Tuned In

What Do We Want from the Oscars?

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It’s not a rhetorical question. I actually want to know.

Last year was a disappointing Oscars by most accounts, whether you affixed blame to the movies nominated, or, as a lot of people like me did, to hosts Anne Hathaway and James Franco—the former of whom seemed to know they were bombing even as the show went on (see clip, above), the latter of whom seemed not to care. The Academy Awards, having briefly gone with Eddie Murphy (who later dropped out in solidarity with producer Brett Ratner, ejected for making a homophobic joke), has picked Billy Crystal as a backup. Crystal’s a much more known quantity as a host—the question then being whether he’s too known a quantity, his shtick too familiar.

But as someone who critiques shows like this for a living, I have to admit: I’m not entirely sure I can put a finger on what I do want from an awards show. I mean: I want to be entertained. I want to laugh. I want a certain number of spontaneous, surprising, human moments. And I want the whole think to be brisk, not overly indulgent of the stars, and come in more or less on time. (It does not matter much to my enjoyment who wins; I have a hard time taking any awards show that seriously.)

Only so much of any of that, though, is really in the control of the host, or even the producers. (Good drinks are important to my enjoyment of the Oscars, for instance, but that’s on me.) A certain amount, frankly, comes down to chemistry and luck. So as you finish filling out your picks and planning your Oscar party menus, I put it to you: what, in your opinion, makes a successful Oscar night?

We’ll have plenty of pre- and post-Oscars analysis here at TIME Entertainment, by the way, and I’ll be watching along with you Sunday night on Twitter. If you’re making margaritas, I’ll have mine straight up, no ice, thanks.

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