After trying to change things up last year with hosts James Franco and Anne Hathaway and, arguably, not succeeding, the Academy Awards returned to the old-school montage and song-and-dance routine opener that nine-time host Billy Crystal does best.
Introduced by Morgan Freeman, who gave a brief but serious speech reminding us that we are all “mesmerized by the magic of the movies,” the Oscars opened with a montage that carried Crystal through many of the year’s nominated films, beginning with “The Artist.”
Sitting in an old-timey electric chair, Crystal declared “I won’t host” — with captions of course, in keeping with the silent-film gimmick of “The Artist” — before the montage cut to the host in a hospital bed, where he was greeted with a kiss by George Clooney, in a scene straight out of “The Descendants.”
“You have to do it, Billy,” George pleaded. And when Gorgeous George asks you to do something, who can say no?
A fun highlight of the reel followed when Crystal took a walk through 1920s Paris and was met by pop wunderkind Justin Bieber , who pulled up in a car with Sammy Davis Jr., who admitted he was there — and hung around for an awkward moment — to capture the all-important 18 to 24 demographic. “Is Bieber the young Sinatra or am I nuts?” Davis asked.
Crystal went on to take a bite of the particularly yummy pie from “The Help,” swing through “Hugo” with a cameo from a “Mission: Impossible”-mode Tom Cruise and chase a film reel through “The Adventures of Tintin.”
Once he finally arrived on stage, which was designed to resemble an old-fashion movie theater, Crystal took a shot at the financial troubles of Kodak, which has a naming contract with the theater in which the Oscars are held, before declaring, “Nothing can take the sting out of the world’s economic problems like watching millionaires present each other with golden statues.”
Crystal then launched into his traditional sing-song routine about the nine Best Picture nominees, which took him into the audience to serenade legendary “Hugo” director and nominee Martin Scorsese. However, the highlight of his routine was easily a good-natured dig about “Moneyball” Best Supporting Actor nominee Jonah Hill’s weight loss. “It’s great you shed weight,” Crystal sang, “But I think you should know, there’s cupcakes after the show.”
And with that, the 84th Academy Awards were off and running.
The MTV Movies team has the 2012 Oscars covered! Keep it locked at MTV.com all night and beyond for updates on the night’s big winners and the best red-carpet fashion. Join the live conversation by tweeting @MTVNews with the hashtag #Oscars.