Not Particularly Humourous host blamed for Oscar's lowest ratings in 6 years
Jyoti Sharma Bawa, Hindustan Times, New Delhi
Updated: Feb 24, 2015 16:38 IST
Love him or hate him, Neil Patrick Harris proved to be one of the hardest-working hosts in Oscar history on Sunday night, singing, dancing and even sprinting in his underpants onto the stage of the Dolby Theatre.
The social media refused to give NPH the benefit of doubt and an immediate blame-game followed. One tweet even referred to him as Not Particularly Humourous, while another said even Neil Nitin Mukesh would have done a better job!
A strange mix of fire and ice with lot of inertia in-between, here's what worked and what didn't when the star of How I Met Your Mother took to the Oscar stage -- sometimes in sparkly tux, sometimes in almost nothing.
HERE'S WHAT DIDN'T WORK...
Oscar predictions which came too late
Harris' Oscar soothsaying feat would have come across as a clever ruse had the show not been some 40 minutes overtime, with the best picture yet to be announced. So tepid was the response that this gimmick that won't be tried again.
Oprah is American Sniper. Huh?
Occasionally smart-aleck Harris' mischief might have crossed the line. A wisecrack directed at Oprah Winfrey at the top of the show flopped. He said the talk show host was American Sniper because she was so rich (the film made $300 million at the BO). The quip left Oprah momentarily nonplussed but she then played along.
Edward Snowden couldn't be here for some treaon
Citizenfour filmmaker Laura Poitras went on to hail National Security Agency whistleblower Edward Snowden as a hero as she accepted the award for best documentary.
"When the most important decisions being made affecting all of us are made in secret, we lose our ability to check the powers that control," she said.
Her speech was quickly followed with a biting counterpoint, and play on words, from Harris: "The subject of Citizenfour, Edward Snowden, could not be here for some treason." Some serious social media trashing followed.
AND HERE'S WHAT WORKED...
Welcome to the whitest, oops, brightest Oscars
But the 41-year-old Broadway and television talent who came to prominence as the child star of Doogie Howser, M.D., also confronted a major elephant in the room, opening the show with a fleeting but pointed jab at the homogenous field of Oscar nominees.
"Tonight we honour Hollywood's best and whitest, sorry, brightest," Harris enthusiastically dead-panned to hearty laughter that seemed to break the usual pre-show jitters among the movie royalty packing the auditorium for the 87th Academy Awards.
The opening joke was a reference to the criticism Oscar voters faced this year for failing to nominate a single performer of colour in any of the acting categories for the first time in many years, including the critically acclaimed star of the civil rights drama, Selma, David Oyelowo.
A singin' tribute to movin' pictures
Harris was perhaps at his best showing off his chops as a song-and-dance man in the night's opening musical number - a salute to movie magic that also marked a conscious effort to connect with tech-savvy younger television viewers.
"Check out the glamour, and glitter/ people tweeting on the twitter, and no one's drunk and bitter yet/ because no one has lost," sang Harris, the star of the hit CBS sitcom How I Met Your Mother, who previously has won three Emmys for hosting Broadway's Tony Awards.
Before his number and the on-screen explosion of computer-graphic imagery of film classics had ended, Harris was joined by actor Anna Kendrick, a star of last year's fairytale film musical Into the Woods, and then by Jack Black, leaping onto stage from the audience to play an angry contrarian before being driven away again by Kendrick's hurled shoe.
He sang about the show industry, "Its margin trends and fickle friends and Hollywood baloney - believe me, Neil, you're better off just polishing your Tony."
Neil Patrick Harris, in brief
In one of his zanier bits, and an homage to a memorable scene from Oscar front-runner "Birdman," Harris ventured from backstage to the show's main stage, followed by a camera, dressed only in his underpants, shoes and socks to introduce presenters of the sound-mixing award, with the words: "Acting is a noble profession."