This year’s biggest night for movies turned out to be a bit of a non-event, according to most critics covering the Oscars. The nomination announcements sparked a laundry list of controversies ranging from accusations of sexism and racism against the Academy to mildly outraged disappointment over The LEGO Movie’s Best Animated Feature snub. Coupled with host Neil Patrick Harris’ stellar performance record at the Emmys and the Tony Awards, viewers anticipated an exciting evening. But according to TIME’s James Poniewozik, “The 2015 Oscars broadcast, though, had a hard time capturing that excitement—or anything else.”

Variety’s Brian Lowry identifies the writing as the primary issue with the show, saying that “too much clunky scripted material flummoxed even Harris’ impish, good-natured charms.” Poniewozik agrees: “Sometimes, though, the organism that is the Oscars is bigger than the host, and Harris seemed to lose his grip on it, thanks largely to some badly written material.” Where the jokes and gags fell flat, the show was rescued by a number of much-lauded acceptance speeches. Poniewozik praised the event as “a year of earnestness, inspiration and exhortation” that included speeches about equal pay for women, ongoing Civil Rights struggles, and recovering from depression. “Last night was full of wonderful little reminders,” Indiewire’s Liz Shannon Miller writes, “of the causes and motivations that drove so many people to create their work, or drove them as artists: Hard not to get inspired.”

Generally, critics were most pleased by the musical aspects of the evening, especially the performances of the ...

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Watch This Way
How we watch matters at least as much as what we watch. TV and movies are more than entertainment: they teach us how to live and how to love one another, for better or worse. And they both mirror and shape our culture.
Alissa Wilkinson
Alissa Wilkinson is Christianity Today's chief film critic and assistant professor of English and humanities at The King's College in New York City. She lives in Brooklyn.
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