The Oscars’ host: Anne Hathaway & James Franco combo the worst ever?
While on the Kodak stage on Feb. 27, this year’s Oscar host Anne Hathaway got to sing, tell jokes (“lesbians!”), and change gowns about two or three dozen times. Hathaway’s fellow Oscar host James Franco, who seemed to be having trouble staying awake, did his bit to keep TV viewers from dozing off by showing up in drag at one point.
Film critic Roger Ebert, for one, was unimpressed. On Twitter, he lambasted the show as “the worst Oscarcast I’ve seen, and I go back awhile. Some great winners, a nice distribution of awards, but the show? Dead. In. The. Water.”
Worst Oscar show ever?
Besides Roger Ebert, some media pundits have wondered if the 2011 Academy Awards ceremony – in large part thanks to hosts Anne Hathaway and James Franco – was the worst on record. If so … what about the Allan Carr-produced 1989 telecast?
Highlights of the (Oscar host-less) show included the following:
- Rob Lowe rock and rolling with a Betty Boop-voiced Snow White (played by San Diego-born actress Eileen Bowman).
- A group of young actors performing the dance number “I Wanna Be an Oscar Winner,” in which the likes of Patrick Dempsey, Tyrone Power Jr., Ricki Lake, and others worshipped a giant-sized Oscar statue.
- Bob Hope jokes targeting imported Chilean grapes, Salman Rushdie, and the Warren Beatty-Dustin Hoffman box office bomb Ishtar.
Tropical mix nightmare
Regarding the Rob Lowe-Snow White segment, which at one point included Carmen Miranda-inspired dancers “dressed like tropical mixed drinks,” Los Angeles Herald-Examiner TV critic Andy Klein wrote: “The whole production number resembled the sort of nightmare you might have after imbibing too many such drinks.”
Regarding the Oscar show itself, Allan Carr claimed that then U.S. President Ronald Reagan, past Best Supporting Actress nominees Janet Leigh and Candice Bergen (who was a presenter), and 1943 Best Actress Academy Award winner and David O. Selznick widow Jennifer Jones loved it. “In my opinion,” Jones purportedly wrote Carr, “you produced the Gone with the Wind of the Oscar shows.”
An embarrassment to the Academy and the motion picture industry
Be that as it may, 17 Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences members felt otherwise. They were:
Julie Andrews. David Brown. Stanley Donen. Blake Edwards. John Foreman. William Friedkin. Larry Gelbart. Sidney Lumet. Joseph L. Mankiewicz. Paul Newman. Alan J. Pakula. Gregory Peck. Martin Ritt. Mark Rydell. Peter Stone. Billy Wilder. Fred Zinnemann.
In an official letter of complaint to the Board of Governors, the Academy 17 wrote:
The 61st Academy Awards show was an embarrassment to both the Academy and the entire motion picture industry. It is neither fitting nor acceptable that the best work in motion pictures be acknowledged in such a demeaning fashion. We urge the president and governors of the Academy to ensure that future award presentations reflect the same standard of excellence as that set by the films and filmmakers they honor.
Some of the Academy 17 are no longer with us. Here’s wondering what they would have thought of the 2011 Academy Awards ceremony.
I should add that the Allan Carr-produced ceremony – even if considered the most dismal ever – had no “Oscar host.” Theoretically, that means Anne Hathaway and James Franco could still be labeled the worst Oscar host combo ever.
The Cocoanut Grove
 Among the old-timers seen in the Cocoanut Grove segment are presenter Merv Griffin, Alice Faye, Dorothy Lamour, Charles ‘Buddy’ Rogers (featured in the very first Best Picture Academy Award winner, Wings), Cyd Charisse and husband Tony Martin (formerly married to Alice Faye), Vincent Price and Coral Browne, and Roy Rogers and Dale Evans.
The Nicholas Brothers were to have taken part in the segment, but their participation was cut. Doris Day was to have made an appearance as well, but a swollen ankle prevented her from fulfilling her commitment.
Later on, 1930s and 1940s 20th Century Fox superstar Alice Faye (Alexander’s Ragtime Band, Hello Frisco Hello) publicly complained that the Cocoanut Grove number had been relegated to an afterthought and that her participation had been reduced to that of “a dress extra.”
The Walt Disney Company wasn’t too happy either, notifying the Academy that they had (mis)used Disney’s version of Snow White without their permission.
Janet Leigh, Jennifer Jones
Candice Bergen was nominated for Alan J. Pakula’s Starting Over (1979). She lost to Meryl Streep in Robert Benton’s Kramer vs. Kramer.
