The internet is awash in Oscar reviews after the awards ceremony aired on Sunday, February 24, 2013, and the general consensus appears negative, with much of the criticism leveled at host Seth McFarlane's crude, sexist humor. On Twitter and other social media, classic movie fans have also expressed disappointment and anger with the broadcast for its lack of interest in classic Hollywood, despite an obvious preference for Old Hollywood glamor in the evening's red carpet fashions.
The theme of the awards ceremony was "music in the movies," but, aside from movie themes playing between awards, there was little sign of the golden age of movie musicals. A tribute to "movie musicals of the last decade" baffled many classic movie buffs, since the time frame pretty much ensured that the greatest musicals in Hollywood history would be completely ignored. Most fans of the musical genre would agree that you can't talk about movie musicals without paying tribute to Fred Astaire, Gene Kelly, and Judy Garland, at the very least.
McFarlane did include a funny tribute to "The Sound of Music" (1965) as part of the introduction of Oscar winner Christopher Plummer, although the joke might have bombed with the actor himself, who famously hated the film. The actor even asked the orchestra to play a different tune rather than one from that picture as he took the stage to present the Oscar for Best Supporting Actress.
Classic movie fans were also outraged by the omission of several important stars from the memorial tribute. The most glaring of the lot was the exclusion of Andy Griffith, who starred in classic films like "A Face in the Crowd" (1957) and "No Time for Sergeants" (1958) before his long television career and also made films as recent as the 2007 romantic comedy, "Waitress." Griffith died on July 3, 2012, at the age of 86. Also excluded was Harry Carey, Jr., son of actors Harry and Olive Carey and a regular in classic Westerns, especially those directed by John Ford. Carey died December 27, 2012, at the age of 91. Ann Rutherford, best remembered for playing Scarlett O'Hara's sister, Carreen, in "Gone with the Wind" (1939), was also notably absent from the tribute. Rutherford died on June 11, 2012, at the age of 94.
The tribute segment did include classic stars Ernest Borgnine, Jack Klugman, Celeste Holm, Herbert Lom, and Charles Durning, as well as many behind-the-scenes film professionals and younger Hollywood figures. Still, the omissions irritated hardcore film devotees, and Twitter users decried the exclusions. J.P., tweeting as @HollywoodComet, summed up the feelings of many with the post, "I'm furious about the 'In Memoriam' on the Academy Awards. They left out Andy Griffith, Harry Carey, Jr., Davy Jones and Ann Rutherford, one of the last surviving members of 'Gone with the Wind.'"
Given the negative reaction to McFarlane's performance and the overall lackluster feel of the evening, classic movie fans will almost certainly be hoping for a return to the atmosphere of previous Oscar telecasts, where Hollywood took greater stock of its own history and eschewed crude humor designed to attract younger viewers who aren't going to tune in, anyway. Here's hoping that the Oscars of 2014 are a classier - and more classic - affair.
Jennifer Garlen writes as the Huntsville and National Classic Movies Examiner. Her book, "Beyond Casablanca: 100 Classic Movies Worth Watching," is available in paperback and Kindle editions on Amazon.