I hosted a live Oscars viewing party at a Seattle club last night, which required me to stand on a stage next to a giant screen and crack jokes during the commercial breaks. Pretty tough to screw up, right? But at one point—somewhere around Channing Tatum o'clock—my boyfriend texted me from the crowd: "You really need to move out of the spotlight if you're going to look that bored." Oops. A few minutes later, some friends texted that they were running out to catch an 8 pm screening of 12 Years a Slave. I guess they decided that would be less grueling.
But, come on, it's not REALLY my fault. Is it? At least this year's Oscars weren't as lazily, vagina-numbingly offensive as last year's—I actually thought Ellen did a pretty good job, despite that Liza joke and despite the pizza bit that would not die and despite shoehorning 450 references to social media into every fucking sentence (as if the producers were desperate to declare WE ARE YOUNG SHOW FOR TEEN PEOPLES, WE UNDERSTAND HOW TO MAKE COOL TEEN JOKE COMPUTER JOKE PLEASE GIVE US UR TEEN MONEYS HASHTAG SKATEBOARD!!!!!)—but in the absence of Seth McFarlane's distractingly outlandish shittiness, the show was laid bare for what it really is. A big room full of rich people jacking off in the mirror.
Not that I don't love those rich people!!! Not that I don't want to hug Jennifer Lawrence like it's a full-time job and put my mouth on Matthew McConaughey posthaste! But if they're going to make us watch eight hours of their professional entertainment awards, couldn't they at least make them entertaining? And what is the problem, anyway? How hard could this be?
Daniel D'Addario at Salon offers up this hypothesis: that the Oscars are so dull because there are no real movie stars anymore.
The Oscars have, historically, been a venue to break new stars. One recalls, say, Gael Garcia Bernal or Emily Blunt or Kristen Stewart making their first appearances at the respective moments they all first came to prominence. Of this year's Oscar presenters, the only new stars were Michael B. Jordan of "Fruitvale Station" and, perhaps, Jason Sudeikis of "Horrible Bosses"; the rest were stars Hollywood's been trying to make happen for years, using every method but giving them good roles.
As a snapshot of the year, the slate of Oscar presenters generally has a few things to teach. This year's lesson was that Hollywood is effectively out of ideas, that it no longer has the capacity to generate new stars and is just telling us that we will like Kate Hudson and Jessica Biel. It was a picture of Hollywood in crisis; no wonder everyone's so high on Jennifer Lawrence, as she's one of the few genuine discoveries in a decade.
It's not that stars are nonexistent, exactly—Lawrence and Lupita Nyong'o prove that wrong without breaking a sweat—it's that the Oscar telecast producers seem to be more concerned with bankability among males aged 13-21 (see: Will Smith, Jessica Biel) than about booking genuinely compelling performers.
So, in order to help Hollywood shake things up a bit next year, I've put together my own fantasy lineup of presenters. It's not necessarily heavy on the undiscovered ingenues or the next-Jack-Nicholsons, but it WOULD BE A GOOD SHOW. Leave your own suggestions in the comments—I think we can fix this shit! Be the Oscars you want to see in the world, etc! Here we go:
HOST: Joe Biden.
BEST CINEMATOGRAPHY: Richard Sherman and the Dowager Countess.
BEST COSTUME DESIGN: Alias cast reunion and also Victor Garber is singing.
BEST ANIMATED FEATURE: Neil Degrasse Tyson and the cast of Degrassi: TNG circa 2002 (#DOLPHINPANTS).
BEST VISUAL EFFECTS: Coral from the Real World and Mike "The Miz" from the Real World having a fight about racism.
BEST ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY: North West and Blue Ivy Carter but it's like a Look Who's Talking scenario (Bruce Willis is hiding under an afghan nearby and doing both voices).
BEST ADAPTED SCREENPLAY: Harrison Ford's earring and Harrison Ford's goatee.
BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR: Luke Perry and Jennie Garth DATING.
BEST ACTOR: A hippo and a turtle who are best fwiends.
BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS: It's the NBA slam dunk contest and then at the end they cut open the basketball with a big knife and the winner's name is inside!!!
BEST ACTRESS: All of the Rockford Peaches.
BEST DIRECTOR: Tim Gunn on a bicycle with IKEA monkey in the basket.
BEST PICTURE: Hologram Chris Farley and hologram Jerry Orbach and hologram Ethel Merman and a hologram of an actual merman.
All "Best Song" musical numbers performed by Tenacious D.
BOOM. ENTERTAINIEST OSCARS EVER. WOULD WATCH.