Jennifer Jones took home the Best Actress Oscar for Henry King’s The Song of Bernadette. She would be nominated four more times (Best Actress for Love Letters, 1945; Duel in the Sun, 1946; and Love Is a Many-Splendored Thing, 1955; Best Supporting Actress for Since You Went Away, 1944).
Andy Klein quote and Jennifer Jones’ purported message via Mason Wiley and Damien Bona’s Inside Oscar.
The information about the Nicholas Brothers and Doris Day via Robert Hofler’s Party Animals: A Hollywood Tale of Sex, Drugs, and Rock ‘n’ Roll Starring the Fabulous Allan Carr.
Oscar host Anne Hathaway in Red Dress on Red Carpet photo: John Selig / © A.M.P.A.S.
Oscar ratings down to one of lowest levels this century
The 2011 Oscar ratings were down 9 percent compared to last year, according to Nielsen results found at Deadline.com. In the much-coveted 18–49 age group, ratings were down 12 percent. (Citing preliminary Nielsen data, the Los Angeles Times reported a much more modest 2 percent drop for the 18–49 demo.)
This year’s Oscar show was hosted by former Spider-Man supporting player and Best Actor nominee James Franco (127 Hours) and by Christopher Nolan’s upcoming The Dark Knight Rises actress Anne Hathaway – both frequently admired by movie critics, but overwhelmingly panned by TV critics for their joint Kodak Theatre performance this past Sunday.
Despite popular winners such as Best Actress Natalie Portman (Black Swan) and Best Original Score composers Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross (The Social Network), the James Franco-Anne Hathaway show attracted a relatively modest 37.6 million viewers – thus faring worse than all but three 21st-century Oscar telecasts:
- 2009 – Best Picture winner: Danny Boyle’s Slumdog Millionaire.
- 2008 – Best Picture winner: Joel and Ethan Coen’s No Country for Old Men.
- 2003 – Best Picture winner: Rob Marshall’s Chicago. It should be noted that the 2003 Oscar ceremony took place days after the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq.
‘Avatar’ Oscar ratings boost
It should also be noted that last year’s Oscar telecast had one definite advantage over this year’s. That’s James Cameron’s mammoth international blockbuster Avatar, which was in the running for Best Picture and eight other Academy Awards.
The much more modest The Hurt Locker, directed by Cameron’s former wife Kathryn Bigelow, was the eventual Best Picture winner.
This year’s biggest Oscar-nominated hits were Christopher Nolan’s sci-fier Inception, starring Leonardo DiCaprio, and Lee Unkrich’s Toy Story 3, featuring the voices of Tom Hanks and Tim Allen. Jointly, these two movies grossed about as much as Avatar in the U.S. and Canada.
The 2011 Best Picture Oscar winner, Tom Hooper’s The King’s Speech, is no commercial slacker either, having already taken in more than $108 million in North America. The period drama stars Best Actor winner Colin Firth, Helena Bonham Carter, Geoffrey Rush, Guy Pearce, and veteran Claire Bloom (The Haunting, A Doll’s House).
2011 Oscar hosts James Franco and Anne Hathaway photo: Michael Yada / © A.M.P.A.S.
Anne Hathaway Oscar host: Red dress one of countless outfits
Pictured above is Oscar host Anne Hathaway sporting a blindingly bright white smile while on the 2011 Academy Awards’ Red Carpet just outside the Kodak Theatre in Hollywood.
But wait. In the photo, Hathaway is wearing a blindingly bright red gown. Wasn’t her dress of a metallic blue hue? Actually, no. It was beige (with patterns). Wait. Come to think of it, she actually wore a tux, not a dress.
Or maybe it was all of the above. And more.
How could that be?
Well, the color, texture, format, and type of Anne Hathaway’s outfits varied according to which 15 minutes of the Oscar telecast you watched on Sunday night, Feb. 27.
Hathaway, a Best Actress nominee for Jonathan Demme’s Rachel Getting Married in early 2009, was this year’s Oscar ceremony co-host alongside Best Actor nominee James Franco (for Danny Boyle’s 127 Hours).
Anne Hathaway movies
Anne Hathaway movies include The Princess Diaries (2001), with Julie Andrews; Ang Lee’s Brokeback Mountain (2005), as Jake Gyllenhaal’s wife; David Frankel’s The Devil Wears Prada (2006), with Meryl Streep; Jonathan Demme’s Rachel Getting Married (2008), with Debra Winger; and Tim Burton’s Alice in Wonderland (2010), with Mia Wasikowska and Johnny Depp.
