Entertainment & Arts

Oscars 2016: Reviews round-up

Chris Rock on the Oscars' stage Image copyright Getty Images

Chris Rock has been praised for his presenting skills at the Oscars as he tackled the lack of diversity in the nominees head on.

"With Chris Rock, the Oscars find a lucky pairing of host and subject," said James Poniewozik in The New York Times

He said Rock came at the subject of lack of diversity with "his ax sharp" and "his set managed to be evenhanded without being wishy-washy".

"His performance was an example of something the industry is still trying to learn: that you can achieve both inclusion and entertainment by giving the right person just the right opportunity."

Mary McNamara, writing in the LA Times, called it a "hot mess of an Oscars show: powerful, confounding, possibly revolutionary".

She said it was a "a strange compilation of atonal moments in which the audience was kept perpetually off-balance" and "the mood whipsawed from the shocking to the familiar and back again, often in the space of a few moments".

She said Rock returned to the theme of racism in ways that worked and some that did not - citing the evenings "oddest moment" as his introduction of Stacey Dash as "the academy's new head of outreach".

"[It] left many baffled and reaching for Google. It was also the first Oscars in memory that, nakedly and unapologetically, attempted to do something other than hand out a bunch of gold statues. Which is revolutionary in and of itself," she said.

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Image caption At one point Chris Rock introduced his daughters' Girl Scout group to sell cookies to the celebrity audience

Brian Lowry, chief TV critic for Variety, wrote: "Meeting the high expectations the build-up engendered, Chris Rock brilliantly threaded the needle with his opening monologue. After addressing the elephant in the room, however, the producers and host went back to that issue a few times too many (and less sharply), in a telecast that yielded periodic highlights but couldn't overcome the Academy Awards' habit of feeling mostly inert."

Many commentators agreed the ceremony itself, at three-and-a-half hours, was too long.

"Chris Rock led a telecast that had important things to say, but still felt endless," said the Hollywood Reporter.

The website praised Rock's opening monologue for getting the show off to a strong start, but added that his hosting "diminished more and more as he went along".

"In case you didn't get it from the monologue, the Oscars race issue was brought up in no less than three filmed segments, each of which was amusing on its own, but maybe together tended toward overkill, stretched across a telecast that ran long," wrote Daniel Fienberg.

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Image caption Chris Rock still had his cookies in hand when Spotlight, starring Michael Keaton, picked up best film

But despite the complaints about the ceremony being too long, USA Today identified one area they felt actually could have been made longer: winners' speeches.

As is the case every year, winners were only given 45 seconds apiece to say their thank-yous. If they hadn't finished in that time, music would automatically start playing as a sign that they had to wrap up - a move that the paper described as "disrespectful".

"Winning an Oscar is actually sort of the entire point of the evening; let the winners have their moment, and for heaven's sake, let them show a little gratitude," it said.

But reviewer Robert Bianco went on to praise Rock's performance: "Considering how boring some hosts have been, it was a nice change of pace to have one who was angry. Not to mention funny, pointed and gasp-inducing".

Time magazine appeared to agree: "This year's ceremony was defined more by its host than by any of the winners. It was better for it."

The magazine described the overall ceremony as an "unusually satisfying watch".

However, it did not think the quality of Rock's hosting remained consistent throughout. "It basically fell apart after the monologue, in exactly the manner all hosts' do."

Indeed, a number of critics picked up on a section that saw Rock inviting girl scouts on stage to sell cookies to the celebrity audience.

"The Girl Scout cookies-hawking bit borrowed wholesale from Ellen DeGeneres' pizza-delivery stunt two years prior - which wasn't that interesting the first time," said Time.

"He said he made $65,000, but the only benefit to the show was some good candid reactions from the celebrities in the audience who looked either famished or like they'd never seen Girl Scout cookies before," added The Hollywood Reporter.

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