Oscars Host Chris Rock Smooths The Waters As Leonardo DiCaprio Finally Gets His Win – Review

“Welcome to the Academy Awards,” Chris Rock said near the top of Sunday’s Oscars ceremony, “otherwise known as the ‘White Peoples’ Choice Awards.’ If they nominated hosts, I wouldn’t even get this job — you’d be watching Neil Patrick Harris.”

That comment, along with a few others sprinkled through the 3 1/2-hour ABC telecast, set the tone for the evening: Culminating a season that saw the Academy take heavy incoming for its all-white acting nominees the second year running, there had to be plenty of anxiety about how the show would go. As it turned out, Rock aimed a few barbs — several at boycotters Will and Jada Pinkett Smith — but mostly kept the tone more funny than mean, with a dash — er, Dash — of irony when, at the end of his monologue, he introduced Fox News commentator Stacey Dash — an African American with little tolerance for minority whiners — as the new head of the Academy’s “outreach program.” That was followed by an equally losable bit by Sarah Silverman.

Still, the focus throughout the greater part of the show was on movies, which was at it should be.

The nearest Rock got to mean was a knock at Carol (“the third best girl-on-girl movie of the year”) just before introducing that film’s best actress nominee Cate Blanchett. The funniest was a taped sequence outside a Chris Rock Oscars TV Ratingsmovie theater in Compton, where the host interviewed African-American audience members about what movies they’d seen. Many seemed to think he was messing with their heads by suggesting obviously fake titles like Bridge Of Spies and Brooklyn, which they’d never heard of.

Asked what his favorite white movie of the year was, one viewer replied “By The Sea with Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie.”

“Wow,” Rock retorted. “Even they wouldn’t say that.”

If there was one target that deserved a few blasts it was this year’s experiment in crawling. In its attempt to keep speeches brief, nominees were required to submit lists of all the people they wanted to thank, to run as a crawl under their speeches. Which they did — while going right ahead and naming them anyway, even as they got the hook from the dutiful offstage orchestra. Whether the crawl will survive to next year is anybody’s guess.

Screen Shot 2016-02-28 at 11.40.37 PMThe show itself was glamorous, well-paced and, despite Rock’s genial efforts, dull. The rare glimmer of life came from the few upsets. Some bettors surely made a killing off of Best Supporting Actor winner Mark Rylance, who beat the favorite, Sylvester Stallone, for his impeccable performance in Bridge Of Spies. And while Spotlight was an early front-runner for best picture, it looked like the momentum for The Revenant — whose director Alejandro González Iñárittu and star Leonardo DiCaprio both took home statuettes — would overcome the powerful story of dogged journalists exposing a terrible wrong. But Spotlight held on and won, and the crowd at the Dolby Theatre roared in approval as the producers, stars and the real Boston Globe reporters behind the story all crowded the stage. As my colleague Dominic Patten reports, “This film gave a voice to survivors, and this Oscar amplifies that voice which we hope will become a choir that will resonate all the way to the Vatican,” producer Michael Sugar said. “Pope Francis, it is time to protect the children and restore the faith.”

The early sweep by Mad Max: Fury Road — six awards, mostly in technical categories — left me wondering about the TV audience, as clip after clip of exploding vehicles, flying bodies, crunching buildings and ear-busting scores from that and the other action nominees merged into a jangling blur. Really there’s only so much one can take of this.

But eventually things calmed down. The partisan crowd greeted Vice President Joseph R. Biden warmly and he returned the favor (“Hi, Matt!”) before speaking out against sexual abuse on campus. He introduced Lady Screen Shot 2016-02-28 at 11.10.37 PMGaga to sing “Til It Happens To You,” the song she co-wrote with Diane Warren for the documentary The Hunting Ground. If her performance seemed overwrought, the lyrics drove the message home — with a dramatic assist when the curtain behind the singer parted to reveal dozens of victims marching downstage like the revolutionaries in Les Miserables, many with slogans of resistance emblazoned on their arms.

Among the oddities were the producers of Amy, which won for best documentary feature. They thanked fans of Amy Winehouse because “that was all she ever really needed,” though if that were true, one supposes, the singer might still be alive.

But the winners were happy, gracious and earnest: Louis CK introduced the documentary short feature by insisting it was his favorite category because “you cannot make a dime on this. These people will never be rich as long as they live. They’re going home in a Honda Civic.” But the winner, Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy, humbly announced that her film, A Girl In The River, had effected a change in Pakistani law regarding so-called honor killings.

