Sunday night was not James Franco's night. Instead, it was the night his wonder boy transcendental rise above us mortals came to a screeching halt and blew up in America's face. The plunge from the top was so bad, he couldn't even bring himself to attend his own after party he once gushed about in interviews, and fled to NYC. He was bad and the Oscars were borderline offensive and dreadful, but how much is he to blame? This is James Franco backlash. Let's break it down...
As a co-host, Franco is taking a lot of the heat for the wreck we regrettably watched play out in slow motion. When Billy Crystal hopped on stage, there was a sense of relief and hope that he might be able to turn this train inching it's way through purgatory around, but no. Some critics are calling Sunday night's televised crash-and-burn disaster, otherwise known as the Oscars, the very worst, ever. Here's what some had to say:
Roger Ebert: "The worst Oscarcast I've seen, and I go back awhile. Some great winners, a nice distribution of awards, but the show? Dead. In. The. Water."
Joe Scarborough: "It was a disgrace."
Tina Brown: "This was the very worst."
[watch Tina and some others rip on the Oscarcast the next morning in this video]
Ken Gruberman: "...this was the worst [Oscars] show EVER" with "PAINFULLY awkward moments. TRULY bad."
And finally, this from The Hollywood Reporter:
"In what could go down as one of the worst Oscar telecasts in history, a bad and risky idea -- letting two actors host -- played out in spectacularly unwatchable fashion on the biggest of all nights for the film world... James Franco had no business agreeing to host... [he] seemed distant, uninterested and content to keep his Cheshire-cat-meets-smug smile on display throughout."
The general consensus that Franco was so stoned he forgot he was hosting doesn't help his case. But let's pretend if Franco wasn't stoned: it would have sucked anyway. The scripted banter and jokes were uncomfortable to watch and the skits were even worse. The real problem was NOT James Franco, but the writers and producers of the show who, after 83 years (!!!!!) STILL CANNOT FIGURE OUT HOW TO MAKE THIS SHIT WATCHABLE no matter how much talent and money they have at their disposal. Joe Scarborough is right, that is a disgrace.
So maybe Franco knew all of this and figured he might as well have a nice buzz going if he's contractually bound to go down with the ship. He had to know he was getting panned as it was happening; he was tweeting throughout the ceremony and must have seen what people were saying and @replying.
And remember that secret after after after after party/debut of his new bar in Hollywood he was planning a performance for? That didn't happen. The performance, I mean, not the party. The party happened, but without a Franco number because he ditched it entirely and immediately split town after the Oscars. How sad is that? Even after a stunning failure as a host, I figured he would at least show up at his own party, nix the performance, and lick his wounds over several rounds shots while hot girls flanked him. Nothing a little chilled Jameson and boobs can't help you forget.
But our modern day Renaissance man experienced the fallout at a cruising altitude of 36,000 ft. while his Nana partied her face off at the Franco-less celebration until 2am. From the awards he headed for the airport in a way I imagine was not unlike when my dog Spike gets caught eating off of the table and angrily scuttles away grunting and low to the ground with his tail between his legs. The only difference is a tux, which Franco was still wearing when he tweeted a picture of himself from his getaway craft with the message, "Goodbye L.A. It was fun! Time to head back to class." Tragic...
Did James Franco disappoint us with his non-performance? Of course. Would the Oscars telecast have been better for us if he gave even half of a shit about being an entertaining host? Yes. Could that have saved it from being horrible? No. No way. That bitch was going down no matter what. James Franco, or at least his image, is in a dark place now, but he'll redeem himself from this stellar fall from grace as soon as the dust settles and we'll all forgive him for being awful on Sunday night. The same cannot be said of the Oscars, which have a near-perfect record of sucking year after year.
Tuesday, May 21
We sat down with Anne Pasternak for a few questions about Creative Time's past and future, as well as the importance of having an awareness about public art in the city.