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Neil Patrick Harris Oscars Hosting Recap

Neil Patrick Harris
Jason Merritt/Kevin Winter/Getty

The Academy Awards ringmaster brought his own brand of 'magic' to a mostly ho-hum evening of Oscar razzle-dazzle


Photos: Getty

A lot was riding on Neil Patrick Harris hosting the Oscars this year. The first openly gay man to host Hollywood's big night (following the nimble footsteps of Ellen DeGeneres, who was a smash). He'd already hosted the Tonys and the Emmys, and if there is an award for awards show presenters, NPH would want to snag it, for sure.

NPH Burtka Oscars

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But the Academy Awards is a different beast. It's typicaly corny and slow, and everyone likes to complain. So what was Neil to do? Well, first he relied on his bottomless well of charm and his ability to look great in just about anything -- including ugly tighty whiteys (it was an ode to Michael Keaton in Birdman, not to Walter White/Bryan Cranston in Breaking Bad, of course, but more of that later).

As we noted before the big night, it had the makings of the gayest spectacle on the planet, with producers Craig Zadan and Neil Meron, head writer Greg Berlanti, and a musical performance by Lady Gaga. The opening number was cheeky to be sure, with NPH doing a song-and-dance routine (more fun than Billy Crystal, although nobody ever wants to criticize his popular cornball routines) that included everything from Singin' in the Rain to Star Wars. My personal favorite moment, however, was when Jack Black jumped on stage. He's the kind of livewire that we needed more of during the entire production.

The ongoing gag of having a clear locked box on stage with his "Oscar predictions" -- watched by Oscar-winning actress Octavia Spencer -- sagged, but it was an obvious ode to his love of magic tricks (if you were wondering). Not only did it generate a #FreeOctavia hashtag (which also turned out to be something to do with that CW show The 100), and tweets from Janet Mock and others along the lines of "It is not fun to check in with a black woman only in the context of her performing a duty for you" and why she was performing as "the help" once again were trending.

NPH Oscar Box

The jokes were tired, the puns lame at times. But, to be honest, that's always the case. This was the first time we've had a host strut out in his underwear though. Yes, it didn't get the site-gag laughs that another less-trim person may have earned for being pale and doughy (and Harris did that eight times a week when in Hedwig and the Angry Inch on Broadway last year). So, we'll take what we can get and leave with that image.

Neil Patrick Harris Academy Awards Underwear

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