I had so much hope and good wishes for Oscar hosts James Franco (see this) and Anne Hathaway to do a good/reasonably good job. Instead, I was, like many others, terribly disappointed of the show itself from beginning to end. Don’t get me wrong, the award winners are well deserved of their Academy Awards, my disappointment is with the show itself. Boring and witless. There were only very few moments that I enjoy the show itself (e.g. Kirk Douglas was still very funny at 94 and great to watch).
When a show failed this spectacularly, there are enough blames to spread around, including the producers/directors (the most to blame?), the writers of the show/jokes, and others. What were these people thinking? Were their senses so out of tune with what constitute a good and fun to watch TV show?
The Hollywood Reporter, “83rd Annual Academy Awards: Television Review - Was it a bad idea to have actors host? No, it was spectacularly bad.” (emphasis added),
“In what could go down as one of the worst Oscar telecasts in history, a bad and risky idea — letting two actors host — proved out in spectacularly unwatchable fashion on the biggest of all nights for the film world.
Despite an overall rewarding of brilliant performances and no truly shocking didn’t-see-that-coming upsets, the 83rd Annual Academy Awards will likely be remembered as the night James Franco couldn’t act like a host.
It was not a great night to be on the Internet if you were one of Franco’s trusted advisers, as the likable, quirky actor was torched on Twitter and pimp-slapped across the web for his lifeless performance. He had no business agreeing to host the Oscars, and his resulting pratfall in front of — what, a billion people? — must have made David Letterman gleeful, as his stint will no longer be pointed out as some kind of nadir. Anne Hathaway at least tried to sing and dance and preen along to the goings on, but Franco seemed distant, uninterested and content to keep his Cheshire-cat-meets-smug smile on display throughout.
[...] Few awards shows ever learn that lesson or get the mix right. And to be fair, this Oscar telecast lacked spark from start to finish despite an impressive number of fine films and acting performances — and the hosts can only be blamed for so much. These Oscars were a bore-fest that seemed to drag on relentlessly but listlessly. Perhaps next time more thought will be put into actually making this a good television event. You can trot out all the big-name actors or directors you’d like, but nobody at home paid $11 to watch. The Academy Awards may be about movies, but it’s a TV show. Nobody feels any regret walking out or snapping off the set if you don’t entertain them. A good host is invaluable.
This year, the Oscars hit a new low. Like it fell into a hole.“
Roger Ebert, “Oscars: “King” wins, show loses” (emphasis added),
“Despite the many worthy nominated films, the Oscarcast was painfully dull, slow, witless, and hosted by the ill-matched James Franco and Anne Hathaway. She might have made a delightful foil for another partner, but Franco had a deer-in-the-headlights manner and read his lines robotically.
Incredibly, when former host Billy Crystal came onstage about two hours into the show, he got the first laughs all evening. This was the worst Oscarcast I’ve ever endured. It’s time for the Board of Governors to have a long, sad talk with itself.
At one point I tweeted: “If Bruce Vilanch is within 50 miles of the Kodak Pavilion, they should helicopter his ass backstage and put him to work.” I was quickly put straight. Vilanch, the comedy writer responsible for countless great lines in Oscarcasts past, was a writer on this year’s show. Since Franco and Hathaway lacked a single clever line, there must be an untold story.
[...] Again, I have to say this was the worst Oscarcast I’ve seen, and I go back a while. Some great winners, a nice distribution of awards, but the show? Dead. In. The. Water.“
ABC News via AP, “Oscarcast: Young Co-Hosts, but the Same Old Show“.
The Telegraph, “Oscars 2011: as it happened“
NY Daily News, “Oscars 2011 winners: Kirk Douglas, at age 94, upstages hosts during best supporting actress award“
Feb 28, 9:42 update: I think New Yorker is being too easy on James. I expect a lot more from James even he is a Yale Ph.D. student. If his heart isn’t into doing a great job, he should take the job. I admire people going out of their comfort zone to try new things, but James didn’t seem to give his all. Here is an excerpt from New Yorker,
“QUESTION FROM EN: What did you think about the hosts?
DAVID DENBY: Ann was sweet, enthusiastic, changed dresses every few minutes; James was odd, as he often is in his performance (though it worked perfectly in 127 Hours)—sly grins, squints, looks off to the side, casual, throwaway delivery. I’m not sure he’s really cut out to be a movie star, or if he even wants it. He’s a Ph.D. student at Yale in the English Department at the moment.”
March 6 update:
Hollywood Reporter, “Live Blog of Oscars 2011 Telecast” (very readable)
Winnipeg Free Press, “That’s enough, kids; it’s the adults’ turn again“
HuffPost, “James Franco: Oscar Host Says Ricky Gervais ‘Bombed’ At Golden Globes”