Oscars 2015: Neil polished? Not very

Oscars 2015: Neil polished? Not very
Host Neil Patrick Harris speaks onstage during the 87th Annual Academy Awards at Dolby Theatre on February 22, 2015 in Hollywood, California.

So Birdman bagged Best Picture and Best Director at the Academy Awards in Los Angeles yesterday.

How predictable.

Awards season frontrunners Eddie Redmayne, Julianne Moore, J.K. Simmons and Patricia Arquette were feted with the acting awards too.

Also expected.

Emmy-winning host Neil Patrick Harris was mild, dull and borderline annoying.

Now that's a surprise.

Hollywood's favourite showman, who was emcee for the Tony Awards and Emmy Awards, was seriously off his game in his first Oscars gig.

And it looks like his biggest fear truly happened.

The 41-year-old US actor revealed to US host Ellen DeGeneres on her talk show last week that he had "this horrible, dark cloud above (my) head", as his greatest concern was finding a way to top her Oscars hosting gig last year, which included memorable highlights like her epic star-studded selfie and impromptu pizza delivery.

"Your selfie shot was the most spectacular, successful thing. How do you beat the selfie that broke the Internet? I see that in my nightmares," Harris joked.

Not that he didn't try to make the 3½-hour ceremony entertaining.

But apart from his opening jab at the lack of diversity among this year's nominees ("Tonight, we honour Hollywood's best and whitest. I mean brightest."), and the toe-tapping opening musical number opposite actress Anna Kendrick, his subsequent punchlines fell flat, and some were considered downright distasteful.

There was the elaborate but tired running gag of enlisting Oscar winner Octavia Spencer to keep an eye on his briefcase containing his own Oscar predictions, which ended with a recap of the show's quirkier moments.

It definitely didn't warrant all that tortured set-up.

The stunt didn't sit well with US viewers and invited the ire of the Internet, with people commenting how he gave Spencer a "dumb job" and that she's "not a help", referring to her role in the 2011 movie The Help.

Many took to Twitter to voice their displeasure, and it didn't help that Harris also made fun of other black actors such as David Oyelowo and Oprah Winfrey.

He compared Winfrey to American Sniper because she's "rich", comparing her net worth with the Oscar-nominated movie's huge box-office earnings.

His attempt to get British actor Oyelowo to recite the punchline of a joke about the recent remake of Annie, which starred black actors Jamie Foxx and Quvenzhane Wallis, turned out inappropriate.

Other examples of Harris' lame, corny jokes included his introduction of US actress Reese Witherspoon.

"This next Oscar presenter is so lovely you could eat her up with her spoon."

But Harris' lowest point perhaps was when he stripped down to his white undies - a la Michael Keaton's character in Birdman - not that it saved the show.

Thankfully, there were other highlights that lit the Internet.

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