Anne Hathaway red gown image: Darren Decker | © A.M.P.A.S.
The Fighter producer Todd Lieberman
Todd Lieberman and wife Heather Lieberman arrive at the 2011 Academy Awards ceremony held on Feb. 27 at the Kodak Theatre in Hollywood. Lieberman is one of the producers of The Fighter, one of this year’s Best Picture nominees.
The Fighter stars Mark Wahlberg, who also co-produced the film, along with Best Supporting Actress Oscar nominee Amy Adams, and Best Supporting Actor and Best Supporting Actress winners Christian Bale and Melissa Leo. Oscar nominee David O. Russell directed the boxing drama.
Mark Wahlberg was The Fighter‘s only major cast member who failed to receive an Academy Award nomination in the acting categories. Instead, along with Todd Lieberman and David Hoberman, Wahlberg was shortlisted as a producer of the Best Picture nominee.
The winner in that category turned out to be Tom Hooper’s The Weinstein Company-distributed The King’s Speech, featuring Colin Firth, Helena Bonham Carter, Geoffrey Rush, Guy Pearce, and Claire Bloom.
Todd Lieberman movies
Among Todd Lieberman’s other producing credits are Walt Becker’s Wild Hogs (2007), with John Travolta and Tim Allen; Raja Gosnell’s Beverly Hills Chihuahua (2008), with Piper Perabo, Jamie Lee Curtis, and Manolo Cardona; and Anne Fletcher’s The Proposal (2009), with Sandra Bullock and Ryan Reynolds.
Upcoming Todd Lieberman releases include the James Bobin-directed musical The Muppets, with Amy Adams, Jason Segel, and Chris Cooper.
Image of Todd Lieberman and wife Heather Lieberman on the Red Carpet: Ivan Vejar | © A.M.P.A.S.
Lucy Walker and Moby
Waste Land director Lucy Walker, whose film was shortlisted for the Best Documentary Feature Oscar, is pictured above with singer and composer Moby on the 83rd Academy Awards’ Red Carpet. This year’s winner in the Best Documentary Feature category was Charles Ferguson’s Inside Job, about the roots of the 2008 global economic meltdown.
Moby composed the music for Waste Land. He was a Grammy nominee in 2002.
Co-Oscar 2011 nominee Angus Aynsley produced Waste Land, which tells the story of artist Vik Muniz and the waste pickers at Jardim Gramacho, located in the outskirts of Rio de Janeiro, and one the world’s largest open-air landfills.*
* Update: Jardim Gramacho was shut down in 2012.
Lucy Walker and singer Moby photo: Ivan Vejar / © A.M.P.A.S.
Barney’s Version Oscar-nominated makeup artist Adrien Morot and Kathy Tse
Adrien Morot, an Oscar nominee in the Best Make-Up category for his work on Barney’s Version, and the film’s prosthetics shop coordinator Kathy Tse are seen on the 2011 Oscars’ Red Carpet outside the Kodak Theatre. The Best Make-Up nomination was the sole Oscar nod Barney’s Version scored.
Directed by Richard J. Lewis, Barney’s Version features Paul Giamatti, Dustin Hoffman, Rosamund Pike, Rachelle Lefevre, Minnie Driver, and several cameos by well-known Canadian filmmakers, among them Atom Egoyan, David Cronenberg, and Denys Arcand.
Besides Adrien Morot for Barney’s Version, the 2011 Oscars’ Best Make-Up contenders were:
- Eventual winners Rick Baker and Dave Elsey for The Wolfman.
- Edouard F. Henriques, Greg Funk, and Yolanda Toussieng for The Way Back.
Adrien Morot’s other movie credits include The Child Prodigy, Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian, Death Race, 300, and The Fountain.
Photo of Barney’s Version make-up artists Adrien Morot and Kathy Tse: Richard Harbaugh | © A.M.P.A.S.
Hilary Swank on the Oscars’ Red Carpet
Pictured above is Hilary Swank, wearing an Oscar dress consisting of (what looks like) tons of frills and feathers, on the 2011 Academy Awards Red Carpet this past Sunday, Feb. 27.
Swank wasn’t nominated for anything, but she acted as a presenter of sorts at the Kodak Theatre in Hollywood.
How so? Well, she introduced last year’s Best Director winner, Kathryn Bigelow (The Hurt Locker), who then presented this year’s Best Director Oscar to Tom Hooper for The King’s Speech.
Two-time Oscar winner
These were her only two nominations as well.
