Okay, let’s get it out of the way right now; the 83rd Annual Academy Awards were dull, dull, DULL. I was hoping they would be better than last year which, despite the presence of Steve Martin and Alec Baldwin, seemed like a boring affair. But this year’s proved to be even worse. Even David Letterman did a better job than this. In an attempt to reach a younger demographic, they gave us the youngest hosts ever and actually succeeded in keeping the proceedings shorter than usual for a change. But instead they cut out the heart of what was so memorable about the Oscars in the first place. While the producers can’t be faulted for this year’s winners being the most predictable bunch ever, it doesn’t excuse them for the lifeless affair this all turned out to be.
James Franco and Anne Hathaway are wonderful actors, and they will be able to live this down in the long run. It doesn’t change the fact that they flopped as hosts though. We knew they were in trouble when their opening montage only elicited minor chuckles at best. Having anyone other than Billy Crystal do this is just not going to work. It’s a shame to say that because both are wonderfully energetic entertainers who we want to see succeed. Franco was even more of a disappointment in that he looked uncomfortable, and many of his jokes fell flat. This is the same guy who had us in stitches in “Pineapple Express,” and yet he and Hathaway looked like they were neutered far too much in what they could have pulled off.
It also did not help them that many previous Oscar hosts were around that evening. Seeing Alec Baldwin sucking down a juice pack of Ambien, Hugh Jackman relaxing in the audience, or Billy Crystal finally coming back to the Oscar stage for a standing ovation only reminded us what the show was missing; a wonderful comic personality who could keep us interested even when the show dragged. Seriously, after awhile I forgot that Hathaway and Franco were even hosting the Oscars! It didn’t matter how many times Anne changed clothes throughout the show either.
Now the producers succeeded in making this one of the shortest Academy Award telecasts ever, but at what price? I am sick of all the lifetime achievement Oscars being handed out at a separate event. When these people get rewarded for a career of greatness, it makes for some of the most memorably heartfelt moments in Oscar history. To see them reduced to mere footnotes, and that’s even if they do show up at the ceremony, is insulting
Were there any memorable moments were from this year’s Oscars? Well, I did enjoy Kirk Douglas’ goofing around before he finally read the winner of the Best Supporting Actress Oscar. In fact, he did a favor to all the nominees in breaking the tension they were experiencing. Also, seeing Melissa Leo get it was my highlight of the evening, and that’s even with her making Oscar history by saying the F-word. Those censors who were looking out for Mickey Rourke were he to win for “The Wrestler” finally got the workout they were looking for. And although I wanted to see David Fincher get Best Director, Tom Hooper’s speech was very nice and genuine, especially when he spoke of his mother.
But when all is said and done, the 2011 Academy Awards were truly a major flop. Just when I thought they could not get any worse, they did. You know what? Let the show run hours and hours. Heck let it run into Monday! Don’t even cut down the original song nominees performances because they serve as the bathroom break many of us need. Bring back the lifetime achievement awards, bring back the Irving Thalberg Award for the worldwide audience, and bring back Billy Crystal. If Billy won’t come back, put a horse’s head in his bed. If that doesn’t work, get Hugh Jackman or Steve Martin or even Alec Baldwin.
Critics are always going to be complaining about the Academy Awards regardless of if they are too long or too short. Hollywood might as well live it up for hours because then there will stuff to remember for a change. Anyone who has a problem with that can change the channel or watch something else altogether. But one thing’s for certain, the show can do so much better than this major disappointment.