in the past few years the show had cut the live performances of the nominated songs or included only a few musical numbers, this year brought back live performances with a vengeance. The 50th anniversary celebration of Bond was a great excuse to have some grand performances for the viewers. The live performances helped the nights’ pace by giving viewers an engaging and relevant musical numbers between award presentations rather than a more tedious of rewards and commercial breaks. The tribute to the Best Film musicals was particularly an extraordinary segment offering a rare opportunity to experience new performances of classic numbers. This is exactly what the Oscars should be about.
This year’s Oscars involved a lot of deliberate choices and, as always, created plenty of controversy. Some people didn’t find the changes successful. The fact of the matter is that Oscar night is always going to be plagued by run time and jokes that just don’t hit. These are issues inherent to the very nature of the show. What matters is, this year the Oscars kept the audience invested and excited to see what came next; all while celebrating the art of filmmaking.
The success of this year’s Oscars can be measured by the interest they generated. In the wake of this attempt, people are debating over this year’s show while many more wonder what next year will bring. We’ll all just have to tune in and see.
Click Here for more information on this year's Oscars including nominees, winners, interviews and video clips from the broadcast.
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