Maybe it’s just the way Twitter brings all your snarky friends from around the world together to be snide at once, but from the very beginning of last night’s Oscar™ telecast, it was obvious that the youth movement of Anne Hathaway and James Franco was going to be dire. You know how at every awards they they bring out two gorgeous young stars to present an award to caterers and give them some excruciating dialog? And it turns out they are high and have the chemistry of a sweat sock and a muskrat? Imagine a WHOLE SHOW like that. You have to give Hathaway props for being a super trooper — like some kid just out of acting school who has to keep the whole USO tour going because the supposed star is drunk back in the hotel room. She was going to charm and shimmy and smile and warble and costume change and hair-flip her way into our hearts no matter what. Franco was just squinty and stoned and acted as if he had been kidnapped from a weekend in Marin County and told at gunpoint that he would have to host the Academy Awards that night or his puppy would be killed. His heart was not in it.

But they were supposed to be youthful and peppy and “hip.” So that’s what we got. So why and how did this whole move to youth and pep begin?

I seem to recall last year when Steve Martin and Alec Baldwin came out, everyone was tweeting how lame and corny they were, and Nikki Finke was doing her usual “ohmygodihateawardsshowsandthisisunbearable!” schtick. And it was decided Something Must Be Done.

Something must be done? About Steve Martin and Alec Baldwin? Two of the most inherently funny people on the planet? Two humans whose timing is to comedy what Wayne Rooney is to the bicycle kick? I mean you take away two dedicated schtick meisters and give us Anne Hathaway and James Franco and suddenly wake up and say “WHAT HAVE I DONE?”

I wish people would stop complaining about perfectly competent awards show schtick — as delivered by Bob Hope Billy Crystal, Hugh Jackman, Whoopi Goldberg, and yes, Steve Martin and Alec Baldwin — and just admit awards shows are boring and you need to minimize the damage. Otherwise, someone gets it into their head to “fix it” and we get stoned Harry Osborn or Rob Lowe singing to Snow White.

Or as Mark Evanier sagely observed, even David Letterman’s fabled “bad’ outing as host wasn’t that bad:

Within the Academy hierarchy though, they weren’t fond of Letterman as host and the Oprah/Uma joke was a symbol of the problem. The complaint was along the lines of, “Dave didn’t understand or care that this wasn’t supposed to be The David Letterman Show with occasional interruptions to present some silly awards. The man only knows one way to do a TV show and he kept expecting everything to be done that way.” My feeling was that it was a slightly-unfair criticism. You ask Dave Letterman to host your show, you shouldn’t moan when he comes in and acts like Dave Letterman. I thought he was the wrong guy for the job but he did just what they should have expected and he was more entertaining than some Oscar hosts…like, say, most of them.

On the other hand, if there is one thing people like to do, it’s complain. In the late ’90s I was big into wrestling — Steve Austin, The Rock and Mick Foley at the top of their game, and it was, as any fool could tell you, an absolute Golden Age. But to read the fan recaps of the time it was all about how awful it all was, and why couldn’t Val Venis have a better workrate. Right. Who’s crying now?

Speaking (ahem) as someone who has hosted several awards shows (the Lulus a bunch of times, the Ignatzes, three) here is my pronouncement from on high: If you must have someone young and hip host a boring awards show, try to find someone inherently funny who can ad lib. Or just get someone English, preferably Ricky Gervais. Now you know what awful really is.



  1. I’m surprised they haven’t gone the reality tv show route and instituted live voting from the academy. Seriously, bring all the nominees for a category up on stage, have a panel of judges pick apart their performances while the members vote and there’s your show.

  2. Frankly, it wasn’t merely the inept hosts that were awful about this year’s Oscars. From the lame jokes and horrible tribute features, the dated-before-it-started auto-tuned segment, and the frequent orchestra prompts to hurry winners off-stage, the show’s production was an ongoing disaster right after the taped intro. Seemed to me that Franco was embarrassed to be up there, so he became withdrawn; meanwhile Hathaway hammed up her contrived geek-ness for all it was worth (which became totally grating in short time). The producers and show wranglers need to go, and Billy Crystal needs to come back as host.

  3. Anne Hathaway was charming, James Franco was too laid back. They should have teamed her up with Ricky Gervais ala Good Cop Bad Cop.

  4. You know when Steve Martin and Alec Baldwin or these two talented stars are all falling flat TO BLAME THE WRITERS!

    You can only do so much with cornball awards jokes, or the atmosphere, or anything. I loved Jon Stewart the most, but apparently he made the show too funny for the academy…

  5. Evanier totally missed the bigger picture as usual: despite it all, the Billy Crystal doing Hannibal Lecter aside, the UMA/OPRAH joke remains the most memorable of all Oscar jokes. So Letterman ultimately triumphed!

