Love him or hate him, Neil Patrick Harris proved to be one of the hardest-working hosts in Oscar history on Sunday night, singing, dancing and even sprinting in his underpants onto the stage of Hollywood’s Dolby Theater. However, despite his efforts to entertain he has received many criticisms.
The 41-year-old Broadway and television talent who came to prominence as the child star of Doogie Howser, M.D., also confronted a major elephant in the room, opening the show with a fleeting but pointed jab at the homogenous field of Oscar nominees.
“Tonight we honor Hollywood’s best and whitest, sorry, brightest,” Harris said, immediately laughing it off to calm his pre-show jitters.
The opening joke was a reference to the criticism voters faced this year for failing to nominate a single performer of colour in any of the acting categories for the first time in many years, including the critically acclaimed star of the civil rights drama, “Selma,” David Oyelowo.
In addition to Harris’ acknowledgement of the flawed awards show, people began lashing out using the hashtag #WhiteOscars to state their stance on the issue.
Early reviews of the live ABC telecast, which ran about 40 minutes beyond its three-hour schedule, were generally unflattering of the show. And Harris drew largely harsh critiques from viewers chiming in on social media.
The New York Times’ Alessandra Stanley called Harris’ performance “bland,” while offering a slight recognition to Harris for his underwear stunt.
In a comic homage to a memorable scene from best-picture Oscar winner “Birdman,” Harris was followed on camera running from backstage onto the show’s main stage, dressed only in his white underpants, black shoes and socks, to introduce presenters of the sound-mixing award.
Time magazine’s early online review said Harris seemed off his game, despite having “been pre-sold as an expert live host.”
Harris was perhaps at his best showing off his chops as a song-and-dance man in the night’s opening musical number, an inspirational salute to movie magic.
Currently a third year journalism student at Humber College, aiming to work within the music scene and radio.