Neil Patrick Harris took on the daunting task of hosting the Oscars this year. Daring to appear in front of hundreds of stars and millions of viewers usually results in heavy criticism and very little praise. This year was no different for Neil Patrick Harris. Despite an incredible amount of experience hosting awards shows like the Tony Awards and the Emmys, many critics seem to think the Oscars was Harris’ worst hosting gig yet.
According to the Washington Post, the Oscars is the only show at which Neil Patrick Harris has failed to provide a good performance. Though admitting hosting the Oscars is a thankless job, the Post blamed Harris’ tendency to resort to goofy jokes and lame puns for his lackluster job.
One of the most memorable cringe-worthy puns came when Neil Patrick Harris introduced Reese Witherspoon to present, saying, “This next presenter is so lovely you could eat her up with her spoon.” Harris also made the joke that Edward Snowden couldn’t attend the Oscars that night for “some treason.” The worst joke of all came after Oscar winner Dana Perry mentioned losing her son to suicide, and Harris said it “takes a lot of balls” to wear a dress like hers — which was made of balls of fabric.
Neil Patrick Harris was also slammed for making many of the jokes about himself, rather than the giant room full of movie stars and celebrities at his disposal. Past Oscar hosts have been brazen in their mockery of the stars in the room, and hosts like Ricky Gervais took it too far. But Neil Patrick Harris played nice, and he was still criticized. He did interact with Octavia Spencer and David Oyelowo, but only to set-up his own gags — i.e. having Oyelowo read a joke in a British accent or asking Spencer to keep an eye on a briefcase full of Oscar predictions.
Some say the big reveal of that briefcase was disappointing as well. Neil Patrick Harris made a big deal about his pre-written Oscar predictions, which were locked and sealed in a briefcase during the whole show, only to reveal that it contained information about the event that couldn’t possibly have been predicted. This meant that the only real point of the gag was realizing it was a magic trick. Somehow they secretly inserted a card listing stuff that already happened into a seemingly isolated briefcase.
Slate took the criticism of Neil Patrick Harris a step further, claiming it was visibly noticeable that Harris lost confidence throughout the show as his jokes fell flat. He was also accused of accidentally condescending to the few black actors in the room, which seems unfortunate after the now-famous opening joke, “We celebrate the best and the whitest … sorry brightest.”
What do you think? Did Neil Patrick Harris fail at hosting the Oscars, or did he do a fine job?
Interestingly, Neil Patrick Harris wasn’t the academy’s first choice to host the event. Read more about that here.