  6. oh, for the record, I thought James and Anna were just fine. nothing special but not bad. definitely leagues more entertaining than the dancing Wolverine!

  7. Anne was a trooper. I actually complained more all the years Billy Crystal hosted – his particular brand of schtick and sad attempts at being topical (always about four years too late) always rub me the wrong way. I think Steve Martin is a great host.

    On the topic of the trainwrecks that come with trying to find a host to appeal the “youth demographic”, you’d think they would have learned their lesson from the Chris Rock year. It amazes me how we as a society have tacitly agreed to completely block that year from our collective memory.

  8. Billy Crystal was always a lame host, as was Whoopi. Chris Rock was a good year, IMO.

    But what we really need is Dave Chappelle up in this Oscars bitch!

  9. I thought Anne Hathaway was just fine, handling herself at least as well as Hugh Jackman did.

    Franco, on the other hand, constantly looked as though some stagehand was constantly propping him up with a broom or something. With his bland real-life persona, he had no business being up there. Hell, you may as well have gotten grumpy and mumbling Harrison Ford to host.

  10. My Academy Awards show is sitting on a VCR tape right now, waiting for me to watch it. (cue the huge mocking outcry about VCRs being obsolete…)
    In my Atlantic time zone, the Awards go to around 1am. But I watched the Red Carpet preshow, which was certainly awkward and painful enough.

    I saw Franco being interviewed JUST before the start of the Awards. He was so nervous and distracted that he looked like he was having an out-of-body experience on camera. And I’m sure it got worse for him during the night, as he was apparently nominated for an Oscar AND cohosting the show too!

    I disliked Steve Martin and Alec Baldwin as cohosts, and I also disliked Letterman. They made the nominees squirm, and made me squirm too. Guys, guys. The night is NOT all about you!

    The Academy Awards show is supposed to be a shmooze-filled night of celebration of movies. It is not the Brit Awards, nor the MTV Music Awards. It is NOT all about the hosts, either. And it’s not about making offensive jokes about the nominees, or hosts trying to monopolize the show.

    In that vein, I liked Billy Crystal and even Hugh Jackman. They schmoozed and stroked and poked GENTLE fun at the movies and the stars.

  11. I love how the detour threads (for example, Tom Splurgeon’s question mark nitpick thread), not the threads about actual comics, are the ones that become these huge events with hundreds of comments. What is up with that?

  12. Isn’t complaining about the Oscar hosts something of a tradition with the Oscars?

    I mean really – if the Academy set up a perfect host that no one could complain about, the show would be over. The only reason to watch these days is to be able to mock the proceedings. Who wants to sit through hours of award presentations these days? Nobody.

    It was different back when there were only 3 networks and Hollywood news was a rare thing. These days the Oscars are played out about a week after the nominations have been made and everyone is just waiting for the scorecard to see how much the voters in Hollywood agree with them.

  13. Please don’t lump Bob Hope in with, well, anyone that hosted the show after him with the possible exception of Billy Crystal.

    Speaking of which, that whole thing with tv bob introducing a catagory was brutal and cringe inducing.

    It all pretty much sucked, but I did enjoy Portman and Firth’s acceptance speeches.

  14. every time one of these huge award shows happen, i just avoid twitter. its annoying as hell, especially since it takes over my entire stream. i would figure punk rock kids and comic nerds arent getting sucked into it like everyone else, but alas, i am always wrong.

  15. While watching the preshow, I got the strange feeling that the host was imploring us all to walk away from the tv and follow the event coverage on the internet site, and Twitter. Seemed like they were conflicted about how to cover it.

    The other host delighted in showing each celebrity, especially the neophytes, the enormous walk that they would need to make to enter the Kodak Theater, passing “hundreds of journalists”.
    Wow, what buzz kill!

    The highlight for my preshow was Scarlett Johannson talking about The Avengers and fighting ‘the guys’ as Black Widow.

  16. Sorry, but this is Twitter we’re talking about, a platform that’s ultimately intended for the sharing of gut reactions, wether it be for something ultra serious… as the situations as the Middle East has demonstrated… or as silly as the Oscars.

    On a side note, I found it humorous how one girl on my feed mentioned, almost with relief, that the same ones that have been delivering such hard-hitting and heart breaking news over the past couple of weeks was also mired in the same goofy celeb mud-slinging like the rest of the world.

    But yeah, people pointlessly bitching about Hollywood is no better or worse that a 3 hour ego trip and display of clueless/bad taste. To be honest, most of us wouldn’t have it any different, it’s like the circle of life really, cuz EVERYONE loves to bitch… especially on the internet.

