Billy Crystal's 2012 Oscars Opening Monologue: How Did He Do? Take Our Poll!

The Billy Crystal montage is back!

After 2011’s miserable failure of an experiment with James Franco and Anne Hathaway as Academy Awards co-hosts, the big-screen kudos-fest returned to classic form this year with Billy Crystal donning his emcee tux for the first time since 2003. And with the When Harry Met Sally star back in hosting mode, that meant the (welcome) return of his trademark green-screen hijinks and musical medley tribute to the year’s nominated movies.

Crystal inserted himself hilariously into The Help, Moneyball, and The Descendants (and perhaps less amusingly into Mission: Impossible — Ghost Protocol). And while there weren’t any gasp-inducing barbs along the lines of Ricky Gervais at the 2011 Golden Globes, how could you not laugh at the sight of a comatose Crystal waking to George Clooney’s kiss and asking, “Is this the villa”?

Crystal’s followup musical medley, paying homage to the nine Best Picture nominees, ran a little long and felt a little rushed — it worked better when there were just five films in the category — and had some sound issues that made the lyrics occasionally difficult to understand. Still, I can’t be too mad at a Tree of Life ditty called “What’s it all about, Malick?” featuring the line, “I heard it even freaked out God.”

Bottom line: It may not have been “edgy” or “different,” but Crystal’s opening number stayed respectful to the spirit of cinema’s biggest night, and more importantly, it was actually pretty funny.

What did you think of Crystal’s opening? Take our poll below!

Comments are monitored, so don’t go off topic, don’t frakkin’ curse and don’t bore us with how much your coworker’s sister-in-law makes per hour. Talk smart about TV!

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64 Comments
  1. Russ says:

    Was I the only one who couldn’t understqand what he was saying half the time?.

    • Erin says:

      No, I could only understand about 25% of the words coming out of his mouth. Seemed like the music was too loud and his mike was too quiet.

      • Fassbender says:

        The person in charge of the sound for the show should be fired. I could barely understand a word of what Billy said or sang. His mic was obviously messed up. How could they let that happen?? It was the opening number, for crying out loud!

        • Rachel says:

          and I feel like they still haven’t fixed it! He’s actually pretty hard to understand, comparative to everyone else (who stand in front of a mic)

        • Steve says:

          Terrible audio quality almost made the Oscars unwatchable this year. Couldn’t hear Billy Crystal through all the background noise (it wasn’t the band, it was feedback). Maybe his opening number was good, but I couldn’t tell. I’m not a lip reader.

    • TexasT says:

      The music was way too loud. It drowned out Billy’s words.

    • Texas T says:

      You could tell that George Clooney was having a difficult time understanding Billy as well.

    • me says:

      Yeah talk about NOT the Oscar for sound mixing. They mixed his mic way too low in the center channel and the band way too loud in the L/R channels. You had to strain to hear him over the band (and I have pretty good speakers, very, very flat FR).

      • Richard Atkins says:

        Yes, I agree. Billy was good, but the band was way too loud. All those lyrics and gimmicks, not understood because the sound guy was on a coffee break the whole telecast!!!

    • kadsj says:

      Time for Crystal to hang it up. Forget his fast ball, he lost his change-up five years ago. He stunk the joint out.
      Have Fallon host it next year.

    • refrre says:

      Time for Crystal to hang it up. Forget his fast ball, he lost his change-up five years ago. He stunk the joint out.
      Have Fallon host it next year.

  2. Jem says:

    The academy awards as it should be. The Oscars are and have always been about tradition, the film, the talent. Not demographics or the gimmicks. There’s a reason they count the years as in “84th annual,” etc. So give me Billy Crystal, Steve Martin, et al any time.

  3. Katy says:

    He made a Princess Bride shout out, how could it not be awesome?

  4. What!? says:

    I give it a Double F for not even having a Muppets Cameo. Fail on the part of whoever put that intro together. #thatisall

  5. omitch says:

    Audio is pitiful. Just horrible.

  6. Ben Ragunton says:

    I liked the monologue, but I had no love for the production number. It felt cliché and somewhat unlistenable.

    • Kvivik says:

      Wouldn’t have been so bad if they hadn’t had to squish 9 films into the space where he used to do 5.
      Also, not knowing much about all nine nominees, I had no idea what he was talking about with the whole “What’s it all about, Mallick?” line and found it annoying, because that line came through louder than any other part of the song.

