Brian: So faster than Adam could insult John’s movie taste, the news of Anne Hathaway and James Franco being the hosts of this year’s Oscars has spread quickly around the interwebs. Consider me thrilled and excited. I was probably more bullish on last year’s telecast than most, and that was in spite of Alec Baldwin and Steve Martin’s lame performance as hosts. As Dave Karger points out over on Inside Movies, “But [the Academy] clearly seems to be courting a different generation: Franco and Hathaway’s combined age (61) is less than Steve Martin’s.”

I love this pairing. Franco can pretty much do whatever he pleases and I’m sure he’ll amuse. He was the best part of Pineapple Express and I’m more than wiling to forgive him for Spiderman 3. He’s exceeded expectations on SNL. And Hathaway did the best she could with the weak material when she hosted SNL recently. They are both easy on the eyes, young up-and-comers who will likely be A-listers in due time. It’s clear that this is a cagey attempt at attracting younger audiences to the telecast — and while I think it will succeed, and hope it will — I’m more convinced that the age of the big television event is gone. This is now two years in a row that the Academy has shocked the grouches with a move to create buzz around the Oscars. Maybe we should stop giving them such a hard time for being fuddyduddies?

I’m intrigued to see how this affects Franco’s campaign for Best Actor. Help him or hurt him? Would sentimental votes of giving it to the young guy now dissipate because he’s getting such a huge platform with emcee duties? Does this help Hathaway’s dark horse campaign for Best Actress?

John? What do you think?

Jared: My first reaction to hearing Hathaway and Franco were named hosts was something along the lines of Sasha Stone at Awards Daily: disbelief.  Everyone has to start somewhere, but you are talking about people who are a decade removed from playing Disney princesses and the a-hole in high school romantic comedies.

There’s little doubt in my mind that they have the tools to be successful hosts.  They’ve both clearly demonstrated comedic chops and also had searingly successful dramatic turns.  But perhaps most importantly, they both have shown that they (or, their public personas, at least) can laugh at themselves.  I only wonder how the Oscar audience will feel getting razzed by the two.  Because when, say, Steve Martin heaps on you, that’s undeniably an honor.  But even with the same writers (crosses fingers for Bruce Vilanch to be involved again), I think the same joke comes out a little differently when it is the stoned drug dealer from Pineapple Express.

The Academy has a well-deserved reputation for being stodgy.  It is nice to see them moving another step away from that.  Also nice to see their taste in hosts is still strong.

John: What a strange choice. Both of them have the potential to be very good and both have done a good job hosting SNL. Hathaway was funny during a part of Hugh Jackman’s opening number in 2009. I just don’t understand why they’re hosting together. Do producers think neither has the chops to host solo? Or could they not make up their mind between the two? Is there any evidence they’d have chemistry?

It’s especially puzzling since last year’s hosting duo seemed like a great idea but were terrible. If Steve Martin and Alec Baldwin don’t work well together, why would Hathaway and Franco? Also Franco is likely to be a nominee for 127 Hours, which could be an interesting dynamic.

But the bigger factor is that Adam Shankman isn’t producing this year so the show has to be better than last year’s, no matter who is hosting.

Brian: Notice how John failed to answer my one question. I think this hurts Franco’s campaign and the smart money is on Colin Firth, even more than it ways before.

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