Why I Am looking Forward to This Year’s Oscars:

Awards Show Maestro Don Mischer and Movie Producer Bruce Cohen were given the  unenviable task of producing this year’s Oscar broadcast (airing Sunday, February 27th on ABC). I say unenviable because more often than not, The Oscars are lambasted. Even in better years, the best you can say is it’s polarizing. Even if half the audience loves Jon Stewart or Hugh Jackman, the other half likely didn’t. It’s a long awards show with lots of awards in the middle that most people don’t care that much about. But come on, it’s the Oscars, the granddaddy of all awards shows. Why shouldn’t the Best Editor get to share that moment on screen and not in an earlier untelevised ceremony (that many would like to banish those awards to).

They also have to decide who hosts the Oscars and this year they chose Anne Hathaway and James Franco. Most people just assumed this was to make sure the Oscars appeal to a younger audience and stem audience erosion from the past few years. I think that’s rather short sighted thinking. If they were just interested ONLY in that, they could have had Snooki and Justin Bieber do the honors. First of all they hired movie stars, one of whom is actually nominated for Best Actor this year. But they didn’t just hire movie stars, they hired two people who should put on a good show.

Anne Hathaway has previously been nominated for an Oscar (two years ago) for her stellar performance in Rachel Getting Married. But on that Oscar ceremony she almost stole the show herself from host Hugh Jackman (count me in the camp that thought he was terrific as host) singing and doing a Nixon impression in what looked like an improvised duet with Hugh. Check it out at the 4:oo mark.

In her two turns as host on SNL these last two years she provided over some of those best shows the show has produced in that time and proved she’s a very adept live performer. She’s clearly game for anything and the fact that she can sing, dance, has an incredibly warm personality, and be comfortable on live TV makes me think she’ll be an incredible Oscar host.

James Franco – Is there a more interesting figure in Hollywood these days? I honestly don’t think so. This is a guy who 10 years ago was a featured player on the late and lamented Freaks & Geeks and has graduated to someone who can and will do absolutely anything. In this year’s Oscar nominated performance in 127 Hours, he’s mesmerizing and 2/3 of the movie he’s on screen completely by himself. The fact that he can be funny and heartbreaking while acting opposite no one else is truly remarkable. He’s also just as comfortable in a stoner comedy like Pineapple Express. He won a Golden Globe for his stellar performance in James Dean for TNT. He was heartbearking opposite Sean Penn in Milk for which I believe he deserved an Oscar nom.This is a guy who has published a collection of short stories and has had his art in an LA art gallery. Did I mention while doing all of this he’s been in a number of University’s including Yale. Oh  and he’s making his Broadway debut this Fall opposite Nicole Kidman in Tennessee William’s Sweet Bird Of Youth. What’s really truly remarkable is this is a guy who asked producers of Daytime Soap, General Hospital to recur on. HE ASKED. In a business where a major movie star wouldn’t be caught dead on a Soap unless all his film and primetime TV opportunities had dried up, a major motion picture actor willingly wanted to do it. He has no airs about himself at all. He wants to do everything. I would say it’s rare in the biz but that would imply it exists besides himself. (He’s even filmed a return to GH to air beginning this week, while he’s been in LA rehearsing for the Oscars.)

After being questioned by the LA Times on his many gay roles, he explained his choices but then ended the interview with “Or, you know what,” he quipped, “maybe I’m just gay.”This is truly an interesting and fearless guy and to me, that will make for a really interesting Oscar host. Even his attitude about the show is rare. He told Vanity Fair:”It’s fine, it’s like one night,” “So, it doesn’t matter. Like, if I host the worst Oscar show in the history of the Oscars, like, what do I care, you know what I mean? I’ll try my best, but I don’t see any shame … “Movies are so collaborative, as an actor, by the time the movie comes out, my work has been mediated through so many different people. I have some control over it, but if the movie comes out horrible, it’s only partially my fault. It’s the same thing with the Oscars: Yeah, we’re the hosts, but they’ve been working on this thing for six months, so I hope they’ve been putting in good work.”

Funny, humble, fearless, willing to try anything.  Coupled with the delightful and equally fearless Anne Hathaway and I think this combo will rock. Last year Steve Martin and Alec Baldwin did what I thought was a fine job (I know many didn’t) but they did what you expected them to do. They’re funny pros. This year’s hosts have proven themselves to be very talented but there is an air of unpredictability that has me really excited for the show. Is there a possibility they could crash and burn. Well, sure, but isn’t that true every year? At least if they do this year, it will probably be in a way we have never seen before and that in itself is exciting. Check out Anne and James’s clever Oscar promos that they filmed the first day they worked together.

I probably shouldn’t make predictions but in a year where every awards show (except last weeks Grammys) have been down, I think this year the Oscars will be up. In addition to the young, different hosts, the top 3 grossing films from last year were included (Toy Story 3, Inception, and True Grit). 5 of the 10 have hit 100 million, with 2 more very close to that. This year even the Art House Films, like The King’s Speech and Black Swan have made 100 million. I don’t remember a year in recent history when most of the nominees have actually been box office hits too. Plus Best Picture is still not a lock. It seemed to be The Social Network’s until Harvey Weinstein once again positioned this King’s Speech perfectly and that has been winning the recent awards. Did The Social Network peak too early? Will this be a rerun of 1999 when Shakespeare In Love stole the crown from presumed winner Saving Private Ryan?

Whatever happens it should be an interesting night and for the first time in years I am really looking forward to the Oscars.

Oh and there’s also this:

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