Oscars Host Billy Crystal Panned for Being Past His Prime

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Billy Crystal set the bar for hosting the Oscars, so returning to the helm for his ninth time after a long hiatus wasn't easy. Crystal trotted out his song-and-dance medley of the best picture-nominated films and his signature bit of inserting himself into the year's most memorable movies. But most reviewers agree Crystal wasn't at his best, even if he did a better job than some recent hosts (read: James Franco). Then again, some reviewers blame Crystal's dated performance on a show that chose safety over controversy and ended up feeling bland. Check out some of the reviews: Hollywood Reporter: "The colossal hosting disaster from last year is now forgotten by the safe, unfunny, retro-disaster that was Crystal making jokes that he laughed at repeatedly and overseeing an Oscars telecast that was as poorly paced as any in recent memory. While it's true that the Oscar host gets too much blame when it goes wrong, there was nary a comedic bit from Crystal that didn't seem like it came from the prior decade or was as obvious as a crying baby in church. If the Academy wanted safe, it got safe, but it also got what seemed like a lounge act that was entirely too chummy and self-satisfied. USA Today: "Still, if the show and its host weren't all we might have hoped, it would be unwise to underestimate the value of the reliable competence Crystal brought. … Give me Crystal, even a second-level Crystal, anytime." The New York Times: "The whole night looked like an AARP pep rally, starting with an introduction by Morgan Freeman, who was followed by Billy Crystal, returning to host his ninth Oscar ceremony. … For a town that prides itself on tinsel and titillation, the night was pretty tame. Angelina Jolie showed some leg, Jennifer Lopez showed quite a bit of cleavage, but the raciest moment may have been when Sandra Bullock introduced the foreign-language film award in German." Variety: "The whole introductory sequence felt like a pallid sequel - a ghost of Oscars past - and not solely because the host had to labor to incorporate nine nominees.Joke all you want, but for a night, anyway, Oscar unabashedly showed its age. And if that represented an improvement over 2011, chalk it up to this ballot grading on a curve."

People: "Crystal might have tried freshening up his old opening routine. Considering that last year's Oscars were so thumpingly bad - co-host James Franco behaved as if he'd been taken out of the freezer, left on the counter and unevenly thawed - last night's broadcast was a welcome relief."