It is time once again to begin speculation on who will be hosting the upcoming Academy Awards ceremony. It is a thankless task that is likely not to get as much remembrance as the winners. Earlier this year, there were reports that there might be two hosts. While this hasn't been disproved, the latest front runner is someone that is kind of familiar to Oscar fans. Leading the list of potential Oscar hosts at this moment is comedian Chris Rock, who was announced today as being a serious contender for the honor. It will be interesting, especially since the last time he hosted wasn't exactly free of conflict.
There's something that I really enjoy about Rock's style. He can be abrasive and sharp as well as insightful in his comedy. While he has gotten a bad reputation for being profane, he has slowly proven himself to be more than just that over the past decade. He's even shown up to various ceremonies since hosting to present awards, most notably giving a monologue about how easy voice acting is while presenting the Best Animated Film category. It was an uproarious moment that shows that even if his last hosting gig didn't leave everyone in the best of moods, he was willing to play game enough.
For those who don't know, Rock started the ceremony swinging. In his opening monologue, he made the typical cracks at various actors, including why Clint Eastwood was better than Tobey Maguire. In the most notorious joke, Rock implied that Jude Law was an inferior version of Tom Cruise. What seemed like a mediocre insult evolved into an ongoing conflict throughout the evening, including a rebuttal from Law's friend Sean Penn, who claimed that Law was one of this generation's finest actors. While Law was complacent about it in the moment, he gave an interview with The New York Times the year following, claiming to be mad because the comments became personal.
It is a moment that has become notorious and one of the most memorable Oscar ceremony moments in recent years. While it would seem that this meant that Rock had made powerful enemies and would thus not be allowed to host ever again, the reality is that he has been game. Unlike other controversial hosts, such as Seth MacFarlane, he has publicly stated that he would definitely want to host again, claiming that he had a great time doing it. While it would likely perturb Law and Penn, who still have fledgling careers, it would mean more of the abrasive and lively banter that made him such a magnetic force to begin with.
Of course, it will be hard to see Rock being the answer to the ceremony's ratings problem, which have been steadily tepid for years now. Even if he's a star in various franchise films, he's not a household name that will draw in the variety that The Academy seems to want (unless they can get Mad Max: Fury Road that Oscar potential). This will also be his first time since 2005, meaning that 11 years will have passed. While he is still a sharp comedian, proving to be a success on stage, I don't know if he will be the greatest host. At most, he will be punchy and spontaneous in a manner that will keep the show moving. He did a good job last time, but I don't know if he'll be as great in a climate where humor is more of a sensitive topic than ever, especially since MacFarlane was ridiculed for his occasionally sexist jokes.
I personally would look forward to Rock hosting again. I don't know that he will be the greatest host, but it's a thankless job and I frankly don't care about the Oscar hosts. Unless they're really bad (Ellen Degeneres), I tend to give them a pass. All they really need to do is warm up the crowd and get the awards show moving. Considering that last year ran long and had issues with pacing, it would be nice to strip down and have someone who won't focus too heavily on spectacle. I know that it's a big night, one of my favorites of the year, but I also like things that run smoothly. Part of me is excited about Rock because maybe he'll do that. While I am disappointed that this may mean that we don't get that double host, at least we'll have someone qualified.