No one would begrudge Colin Firth his Best Actor trophy: as well as putting in a tremendous performance in the film, his acceptance speeches are, time and time again, so gracious and fluent that all future nominees should be sent DVDs of them to study. But the choice of Tom Hooper as Best Director over the likes of David Fincher and Darren Aronofsky, when Christopher Nolan wasn’t even nominated, was a sure indication that the Oscars are as fundamentally conservative and sentimental as they always were.
Maybe we shouldn’t expect anything else from an annual backslapping session built around a ridiculous number of advert breaks. But that indie-friendly Best Picture list did make it seem as if the Academy was finally ready to be a bit more daring. The appointment of two such untried and unexpected presenters as Anne Hathaway and James Franco was encouraging, too. As Ms Hathaway quipped, “It’s the young and hip Oscars!” Initially it seemed as if she was right.
As it turned out, though, she and Mr Franco were depressingly lacklustre. Ms Hathaway did her best to jolly things along, despite being given precious little help by the ceremony’s writers, but Mr Franco was so under-used that for great stretches of the evening you could forget that he was involved. And he seemed to forget as often as anyone: whenever he was onscreen he looked as if his mind was on which pizza he would order after the show.
Nicholas Barber at The Economist’s Prospero blog: