The excitement of the Academy Awards, seeing the culmination of a year’s worth of cinema with all its sparkle and glamour, lies largely in the hands of the host. The host talks about the movies we made the trip to the theater to see, and movies we have wanted to pop up on Netflix. The host adds that extra little je ne sais quoi to the movie’s fantasy. But the host this time around—Billy Crystal disappointed.
When Crystal opened his self-congratulatory monologue with, “This is my ninth time hosting the Oscars so tonight just call me War Horse,” his fatigue was palpable. He has been there too many times. His poor attempts at comedy were awkward throughout. They say comedy is hard to pull off and with Crystal that truism was crystal clear.
Welcoming his audience to, “the beautiful Chapter 11 Theater” was insensitive and plain mean. The wounds of Kodak’s iconic rise and catastrophic fall are too fresh. Perhaps down the road we may be able to poke fun at them, but not now.
There’s a fine line between humor and mean-spiritedness that Ricky Gervais knows how to pull off, but Crystal, does not. With Gervais, his trademark is slapstick and ‘in-your-face,’ so we expect his rawness. Crystal’s similar attempts seemed misplaced and awkward.
He didn’t leave the Kodak company alone as midway through the show he went on to say: “Tonight at the ‘your name here’ theater.” That stung too.
So at next year’s 85th Academy Awards, before we watch the stars ascend the stage to collect their golden statues, we should be greeted by none other than Chris Rock as our host. That will be a Kodak moment worth remembering.