Both times she beat Annette Bening, who was in the running this year once again for her role as a lesbian wife and mother in Lisa Cholodenko’s The Kids Are All Right, also featuring Julianne Moore, Best Supporting Actor nominee Mark Ruffalo, Josh Hutcherson, and Mia Wasikowska.
And once again Annette Bening lost the Oscar, this time around to odds-on favorite Natalie Portman, playing a mentally unbalanced ballerina in Darren Aronofsky’s dark psychological drama Black Swan.
Even though Swank failed to be shortlisted for the 2011 Academy Awards, earlier this year she was a Best Actress contender at the Screen Actors Guild Awards for her performance in Tony Goldwyn’s little-seen Conviction. Curiously, The Kids Are All Right actress Annette Bening was once again her competitor.
As it turned out, they both lost to Natalie Portman for Black Swan.
Hilary Swank Red Carpet photo: Richard Harbaugh / © A.M.P.A.S.
Best Supporting Actress Oscar nominee Jacki Weaver
Jacki Weaver, one of this year’s Best Supporting Actress Academy Award contenders, is seen above arriving at the 83rd Academy Awards ceremony at the Kodak Theatre. Weaver was shortlisted for her work in David Michôd’s crime drama Animal Kingdom. As expected, the eventual winner was Melissa Leo for David O. Russell’s The Fighter.
Jacki Weaver has been a well-known actress in Australia for nearly four decades. She has already won two Australian Film Institute Awards: Best Supporting Actress for Caddie (shared, in 1976) and Best Actress for Animal Kingdom.
Best Supporting Actress nominee Jacki Weaver photo: Richard Harbaugh | © A.M.P.A.S.
Denis Villeneuve, whose Incendies was an Oscar nominee in the Best Foreign Language Film category, is seen above on the 83rd Academy Awards’ Red Carpet, just outside the Kodak Theatre in Hollywood. Incendies lost to Susanne Bier’s In a Better World (Denmark).
The other competitors for the 2011 Best Foreign Language Film Oscar were Yorgos Lanthimos’ Dogtooth (Greece), Alejandro González Iñárritu’s Biutiful (Mexico), and Rachid Bouchareb’s Outside the Law (Algeria).
Last year, Denis Villeneuve’s dark psychological drama Polytechnique, based on tragic real-life events, won the Canadian Academy’s Best Picture Genie Award.
Best Foreign Language Film Oscar nominee Incendies director Denis Villeneuve photo: Darren Decker / © A.M.P.A.S.
Sandra Bullock gown: The Oscars’ (other) Woman in Red
Wearing a dazzling red dress à la Anne Hathaway, Sandra Bullock is pictured above on the 2011 Oscars’ Red Carpet just outside the Kodak Theatre in Hollywood. The Oscarcast took place on Feb. 27.
Last year’s Best Actress winner for John Lee Hancock’s sleeper blockbuster The Blind Side, co-starring Tim McGraw, Bullock presented this year’s Best Actor award. The winner was Colin Firth for Tom Hooper’s The King’s Speech.
Post-Oscar scandal, pre-Oscar film exhibitors’ box office draw
Shortly after the 2010 Oscars, Sandra Bullock found herself enmeshed in a tabloid-engendered scandal that led to her separation from husband Jesse James.
On the positive side, U.S. exhibitors selected Bullock as 2009’s top box office attraction in the country. In addition to The Blind Side, her other major hit that year was Anne Fletcher’s The Proposal, co-starring Ryan Reynolds and veteran Betty White.
Sandra Bullock’s one 2009 box office disappointment was Phil Traill’s All About Steve, with Bradley Cooper. The widely panned comedy earned her a Razzie, thus making her the first – and to date only – Oscar-Razzie winner in the same year.
Sandra Bullock dress photo: Ivan Vejar / © A.M.P.A.S.
‘GasLand’ filmmakers Josh Fox and Trish Adlesic
GasLand movie director Josh Fox and producer Trish Adlesic, whose film was nominated in the Oscars’ Best Documentary Feature category, arrive with Wyoming rancher and anti-fracking activist John Fenton at the 2011 Academy Awards.
Also written by Josh Fox, GasLand shows how energy companies are stocking up on land throughout the United States. The reason for all that land-buying? Shale gas drilling through a controversial process known as hydraulic fracturing a.k.a. “fracking,” which has been blamed for a variety of environmental and human health problems.
GasLand lost the Best Documentary Feature Oscar to Charles Ferguson’s Inside Job, about the roots of the 2008 global economic meltdown.
Photo of GasLand filmmakers Josh Fox and Trish Adlesic, and anti-fracking activist John Fenton: John Selig / © A.M.P.A.S.
Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (A.M.P.A.S.) website.