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Oscar hosts don’t succeed and winners don’t surprise

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There are always winners and losers at the Academy Awards, but the 83rd installment featured an extra pair of losers: emcees Anne Hathaway and James Franco.

The Twitterverse was agog with fan reactions to Franco’s pre-show out-of-body interviews, but critics would also comment on the awkward nature of the pair.

As The New York Times wrote, “Separately, Mr. Franco and Ms. Hathaway are charming and charismatic, but together they had an odd absence of chemistry.”

For what the pair lacked in chemistry, the serving of youth helped to draw viewers in. The 37.6 million viewers (according to Nielsen), although not as large as last year’s “Avatar”-fueled 41.7 million viewers, still marked a safe departure from 2008, when the show experienced its lowest ratings ever.

The awards themselves went largely as analysts had predicted.

“The King’s Speech” was the major draw among the big awards, and tied “Inception” for the most statuettes taken home, with four. The film itself won Best Picture, actor Colin Firth took the Best Actor and Tom Hooper earned the Best Director award for his work. The fourth Oscar, for Best Original Screenplay, went to David Seidler, who was also the oldest individual to win the award at age 73.

“Inception,” which had already generated buzz over the exclusion of Christopher Nolan from the Best Director category, still got its fair share of awards, even if none were in “major” categories. It won trophies for Achievement in Sound Mixing, Achievement in Sound Editing, Best Visual Effects and Best Cinematography.

“The Social Network,” considered to be the best competition for “The King’s Speech,” did not win any of the major awards but did take home three statuettes, including Best Original Score. Nine Inch Nails frontman Trent Reznor, the foremost creator behind the soundtrack, looked somewhat out of place in a tuxedo compared to his grimier rock persona.

“The Fighter” swept the Best Supporting categories, with Christian Bale winning for actor, and Melissa Leo winning for actress. Leo also provided one of the night’s notable moments when she let the f-word slip during her acceptance speech.

Natalie Portman rounded out the acting awards with a Best Actress win for her role in “Black Swan.”

Toy Story 3, although failing to gather much support in the Best Film category, won the Best Animated Feature as a consolation.

As is tradition, musical artists performed the nominees for Best Original Song, including acts from Randy Newman, Florence Welch and Mandy Moore. Newman won his second Oscar for the category. Although his second win, it had to feel good as it was his 20th nomination.

“I want to be good on television so badly,” he said wryly at the podium.  

The crowd’s impatience with Franco and Hathaway was evident when Billy Crystal, the eight-time former host of the event, walked onstage to pay homage to the only man to host more, Bob Hope (18 ceremonies). The crowd greeted Crystal with the night’s loudest ovation, and laughed heartily at his quips.

After the critical backlash over the Franco-Hathaway debacle, Crystal’s appearance might have given viewers a sneak peek at the 2012 show.

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