Screen Shot 2016-02-28 at 11.56.38 PMAnd no one was more gracious than DiCaprio, on the occasion of his first win in six nominations. He got to be happy and activist at the same time as he stressed the themes of The Revenant.

“Climate change is real, it is happening right now, it is the most urgent threat to our entire species,” he said, not a note of stridency in his voice. “Let us not take this planet for granted. I do not take this award for granted.”

Nice.

Related Chris Rock Dives Into the Diversity Fray With Oscars’ Opening Monologue

  1. What I found interesting was the lengths that they went to be inclusive of blacks during the broadcast but thought nothing wrong with making fun of Asians repeatedly during the broadcast.

    1. Everyone was so concerned with diversity and the lack of black nominees, I guess no one noticed the music of Richard Wagner used to “play off” the winners, that went on too long. Wagner is noted for not just his music (Hitlers favorite composer), but his anti-semitic writings.
      So much for PC at the Oscars.

    2. I’d like to know the list of Asian actors, writers, directors, etc., that fought tooth and nail with their voices and actions to be included in the OSCARS SO WHITE discussion. Isn’t it convenient for racist white men to use others or the lack thereof, to further deny black actors, and professionals that speak out, the opportunities that white men expect without fail. If only Jerry found interesting the lengths blacks went to in order to get equal treatment and consideration, rather than his disingenuous concern for Asians being made fun of during the telecast. Most Asians probably think white men like you are a fool and are laughing at you and your idiotic concern, realizing how insincere it is, and how they have better things to do because they are smarter, own more than you, and don’t allow racist behavior drag them down to your level.

          1. It’s time to understand that Spanish, European-born actors are not the same as Latino-Americans…you know, the people who probably work day and night in Hollywood cleaning the offices, nannying the kids and serving the Oscar banquet. The experience of an actor from Spain is markedly different from the exclusion of many Latino-Americans.

      1. Caleb, are you Asian? If not, you don’t get to speak on how we felt. I am a Korean American and I found that those Asian jokes were completely unwarranted and offensive. Why is it okay to make fun of one race and not okay to make fun of another?

        1. There is no white guilt except for blacks. also, Asians don’t destroy our communities when they don’t get their way through looting and burning down innocent other’s property.

  2. I’m no fan of chris rock after his first oscar stint, but I did like him here. I did like the crawl and hope it does survive.

    1. But the crawl has to be bigger so that people can actually read it and it should parallel the speech, not play as the person is walking up.

      The Asian jokes were inexcusable. Chris Rock was no better or worse than previous hosts, but I wonder what the ratings will be like given the one-note monologue. OK, we get it. Diversity. Fine, but how about some other jokes, please? Sarah Silverman was awful as was Ms. Dash. Not funny in the least.

  3. Sorry, one of the worst Oscar shows. Chris Rock started pretty good, but then slowly the show just became a mess.
    The on-screen lines were a total distraction.
    The sets were horrendous.
    And the attempt at calling out so much on the lack of racial diversity just became a repetitive bad joke.

    1. It has nothing to do with black white Asian Hispanics. The people in power can really care less about representation and diversity. It is about the color of money. Green paper people. People around the world don’t care much about movies with minorities. . Nobody in a china cares about black movie stars. Not even will smith. And that’s true about Europe and most countries around the world. Nobody who cares about making money for shareholders will rock that ship just because a handful of people feel like they are being treated unjustly. I am an Asian American. If I made a super hero movie and I got huge backend participation, I wouldn’t put an Asian actor, black actor or Latino actor In the lead. Why? Because chances are people around the world wouldn’t pay their hard earned dollars to buy a movie ticket. And by the way, Asians in Asia, Africans in Africa and Europeans in Europe can care less about diversity in America. The problem is an American problem. This problem wouldn’t exist if there weren’t so many people of mixed race living in the same world where certain races got a head start who by the way also kept so many of the other races down for their own benefit. If movies starring black people can make a lot of money around the world, Sony Fox Universal would be the first to make prequels and sequels. It’s not about black white brown or yellow. It’s about the color of money. Green idiots.

      1. If you really are a producer, you are a bad one. People around the world wouldn’t pay a ticket to see an Asian actor?

        Aren’t China, Japan and Korea some of the biggest markets in the world?

