Selfie aside, Ellen DeGeneres fails to click with Oscar critics
TORONTO — Her 桑拿会所-crashing all-star selfie notwithstanding, Ellen DeGeneres failed to generate much positive buzz as host of the Oscars.
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“It was a turgid affair, badly directed, poorly produced and featuring an endless string of either tired or wince-inducing moments by DeGeneres, who, by the last 30 or so minutes, seemed to have given up entirely,” opined Tim Goodman of The Hollywood Reporter.
“Even the best comedians have off nights. Even paragons of happiness and good cheer come out and tank — as DeGeneres did with her opening jokes that seemed oddly mean spirited for her (poor Liza Minnelli) and set a flat tone that the telecast could never overcome.”
Goodman did not care for the selfie stunt, either, writing that it “felt like a Samsung ad that was tricked up to feel spontaneous.”
At TIME, James Poniewozik complained the show was not “very risk-taking or memorable” and said it was a challenge to come up with a line from DeGeneres “you’re likely to remember and quote in years to come, or maybe even tomorrow.”
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He compared the 86th Academy Awards show to the pizza DeGeneres served. “You weren’t going to go to your grave craving it. It was a little bland,” wrote Poniewozik. “But nobody actively hates it, and at least there was a lot of it.”
Kyle Smith of the New York Post said DeGeneres “seemed to have written her bland and tired act in the limo on the way over.”
“Ellen made the deadly error of thinking she could come up with found comedy bits simply by wandering through the auditorium chatting up stars,” Smith wrote. “She gave Bradley Cooper a couple of lottery tickets as a consolation prize for not winning Best Supporting Actor. The bit went nowhere: Cooper clearly wasn’t expecting to have to do improv comedy. Nor was Matthew McConaughey able to do her job for her when she tried to get him to riff about his weight-loss secrets for Dallas Buyers Club.”
Alan Sepinwall opined at HitFix that the Oscars show was “a long, disjointed ceremony, and what was fun and likely to endure came entirely from the winners and their speeches.”
Sepinwall noticed “a host of bad, ill-timed production choices” and complained that DeGeneres “had absolutely nothing biting or memorable to say.”
He wrote that after the monologue, “the only plan seemed to be ‘Ellen wanders through the audience; hilarity ensues.’ It did not. She committed fiercely to a bit about ordering pizza for the crowd, returning to it on multiple occasions (first to actually hand out slices, then to collect money to pay for it) and dragging each segment out long past the point at which it might have been amusing.”
Robert Bianco of USA Today gave DeGeneres slightly more credit.
“An Oscar host has to entertain viewers at home, many of whom want to see stars mocked — along with the actors in the hall — most of whom don’t want to be mocked. Go too far pleasing one side, and you lose the other,” he wrote.
“That’s a tough balancing act, but DeGeneres has mastered it. The key is that she both exudes and creates goodwill. The crowd stays with her because they know that while jabs will be thrown, no blood will be drawn.”
Across the pond, BBC reviewer Ben Sutherland wrote that “the material she was working with was less convincing than John Travolta’s hair” and “whether she had much to say that was funny was questionable.”
At Slate, Willa Paskin wrote: “After the opening monologue, Ellen spent too much time in the audience, often doing a whole lot of nothing: saying hi to famous people, copping their chairs, asking for money. These bits were dull and baggy, as was the show in general.”
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