Seth MacFarlane was more than just a very good Oscars emcee, he was one of the great ones, methinks – and producers Craig Zadan and Neil Meron staged a bravura telecast worthy of an Emmy.
When creating this show, they did something shrewd – they threw out most of the film clips that usually clutter an Oscarcast and added live entertainment. Yes, they added too many old-school song-and-dance numbers that must’ve left gum-snapping hipsters wondering why Daniel Radcliffe and Joseph Gordon-Levitt were singing “Oops” about a rubber plant while hoofing with Seth. But most of those numbers were a blast, even the silly one about boobs
This show was full of unabashed silliness, featuring sock puppets flying high on whiskey and dangling Seth from a ceiling as a Flying Nun. When it opted to get serious, it did so with class and bravado (Babs crooning In Memoriam, Michelle Obama bestowing Best Picture). And even when Craig and Neil restaged “Chicago,” it had apt significance obviously missed upon critics who accused them of inserting brazen self-promotion that didn’t belong in the ceremony. Nonsense. Craig and Neil were holding a giant Oscar I.O.U. that they decided to redeem on the show 10 years after they got cheated out of Oscar statuettes that they should’ve received when “Chicago” won Best Picture.
That’s why we love the Oscars. They are full of fascinating backstories and inside jokes. My favorite gags included Seth touting “Argo” as a story “so top secret that the film’s director is unknown to the Academy.” And how he ribbed Daniel Day-Lewis about always staying in character during the filming of movies like “Lincoln”: “So when you saw a cell phone [on set], would you have to go, ‘Oh my God, what’s that? If you bumped into Don Cheadle on the studio lot, did you try to free him?”