James Franco And Anne Hathaway’s Oscar Promos: A Historical Comparison

They’ve got Icarus-inspired high-tops and T-shirts that warn, “Oscar Host-in-Training.” What they don’t seem to have, unfortunately, is a clue. Welcome to the lives of James Franco and Anne Hathaway in the run up to their joint hosting gig of the 83rd Annual Academy Awards (or, at least, their lives as presented in one of two new promos for the award show).

The promo casts Franco and Hathaway as sweetly naive newbies attempting to prepare for the worst possible live-show disasters: a potentially breast-revealing wardrobe malfunction, a mid-dance mishap that leaves Hathaway flying across the stage. Another ad shows them, perhaps less creatively, working on their promotional lines. Are they effective ads? Do the 15-second spots make us want to tune into the proceedings on February 27? Because, for better or worse, it won’t just be the quality of the program and its winners that establish the show’s legacy but the number of viewers who tune to watch it all unfold.

Take a look at some past Oscar promos and let us know how you think of Franco and Hathaway’s videos seem by comparison.

Steve Martin and Alec Baldwin
Last year, Martin and Baldwin guided the show toward its largest viewership since 2005. In these outtakes from earlier promos, the two actors showcase the gently headbutting humor they displayed on the show itself. The message in this spot: you might get bumped or bruised during the Oscars, but no one is going to leave the show metaphorically bleeding from a vicious comedic blow. In other words, Ricky Geravis they ain’t.

Hugh Jackman
A behind-the-scenes look at Jackman prepping for the show in 2009 couldn’t have been more different than Baldwin and Martin’s promo. In this web-based clip, the “X-Men” star is shown in super-serious-emcee-mode. He’s like something out of “A Chorus Line”: god I hope I get it! What a delight, then, that Jackman turned in one of the strongest, most entertaining Oscar hosting gigs in recent memory. His opening musical number, during which he pulled Hathaway onto stage for a send-up of “Frost/Nixon,” should be required viewing for all award show hosts.

Jon Stewart
In what appears to be unfinished footage from the “Daily Show” host’s 2006 turn on the Oscar stage, Stewart shuffles back and forth in full-on, hyper-insecure Jewish comedian mode. “Is this the best you could do? Me?” he wonders. At one point he turns to an oversize statue and says, “Their real name is Goldenstein, but they changed it for the business. They’re not fooling anybody and that’s taking a nose job way to far.” Unsurprisingly, Stewart’s two Oscar hosting gigs fell as flat as this promo.