The 9 Most Scathing Reviews of the 2011 Academy Awards

You may not hear much about it today, but there is a school of thought purporting to redeem terrible Academy Awards ceremonies. "I actually like it when it's bad," one of its proponents wrote last night. "I like it when it chunders on and on and lasts all night. I like it when they accept that they will never be cool and just embrace their uncoolness." I offer that as a preemptive palate cleanser in advance of these nine Oscarcast critics who definitely don't like it when it's bad.

9. "James Franco played a guy who cut off his own arm. Why couldn't he play a guy who likes Anne Hathaway?" -- Jeff Garlin, via Twitter

8. "Many claimed to find [Kirk] Douglas' pervy crypt-keeper act to be charming, but I don't buy it -- do I want to say bad things about a 94-year-old stroke victim (and a Hollywood legend to boot)? No. But somebody has to. Douglas had no business being out there, and his delayed reading of the winner's name was uncomfortable television of the highest order. Leave it to Leo -- who I must conclude is a big phony in light of her self-financed Oscar campaign -- to make matters worse by attempting to play along and, subsequently, dropping the F-bomb on the air. Simply awful television." -- Sean Stangland, Chicago Daily Herald

7. "It wasn't simply that Franco was baked or bored, or that his idiosyncratic blend of sincerity and authenticity are precisely out of sync with the combo demanded by the Bob Hope-Billy Crystal-Whoopi Goldberg Chair of American Toastmastership, although those are all plausible hypotheses. Franco was pissed. On a night when he could have been building a multimedia installation or running lines for General Hospital or getting busy with an NYU sophomore or working on a paper about Sir John Suckling, Franco had to hang out on a cold night in L.A. with all these dorks, presiding over a pseudo-event so miscellaneous it couldn't be rescued through meta-ness or reframing or any other kind of mental gamesmanship. Was this "performance art" like your GH gig, Jimmy? No, it wasn't, was it? It was just lame." -- Andrew O'Hehir, Salon

6. "[Billy Crystal] introduced a video projection of very-dead former host Bob Hope, and the desperation became too much to bear. I hope at least Hathaway or Franco was backstage somewhere and self-aware enough to realize they had been replaced by a dead man."-- Katey Rich, Cinema Blend

5. "As the pair admitted at the start of the ceremony, they were there to appeal to young people. Which ones? I'd like to meet the young people drawn to watch by this most anodyne of pairings. Meet them, and then punch them in the face and tell them to get a grip." -- Ed Cumming, The Telegraph


3. "This was the worst Oscarcast I've ever endured. It's time for the Board of Governors to have a long, sad talk with itself. At one point I tweeted: "If Bruce Vilanch is within 50 miles of the Kodak Pavilion, they should helicopter his ass backstage and put him to work." I was quickly put straight. Vilanch, the comedy writer responsible for countless great lines in Oscarcasts past, was a writer on this year's show. Since Franco and Hathaway lacked a single clever line, there must be an untold story." -- Roger Ebert,

2. "So Anne Hathaway had something like 5 wardrobe changes so far, and she does the shimmy and thinks that'll amuse us. At this point, the only thing that'll amuse me after 2 hours of this tedium is if there's a public hanging onstage of the show's producers." -- Nikki Finke, Deadline

1. "10:48 The coming obits should include a mention of this show." -- David Edelstein, New York Magazine


  • NP says:

    Thank you, Sean Stangland. I keep reading how wonderful Douglas was, how he stole the show, etc. Uh, no! No he wasn't wonderful, no he didn't steal the show. He made it excruciatingly uncomfortable, unpleasant. Is that the Academy's idea of drawing in younger viewers? By trotting (excuse me, limping) out the animated corpse of a Hollywood star of yore? It was horrible, horrible, horrible.

  • julie says:

    i loved how robert downy jr. always presents himself.... he is hansom and cute. hahaha.

  • Martini Shark says:

    Another biting critique:
    "I found the show extremely entertaining. It was lucid, seemless, and flowed together. The chemistry of those cats on stage was electric! And boy, did I laugh - like a freaking hyena on Jaeger-bombs!"
    --Charlie sheen

  • PFC says:

    I was "speech-less"... this was the worst writing/directing/acting spectacle I've ever witnessed... I can't wait to hear Bruce Vilanch's
    opinion of this travesty.

  • Tallulah says:

    The whole mess was a total trainwreck. The opening was endless and then they brought out Kirk Douglas who went on and on and on. Never funny, just kind of pathetic. They are going to have to find a way to stop the Golden Globes from stealing their thunder because it was just a repeat of those awards.

