This morning, it was announced that Franco had received a Best Actor in a Leading Role nomination for his work in “127 Hours.” The film was also recognized with nods for Best Picture, Best Director, Adapted Screenplay and Original Score.
But this isn’t the first time a host has also been a nominee. It’s happened seven times, in fact. When Michael Caine hosted in 1973, he was also nominated as Best Actor for his work in “Sleuth.” And in 1972, Walter Matthau was nominated for Best Actor in “Kotch” while he was hosting as well. David Niven even won the Oscar for Best Actor in “Separate Tables” when he hosted in 1958. In an article in the New York Times, Oscar producer Bruce Cohen said he “didn’t see it as awkward in the slightest.”
The Academy has avoided this problem in recent years by having a series of comedians from Chris Rock to Jon Stewart to Alec Baldwin and Steve Martin host the Oscars, but this years they were for movie stars. Hugh Jackman got good ratings during his theatrical hosting job in 2009, and Hathaway joining him on stage for a song and dance number is probably part of what got producers interested in having her come back. Plus, by having younger hosts it seems like an effort from the Academy to try to draw in a younger audience.
However, it does seem unlikely that Franco will actually win the Oscar for Best Actor. Though he has won Best Actor awards for “127 Hours” from the Las Vegas Film Critics Society, the Dallas-Fort Worth Film Critics Association Awards, and the Central Ohio Film Critics Association, “The King’s Speech” star Colin Firth has been the critical darling in other recent awards shows. And Javier Bardem, Jesse Eisenberg and Jeff Bridges all have good shots at winning as well.