  7. banshee says:

    I wish the sound quality had been better. I couldn’t make out what he was saying much of the time. And WAY too many films to cover. Both the stinking Academy’s and producers’ fault. Despite those complaints, I thought the Academy would never even have the good sense to bring Crystal back. He is still my all time favorite Oscar host!

  8. lorena says:

    This is the first time I’ve watched the Oscars since 2003. You read that right, since the last time Billy Crystal hosted.
    I gave him an A.

  9. banshee says:

    Lol, I have good memories of Crystal’s The Princess Bride. It was number 1 in theatres on my own wedding day!

  10. Darth Pablo says:

    Those eyes, those thighs, surprise! Its the crying game!

  11. 2cents says:

    What is up with the feedback on the audio? Didn’t fix it yet, and they have had several commercial breaks to do so. The movie montage was done before, think verbatim; was it recycled?

  12. PFitzDC says:

    “Inserted himself hilariously”???
    Michael, did you get enough sleep last night?
    The opening movie montage was sooooo lame, altho the musical medley was clever.
    A “comedic” approach is always a risky one to take, because comedy appreciation is so individual. I often love the work of Christopher Guest and company, but the focus group of Wizard of Oz was another thing that fell completely flat.

    • TheBeach says:

      I so agree. I am a big fan of Guest & Company. They are all so very funny and talented. That skit bombed and did them no justice at all.

  13. QueenMadisMom says:

    Love me some Billy!!! Oh and the crew that did this too ahmazing!!!

  14. Sparky says:

    He is genuinely funny without trying to hard or having to insult anyone…

  15. Mindy says:

    The sound issues were terrible. I can’t believe the producers let that happen.
    The montage was kind of fun. The song had some funny lines, but it was a little long.

  16. mimi7realtor says:

    One of the best ever—short,sweet and disciplined!I give it an “A”

  17. Morgen says:

    He brought the class back. Sound issues aside, it was a tribute to movies, not just the ones nominated this year.

  18. K. says:

    Black face, Billy Crystal? Really? REALLY?! Unnecessary and offensive tbh. SMH.

    • forrest says:

      My take on that was the revival of one of Crystal’s oldest impersonations: Sammy Davis Jr. I could be wrong, but that’s how I saw it. I didn’t see the movie he was spoofing so I could be wrong.

  19. Brent says:

    People who watch the show on TV don’t want “edgy” or “different,” they want nostalgic and comfortable which is what Billy gave them. Eddy Murphy would have been a disaster. Want proof? The ratings will tell the tale but when was the last time that people were really pleased with an Oscar host’s performance? Best of all the show went off on time without there being any sense that anything had been cut. You can’t say that about a lot of Oscar shows in the past few years.

  20. Jason says:

    what is wrong with everyone… Billy Crystal is a hack… a talentless comedian who rode the coat tails of black celebroties with his crappy impressions of such peeps… he is a god awful acotr, a humourless comedian… and who thinks that crap he does with the dance numbers is funny?! old people… get a grip

    • Annabelle says:

      Geez Jason, why don’t you tell us how you really feel!! I think you were pretty harsh in your words…it’s not the Globes or Emmy’s it’s a little more classy – don’t watch the show if you ate it so much!! No one forced you to watch, so you get a grip

      • racist grampa likes to hate ALL the ni**as says:

        That pig should be banned from Hollywood with his racist blackface bulls*it. Think its funny Billy? Is he just misunderstood Annabelle? there are so many checks and balances that come in to play before one second of film is “shot” for that kind of vile performance. Every part of it is intentional- and spawned from a hateful venal man with a sickening agenda. Get rid of him and his “funny” routine. If it is so funny Billy- why don’t you put your shrivelled a** into a limo and go to Compton and try it out on the nearest street corner? Guess how much laughter you will hear (with or without your hearing aid) you worthless, dusty, floppy old racist pig. Drop dead gramps.

    • Tico says:

      I disagree. I first enjoyed Billy on Soap. Loved him in When Harry Met Sally and other films especially The Princess Bride. He’s one of those entertainers who make you feel you could just hang out with. That’s a gift.

  21. QJ201 says:

    At least Crystal is consistent. Take the old routines and refresh the references and we’re done…right down to the “we love the movies theme” interspersed throughout that wasted AT LEAST 30 minutes of air time.