      2. WOW! You hit the nail on the head! And you didn’t even seem to care about who’d feelings were going to be hurt by the truth!
        This PC BS has castrated our nation. Kowtowing to whiners, saying nothing while one race screams of “diversity” while foreigners, women and foreign women win awards due to their merit — not simply their color. Withholding the truth as so not to hurt anyone’s feelings or in turn be called a racist because the truth runs contrary to their agenda. These are the things that must be corrected.

        The business of Hollywood is to make money. If blacks want more black roles, then more black writers, producers and better, engaging stories are required, because Hollywood is about selling tickets to people all over the world regardless of race, color, religion, gender or sexual predisposition. There’s your diversity in Hollywood.

      3. I think the producers of ‘The Fast and The Furious” franchise might beg to differ..you know, the billion-dollar generating series with actors who are mixed race, Latina bisexual, African-American, Asian, with an Asian-American director that has made money around the world? It’s about access, and then the green can come. But you’ll never know if you don’t try it or bury your head.

    2. More than a “joke,” I felt Rock’s show became racist itself. The monologue was weak, and most of the jokes fell flat…but the further he went to over-correct the oversight by the Academy (where the problem is more likely cultural and not actually racism), the more it became a perfect example of everything he was railing against.

  4. Worst Oscars ever!! Chris Rock was good – and he did what needed to be done in the best way possible – but it was just overkill. It was all about diversity, and not about all the movies and all the nominees sitting in the audience. All the “bits” about diversity were good – but again, just overkill – so many awkward moments. And whoever was directing – just terrible. Weird shots, weird choices, and lots of tech. mistakes. HORRIBLE!!

    1. I totally agree with you on the technical aspect. The stedicam tht shot the presenters and moved round to include the nominees in the big screens behind the presenters was amateur and unprofessional looking. It also appeared to make the presenter uneasy. The way the Gaga ong was shot was horrible – she didn’t know here to look, and it looked unrehearsed. The center jib shots were not ‘centered’ and it floated around looking like they were on a ship that was rocking! Th entire thing looked awful. Oh, the close up of the arm with rioting on it during Gaga’s number…..the arm was in the dark and it was unreadable. All of the lighting was flat and too many shadows.

      By the way — I’m a camera operator, and I might suggest that the stedicam operator retire, now. But, knowing this egotistical crew and production staff — they will submit themselves for an Emmy….the producers always submits the technical/camera crew for Emmy’s. It’s the same old guys, doing the same bad camerawork every year. They have the audacity to call themselves the “A” team. Sorry guys, you are now the “X” team…..old and tired.

      1. Whew absolutely agree the Job shot on GAGA made me cuckoo it was godawful. Also agree that shot on best Actors and Movies was terrible

  5. Question: Was the crawl visible on the monitors inside the theatre? If not, that might explain why they felt it necessary to repeat names.

  6. So the diversity issue is really just about black people. Silly me. I thought it might include the largest minority in America (Latinos) and the fastest growing minority (Asians) as well.

    1. +1 The bottom line is bring in a universal story and it doesn’t matter who’s playing the roles as long as they are competent.

  7. Using the term white is a very broad term but it seems to be applied in a very arbitrarily way to all people who were nominated and won . If white means wasp ,check the facts and you will see a differnt outcome . I don’t think all the nominees ( thou I may be wrong ) consider them selves white or at least wasps . Asians Hispanics ,Native Americans ,Italian Americans etc. May have a different option of not belonging to that same certain soriety that Chris Rock alluded to. How many Asians Americans have won best anything ? native Americans ? True solutions start with facts so all people feel motivated for real solutions that last and make for a better society

  8. “The early sweep by Mad Max: Fury Road — six awards, mostly in technical categories — left me wondering about the TV audience, as clip after clip of exploding vehicles, flying bodies, crunching buildings and ear-busting scores from that and the other action nominees merged into a jangling blur. Really there’s only so much one can take of this.”

    This paragraph gave me a headache. You say this after calling the rest of the night dull. Wouldn’t that jangling blur be far more interesting to the TV viewer that likely keeps guys like Michael Bay making billions at the box office then a movie like Spotlight, which -while a great movie about something that needs attention- they probably needed to be reminded what it was about? Those people probably didn’t need any help remembering what Fury Road was and that just speaks to the divide between what the academy believes a top notch movie is and what the movie going public does. 10 to 1 Spotlight gets completely forgotten* in a few years, while a jangling blur movie like Fury Road will be remembered, even if it drops down to cult status.

