How bad was Billy Crystal as Oscar host?

Slate Critics Debate the Merits of This Year’s Oscar Ceremony

Slate Critics Debate the Merits of This Year’s Oscar Ceremony

All about the Academy Awards.
Feb. 27 2012 5:44 PM

Crystal Comedic Anemia

Slate critics debate the merits of this year’s Oscar ceremony.

Host Billy Crystal (R) speaks with stage manager Dency Nelson during the Oscars on Sunday night

Kevin Winter/Getty Images

Slate senior editor Dan Kois, film critic Dana Stevens, and TV critic Troy Patterson were on Slate’s Facebook page on Tuesday to chat with readers about Sunday’s Oscar ceremony. Slate  culture critic June Thomas also made a special guest appearance. The following transcript of the discussion has been edited for length and clarity. To see the full conversation, click on this link.

David Logan-Morrow: Maybe, in future, the Oscars might want to take their lead from the winning film ... and do them silently.

Beth Young: I'd rather watch paint dry. So boring.


Troy Patterson: Hi! Patterson here. Man, you guys are a tough crowd. I wanted to give the show a B-, I think, but I've got to dock it two grades on account of the audio feedback, which made me worry that the usual Day of the Locusts scene outside the ceremony had been replaced with actual swarming insects.

Troy Patterson: But before I dig in chatting about the telecast, I will direct you to the Twitter feed of Bret Easton Ellis for a report from the front lines: "Just got back from various Oscar parties. It's 6 AM in LA. Consensus: best-produced Oscar show ever. No lawyers, managers or agents thanked."

Dan Kois: Hello fellow Oscar complainers! We're here to talk awards with you. One thing I will say about this year's show: They came in at a snappy 3 hours, 14 minutes, a minute shorter than last year's!

Elizabeth Maria Seger: I enjoyed the Oscars. For the first time, other than the idiot Borat, there was no foul language, most of the people dressed well, the speeches were personal and sweet and, frankly, it might have been staid but it had something the Oscars have lacked in the last eight years—class.

Dan Kois I'm interested in your appreciation for the show's "class." It's funny, because I think I watch the show hoping for the exact opposite. Too often to me "class" reads as "dull," but I do understand that other viewers may find it refreshing or even inspiring.

Violet Crenshaw: I guess I was watching a different Oscars show... I was glad to see Billy Crystal back and thought he did a great job. It was better than it's been in years.

Dana Stevens: Hey all, I just got on here. Troy? Dan? Are you guys around? I actually didn't mind Crystal as host at all—he got through the opening clip montage & song medley pretty well, and then disappeared for most of the rest of the show. I'm curious: How do people feel about The Artist cleaning up as it did? If you haven't seen it yet, did the awards make you want to?

Troy Patterson: I think that you and I are on the same page re Crystal. Can't decide whether to be mildly annoyed at the grandiosity of his white-tie-and-tails or mildly amused by the self-teasing clownishness of same.

Dana Stevens: I actually thought Crystal had a couple of good jokes early on. The idea of him being the coma patient in The Descendants, brought back to life to host by George Clooney, was pretty funny. Though I could've done without the homophobic kiss gag.