×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

The 72nd Annual Academy Awards

Considering the month it had, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences should be happy. While ABC's Oscar broadcast was not the condensed kudofest that Team Zanuck promised, it was far from the humdrum affair viewers have come to expect. Thanks to many winners' genuine appreciation, Billy Crystal and a musical medley that couldn't have been classier, the night certainly had its moments. Only when the vet emcee gave way to stiffer, stuffier presenters did it become business as usual ... and really, really long -- the longest on record.

With:
Host: Billy Crystal

Considering the month it had, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences should be happy. While ABC’s Oscar broadcast was not the condensed kudofest that Team Zanuck promised, it was far from the humdrum affair viewers have come to expect. Thanks to many winners’ genuine appreciation, Billy Crystal and a musical medley that couldn’t have been classier, the night certainly had its moments. Only when the vet emcee gave way to stiffer, stuffier presenters did it become business as usual … and really, really long — the longest on record.

The opening couldn’t have been better — or more appropriate. Like a Universal Studios ride chock full of the best clips from the best movies, Crystal was introduced into a variety of classic scenes, including “Taxi Driver,” “The Graduate,” “Deliverance,” “Spartacus” and “The Godfather.” It played directly into his hands: His showmanship was top-notch, the production design was flawless, and it heralded the ceremony as more of a movie night than just an awards night.

But, as always, the comic’s grand slam was too hard to top; Crystal is so good, so many other things looked like standard fare.

Don’t blame Hilary Swank, Michael Caine and Warren Beatty. On a day when the “shiniest” and the “flashiest” were the main event, their words were as beautiful as the gowns and jewels.

The notables were very notable. The collection of past song winners was splendid; Crystal’s mock peek inside guests’ thought processes was hilarious; a CGI, “Toy Story” intro to the animated short honor was clever and artistic; and Robin Williams’ “Blame Canada” romp was an audience fave.

Show’s packaging (angular, paneled backdrops) was also nifty. With the many references to a new millennium, it was appropriate that the look was up to date, “Millionaire” style, as if someone really tried to make the kudocast a visual event and not just a podium affair.

But the memorable flashes made the supposed “special” ones seem very dry. An ode to child actors was sweet enough, just not the snazzi-est of choices to start the broadcast; Andrzej Wajda’s honor was a bit too uninteresting; and Chuck Workman’s history-through-cinema quilt was something we’ve seen before. As for the In Memoriam segment? Well, it’s necessary.

And where was all of the spirited enthusiasm? Only Pedro Almodovar injected any Cuba Gooding Jr./Roberto Benigni-ish juice into the proceedings with his “All About My Mother” win. If it’s going to run long, it would be nice to have some zest to break up the intellectual gratitude. At least Benigni was a presenter; his brief appearance added a bunch of punch.

But the Alphabet web could have used more of it. Exemplary behavior is nice, but there really has to be a jazzier way to do all of this. Thank goodness for some of writer Bruce Vilanch’s zingers and the races, for without the Denzel-vs.-Kevin and Annette-vs.-Hilary tension, everything would have been plainer, and at four-plus hours, that’s the last thing that was needed.

Tech credits were solid across the board, with the overall production highlighted by smooth transitions, sharp camera movements and, hey, nobody gave birth.

Popular on Variety

The 72nd Annual Academy Awards

ABC; Sun. March 26, 5 p.m.

Production: Broadcast live from Los Angeles by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences. Producers, Richard D. Zanuck, Lili Fini Zanuck. Executive producer, Michael B. Seligman; associate producer, Katterli Frauenfelder; director, Louis J. Horvitz; writers, Bruce Vilanch, Rita Cash, Carol Leifer, Jonathan Tolins.

Crew: Special filmed sequences, Chuck Workman; production designer, Robert Keene; music, Burt Bacharach, Don Was; choreographer, Kenny Ortega; costume designer, L'Wren Scott; art directors, Brian Stonestreet, Keaton Walker. Running time: 4 HOURS 9 MIN.

Cast: Host: Billy Crystal

More TV

  • 'Game of Thrones' Fashion at the

    'Game of Thrones,' Fashion Slayers: HBO's Drama Winners Also Shined on the Carpet

    The cast of HBO’s “Game of Thrones” knew how to make an entrance (and an exit) on Sunday night at the Primetime Emmy Awards. Before winning the night’s final trophy, Best Drama Series, stars like Emilia Clarke and Gwendoline Christie pulled out some fantastical looks on the purple carpet, with Clarke donning the mother-of-all-earrings by [...]

  • Emmys Fashion: Best Dressed on the

    Emmys: Best Fashion on the Purple Carpet

    The biggest stars in television stepped out on the Emmy purple carpet on Sunday night in a stunning display of gowns and vivacious looks. Fashion expert Brooke Jaffe, who visited Variety’s set after the show, picked some of her favorite dresses of the night, which included Zendaya’s truly enviable Vera number and Mandy Moore in [...]

  • Emmys 2019: Biggest Winners and Losers

    Winners and Losers of the 71st Emmy Awards

    The 71st Emmy Awards was a spectacular affair for the Brits, while broadcast networks all but vanished. Watch Variety’s Elaine Low and Audrey Yap unpack TV’s biggest night of the year, which saw “Game of Thrones” and “Fleabag” take home the top prizes, winning best drama series and best comedy series, respectively. Popular on Variety

  • Atmosphere71st Annual Primetime Emmy Awards, Show,

    Emmy Viewers Not 'Feelin' Good' About Bizarre Music Choices

    It was known ahead of time that the Emmy Awards planned to dispense with a traditional orchestra or pit band for the walk-up and bumper music. What wasn’t anticipated was that the music choices were being outsourced to a bar mitzvah DJ in Des Moines. Or, very possibly, it was a local who had found [...]

  • Atmosphere71st Annual Primetime Emmy Awards, Show,

    Emmys: Big 4 Broadcasters Post Lowest Combined Wins Ever

    The Big 4 broadcast networks put a cap on their worst year in Emmy history on Sunday night. ABC, CBS, Fox and NBC brought home just 16 Emmy Awards — the lowest combined total in history for the four major broadcast networks. The previous low was 19 combined wins in 2016. Last year, the networks [...]

  • Karamo BrownLA LGBT Center 'Hearts of

    Karamo Brown Addresses Backlash Against Sean Spicer Comments

    Karamo Brown has doubled down on comments he made about his fellow “Dancing with the Stars” contestant Sean Spicer, in which he promoted the idea of meeting political adversaries “in the middle.” The amicable “Queer Eye” host received criticism when he said he was “most excited to meet” Spicer ahead of the show’s 28th season, [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content