|Left to right: James Franco and Anne Hathaway|
This morning, The Oscars announced a somewhat big news story. Just as much as trying to determine who will win the categories, it seems to be fun to predict who will host as well. The past few years have been an eclectic bunch of hosts who have gotten it (Neil Patrick Harris), gave it a good try (Seth MacFarlane), and clearly were out to sabotage everyone (Ellen Degeneres). While the host is a thankless job that not too many people will remember in a few years, there are those few that have stood out. In trying to keep with this pattern, The Oscars are doing something that has and hasn't worked in the past decade: they are announcing that there will be not one, but TWO hosts at this year's upcoming ceremony.
While I make the notion that most Oscar hosts are quickly forgettable, there's a certain dismay that comes with the announcement of two hosts. You don't have to go far back to see an example of this going poorly, at least in the critical eye. In 2011, James Franco and Anne Hathaway hosted what is widely considered to be one of the worst ceremonies in recent years. It was a strange decision, especially with The Academy trying to skewer to a younger audience with the hip talents of two young actors. It seemed great on paper. The results are still mythic, with both being unable to escape the backlash four years later in press interviews for their latest projects.
But that is only one example, and shouldn't dissuade you from thinking that multiple hosts is a good thing. There's been plenty of bad singular hosts, but nobody dreads the following year when somebody else takes the stage. In fact, I would even argue that getting two hosts could work out rather well. For this sake, I will turn to just a year prior to the Franco/Hathaway debacle. In 2010, returning host Steve Martin paired with first timer Alec Baldwin in what was arguably one of the better ceremony years. They did the familiar shtick with plenty of timely video parodies and banter that reflects why Martin is an underrated host in the annuls of Oscar Hots. They may be far from their demographic, but they sure know how to entertain. Before them, one would have to go back to 1984 when there was a triple header between Chevy Chase, Goldie Hawn, and Paul Hogan.
I am personally looking forward to trying out the two host structure again. While it has gotten a bad reputation, I do think that one thing that is missing at the Oscars is spontaneity. Most of the time, it feels like hosts trying to talk with the audience about random things. With a partner, it allows the routines to feel more rehearsed and potentially more interesting. There could be more substance, allowing each to take turns introducing various presenters and giving us more variety. At the time of this publication, I do not know who exactly The Academy has in mind, but hopefully it will be interesting.
I will provide commentary when the names are finally announced. For now, I will decide to anticipate, throwing out my own theories. In the end, the host is the least important part of the Oscars. While few like Bob Hope and Billy Crystal will always be remembered, the amount of great bits to filler is astoundingly skewered. The host is often a tactic to get a younger and more hip crowd interested. There could be an entire essay written on the fascinating post-millennium approach to this, which has rarely landed perfectly. After all, The Oscars are voted upon predominantly by old white men. There's controversy that The Academy is too exclusive as well. If one must work on getting a more diverse audience, one must work on recognizing that diversity as well.
Here's hoping that whoever gets the bill will be delivering something promising. For now, we can only speculate on who they will be. Who do you want to see? I have my own theory that I hope to share tomorrow as a part of Theory Thursday. It may not be as predictable/exciting as Amy Poehler and Tina Fey (of Golden Globes fame) or the return of Martin and Baldwin, but I do hope that it at least raises a few eyebrows.