The Oscars, what went Wrong!

The Oscars, what went Wrong!

The 2024 Oscars started five minutes late, and it was only downhill from there.  

Perhaps that’s a little harsh for the show, which featured some truly deserving and heartwarming winners, Ryan Gosling singing “I’m Just Ken” in a bedazzled pink tux, and John Mulaney doing a tight three-minute stand-up routine on “Field of Dreams." 

But really, the year after Hollywood shut down with two simultaneous strikes and as new technology and economic headwinds force the entire entertainment industry to reckon with an uncertain future, how did we end up with such a bland broadcast on “Hollywood’s biggest night”? 

Oscars 2024 winners:See the full list of celebrities who took home Academy Award gold

Jimmy Kimmel hosted the 2024 Oscars. It wasn't memorable.

The Oscar broadcast didn’t feel like anybody's biggest night. It felt small, unimportant, skippable. It didn’t get anywhere close to the urgency or relevancy of the nominated films. Ken might be enough, but Oscar certainly isn’t. 

It starts from the top. Cracking wise about celebrities getting “Oppenhammered” to lame half-hearted “Madame Web” barbs and Trump jokes, host Jimmy Kimmel could have been sleepwalking through his fourth stint as host. He was never going to walk out with some showstopping dance number, but maybe he could have tried a little harder than he does in a nightly monologue on his ABC late-night show. Some of his shtick might have made you chuckle. Most of it was your elementary school teacher’s worst nightmare − in one ear and out the other.


But perhaps the bigger problem is that 90% of Sunday’s broadcast could have happened at any Oscars (or really, any awards show) any year. The gently jabbing jokes, the expected winners, the overlong and overwritten bits, the dull speeches − they are so generic as to be soporific. 

The decision to have five former winners present each acting award, while clearly meaningful to the nominees, was the wrong call. Each awkwardly scripted lovefest stopped the momentum of the telecast in its tracks, took ages to get through and replaced what really belonged in that part of the presentation of the awards: clips of the nominated performances. We're just supposed to believe a robotic Jennifer Lawrence that Lily Gladstone was amazing in "Killers of the Flower Moon"? Show us, don't tell.

Ryan Gosling performs “I’m Just Ken” from “Barbie” at the 2024 Oscars.

The show was far too long all around, even if starting an hour earlier than usual on Daylight Saving Sunday gave the illusion that it was shorter than normal, wrapping up around 10:30 p.m. EDT. We didn't need that much Kimmel. We didn't need such long introductions for the presenters. And somehow the In Memoriam segment, always the most divisive and scrutinized moment of the night, was too short and filmed in such a way to make it hard to read the names of the filmmakers being honored. It's the same problems every year, and yet, somehow they never learn.

The moments of the ceremony that actually stood out were the only ones that remembered what 2023 and its movies were really about. Moments like Emily Blunt and Gosling riffing on “Barbenheimer,” the summer sensation that may have saved the very act of moviegoing itself. Or Kimmel expressing solidarity for the writers and actors strikes, and the forthcoming labor negotiations of below-the-line union IATSE. And of course, Gosling’s bedazzled “Barbie” performance, a downright spectacle that easily provided the only entertaining minutes of the night. 

Actors and filmmakers traffic in artifice, but awards shows are about authenticity, and it’s so hard to find those glimpses of genuine humanity amid all the glamorous Hollywood junk. But they were the other moments of the night that rose above the rote and routine. Paul Giamatti crying as he escorted his “The Holdovers” co-star Da’Vine Joy Randolph to the stage for her best supporting actress win. Robert Downey Jr. thanking the lawyer who got him out of jail in his less celebratory season of life. The Japanese visual effects team from “Godzilla Minus One” taking the stage while clutching monstrous action figures. Jonathan Glazer, director of the chilling Holocaust drama “The Zone of Interest,” calling out the violence in Gaza. 

Robert Downey Jr. accepts the award for best actor in a supporting role for his role in "Oppenheimer" at the 2024 Oscars.

For some producers and hosts, a boring Oscars is far preferable to a bad one, and especially better than a trainwreck of a ceremony with say a slap or a wrong best picture winner announced. So perhaps all involved were pleased with such an uneventful night (even if Emma Stone won best actress just like she did the year of the “La La Land”/”Moonlight” debacle, causing flashbacks for Kimmel and the audience alike). But as ratings for awards shows dwindle, it’s worth trying just a little harder to try to persuade people to spend their Sunday nights watching the rich and famous hand each other golden trophies. 

This is Hollywood, after all. These people are supposed to know how to put on a show. Otherwise, why are we watching?

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