THE HOLLYWOOD SPOTLIGHT

by Laurent Kelly

Welcome to this new feature which tackles some of the current hot Hollywood topics and debates. This debut edition examines some of the major talking points and criticisms of last weekend’s Oscar ceremony.

Anne Hathaway and James Franco bombed as Oscar Hosts


VERDICT: THUMBS IN THE MIDDLE

The duo have received heavy doses of criticism for what many have seen as a lame attempt to bring a youthful edge to the prestigious and admittedly prudish Oscar ceremony. Whilst Anne Hathaway was largely praised for giving it her all, her co-host James Franco was heavily lambasted for his laissez faire approach at attempting to entertain the millions of viewers around the world. USA Today’s Robert Bianco reported that Franco “sometimes seemed to be preparing for a remake of Dazed and Confused.” Indeed the actor was the most highly tweeted Oscar subject with the majority of this online attention in the negative range.

I don’t feel that they bombed however. For a start the opening video package in which the Oscar hosts inserted themselves into various scenes from the Best Picture winning films was one of the most creative stunts seen at the Academy for years with superb editing and genuine comedy throughout. And whilst Franco seemed completely out of it, Hathaway’s unbound doses of energy proved hard to resist with the actress appearing intensely likeable even when her material and jokes fell flat. She was a first rate showman throughout the ceremony and there is something to be said about finding it hard not to enjoy an individual who was so clearly enjoying herself.

In hindsight though I think it was a very poor idea to have an actor hosting who was also nominated for a top award. Obviously the decision had been made before the nominations were announced but if you are an actor shortlisted for a prestigious honor how can you possibly not be a little distracted whilst trying to focus on putting on a good show. Even though Colin Firth was a heavy favourite in the lead actor category you can bet a first time nominee like Franco was still feeling butterflies and that it is not the type of host you want when the purpose of such a role is to put all your energy into providing segments of light relief and eye grabbing set-pieces.

Having ten Nominees in the Best Picture category is a joke


VERDICT: THUMBS UP

With news that American viewership was down almost ten percent from last years ceremony I see no reason why we still need ten nominees in the Best Picture category. Millions may have tuned in at last years event to see whether Box Office phenomenon Avatar could triumph in the top prize but this year even the most casual moviegoers were aware that popular hits such as Toy Story 3 and Inception had no chance of winning Best Picture.

Not to mention the fact that it becomes painfully obvious very early on in the Oscar race which films are not going to challenge. If a movie is lacking a director nomination then there is already a great indicator that the film has little hope of winning Best Picture and on the night itself when five of the nominated films haven’t even won a single prize by the time it comes to the main event what is the chance that their sole gong will be the most important one of all. It is basically a joke. Whilst ten nominees provides a nice viewing guide for the years that follow, it ultimately dilutes the elite nature of the category.

There needs to be a wider age range amongst the Oscar Voters


VERDICT: THUMBS UP


The average age of an Oscar voter is 57. This to me seems quite absurd. Whilst there is nothing wrong with having older voters and I’ve no doubt that many harbour a completely open mind when judging the various films there is definitely a strong case in suggesting that a more youthful average i.e. under forty would give more chance of rewarding the best film of the year as opposed to the film which ticks all the correct political boxes.

What ever your thoughts are on the age issue, I think surely we can all agree that the Oscars need to become far more diverse. For example a film like Toy Story 3 winning Best Picture should not be seen as a vaguely ludicrous notion. It needs to be accepted that some horror, animation and sci-fi films are just as brilliantly constructed as dramas, war films and musicals and given the severe Oscar biases it is really no wonder that many have lost interest in a ceremony which puts more effort into closing doors than opening them.


Actors should not be responsible for handing out awards


VERDICT: THUMBS DOWN

In general I think it helps for actors to present a large majority of the awards because as trained performers they are in a greater position to help emote the importance and prestige of each category. I think as this year’s broadcast showed however more thought needs to go into which actors hand out the Statuettes. Take Matthew McConaughey as a case in point. As a man who is not exactly a thespian he wasn’t even able to feign the slightest bit of interest surrounding the award he was presenting. Then there was Timberlake and Kulnis who acted like a couple of school-kids whilst fumbling over the envelope.

Yet of course there are numerous actors in the vein of Morgan Freeman whose mature, warm and well balanced humour can enlighten audiences whilst maintaining the focus on the award itself. These are the type of actors who should be handing out the Oscars.


The Oscar Speeches dragged even more than usual


VERDICT: THUMBS UP


In a way it is mean to criticise someones reaction to winning an award that has no doubt been their dream since they were teenagers. However is anyone else just sick and tired of the endless amount of thanks handed out to various members of cast and crew? I understand that you are grateful to the people within your team but wouldn’t it be more heartfelt to thank or write to these people in person as opposed to having to rush through a list of names whilst sending everyone to sleep.

I just wish that more people would pull a Russell Crowe and use their moment in the sun to try and inspire the millions of others who are hoping to emulate such profound success. It results in far more engrossing television and it makes the performers seem more human and admirable in the process.

That’s all for this week’s Hollywood Spotlight. Thanks for reading.

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