SInce I saw James Franco in the made-for-TV James Dean biopic, I have been most impressed with his acting chops, skills which he later honed in City by the Sea and the Spider-man franchise. He is clearly one of the most gifted screen stars of his generation.
My actor friends are also fond of the young man, with one relating the anecdote of a man who paid for Franco’s acting lessons when then then-Hollywood newbie was hurting for funds. As soon as he started drawing an income, Franco paid back his patron.
Despite Franco’s skill’s as an actor, I was most surprised to hear that he had been tapped to host the Oscars. He never struck me as a stand-up comedian or talk show host, the type of individuals who tend to make the best hosts. With the Oscar “ceremony witnessing a 10 per cent slump compared to the last year“, a consensus is emerging that despite his many talents,
Franco flopped as co-host of the Academy Awards. Throughout the evening, his teleprompter readings seemed drab and forced, and as the show plodded along, he seemed more resigned to the fact that it just wasn’t working.
“It’s no accident,” Roger Simon quipped, “that the audience rose for a standing ovation when Billy Crystal appeared. They were relieved. It was like seeing a water in the desert. He could even crack a joke. And the holographic Bob Hope was even better.” In that Academy Award nominee’s view, entertainers do a better job as hosts.
Franco just didn’t look like he was having fun while co-host Anne Hathaway did. He didn’t deliver a joke as if he were telling a story or relating a personal anecdote, but seemed to be saying with his facial gestures as he was about to recite the punch line “okay, guys, I’m telling a joke, so, um, well, you’re supposed to laugh.” It was almost as if he needed a role into which he could sink his teeth. He just couldn’t play host, a role without a backstory.