Unlike the Grammys, which all but throws open the doors for weirdness with its medleys and awkward collaborations, the Oscars is a staid affair, planned and managed to the minute.
With host Billy Crystal helming his ninth telecast, the 84th edition of the Hollywood Huzzahs was especially stiff and self-reverent, resembling a wake for an elderly uncle we never knew more than a celebration of film's passionate spirit.
The Oscars still managed to host its fair share of eye-rolling moments, Twitter mini-scandals involving certain body parts and a Big Upset that really wasn't much of a shocker at all. The highlights of the 2012 Uggies — oops, we mean Oscars:
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1. Billy Crystal was brought in as a hasty replacement for Eddie Murphy, who was swept out as part of the Brett Ratner anti-gay slur meltdown of 2011. And although we understand the academy's desire to get someone experienced (read: safe) in there, wouldn't it be great if they had taken just a wee bit more of a risk with the host?
Last year everyone complained James Franco seemed stoned and that Anne Hathaway overcompensated, but at least it wasn't reheated jokes that played better in the Catskills, where the last standing comedy clubs were likely recording this on Beta tape for posterity. An early sketch had Crystal meeting with Justin Bieber to pull in the 18-24 crowd — and that's the last moment this age group or any person younger than 50 was seemingly thought about ever again.
2. Are the movies (all of them, everywhere) dying or going away somewhere? There was an oddly funereal vibe to the recorded segments that had actors recollecting their first cinematic memories or somberly intoning about the magic of cinema in general. With actors talking against a black background, we were just waiting for a procession of bagpipers to announce the Death of Film. By the time we got to the In Memoriam montage, things were so gloomy that Esperanza Spaulding rendered "It's a Wonderful World" dangerously close to a dirge rather than a poignant celebration of life.
3. So desperate for entertainment, some viewers of the Oscars manufactured a fake wardrobe malfunction a la Janet Jackson's flash at the Super Bowl. Shortly after Jennifer Lopez sat down from her presenter duties with Cameron Diaz, Twitter lit afire with rumors that Lopez's left nipple slipped out of her dress while she was turning around onstage. Videos of the supposed moment were quickly cut and posted on YouTube; Daily Beast created a poll, asking viewers if they'd indeed caught a view of JLo's assets; and Gawker wondered if we had a true nip slip on our hands or simply a shadow, perhaps from some clothing tape meant to prevent this kind of mishap from occurring in the first place.
Well, we're here to tell you that we have diligently studied the footage and it is our professional opinion that no such slippage happened at all. Sorry. But we thoroughly applaud the person who started the Twitter account called @JLosNipple.
4. Not to be outdone by anyone's nipple, there was Angelina Jolie's lithesome leg. Wearing a black dress with a slit nearly up to her waistline, Jolie thrust out her right gam and cunningly smiled at the resulting wolf whistles. Some said it was an overcooked attempt to generate steam while others said yowza, who cares?
The pose was so striking that when "Descendants" writer and comedian Jim Rash later came on stage to get his trophy for adapted screenplay, he mimicked the actress but with much more fabric involved (stupid tuxedos). Of course, Jolie's leg also has a Twitter account (@AngiesRightLeg), where it has excitedly tweeted sentiments like "I'm a leg, get a load of me!" Fifteen minutes of fame, meet your new competition: five seconds of Internet chuckles.
5. When the Big Upset of the night is Meryl Streep winning for best actress for playing a character from real life, a world leader mind you, this tells you everything you need to know about the surprise element of the show. The shocker is that one of the most lauded actresses of our time actually won?
Although Streep hasn't nabbed the Oscar in nearly 30 years, she has a record 17 nominations. Sooner or later, she was bound to get another one; the academy certainly wasn't about to stop nominating her. And though she looked genuinely surprised when her name was called, her face soon settled into that regal Streep visage that's about as manufactured as Taylor Swift's surprise face. What's next? A movie about movies wins for best picture? Oh, wait, that happened too.
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— Margaret Wappler
Photos: Jennifer Lopez, with Cameron Diaz. Credit: Al Seib / Los Angeles Times. Angelina Jolie thrusts her leg on stage. Credit: Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times