90th Oscars Ceremony Scores Low Marks with Critics

Politics, host Jimmy Kimmel, and playing it safe all weighed on the event's Tomatometer score.

by | March 5, 2018 | Comments

The films and talent awarded Oscars on Sunday weren’t the only ones being weighed and measured – critics have reviewed the 90th Oscars ceremony itself, which is now Rotten at 50% on the Tomatometer with 24 reviews (updated).

The Academy Awards, broadcast live from the Dolby Theatre in Hollywood on ABC, split critics, who generally felt the event played it safe, but ran long. (When does it not?)

Below are a few of the early reactions.

What Some Liked About the Oscars – Its Surefootedness …

“This was the best, most inspiring, and most sheerly likable Academy Awards telecast I’ve ever seen and I’ve seen ’em all.” – David Edelstein, New York Magazine/Vulture

“What fun we had at this year’s Oscars! Long show, sure, but where to cut it?” – Darren Franich, Entertainment Weekly

“There are probably a lot of people adjacent to the Oscars who just didn’t want any surprises Sunday night. And the biggest takeaway from the evening — the good news and the bad news — is that there weren’t any.” – Linda Holmes, NPR

…Was Also What Others Hated About It

“The Oscars telecast, clocking in at four hours and 50 minutes, was chock-full of carefully-produced moments. Yet it couldn’t live up to its own.” – Kevin Fallon, The Daily Beast

“The unwieldy thing was a chore even for movie lovers who had seen the nominees.” – Hal Boedeker, Orlando Sentinel

“Little about Sunday’s show is likely to make the cut of future greatest-hit Oscar tributes.” – Matt Roush, TV Insider

“At the end of the evening Dunaway and Beatty presented the Oscar, with no hiccups, to The Shape of Water, an undramatic end to an undramatic evening.” – Willa Paskin, Slate

“Was it respectful? Absolutely. Did it make for kind of a dull, earnest Oscars show. Yeah, kind of.” – Kristi Turnquist, Oregonian

“The 90th Annual Academy Awards was the most tepid, predictable one in recent memory, devoid of anything resembling a spontaneous or dramatic moment until it was nearly time to wrap it all up.” – Sara Stewart, New York Post

“The jokes were funny, but, for the most part, the events of the evening were extraordinarily tame. The industry seems, above all, to be protecting itself — shielding itself from any sense that its corruption is built into the system.” – Richard Brody, New Yorker

Some Were Hoping for a Different Host

“[Jimmy] Kimmel didn’t appear to be trying to give a big home run performance; his goal was to serve as our dependable guide through rough waters, to celebrate Hollywood at a time when it is embattled. And he succeeded.” – Matthew Gilbert, Boston Globe

“With the exception of the theater stunt and two unnecessary tossed-off Matt Damon jokes — Kimmel really can’t resist — I thought he was good, probably even better than last year.” – Dan Fienberg, Hollywood Reporter

“The best thing Kimmel could have done was announce he was stepping aside to let a woman host… He chose not to do that and ended up much like the statue of the Oscar he made fun of for having no reproductive organ: It was a eunuch’s performance.” – Ken Tucker, Yahoo! TV

“A new host behind the mic… would have delivered a more powerful show. One that wouldn’t have felt nearly four hours long (even though it was); one thoroughly unforgettable instead of sporadically memorable.” – Ben Travers, indieWire

“Kimmel has shown that the telecast needn’t be anything but sharp and sure, with a funny host whose bits are manageable, shareable and — best of all — forgotten. We’re not making showbiz history here.” – Hank Stuever, Washington Post

Politics Divide Critics

“The Oscars have a long history of self-congratulation…This Oscar ceremony brought home the fact that the changes have been a long time coming. It was also a potent reminder that they have a long, long way to go.” – Rob Sheffield, Rolling Stone

“Both cloying and clever, gassy and game-faced, these Academy Awards did the best they could to address difficult things, short of canceling the whole thing and airing some kind of P.S.A…it was good to at least see the Academy thinking things through.” – Richard Lawson, Vanity Fair

“No show can be apolitical. The Oscars as a ceremony basically tried to be, but its performers, presenters, and winners rejected it, and that’s to their credit.” – Daniel D’Addario, TIME Magazine

“The ceremony felt like a re-enactment of Hollywood’s progress on any number of fronts: Two steps forward, three steps back.” – Maureen Ryan, Variety

“Overall, it felt like the Oscars ceremony 2018 needed. Women were given a platform to talk that felt like more than just tokenism… [Frances] McDormand’s speech was a rallying cry to ensure equality isn’t just a buzzword.” – Hannah Woodhead, Little White Lies

“Much of Sunday’s broadcast, hosted for the second straight year by Jimmy Kimmel, seemed to point a way forward for the industry.” – Jake Coyle, Associated Press

“The whole ceremony was like this for me: halfway toward good. It dutifully mentioned #TimesUp and trotted out actresses to explain it…I didn’t want safe. Not this year. I wanted some anger, or at least passion.” – Johanna Schneller, Toronto Star

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