The Google box is abuzz today with the following question:
Was James Franco really trying to do a good job last night? Or was he ironically commenting on the experience, even as he was having it? (The same question, by the way, could’ve been asked of his weird stint on General Hospital).
If he saw himself as some sort of Keyser Soze-style imposter—“The greatest trick James Franco ever pulled was convincing the world to let him host the Oscars”—shouldn’t he have been, well, funnier? Or at least, more clear in his intentions?
And if he was some sort of rebel party crasher (because that had to be it, right?), wasn’t that a bit disingenuous? After all, 127 Hrs. was nominated for best picture and he, for best actor. His director, Danny Boyle, won for Slumdog Millionaire two years ago. His Milk co-star Sean Penn won best actor that year, too. So if he was mocking the show, wasn’t he mocking his own collaborators, and to an extent, himself?
Or maybe he was just really, really high.
Anyway, Franco’s bemused look throughout the presentation—depending on how old you are, he either evoked Admiral Stockdale during the 1992 vice presidential debates or Tea Party spokesperson Michele Bachmann during her wrong-camera rebuttal to the State of the Union—often mirrored the bemused look I had on my face, as I watched the show with pals in D.C.
After a strong start, a digital short parody of Inception with Franco and co-host Anne Hathaway joined by Morgan Freeman and Alec Baldwin, things went quickly south.
Hathaway tried to over-compensate for Franco’s logyness with an abundance of pep rally cheer that seemed almost histrionic at times. “Woo-hoo!” she often shouted in the direction of winners. (Later, I think I heard her shout from backstage: "Be aggressive! Be-be aggressive!"). And her parade of dresses—7 at last count—while certainly stunning (any one of them would’ve made her the best dressed in my opinion) were maybe just a wee bit indulgent?
But the hosts aren’t the only ones on the hook. While I appreciate director Don Mischler’s attempts to speed up the ceremony, it had a slightly slapdash feel to it: A Gone With the Wind tribute was on and off the stage in 2 minutes flat; ditto the show’s farewell to Lena Horne, which barely registered as a tribute at all; there was some homage to movie music that had the band leader running through a miniscule sampling of famous movie scores. The bits that were a little longer—like the AutoTune shtick—fell flat. (Were the Twilight and Harry Potter references meant to appeal to the same “youth demographic” who were supposedly flocking to the show to watch Hathaway and Franco? Dream on, Academy Awards.) And, of course, I’m not the first to note that the footage of Bob Hope presented by Billy Crystal just reminded us of other, better Oscar telecasts from years past.
Even out of the gate, the awards themselves seemed off. First presenter Tom Hanks came out gushing about the rare troika of a film winning Best Picture, Best Art Direction, and Best Cinematography.
And the winner for Best Art Direction is . . .Alice in Wonderland. (So much for the troika.)
Opinions are varied on Kirk Douglas’s halting presentation of the Best Supporting Actress award. I honor and admire the old legend, but it had me on edge . . . Couldn’t they have had Michael Douglas come out with him? Not only would the crowd have been geeked to see Kirk’s now-cancer-free son, but he could’ve helped Daddy Dearest smooth over some of the rough spots. (In the end, of course, Douglas pulled it off, even managing to flirt with both Anne Hathaway and Melissa Leo.)
Speaking of Melissa Leo, has she not been reading her own clippings? I think the talented actress more than deserved the award. But she had been whacked for her rather shameless self-promotion campaign in the trades—some even thought she had done irreparable damage to her Oscar bid. So what does she do when she wins? Instead of a little humility, she clutches the award to her chest (“mine? for me?”), rambles on for a seeming eternity (especially on the heels of Douglas’s presentation), and then drops the F-bomb for good measure. Nice.
Other thoughts. . .
It’s no secret that I wanted The Social Network to win and thought it was the best film of the year—by far. But I had resigned myself to a The King’s Speech victory. I liked The King’s Speech, it’s a small gem, perfect in its own (unambitious) way. But how on earth did Tom Hooper beat David Fincher for Best Director? That’s Grand Theft Oscar right there.
Short feature winner Luke Methany, who looked like a fabulous cross between a young Jeff Goldblum and Napoleon Dynamite, is already on my short list to host next year’s telecast.
How adorable did Hailee Steinfeld look? After Hathaway, she was my best dressed. (I also loved Scarlett Johansson’s dress, even though her hair was a hot mess.)
Meanwhile, Cate Blanchett decided to further the Tilda Swinton/Cate Blanchett confusion by wearing something from Tilda’s closet, apparently.
Javier Bardem and Josh Brolin should take those matching white tuxedoes and burn them in a ditch—NOW. (Did they lose a bet?)
“I am Banksy.” Oh Justin Timberlake, don’t change.
Gwyneth Paltrow sang at the Grammys. She sang at the Country Music Awards. I thought the one place I was safe from her singing was the Oscars. I was wrong. Hollywood, stop encouraging this behavior. She’s a pretty good singer—for an actress.
Big debate on the Interwebs today: Did Christian Bale actually forget his wife’s name? I’m on Team He Was Just Choked Up and That’s Why He Hesitated. However, if we see Sibi Bale with a six-carat rock on her finger next week, we’ll know I’m wrong.
Photo courtesy of Reuters.