  • SunnydaZe says:

    I made a decision to turn off my cynicism and watch the Oscars in an old fashioned style. Guess it worked because I enjoyed the telecast in a way I haven't in a long time. I didn't need it to be "funny" or "cutting edge". I marveled at the beautiful stage effects and thought Anne Hathaway's optimism and dress changes were engaging. The "awkwardness" factor was low and the ceremony ran smoothly. The Bob Hope effect was a really nice touch of nostalgia. Also, Kirk Douglas is a living legend. Yes, he is still alive and amazing. Sorry his age and health make some of you uncomfortable. I can only assume you must be surrounded by other people of your young age with fortunate health and have no patience or sympathy for anyone other than the most perfect physical specimens of humankind. Let's hope you get fatally hit by a bus and never have to be anything other than young and healthy. Oh, sh*t! The cynicism just came back. Well, fun while it lasted...

  • anon says:

    rdj should have hosted...even my grandmother loves the guy's natural charisma.

  • Alex says:

    This is why Ricky Gervais should host every single awards show.

  • Alex says:

    Despite that fuck tard Apatow and a legion of other ego's shitting all over him on twitter etc. Lets hope Ricky Gervais is asked to do every single awards show next year. Gervais and his amazing one liners > Franco & Hathaway with there rendition of Lars and The Real Girl (Hathaway is Lars)

  • mannequin says:

    It's called karma. Perhaps Franco should not have disrespected Gervais by saying he bombed as a host.
    Oh well, the Oscars are only good as an affirmation that money doesn't equal class or good taste.

  • Couch Tamale says:

    On Saturday I was walking by the Spirit Awards and stopped where the fans stood braving the icy wind. Only a few actors left the red carpet to walk her credit, Melissa Leo, who took the most time with the crowd and showed a humility I never saw in her speeches...Sarah Paulson and Uma Thurman...the guys from True Blood...a charming Thomas Ian Nicholas. And..James Franco. Though he was one of the few who walked over, and though he patiently took pics and signed autographs, he looked so uncharacteristically sullen it was remarkable. No famous Franco smirk/smile, no engagement, barely a word, just...dutiful. At first I thought, maybe he's exhausted from rehearsals. But after watching last night, to be honest it looked a little like a form of clinical, or anticipatory depression. It was like he knew he from rehearsals how bad the set-ups and writing were, and/or he didn't have the mojo or power to do something about he just moved into some weird form of public shut-down. And stayed there, in front of a billion people. Observing him for five minutes very up-close and personal, something seemed really wrong.

  • mary tivy says:

    The only thing more embarrassing than this Oscar experience was inviting people over to watch it. We muted the sound and played Ricky Gervais from the Golden Globes on youtube.

  • Andrew says:

    It wasn't Douglas's age or health that made me uncomfortable. It was that he's a 90+ year old stroke survivor who can barely speak let alone enunciate. I couldn't understand half the shit he said, and it just made me embarrassed for all involved.

  • Charle says:

    A bunch of narcissists patting themselves on the back... Haven't watched this drivel for years. Seems I made the right choice...

  • Eric says:

    Franco has been described as having "an unusually high metabolism for productivity...a superhuman ability to focus". Dissatisfied with his career's direction, Franco reenrolled at UCLA in the fall of 2006 as an English major with a creative writing concentration. Having received permission to take as many as 62 course credits per quarter compared to the normal limit of 19 while continuing to act, he received his undergraduate degree in June 2008 with a GPA over 3.5. For his degree, Franco prepared his departmental honors thesis as a novel under the supervision of Mona Simpson. He moved to New York to simultaneously attend graduate school at Columbia University's MFA writing program, New York University's Tisch School of the Arts for filmmaking, and Brooklyn College for fiction writing, while occasionally commuting to North Carolina's Warren Wilson College for poetry. He received his MFA from Columbia in 2010. Franco is a Ph.D. student in English at Yale University and will also attend the Rhode Island School of Design.

  • Nicole says:

    I thought the same thing. He looked baked pretty much everytime they showed him.

  • Stephanie says:

    Pretty sure Franco ate some brownies before the show.

  • Gustavo says:

    Talk about missing the point.
    Douglas could barely speak, and he went on to torture the nominated actressess with that idiotic suspense...

  • Anthony says:

    Can everyone get over themselves about the Oscars already? James & Anne did a great job. What we like to do here in this wonderful country is complain & jump on a bandwagon with no opinion of their own? I'd ur getting ur information form critics please enter another cult? This years show was refreshing and everybody looked like they were having a great time! Please start writing about why Kim k is depressed or lebron walking in the park? How every celebrity has to b brought down cause everyone else's are awful! Cause really who wants all that money and fame it must b Hell? Where are our Savior's? TV,movie,book& sport critic their lives are in so much control? The have a difficult time being so perfect! Thank you for telling us how to live ur beautiful perfect Life!

  • Cola says:

    This has to work in favor of the actors. they really deserve the applause.

  • Cruz says:

    But the team work that any film has is finally responsible for all the success it gets. The warm applause is for everyone who is part of that particular super hit film.

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