TV review: Nice try, Oscars


Oscar producers, the more you try to make your annual Hollywood lovefest appeal to young viewers, the older you seem. And you are 83!

"Anne, I must say, you look so beautiful and so hip," James Franco, 32, deadpanned as he and co-host Anne Hathaway, 28, walked on stage to open Sunday's ceremony on ABC.

"Oh, thank you, James," Hathaway replied. "You look very appealing to a younger demographic as well."

It was the first of several mentions of how "hip," "cool" or "young" the ceremony was. It felt anything but hip and cool

Early in the show, presenter Justin Timberlake pretended to use a smart-phone app to illuminate a "Shrek" backdrop on stage. The Internet also was mentioned in some presenter openings. A pre-taped segment that featured characters from "The Social Network," "The Twilight Saga: Eclipse" and "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1" delivering lines through auto-tune was a complete bomb.

Oscar voters, too, seemed to overlook many of the younger skewing films, handing the British royalty film "The King's Speech" awards for best actor, best director and best picture. It beat out the Facebook film "The Social Network," the trippy "Inception," the boxing film "The Fighter" and six other nominees.

"I have a feeling my career's just peaked," Colin Firth, best actor for playing King George VI, quipped, getting big laughs.

Academy voters did manage to crown popular younger stars Natalie Portman best actress for "Black Swan" and Christian Bale best supporting actor for "The Fighter."

Hathaway and Franco, the youngest hosting pair in Academy Award history, tried mightily to liven up the proceedings, but more often than not fell flat in their delivery of the jokes written for them. Props to Hathaway, who was working her butt off, even with iffy results. Franco's mellow vibe just didn't suit the hosting gig. They shined best when reacting to what was happening around them.

"I thought 'F' stood for 'The Fighter,'" Hathaway said after Melissa Leo dropped an f-bomb during her supporting actress acceptance speech. Added Franco, "Congratu-effin-lations, Melissa."

The program ground to a halt each time an homage to past Oscar-winning films preceded the award presentations, stretching the ceremony out over its allotted time by about 12 minutes. Wouldn't it be better just to get on with the business of the night? Presenters offer a little fun banter (like Robert Downey Jr. and Jude Law), then list the nominees and give the award.

A brisk show would attract that coveted young crowd.

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