    I think a lot of folks get needlessly upset because such and such person doesn’t like the same movies as you do or whatever. Again, on a personal note, I upset a few folks when I noted that Social Network looks lame, and a number of folks on my feed sternly told me that I need to hush unless I’ve seen it. When all is said and done, it’s only a movie people.

    And also, it’s only the Oscars, lol.

  17. If The Academy had really wanted to appeal the aspirations of young people, they would have hired Charlie Sheen to host.

    Ratings would have been through the roof — through the atmosphere!

    Even I would have watched.

  18. Matt Hawkins–

    They’re right, you should see THE SOCIAL NETWORK, and specifically because of that reaction. The thing about the film is that it does look like it would be stale, flat and unprofitable (extra points for Hamlet ref?), but it’s staged like a heist movie, in a way. It’s thrilling–

    –and the thing is, it’s organic and feels natural.

    PLUS the fact that you’re having this disagreement with “friends” over a social network hits right at the heart of the film, which is a pretty smart movie.

    I liked THE KING’S SPEECH a lot, but for me THE SOCIAL NETWORK was the real high-wire act of last year’s movie season. Give it a chance–even if you don’t like it, it will be a good use of a couple hours’ movie time.

  19. This year’s show was also very thin on montages and retrospectives, the sorts of things that are supposed to romanticize the movies and make the viewers nostalgic.

    Even the “R.I.P.” segment was thin, there was very little indication of the specific films that those who were being memorialized had worked on.

    I think that just added to the dullness factor of this year’s show.

  20. I have a feeling we’ll be looking for a new host (hosts?) again. After seeing the live Jimmy Kimmel Post-Oscar Show, the choice for next year is obvious: Tom Hanks. Naturally funny, Hollywood royalty, and everyone loves him…

  21. I guess I just really remember how awkward it all is from year to year, because each one always feel just about on par with one before. But that said, I consider any year that doesn’t have a horrible lazy and outdated Pete Rose joke in the opening monologue as at least a minor success (I’m looking at you Billy Crystal in 2004).

  22. My wife was telling me that they weren’t memorializing everyone this year. (I know the internet’s up in arms of Corey Haim, but I’m more than a little upset that Peter Graves was forgotten.) I said, “You know, the montage of those who passed away is pretty much the part that everyone looks forward to. Why would you cut that segment for time?”

    Anyway, I’m not going to bag on Franco and Hathaway. I thought they did an alright job. I’m usually OK with whomever hosts most of the Oscars, anyway… I though Baldwin and Martin did a good job last year, too. It gives the show every year a different personality, and in a way that makes it memorable. I’ll bet you years down the line we’ll talk about how uncomfortable James Franco looked in that dress with the same glee as Letterman’s OPRAH/UMA bit.

  23. Well, I’ll bag on Franco for you. At the very least, he could have looked at Anne once in a while. Wasn’t there a producer with the guts to tell him to up the energy a bit?

    And there was a fine host between Bob Hope and Billy Crystal. His name was Johnny Carson!

  24. A lot of my friends are lobbying for an entire awards show of the odd-couple comedy stylings of Jude Law and RDJ … and RDJ’s platform shoes. (Seriously, did you notice how much “taller” he was than when he was in Sherlock Holmes starring opposite Law? And the set pics from that make it clear he was in pretty tall heels already.)

    As for myself, I loved Hathaway and I wish they had teamed her and Hugh Jackman like they did in the musical number the other year, and let Franco stay home with his doritos.

  25. James Franco was awful. Anne Hathaway was great.

    Jon Stewart is my preferred choice. Tom Hanks is a natural choice for the job, but I doubt he’d do it. “Variety” is frowned upon in entertainment now, so almost no one can do what an awards show host needs to do. Neil Patrick Harris is both witty and has the chops for “variety” and I’m surprised he hasn’t been bumped up to the Oscars yet. Stewart and Colbert with some Conan and Steve Carell thrown in would be great.

    Anne Hathaway I can understand, but it’s this James Franco business that baffled me.

    How about Hugh Laurie? He can do “variety” and he’s funny. Ricky Gervais is perfect for the Golden Globes, and I think they need to cut him loose and let him do whatever he wants. It’s just the Golden Globes.

    King’s Speech was the best film, and I’ve seen all of them except Winter’s Bone. Social Network was a decent film, though.

  26. The only way The Oscars will ever be truly good is if they allow the presenters/hosts to be themselves and adlib a bit. No telepromter, no “script”, just people being people. They’re probably worried that it’ll devolve into MTV Movie awards scandal but I think the attempt to keep the Oscars classy would tame that to some degree while MTV thrives on not being the Oscars. Besides, I’d much rather see people be themselves vs be what someone wrote for them. Maybe things would liven up, hmmmm? Food for thought.

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