Neil Patrick Harris pays a tribute to Michael Keaton's scene from Birdman

Neil Patrick Harris pays a tribute to Michael Keaton’s scene from Birdman

Yes, hosting the Oscars isn’t easy. Exactly why not many people have done a good job of it. The host has to set the tone of the show and we must say, Neil Patrick Harris did try hard. But not enough, that is. James Franco and Anne Hathaway definitely go down in Oscar history as the worst disasters ever and Ellen DeGeneres was a grand success last year, from the get-go (remember the star-studded selfie that went viral?) This year though, Barney, appeared less-than-legendary at his first stint as the Oscar host. The TV star seemed nervous early on, but warmed up after stripping down to his undies, Birdman style. Harris started off with a dig at Hollywood’s biggest night – “Tonight we honour Hollywood’s best and whitest — I mean brightest.” – before launching into a musical ode, supported by Anna Kendrick and Jack Black.

Like The Guardian rightly puts it, “…the tone never really gelled, like the opening number’s celebration of “moving pictures” veering between cloying sincerity and cynicism. Harris would giggle at his own jokes, cock his head coyly to the side and wait for a laugh that never really took off. And it’s not the criticism that the audience minds; it’s the lack of humour. People will forgive the most cutting remark if it’s funny…”

What followed were failed attempts at making sarcastic wisecracks – some bordering on cruel. At one point, after the director of the Best Documentary (which was on suicide hotlines) made a passionate plea for suicide awareness, Harris followed it by making fun of her fuzzy ball-covered outfit. “Takes a lot of balls to wear that dress,” He quipped, moments after the woman finished talking about her dead son. He also delivered a number of eyebrow-raising introductions for award presenters. “It’s my pleasure to welcome two people who absolutely deserve to be here tonight. Jennifer Aniston and David Oyelowo,” He said. Sarcastic? Or just plain insulting?

Sometimes, you shouldn’t have to try so hard. Ellen definitely showed us how wonderfully you can balance humour, sarcasm and slapstick. While Harris did a great job at the Tony’s and the Emmy’s, The Oscars is big daddy ground. Prep well next time, Stinson. If there is a next time.