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.
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