Opinion Brief

Can James Franco and Anne Hathaway save the Oscars?

The fresh-faced stars are decades younger than last year's hosts — Alec Baldwin and Steve Martin. That's a good thing, say most critics

In a "surprisingly bold gamble," actors James Franco, 32, and Anne Hathaway, 28, have been tapped to host the Academy Awards in February. Commentators are seeing the youth movement — the combined age of Franco and Hathaway is 60; one of last year's hosts, Steve Martin, was 64 — as a clear effort to appeal to younger viewers and "goose up the ratings for the Oscar telecast." Will it work? (Watch an AP report about the selections)

Yes. It's time to try something new: Franco and Hathaway are a "bold and intriguing" choice that "should bring fresh energy" to the show after last year's "dismal" effort, says Gregory Ellwood at HitFix. Both actors are multi-talented and pairing them together is "genius" — "Franco can easily and humbly play the 'straight man' role and let Hathaway get all the laughs."
"Oscar goes in a new direction with hosts Franco and Hathaway"

A little unpredictability is welcome: Steve Martin and Alec Baldwin weren't bad hosts last year, says Linda Holmes at NPR. "But you knew exactly what you were going to get," which wasn't much of a draw to a younger audience. With Franco and Hathaway, there's a big X factor — and that's a good thing. Franco's "entire life is performance art," while Hathaway, a "lovely and talented goofball," will be only the third woman ever to host.
"Why James Franco And Anne Hathaway are great choices to host the Oscars"

Especially if they're nominated: Franco is a "sure thing" to get a Best Actor nod for 127 Hours and Hathaway may get nominated for Love and Other Drugs, says Glen Levy in Time. Having one or both hosts nominated could add a "fascinating subplot" to the big night, especially if one of them wins.
"The Most Unexpected Oscar Hosts Yet: James Franco and Anne Hathaway"

But they might not bring in more viewers: It's important to note that both Franco and Hathaway have fan bases that are "pretty strongly female," says Steven Zeitchik in the Los Angeles Times. Most agree "that the Oscars sewed up most of the female demographic a long time ago," so to be successful, the broadcasts needs to "appeal to men, particularly young men." The highest-rated recent telecasts, like those hosted by David Letterman (yes, really) and Billy Crystal, have done just that.
"Is James Franco good for the Oscars, or vice versa?"

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