Entertainment & Arts

Oscars critics focus on host Seth MacFarlane

Seth MacFarlane
Image caption Seth MacFarlane was always a risky choice for host of the Academy Awards

Film and TV critics have been quick to give their reaction to this year's Oscars ceremony. While most express little surprise at the awards outcome, many have a lot to say about the irreverent hosting of Family Guy creator Seth McFarlane.


If anything, what this year's Academy Awards should be remembered for is a real mixed bag of winners. But the host is always the lightning rod.

And you can be damn sure that the Academy got very, very lucky this year. It has been trying to skew younger for years, often with disastrous results (see: Franco, James).

MacFarlane was relatively tame if you know anything at all about his canon, and he was respectful through and through.

As a guy who can actually sing and has recorded a successful album (fuelling more jealousy and backlash from his detractors), his pick was more spot-on than anyone gave the Academy credit for. But they did get lucky... He took the job extremely seriously and put himself out there. Ultimately, he excelled at balance.

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NEW YORK TIMES - Alessandra Stanley

It was a night of surprises and contradictions.

Not the awards, so much. Plenty of people expected Jennifer Lawrence to win best actress. Many bet that Argo would beat Lincoln for best picture.

Fewer could have foreseen that old Hollywood and new would come together in one MC.

Seth MacFarlane, the creator of Family Guy, crooned sappy standards (The Way You Look Tonight) and carried himself like Fred Astaire. But he also stayed true to form, taking crude shots at Jews in Hollywood, women and even the Lincoln assassination.

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LOS ANGELES TIMES - Susan King and Rene Lynch

MacFarlane - and his raunchy sense of humour - was an edgy choice for the Oscars. And some of those fears came true.

There was a song about boobs, jokes about Jews in Hollywood, cracks about Lincoln's assassination and Latino accents, and talk of post-Oscars orgies - lines that had the audience groaning at times.

Let's just say he's a long shot for an Emmy for his hosting duties.

However, he did the impossible Sunday night as he kicked off the awards: He made Tommy Lee Jones smile.

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Few people would imagine 'We Saw Your Boobs' was a good subject for a song. Turned out, Seth MacFarlane was one of them.

And he belted the words out over and over again, listing a host of actors whose breasts have been seen on screen - Naomi Watts in Mulholland Drive, Anne Hathaway in Brokeback Mountain, Charlize Theron in Monster, Jodie Foster in The Accused, Kate Winslet in "whatever you're shooting right now".

Every refrain was more excruciating. It was a truly bad start to the ceremony, made weirder, not smarter, by William Shatner being beamed in via video link in full Star Trek costume, warning this song might cause offence.

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REUTERS - Steve Gorman

In an opening monologue and package of song-and-dance numbers obviously calculated to live up to, and even lampoon, his own reputation for pushing the boundaries of taste, MacFarlane put his biting, edgy brand of humour front and centre...

The edgy quotient quickly escalated as MacFarlane described... Django Unchained, as the slavery-era "story of a man fighting to get back his woman who has been subjected to unthinkable violence - or as Chris Brown and Rihanna call it, a date movie".

The punch line reference to the physical abuse involved in the relationship between the two R&B singers - Brown pleaded guilty to assaulting Rihanna in 2009 - drew an audible groan from the star-studded Dolby Theatre audience.

"Oh, no, that's what we were afraid he would do," MacFarlane dead-panned.

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Within minutes of his first routine - the one that needlessly insulted Jean Dujardin for his low profile since winning last year, and threw in a dismally unfunny remark about the torture in Django Unchained resembling what Rihanna and Chris Brown would call "date night" - he was laboriously trying to bypass criticism...

The problem is, MacFarlane's mere awareness of his obvious horribleness as a presenter was no inoculation against it.

He'd deliver would-be risque cracks, most of them just lamely nasty, and serve up a coy grin afterwards to take the edge off. Many in the audience seemed abjectly uncomfortable...

Beyond the emcee it was a funny old show - not a shambles, but baggy in all the wrong places.

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