    *this isn’t a slight at Spotlight at all -I have no ill will for the movie, it is, however, the top winner and the spotlight makes it the target- but more so the confusing nature of the writers intent to infer somethings dullness or peoples capacity for relentless action, while pointing out the fact that excitement and “lowest common denominator” movies are often in short supply during this show. The Oscars are always dull, we should be happy SOMETHING broke that up for a chunk of the show. There is only so much people can take of boredom as well.

  9. “The early sweep by Mad Max: Fury Road — six awards, mostly in technical categories — left me wondering about the TV audience, as clip after clip of exploding vehicles, flying bodies, crunching buildings and ear-busting scores from that and the other action nominees merged into a jangling blur. Really there’s only so much one can take of this.”

    Good to bed grandpa.

  10. If celebrities like Leo really care about curtailing CO2 emissions, why did they fly in Joe Biden on Air Force Two and bring him to the theater in a motorcade that caused even worse traffic jams, just so he could give a one-minute intro that he could’ve prerecorded or done from his office via satellite? As Glenn Reynolds always says, I’ll believe this is a crisis when the people who claim it’s a crisis start acting like it’s a crisis.

  11. Okay, DiCaprio’s long winded speech about saving the earth and our environment. First, he’s a hypocrite. He’s a chain smoker. What does he think his cigarette’s are doing to our environment? The chemicals used to grow, manufacture, package, and addict smokers is destroying the soil, the air, and killing millions people every year.

    FACT: Half of cigarette users will die because they smoke. Six million people die every year because of tobacco. This figure includes five million smokers, but also about 600,000 non-smokers exposed to second-hand smoke. It is expected that, without any action, eight million people will die annually, by 2030.

    Perhaps DiCaprio needs to concern himself with the realities of HIS personal behavior. It’s PC to care about a polar bear, but how about caring about people.

  12. When people say ‘white people’ as if it is a term of privilege what do they mean? Do they mean Slavic? Caucasian? Germanic? Latin? Turkic? Celtic? Scandinavian? Do we say Asian’s attacked pearl harbour? When we say black people are we lumping them all in one category? Entire nations of ‘white people’ have suffered incredible injustices for centuries. By categorising people as ‘black’ and ‘white’ we are picking and choosing which injustices get acknowledged and which ones don’t fit an agenda. We are also including nations which have been on the suffering end of decades of injustice and pretending they are the perpetrators of said injustice…

  13. I liked the way that Chris Rock took hold of the Diversity problem head on, especially giving a jab to Jada Pinkett Smith, but then it got a little much and it lasted through the evening. Enough already, and PLEASE would some explain to the Academy that the Oscars is a class act and when the host goes into the audience to sell Girl Scout Cookies, or as in Ellen’s case buying pizza for everyone and taking a selfie, well that’s just tacky. You wouldn’t seen Bob Hope or Johnny Carson doing that. And get rid of the pre show “On The Red Carpet” We don’t care what your wearing.

  14. The TV Director for this years Oscars should consider taking up another line of work. No feel for music, obviously not paying attention to lyrics or dialog. The show was visually presented as a sloppy mess including the missed wives shots and few well timed celebrity reaction shots. The ridiculous crawl was somewhat difficult to read, as were the rest of the graphics. This show was not only missing black nominees, but production value as well.

  15. Another point of having the hosts do stupid bits in the audience, If they wouldn’t do that, then there would be room to show the Special Awards that are given out. Just think if the Academy did that back in the early 1970’s we would have missed Charlie Chaplin and Cary Grant and Lord Lawrence Oliver get their special awards, as well as many others. Hope you are listing Academy.

  16. The Suge Knight impersonator is reason enough – forget the guy in the bear suit, forget the Girl Scout cookies, Stacey Dash – to be disappointed in the show’s tone. Does the portion of Black America who did watch feel vindicated now? Feel more a part of the process? Yes, the process on how Hollywood makes and casts films needs to change with the times. But I don’t think anything that we saw or heard last night made one bit of difference.

  17. I think Chris Rock did a solid job in a highly charged situation. But Louis CK absolutely slayed it as a presenter. I’d love to see him host. He’s got my vote for a lot of things.

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