No over-40 comedian will get to monologue about Meryl Streep’s gazillion award nominations or George Clooney’s quest to win a naked golden man statuette for Best Acting at the 2011 Oscars ceremony. This year the hosting duties fall on two younger thespians whose standing with critics is on the rise.

Actor James Franco and actress Anne Hathaway have been officially confirmed to host the 83rd Annual Academy-Awards ceremony, which will take place on the evening of February 27th, 2011.

Comedians like Billy Crystal, Steve Martin, Chris Rock, Ellen DeGeneres, and Jon Stewart have hosted Oscar ceremonies in the past, and last year Martin teamed up with Alec Baldwin for the famed awards show, which has seen its ratings dwindle over the last decade or so. Academy president Tom Sherak – who confirmed the news about Franco and Hathaway leading this year’s Oscars ceremony to Deadline – is employing a different tactic this time around.

Franco is virtually a lock to receive a Best Actor nod for his turn as Aron Ralston in the intense, true-life pic 127 Hours (and rightly so, in our opinion). The 32-year old actor is a versatile performer who also appeared onscreen in this year’s Date Night and the semi-experimental indie flick Howl, so he’s done all right by himself over the past twelve months.

James Franco as Aron Ralston in ‘127 Hours’.

Hathaway has likewise become a more widely-respected Hollywood performer over the past several years. Gone are the days when her name was synonymous with kid-friendly fare like The Princess Diaries and Ella Enchanted. Now, the 28 year-old Hathaway has an Oscar-nomination on her resume (for her turn as a bitter, recovering drug addict in Rachel Getting Married), which also includes a supporting part in the Oscar-winner Brokeback Mountain and a well-received lead role in the more mainstream commercial hit, The Devil Wears Prada (we’ll pretend that Bride Wars never happened).

While Hathaway’s performance in last week’s release, the dramedy Love and Other Drugs, has been given a generally warm reception from critics, the actress is (for now) considered much more of a dark horse candidate to receive an Oscar nomination than Franco.

Jake Gyllenhaal stars opposite Hathaway in ‘Love and Other Drugs’.

Both Franco and Hathaway are charismatic entertainers who are capable of deftly handling hosting duties at this year’s Oscar ceremony. Their selection does beg the question: Will the duo be able to keep their composure and keep the show rolling if one (or both) of them wins an award?

What do you make of all this?

Catch the 2011 Oscars on February 27, 2011.

Source: Deadline