Every awards season certain directors, actors, and movies are relentlessly picked apart by the media and public. Sometimes this prompts interesting think pieces but most often the big awards season stories are tiresome. (Case in point: Ben Affleck’s alleged Oscar snub.) But the constant scrutinization of Anne Hathaway has been endlessly fascinating.
While other Oscar-nominated actresses like Jennifer Lawrence and Jessica Chastain are widely adored, Hathaway can do nothing right. Not her interviews, her red carpet appearances, or her acceptance speeches. (Especially her acceptance speeches.) She has been constantly lambasted. In recent memory, no other actress who is the frontrunner to win an Oscar has been this polarizing. Let’s call this the Anne Hathaway Conundrum.
What has Hathaway done so egregiously wrong to generate so much disdain? On the surface, nothing. She is a two-time Oscar nominee. She consistently makes decent movies although she has appeared in a few duds. (It’s okay, Anne. Everyone was in Valentine’s Day.) She had one barely memorable tabloid scandal, which is admirable given that she became a major star in the last decade. She is intelligent, well-spoken, and passionate. (Just watch her speech after receiving a Human Rights Campaign award in 2008.) She is clearly talented and she even escaped from that Oscars hosting debacle relatively unscathed. So Anne Hathaway seems to be a perfectly tolerable person and actress. Right?
For no apparent reason, people do not like Hathaway. Despite my ability to recognize her many good qualities, I also kind of dislike Anne Hathaway. Maybe “dislike” is the wrong word; I just don’t care for Anne Hathaway.
Since I must over-analyze everything, I need to understand what really bothers me about Anne Hathaway. Therefore I spent the last week watching and revisiting almost every movie Hathaway has appeared in, starting with The Princess Diaries up until The Dark Knight Rises. (But not Les Miserables. You cannot pay me to see Les Mis. My friend tried and it didn’t work.) Here it goes.
The Princess Diaries (2001)
Role: Mia Thermapolis, an awkward 15-year-old girl discovers that she is a princess and her grandmother is Julie Andrews. The rest is history.
Verdict: Ah, young Anne Hathaway. Mia is a gift to teenage girls everywhere. She teaches them about the art of plucking their unibrows and the importance of investing in a flatiron. Therefore countless of people give Hathaway a “Get Out of Jail for Free” card. To them, she can do no wrong. Because of The Princess Diaries and its sequel, Anne Hathaway becomes trapped in teen movies for several years.
Role: Allison Lang, an angsty teenager who joins a L.A. gang.
Verdict: I wasn’t going to watch Havoc, a straight-to-DVD release, but I was told I should. Well, I got about halfway through before I stopped caring. This was plenty of time for Hathaway to take off her top. Because that is how an actress who spent the previous four years as a princess makes her willingness to take on challenging roles apparent.
Brokeback Mountain (2005)
Role: Lureen Newsom Twist
Verdict: Anne Hathaway takes her shirt off. Anne Hathaway has a Southern accent. Anne Hathaway wears a bad wig. Anne Hathaway is praised for taking a risk. Even if Lureen is somewhat of a forgettable character, Brokeback Mountain was a brilliant career choice.
The Devil Wears Prada (2006)
Role: Andrea, an aspiring journalist becomes the assistant to a fashion editor.
Verdict: This movie is a perfect example of the Anne Hathaway Conundrum. Can Anne Hathaway as the lead actress sell a movie? Or will the supporting cast be the main draw? In this case, everyone and their mother saw The Devil Wears Prada because of Meryl Streep. This is not an exaggeration. I literally see every Meryl Streep movie with my mom.
Becoming Jane (2007)
Role: Jane Austen.
Verdict: An unmemorable, boring biopic that turns Jane Austen into a watered down caricature of herself.
Rachel Getting Married (2008)
Role: Addict Kym leaves rehab to attend her sister Rachel’s wedding. It is the longest, most multicultural wedding in the history of weddings.
Verdict: I had not seen Rachel Getting Married since I saw it in theaters. I didn’t care for Hathaway’s performance then and I don’t really care for it now. Hathaway receives her first Oscar nomination and the tradition of Anne Hathaway performing at the Oscars is born.
Bride Wars (2009)
Role: Emma, a woman who turns into a raging psycho when her best friend wants to get married on the same day.
Verdict: At this point in her career, Hathaway embarks on a string of rom-coms that are mostly disastrous endeavors. This is the point in her career when I began to think less of her as an actress. Any respect I may have gained for Hathaway after Rachel Getting Married was forgotten.
Love and Other Drugs (2010)
Role: Maggie Murdock. A wragic 26-year-old woman with Parkinson’s Disease and no health issuance. Fortunately, the love of one man helps her seem less tragic.
