I was hopeful for Anne Hathaway and James Franco as hosts. Yes, it was obvious from the start that the Oscar producers, Bruce Cohen and Don Mischer, wanted to draw in a younger demographic. I'm surprised they didn't just enlist Justin Bieber to get the job done. At least he would have been awake for the whole thing, which is more than I can say for Franco. This is a man who clearly prides himself on walking his own line at all times. Why anyone ever thought he would be ideal to host one of the most mainstream events on the planet is beyond me? A number of people I spoke with wondered just how stoned he was, but all i could see was the look on his face that suggested he would rather be anywhere other than there. Maybe he was nervous being nominated but he had no chance of winning. A smart guy like Franco should have known that.
I do think that Hathaway has a very winning and inviting personality. When she sings, she is enchanting and when she jokes, she is adorable. But when she had to work double time to make up for the lack of personality in her co-host, it seemed to turn her into this combustible energy ball that could potentially implode at any moment, taking all of Hollywood with her. She did still come across as an appreciative person, humbled by the position she held for the night. It was endearing and I just really felt bad for her, having to endure through this clearly misguided adventure.
As awkward as they were, the transitions and pace of the rest of the show was infinitely more clunky. I thought they got the awards out fast enough but they kept singling out past Oscar winners to exemplify the categories that were about to be announced. The virtual screens that I read so much about before the big night ended up being a completely unnecessary distraction. A background is just that; you are not supposed to draw attention to it but yet we did over and over again and for what? To focus on films of yesteryear instead of actually allowing the films of 2010 to adorn the screens, perhaps allowing them to shine on their own night.
There were other choices too that were just too obvious to be ignored. No actor was ever played off by the orchestra, no matter how long they rambled on about self-important nonsense or pretended to be surprised by the win. Apparently actors could swear, quite obviously on purpose, and that would be fine too. Anyone else was fair game. The winners didn't really listen to the orchestra though and just kept going but maybe they wouldn't have had to if we didn't spend so much time listening to lengthy trips down memory lane from random, iconic actors - some were more enjoyable (Kirk Douglas) than others (Billy Crystal).
The producers cut the montages that apparently everyone hates but somehow found time to highlight previous Oscar telecasts and other random moments in Oscar history. This leads me to another major Oscar confusion this year. The show was constantly referred to as the young and hip Oscars. There was no continuity to this theme though. Tom Hanks would be presenting one moment and then Mila Kunis and Justin Timberlake, the next. And if they were clearly trying to be so modern, why did they feel the need to spend so much time looking back instead of looking at all the fantastic movie magic that is happening right now? After all, wasn't that the reason we were there?
In the end, the tug of war between old and new also spilled over to the awards themselves, with THE KING'S SPEECH, a period piece about overcoming adversity in a historical context, triumphing over THE SOCIAL NETWORK, that rare film that taps directly into the pulse of of our current experience. By the time the announcement was made though, everyone knew what was coming and everyone just seemed to want it to come.
My suggestion for next year, fire Cohen and Mischer, and hire me to produce.
Here is the full list of Academy Award winners ...
BEST PERFORMANCE BY AN ACTOR IN A LEADING ROLE
Colin Firth in THE KING'S SPEECH
BEST PERFORMANCE BY AN ACTRESS IN A LEADING ROLE
Natalie Portman in BLACK SWAN
BEST PERFORMANCE BY AN ACTOR IN A SUPPORTING ROLE
Christian Bale in THE FIGHTER
BEST PERFORMANCE BY AN ACTRESS IN A SUPPORTING ROLE
Melissa Leo in THE FIGHTER
BEST ACHIEVEMENT IN DIRECTING
Tom Hooper for THE KING'S SPEECH
BEST ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY
BEST ADAPTED SCREENPLAY
BEST ANIMATED FEATURE
BEST FOREIGN LANGUAGE FILM
IN A BETTER WORLD
ALICE IN WONDERLAND
ALICE IN WONDERLAND
"We Belong Together" from TOY STORY 3
DOCUMENTARY SHORT SUBJECT
STRANGERS NO MORE
ANIMATED SHORT FILM
THE LOST THING
LIVE ACTION SHORT FILM
GOD WE LOVE