I have always loved the Academy Awards and yet in recent years I’ve come to accept lesser award shows (like the Golden Globes) as being entertaining for what they are. However in the last few years I think the Academy Awards have missed the boat when it comes to the place the Oscars play in the hearts of those of us who adore films and pop culture.
First, Seth MacFarlane…really? Yes, his movie Ted was a surprise hit and the producers of the Academy Awards are desperate to increase ratings, but Seth MacFarlane seems like a stretch. Speaking in very general terms MacFarlane’s humor is very heterosexual male oriented which is fine (live and let live I say) but he is hosting the Oscars which traditional isn’t a big event for the before mentioned audience. Now if the Academy had hired Tina Fey and Amy Poehler like the Globes did I would be beyond excited, but they didn’t and now I fear the ceremony will be just one long reference to passing gas. True, MacFarlane could surprise us skeptics but since I despise Family Guy I sort of doubt it.
Overall, hosting is a thankless job which both host and audience can only hope there will be more giggles than gaffs.
Anne Hathaway is my next bone of contention, but not in the way you might suspect. She appears to attract a lot of haters of which I don’t count myself as one, though I can see why she can grate. Heavens she has really stunk up this award season with unnecessary coyness and false modesty. She was great in Les Miserables and is the front runner to win the Oscar for Best Supporting Actress so all of this faux humbleness and surprise at winning is too much. This also ties into another point I want to make later in reference to the work of actors.
On Hathaway’s plus side, she did make an effort to be entertaining when she co-hosted the Oscars a few years ago with James Franco (who gave the audience a dictionary definition of phoning in a performance). She can be funny such as in the Christmas themed Funny or Die video she made with Samuel L. Jackson and she rose to prominence after starring in Disney’s The Princess Diaries (2001). Cinematically Hathaway has already proven two things. One, you can start out as a Disney princess and still carve out a prestigious career in roles that are not princess based. Two, you can be a Disney kid star and not totally lose it once you become a legal adult.
Hathaway takes her job as an actress very seriously which is great, but often with so many award shows celebrating the accomplishments of the same people over and over again, that element of sentimentality becomes a hard pill to swallow. I know that acting, for those performers who do take it seriously, can be difficult and demanding. I also know that once you achieve a certain level of fame that part of your job isn’t just acting in a role, but also being hounded by the paparazzi. In fact I would argue that the over compensation that some actors get for acting jobs is more about paying them to advertise their wares on talk shows and living a life with diminished privacy…but I’m getting ahead of myself. The thing that has bothered me about the last few Oscar telecasts is the whole quasi-therapeutic/feel good bits where actors (usually the winners from the previous year) take a moment to tell the nominees for Best Actor/Actress (I don’t recall if they do this for those nominated in the Best Supporting categories) about how great they are often by using terms such as “brave” and “brilliant.” Honestly, it gets so bad that I have to turn the channel just in case my head explodes.
It would be one thing if these nominated actors had cured cancer or actually saved the world from a collision with a meteorite, but that’s not the case. If actors are attending the various award ceremonies they are already living a glamorous lifestyle of which few humans on the planet could identify. Really, how brave or brilliant is a role in comparison to the everyday activities of most of humanity?
In summary, I’m hoping that Hollywood takes it down a notch.