Verdict: Anne Hathaway gets naked again. Way more naked than ever before. Though it is still unclear if Anne Hathaway can carry a movie. Love and Other Drugs is as much a Jake Gyllenhaal movie as it is an Anne Hathaway movie. (She just has the more endearing role. Because she’s all tragic and stuff.)
One Day (2011)
Role: Emma, a wallflower who spends twenty years trying to get a waste of a human being to marry her. Eventually he does but still sucks. Oh and she’s barren and then she dies.
Verdict: Good god. I hate this movie. I HATE THIS MOVIE. The only time I legitimately hate Anne Hathaway is when I think about One Day and how it is horrendously awful.
The Dark Knight Rises (2012)
Role: Selina Kyle/Catwoman
Verdict: This is Anne Hathaway’s first good role and performance since The Princess Diaries. She made The Dark Knight Rises less of a disappointment. It also forgave her for One Day.
Les Miserables (2012)
Role: Fantine, a malnourished singing prostitute who dies.
Verdict: I’ve heard good reviews about her performance. I’ve heard bad review about her performance. But whatever. Anne Hathaway will win an Oscar tomorrow.
After watching six Anne Hathaway movies in a row, I have few complaints with her as an actress. If anything, Hathaway’s transformation from the Princess of Genovia to Fantine is admirable. She made a few unfortunate movies but nothing she hasn’t been able to move past. She takes risks, which means she frequently gets naked, loses weight, and cuts of her hair. She does this often enough that it is mistaken for adding depth to a performance. (See: Rachel Getting Married.) But I still don’t care for Anne Hathaway. It is how she presents herself outside of her movies that is cumbersome. (Yes, I really did examine Anne Hathaway’s entire filmography to reach this jaw-dropping conclusion.)
The public perception of Hathaway when she isn’t acting is the basis of the Anne Hathaway Conundrum. She is good actress who irks people just enough so that either they don’t care for her or they absolutely despise her.
Now consider this point from Vulture’s excellent piece on Oscar campaigning.
Oscar consultants’ eyebrows raised in alarm when the Twittersphere erupted in derision at Anne Hathaway’s botched BAFTA acceptance speech for Best Supporting Actress last week. Even as she professed breathless surprise, her words felt perfectly scripted and memorized, the combination of which (after being a front-runner for so long) made her feel presumptuous about winning. Calling her own film a “theatrical juggernaut” also did little to help her come off as a gracious, modest winner.
There it is. Because she is an Oscar frontrunner, this awards season has pushed Anne Hathaway more in your face than ever before. She has upped the public appearances. Anne Hathaway is everywhere. And every complaint that has ever been made about Hathaway – she’s too actress-y, she’s too enthusiastic, she’s too much – have doubled. Her BAFTA acceptance speech was just the final straw and people are totally exhausted of the Anne Hathaway Oscars Train at this point. And it has been a seemingly long road to the Oscars for us and Hathaway. But especially us.
Hathaway joined the cast of Les Miserables in October 2011. Since the spring of 2012, we watched as Hathaway prepared for her role as Fantine. We saw the set pictures as she got frighteningly thin and cut off her hair. We then watched her discuss her diet and her terrible haircut before Les Mis had finished filming. Then every blog in existence proceeded to comment on her extreme diet and her terrible haircut. This gave people more fodder to hate Anne Hathaway than ever before.
By the time Les Miserables was released in December, people were already tired of Les Miserables. After a long summer of hearing about Anne Hathaway’s diet, it did not help her when this movie was presented as Anne Hathaway’s big movie. And so an actress who was only somewhat polarizing became even more polarizing. Now we are subjected to an endless number of blogs that carry the same message: “Anne Hathaway is so annoying”. They don’t offer an explanation about why she is so annoying. Anne Hathaway just is so annoying and we’re all supposed to get why.
The result: Everything Anne Hathaway did during this awards season was closely examined. This is true for any actor who is campaigning for an Oscar. But Hathaway experienced the unparalleled wrath of the industry, the media, the public, and the Internet disguised as the public more than any other actress. It has been brutal to watch.
Unfortunately, I don’t think she will be able to brush off this scrutinization for a long time. Hathaway is rumored to be interested in playing Eliza Doolittle on Broadway and already there are complaints that “Anne Hathaway will be annoying as Eliza Doolittle”. This announcement has been used as a catalyst to hate on her entire career. This is a shame. Because, as I forced myself to accept by watching her films, Anne Hathaway is a good actress with a respectable career.
Anne Hathaway win the Oscar tomorrow. But you will hear and read many complaints about it afterwards. I hope for her sake, she looks fantastic and delivers a good, succinct speech. Otherwise, I can’t deal with how she will be unfairly treated immediately after the Oscars telecast, on Monday morning, and in every “Hey remember when Anne Hathaway won an Oscar and we all hated it” declaration that follows.
(This was my big pre-Oscars post. Satisfied, Ally?)