‘Youth-friendly’ Oscars show gets thumbs down

By Agence France-Presse
Monday, February 28, 2011 16:43 EDT
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HOLLYWOOD – Oscars organizers had touted this year’s show as more youth-friendly, aiming to draw younger funkier movie-goers into the time-worn Academy Award experience — but the initial reaction was skeptical.

Sunday’s co-presenters James Franco and Anne Hathaway made a joke reference to the youth-chasing aim within minutes of the start: Franco called her hip, to which she replied: “You look very appealing to a younger demographic as well.”

But critics were scathing in early online comments after the show awarded top honors to British historical drama “The King’s Speech”, which some noted is a finely-made film but hardly cutting edge.

“Despite the many worthy nominated films, the Oscar (tele)cast was painfully dull, slow, witless, and hosted by the ill-matched James Franco and Anne Hathaway,” wrote Chicago Sun-Times film critic Roger Ebert.

Tellingly, one of the highlights was when Billy Crystal — who hosted the Oscars in the 1990s and early 2000s — came on stage.

“Incredibly, when former host Billy Crystal came onstage about two hours into the show, he got the first laughs all evening,” said Ebert. “This was the worst Oscar cast I’ve ever endured.”

“It’s time for the (Oscars) Board of Governors to have a long, sad talk with itself.”

A Los Angeles Times online discussion immediately after the show made an equally grim reading.

“Billy Crystal’s appearance was the highlight of the show,” wrote one contributor, to which another added: “It was almost as if the old timer was there to teach the kids a few things.”

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences likes to contrast itself with the Golden Globes, the other high-profile ceremony in Hollywood’s annual awards season.

While the Golden Globes are voted on by a relatively small number of members of the Hollywood Foreign Press Association (HFPA), the Oscars are the result of balloting by some 5,700 members of the illustrious Academy.

The Globes last month gave their main prizes to blockbuster Facebook movie “The Social Network”, leaving “The King’s Speech” with only one, best actor for Firth.

According to industry daily The Hollywood Reporter, the average age of Academy voters is 57, and some say that explains why there is an Oscars “type” of movie, of which “The King’s Speech” was a perfect example.

Granted, the Academy has made efforts to broaden its appeal: Sunday was the second Oscars show with a shortlist of 10 films for best picture, rather than five nominees as in most categories.

The idea was to widen the selection of films up for the top Oscars prize — so this year’s shortlist include blockbuster movies like “The Social Network” of hi-tech thriller “Inception.

But critics were not convinced, citing the relatively paltry three minor Oscars won by “The Social Network,” while other blockbusters including classic Western “True Grit” and Danny Boyle’s “127 Hours” went home empty-handed.

Ironically, one of the edgiest moments on Sunday was by best supporting actress winner Melissa Leo — not a spring chicken, at 50 — who had to apologize after saying the F word during her acceptance speech.

The offending word was bleeped out of the time-delayed broadcast relayed to television viewers around the world.

“The youth movement in this year’s choice of Oscar hosts didn’t alter the show’s dynamics,” commented a reviewer from the Variety daily.

“While Melissa Leo dropped an “F-bomb” early on, the “F” words best describing the proceedings would be “flat,” “fumbling” and “familiar” — proving it takes more than a new coat of paint to invigorate a ceremony that easily flummoxes innovation.”

Agence France-Presse
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  • NadePaulKuciGravMcKi

    no charlie sheen and no mel gibson…

  • Knot

    The offending word was bleeped out of the time-delayed broadcast relayed to television viewers around the world.

    Bleeped out? I guess they don’t like the word ‘censored’. Anyway, good example to the rest of the world on how much free speech is valued in the land of the free.

  • http://www.google.com/profiles/Hostile177 hostile177

    But really…where do we turn? Fergie and the Black-eyed “peez”? Look how well that turned out for the Superbowl…NOT. Pop culture has spiraled into a talentless vacuum of no return. I nor my kids couldn’t watch halftime for five minutes never mind the possibility of three hours of that abuse.

  • Don Corleone

    It wasn’t that bad, I felt it was loaded with subtle wry humor – perhaps too subtle for today’s retarded TV viewer.

  • Anonymous

    It was embarrassingly puerile in it’s production and execution. James Franco was completely out of his element. You could see in his demeanor that less than half way through the show he knew he’d made a bad career move and or was making a fool of himself. And the oblivious Anne Hathaway’s over-the-top cheer leading was painfully unsophisticated and fawning. Next year I’m thinking Lindsey Lohan and Charlie Sheen.

  • Anonymous

    You raise a good point.

  • http://twitter.com/thesnarkygeek snarkygeek

    Not bad – but I’d say, just give it back to Billy Crystal, and let him pick who he wants to work with.

  • Anonymous

    FYI: Leo’s f-bomb wasn’t censored in the UK.

  • http://www.VimaxReview.com JonnyForever

    I don’t think 127 Hours really qualifies as “blockbuster” …

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_PCRNBMCPGAOEFGLTXYZVLQ2QPA Razi Masoud

    If these people had any taste in movies, they would’ve given Inception every award available. King’s speech was a “ok” movie. It’s didn’t deserve the oscars it received, not even best actor (not that colin firth did a bad job, he was amazing). But in my opinion the best actor oscar should’ve gone to Jeff Bridges in True Grit, by far the best performance (made me even forget about the John Wayne). For all others, Inception for best picture and best director, period!

  • Oily Olly

    another american ritual celebrating stories about poor working people played by rich self-centered hollywood stars – well, the ritual isn’t really about the stories, it’s about money: taking yours and giving it to them. soon the oscars will go the way of network television, i hope, and go away. they’ll have to do a whole lot more than punk it up for the pimple set who hardly turn on tv at all any more. and i know they aren’t reading this but, that dress made you look fat.

  • Anonymous

    If the Academy really cared about being ‘youth friendly’ they would have picked someone like Demetri Martin to at least do one bit. James Franco did General Hospital for khrist’s sake.

    And can someone please tell me on what planet do Judd Apatow type characters represent ‘youth’? I think they represent 30 something guys who can’t admit their age that the average youth find pathetic.