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February 28, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

James Franco and Anne Hathaway

One would be hard-pressed to blame’s Nikki Finke’s early release of the full run-down of Sunday night’s Oscar telecast for the fact that not a single surprise materialized during the entire show. “Predictable” was the description used by many TV columnists in their assessment of the affair. Virtually all of the favorites won: best picture: The King’s Speech; best actor: Colin Firth (for The King’s Speech); best actress: Natalie Portman (for Black Swan); best director: Tom Hooper (for The King’s Speech); best original screenplay: David Seidler (for The King’s Speech); best adapted screenplay: Aaron Sorkin (for The Social Network). But just as predictable, the critics agreed, was the standard production of the show. Despite promises that it would be hipper and faster paced, several critics complained that it was as conservative as ever — and just as draggy. Not that the script writers didn’t try to infuse hipness into the production. As Alessandra Stanley noted in her review in the New York Times: “The producers cast the young stars James Franco and Anne Hathaway as hosts, then kept the writing old and hoary — no aren’t-we-hip nudge was left untouched.” While acknowledging that the show had “moments,” Mary McNamara in the Los Angeles Times concluded: “Overall, the evening had an oddly business-like feel, a mind-numbing evenness that was exacerbated by the relentless predictability of the winners.” The London Daily Telegraph described the entire affair as “unusually staid.” As for the hosts, most critics gave a B grade to Hathaway and a C to Franco. “Hathaway worked her derriere off,” Hank Stuever wrote in the Washington Post, “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.” Nevertheless, he concluded, “Don’t get me wrong. The kids are all right, and all that.” Robert Deutsch in USA Today was also loath to come down hard on the young pair. “James Franco and Anne Hathaway weren’t the best Oscar hosts, but they weren’t the worst, either,” he concluded. Other critics suggested that Franco and Hathaway were both upstaged by a clip of Bob Hope as host of a long-ago Oscar show and a cameo appearance by Billy Crystal, whose presence probably implanted thoughts of “if only” into the minds of the audience. The critics suggested that the Hope clip may have come off as the funniest routine of the night. And, for what it’s worth, Finke, whose Oscar correspondent had his press credentials yanked by the Academy after she posted the “spoiler” rundown, was able to boast late Sunday that “We were dead-on accurate.”