Hathaway and Franco. Paging Billy Crystal

Boy did I pick a bad year to live tweet the Academy Awards. The snark was flying at the start of the annual film industry salute but most of the fun evaporated an hour into this boring train wreck. After a while, I’d look at my laptop and see 19 minutes had gone by between tweets. It was like James Franco had hypnotised the audience into phoning it in too.
Franco and Anne Hathaway were awkward at best as Oscar hosts. He looked like he was hung over, playing it too cool or perhaps taking a drink every time Hathaway went for another costume change–which, by the way, was the only way to enjoy this show. She was overcompensating for his total detachment, playing the wife who tried too hard when her husband arrives drunk at the party. At one point she even tried to coax the crowd into some affirmation for Franco, who was getting killed on the twitter feeds. These kids were not alright.
Rubbing it in was that loud standing ovation for Billy Crystal who arrived two-thirds in like the answer to viewer’s prayers. Crystal struck just the right note, putting on a short clinic on timing and storytelling. He set up a tribute to long time Oscar host Bob Hope. As Bill Maher tweeted, “get to the part about how Bob Hope got a hooker every night.”
After the film clip, “Hope” introduced the next two presenters. It was ex-SCTV mimic Dave Thomas at the mike. Would that he had hosted the entire night as Hope.
Everything from Franco and Hathaway seemed like rehearsal, including a mirthless opening montage of movie clips that pointlessly reached back to Back to the Future. Even in drag Franco was a drag, throwing on a dress without anything funny to say, although he did finally work in a Charlie Sheen joke–an hour into the broadcast. Were the writers stuck in traffic or could nobody see the TelePrompTer?

There was very little unintentional humour, unless you count the Men from Glad moment provided by white wearing Javier Bardem and Josh Brolin. They looked like bad guys in a Three Stooges short.

“I am Sparticus!”

 Kirk Douglas did wake up the room with his spirited antics. Brandishing a cane, the 94-year-old film legend brought some playfulness to the proceedings. So did Best Supporting Actress winner Melissa Leo with her F-bomb, which went out loud and proud all across Canada but was caught by ABC censors working the seven-second delay button. Was the button pushed at CTV packaged out along with Fecan? Asleep at that point like so many other viewers?
There was some attempted banter between presenters Robert Downey Jr. and Jude Law but frankly it just lay there like Downey’s last movie. Ben Stiller and Will Ferrell these two aren’t.
Aaron Sorkin won for writing The Social Network and spoke over the orchestra for much of his long acceptance speech. Ask NBC about this guy getting his words in on time.
Some of the funnier tweets as the night wore on: when Crystal came out, Norm Macdonald quipped, “When Hairplugs Met Sally.” Maher even joked about the “In Memoriam” segment, “or as I call them on this show the lucky ones.”
It took so long to get to Natalie  Portman’s win for Best Actress for The Swan that it looked like she was in her eighth trimester.
Anyway, it was three hours and eleven minutes I’ll never get back. Thankfully, a nation can now turn its attention back to Charlie Sheen.

Rush, Bonham-Carter and Firth from The King’s Speech
Jeff Bridges and clan on the red carpet
Best actress winner Natalie Portman


  1. Absolutely dead on Bill. The show itself lacked the excitement of jello setting. Even the Twitter play-by-play was more shock that it could be this just plain flat than anything substantive to even joke about. I wrote and produced several Gemini Awards shows on budgets that couldn’t cover the catering for this show and we had way more actual entertainment. (In fact, that’s my philosophy — we don’t consider cutaways of starlets as actually as important as, oh, say, writing.) The Academy should just leave a show about show business up to professionals — Canadians.

  2. Hey Bill,
    Great Oscar snarking!
    Here’s some more info re: The Bob Hope piece from mark Evanier’s blog:

    Thanks for the Memories

    Turns out Paul Feig originally did the dubbing of Bob Hope for that segment on the Oscars and they replaced him with Dave Thomas but credited both. Feig is, by the way, the fellow who created the TV show, Freaks and Geeks.

    • Posted Monday, February 28, 2011 at 12:37 PM · LINK

    Keep up the great work.

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