Nobody can be surprised at what transpired. When it was announced months ago that James Franco and Anne Hathaway would host the Oscars, I can’t accept that a single person thought it was a good idea. How could the guy from Spiderman and the girl who was just cast as Catwoman (more on that later) possibly live up to the standard set by Billy Crystal, Steve Martin and even Jon Stewart? The easy answer is that they couldn’t and when I announced to my family before the broadcast that I believe it will be the worst Oscar broadcast of my lifetime, I was proven correct before they had handed out five awards.
The disaster that was began last week when genius comedian and real host of the Golden Globes (he was brilliant both times) Ricky Gervais made some tongue-in-cheek comments about how James and Anne had asked him to write some jokes and James Franco responded by publicly bashing Gervais’ performance at the Globes. Really James? Before last night you had never hosted a high school talent show and you are bashing one of the best? Don’t get me wrong, as an actor I like James Franco. I thought he was a good fit in Spiderman, hilarious in Pineapple Express and was in one of the most beloved shows that no one watched in Freaks and Geeks but when he made those comments about Ricky, I stopped pulling for him. Anne Hathaway is a different story. For the past year I have been angrily asking my wife or anyone who would listen why she was so popular? She is average looking at best (although she did look hot in that final gown of the evening at the Oscars), she’s not a great actress (tolerable in some films) and while I have idolized Chris Nolan since I saw Memento 10 years ago I question his female casting choices in all of his Batman movies (Katie Holmes, Maggie Gyllenhaal and now Hathaway) but she could change my mind once I see her in the Catwoman costume. The bottom line was this hosting gig was destined to fail and it did miserably.
Franco was stiff as a board and had the charisma of an avocado. Hathaway did most of the speaking and performing in the awkward times on stage with both of them standing there reading the prompter. Hathaway’s little song number was predictable (one of about 50 “friendly” jabs made at Hugh Jackman who was actually a good host two years ago) and Franco’s entrance to that scene dressed in drag and making a Charlie Sheen joke seemed odd and slightly desperate. The lone somewhat amusing moment with these two was during the pre-taped Oscar opening with Franco dressed in ballet gear and covering his “package” as he danced around a stage. The rest of the evening had them standing still and reading the prompter and reminding everyone that they were hired to bring in a younger demographic. If that is the case, the producers of the show should be fired and banned from any high-budget productions forever. If you want to bring in younger viewers, you hire the Bieb to perform the Best Original Songs, not two second tier actors that haven’t made kids movies in eight years. It also became obvious that they were struggling so badly the producer smartly cut some of their material as the show finished almost 30 minutes earlier than last year even with unnecessary time wasting like Celine Dion singing live during the In Memoriam segment and two ABC executives announcing how happy they are that the award show will be on the network through 2020 (does anyone outside of ABC care?) The bottom line is that the award show was every bit as bad as it should have been and maybe the braintrust will rethink things and bring back Jon Stewart or maybe hire Conan O’Brien. Comedians make the best hosts as they are used to working crowds in comedy clubs and are much more comfortable doing so. I hope that next year I can write a glowing review of the show but that all depends if Franco and Hathaway are standing on stage or sitting in the crowd.