  22. Bobby says:

    Holy Crap on a cracker people…Billy did a fine job hosting, sound was terrible I agree but that wasn’t his fault. The sound guys had hours to fix the issue and they couldn’t or didn’t bother. Academy Awards are a fun, classy, nostalgic experience for 95% of the people watching so the 5% of you haters STOP WATCHING THE SHOW if you are so unhappy!!! You will never be pleased or happy with anything, that’s the way it is…accept it, or move along and watch another show or go to sleep.

  23. Lizzy says:

    Not original, I know, but I too thought the sound was awful. I couldn’t hear most of what he said, and then the feedback from the mics, and then the lady who would talk about how many oscars the winner had won and the little blubs while the winner was walking to the stage… that was completely garbled.
    Billy was… fine. I want Whoopie.

  24. Leo says:

    He was trying but he was so not funny. Such a bore during all the show.

  25. Charles says:

    OK maybe this is an American reference but what’s funny about when he asks “Is this the villa”. And what does he say next. “Let’s make pasta and maybe it will rain”… ??

    • dan says:

      Clooney has a villa in Italy. It is somewhat well known that he “loans” it out to friends and collegues even when he isn’t there. He also is famous for bringing all his new girlfriends there. For example: Viola Davis used the villa for her honeymoon (she and Clooney have been good friends for many years).

  26. Trista says:

    Crystal was a breath of fresh air. I remember watching the Oscars every year growing up. My family and I would pick winners before the show and then take bets on who would win the “game”. It was always fun. In recent years I have stoppped watching them because there was never any doubts as to who would win the awards and the hosts were either glorified card readers or well… bad. With Crystal at the helm it felt like old times.

  27. J.L. says:

    Wow, once again I am disappointed in the intelligence of the American viewer. No one is complaining about Crystal’s casual racism throughout the ceremony? The Sammy Davis Jr./blackface was offensive enough, but add to that the little bits about “hugging a black woman if they all didn’t live 45 minutes away from Beverly Hills” and you’ve got an issue. He was also insulting to the older actors, Christopher Plummer specifically – twice! – and overall not funny. I had fond memories of his hosting the show before last night, and now I just think he’s an ass. Let’s consider some actually funny, progressive and intelligent hosts for next year, like Jon Stewart or Ellen Degeneres or Hugh Jackman. Or Chris Rock, who showed how you make a race joke without being a gross ass****.

    • jess says:

      He’s a comedian; he’s suppose to offend people! But his delivery is such that I didn’t see it as racist or offensive, to anyone. He seems like a genuinely nice guy. Some of his jabs were more ‘insider’ jokes last night, so I didn’t get all of them all; but I thought he did a great job.

    • K. says:

      I’m astounded how many people haven’t commented on his use of blackface. People, you just don’t do it. Just…no. Ugh.
      And Chris Rock was flawless last night.

  28. Kaibosh says:

    It was overall a good show with few surprises. I don’t understand why they didn’t perform the nominated songs. There was only 2 of them and come on: a big Muppets number would have been fantastic! Like I said good show overall. But geez we get it! You want us to GO to the movies not download or just watch from home.

  29. bluegirl says:

    Really hard to understand his lyrics and his jokes. What I did hear though wasn’t all that impressive. I thought he was mean when he called out to Jonah Hill and told him it was obvious he had lost some weight, but if he (Jonah) lost last night “we have a plate of cupcakes backstage for you”. Tacky.

  30. Diva D says:

    I’m so glad that I wasn’t the only one who couldn’t understand much of the opening number. What a waste of my time! Unbelievable that the network and the production staff of the Oscars allowed that to happen. You don’t get any awards for technical ability!

  31. syb says:

    There’s something to be said for sticking with the familiar MC for a show like this, so it was like a comfortable old sweater with Crystal back at the helm. It wasn’t a tour d’ force performance for Billy. He’s gettin’ a little long in the tooth. But he does have the right balance of humor, respect and business attitude that so many of the other experiments have lacked. But I think they ought to take a look at a Hugh Jackman or Neil Patrick Harris in the next couple of years if they want the MC to do song and dance at all. Both have done good work as MCs and I think either could carry this show without making it all about themselves.

  32. garfluver says:

    I LOVED Billy Crystal. NO ONE can do the Oscars Intro like this man. Absolutely brilliant. (But yes, the sound was off several times on his mic)

  33. Phil says:

    How could anyone not absolutely love Billy Crystal? One of the best people in show business. He could host every year and I’d be happy.

  34. Janet says:

    I loved the “He won’t talk, don’t ask ‘im” bit with Jean Dujardin. The rest – eh.

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