Today let’s start talking about Sunday. Who’s looking forward to the Oscars? Will you be doing at-home ballots? Will there be food involved? Are you prepared to hand over your four dollars to the idiot in your office who didn’t see any of the films but who won the pool because he randomly beat everyone else out with his Best Sound Editing pick? Will you partake in a real party to mirror the pomp & circumstance happening in (and effectively shutting down) Hollywood, California? Me? I’m a total sucker for it. Cannot wait for it. Nor do I mind that people get all dressed up for this one and there’s a certain formality to it.
As an aside, I tend to like awards shows lots and even though I am often less-than-impressed with some of the skin-baring and gyrations routinely peppering live performances, I do consider myself a “middle-of-the-road” type of fan. I don’t like cruelty or nastiness in shows (hence my aversion to most talent-based reality competitions) and I don’t like over-the-top histrionics. Nor will I ever view the grabbing of crotches and/or other people’s microphones as any kind of a good idea. Ever. That said, I was at a dinner party last night and found myself surrounded by a bunch of entertainment types and I was shocked at how wildly divergent the views were on the Grammy Awards performances. First of all, who didn’t like what I considered the fantastic Gwyneth/ Cee-Lo & Muppets number? Not any of the people I dined with. They couldn’t abide the way she crawled around on the piano. I thought it was charming, if slightly perilous. Who thought Jennifer Hudson was the only redeeming feature of the Aretha Franklin tribute? Everyone at the dinner table but me (I rather liked Florence Welch although I thought she was out-gunned by the divas flanking her). The point is, even when you think you assess things in a fairly moderate fashion, you still cannot account for what people will and won’t like. And this year’s Oscars are likely to be divisive.
For example, the big question seems to be: Why are Anne Hathaway and James Franco hosting it this year? Pretty sure the answer lies in the fact that if you add their ages together, that sum number is still less than the average age of an Academy voter. It’s one thing to add five more movies to the Best Picture race (which gives more studios the chance to showcase their wares which is good for our economy) but with these new co-hosts, Oscar’s taken some pretty bold steps, if you ask me.
Do you think it’s a good idea to have hosts who are also nominees? I don’t actually, but I don’t think it could be helped. Not that they couldn’t have found someone besides James Franco (and let’s face it, there was never a doubt that he would be nominated) but he was perfect for two reasons. 1) The same people who knew Franco would get nominated probably had a pretty good idea about who would win – not because it’s rigged, mind you, but because when anyone saw The King’s Speech that became the only sure-fire no-brainer of the evening. Thus, they were safe going with Franco because he won’t win, period. And 2) even though he’s lovely to look at and whoppingly talented the Oscar folks must also have realized that Franco is still a true outsider. Which is part of his charm. He marches to his own drum and he’s very unpredictable – this is pure catnip in an industry teeming with good-looking, brooding, but in many respects cookie-cutter young leading men. Anne Hathaway also remains likable, and she’s had no huge hiccups personally – there was that deadbeat BF but everyone felt sorry for her. Plus she also has a lot of personal style. And she sings. I suspect they will be funny and awkward and that this will be a one-of-a-kind experiment. Most importantly, Oscar seems to be acknowledging that a host’s age is critical. See, “distinguished” is cool, but at the end of the day Taylor Swift and Rihanna and Taylor Lautner are cooler in the sit-up-and-take-note-department (which is the only thing that translates to viewers). Oscar, like every other living, breathing organism on earth, needs friends to stay alive. Oscar needs viewers, ideally closer in age to Hathaway and Franco. In fact, they’ll probably get a lot more viewers tuning in out of curiosity alone.
Speaking of curiosity, I’m wondering where you all stand on prior Oscar champs. Voice your choice in today’s featured poll and tell us which of these past Best Picture winners is your favorite:
1) The Departed
2) The Hurt Locker
3) No Country for Old Men
4) Slumdog Millionaire