Jon Stewart did his best, but it wasn't good enough. There are limitations in being a clever, self-deprecating master of irony, when what the job of Oscar host truly demands is being a showman. Which Stewart would probably be the first to admit he's not.
His humor, politically barbed but never obnoxious, was possibly a bit too sophisticated for that cavernous room. But what really defeated him, as it has almost every modern-day Oscar host except for Billy Crystal, is the deadly monotony of the Oscar show itself. What a fossiled relic. The Oscar broadcast is a classy but inert dinosaur, and this year's was more forgettable than most.
Stewart gamely tried to deflate the evening's pomposity whenever he could — after a montage on message movies, he quipped, "and none of these issues were ever a problem again" — but still, we had to sit through it all anyway.
Even with a last-minute shocker, as Crash
The 78th Annual Academy Awards 8:01: The opening scene just demonstrates why we love Jon Stewart: No one does self-deprecation so funny. Not even George Clooney. I think my dog would look great in a Steve Martin wig.
8:05: At first, the Hollywood royalty aren't laughing quite as hard as I am at Jon's jokes — especially not at the one about the suffering caused by movie piracy. But nothing brings people together like a Bjork joke. (She was trying on her gown and Cheney shot her!) And then the gay Western montage. Not even Stewart knows how to follow up that hilarity, so I'm not even gonna try. Brilliant.
8:16: Nicole Kidman's weird intro for the best-supporting-actor nominees has me thinking right away that Clooney will win. And then he does; self-deprecation keeps working wonders. "So I'm not winning director." The music starts after about 10 sec