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Many seemed to agree that Hathaway gave it her all, but Franco didn’t fare as well as his co-host.
“In what could go down as one of the worst Oscar telecasts in history, a bad and risky idea — letting two actors host — proved out in spectacularly unwatchable fashion on the biggest of all nights for the film world,” The Hollywood Reporter’s Tim Goodman wrote. “Despite an overall rewarding of brilliant performances and no truly shocking didn’t-see-that-coming upsets, the 83rd Annual Academy Awards will likely be remembered as the night James Franco couldn’t act like a host.”
Goodman went on to say that “Anne Hathaway at least tried to sing and dance and preen along to the goings on, but Franco seemed distant, uninterested and content to keep his Cheshire-cat-meets-smug smile on display throughout.”
That sentiment was shared by several critics.
“Hathaway worked her derriere off,” The Washington Post’s Hank Stuever wrote, “and Franco came off like that lacrosse boy you wish your daughter didn’t hang out with so much, sort of heavy-lidded and smirky and … well, let’s give him credit for being James Franco, the 23-hour-a-day workaholic/grad student/filmmaker/soap-opera/not-best-actor wunderkind of his generation. Turns out hosting Oscars is when the dude decides to take a rest.”
USA Today’s Robert Blanco shared that opinion.
“At least Hathaway was in there pitching throughout — unlike her co-host, who sometimes seemed to be preparing for a remake of Dazed and Confused,” Blanco wrote.
AllYourTV’s Taylor White also wasn’t impressed.
“There wasn’t anything wrong with their hosting work tonight,” White wrote. “They walked their way through the expected ‘insert yourself into the movies’ opening segment, and their banter seemed more appropriate for a Match.com commercial than a major awards program. They were personable and had some chemistry between them. But they were also instantly forgettable in the way that reminded me more of Julie Chen than Billy Crystal.”
Moviefone’s Alonso Duralde put it even more bluntly: “Franco flopped.” He went on to suggest that David Letterman — who notoriously bombed when he hosted the Oscars in 1995 — did a better job than Franco and Hathaway did together.
“To be fair, Hathaway did seem capable of firing off the occasional one-liner, but Franco came off as a tad bewildered, as though he were working on a term paper during the commercial breaks,” Duralde wrote. “Don’t be surprised if their hosting gig gets mentioned in the same breath as such immortal Oscar disasters as ‘Rob Lowe dances with Snow White’ and ‘that musical number featuring Telly Savalas, Teri Garr and Pat Morita.'”
Still, the reviews weren’t all bad. Entertainment Weeky’s Ken Tucker was full of praise for the two co-hosts.
“Funny, poised, relaxed, and smart, Anne Hathaway and James Franco made for marvelous Oscar hosts,” he wrote. “Their combination of respect and informality struck the right tone for the night, a happily surprising production that had its share of fine moments both planned and ad-libbed.”
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