Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Jimmy Kimmel Returns as Back-to-Back Oscar Host

Usually around this time, there isn't much to say when it comes to the Oscars. Sure, there are a few movies that may get into the conversation, but nothing is really set as far as the ceremony goes. With the past few years announcing their Oscars ceremony hosts towards the end of the year, the next one comes out less than three months after the prior event. It's probably for good reason, as anyone who watched the show knows one thing. Jimmy Kimmel was great. In fact, I'd argue that he was one of the best hosts in a decade. Today it was announced that he would return to host the 90th Annual Academy Awards in 2018. One can only imagine what he'll bring now that everyone likes him.

It has been fascinating to watch the job of the Oscar host morph over the past few years, specifically starting in 2011. That was the year of The King's Speech when The Academy wanted to appeal to younger audiences with Anne Hathaway and James Franco as notorious MC's. Ever since it seems to have been a struggle to find the middle ground of host that would not only do a good job, but would actually bring in viewers. If one had to guess from the next few hosts, Kimmel wouldn't have been the obvious pick. Billy Crystal was an old hat who knew his material too well. Seth MacFarlane was too manic and edgy. Ellen DeGeneres was too meandering. Neil Patrick Harris (while a solid runner-up) felt out of place. Chris Rock was great as host but too hot tempered as a comedian. Kimmel on the other hand was great.

It could be that Kimmel has gained a formula thanks to his work on Jimmy Kimmel Live! (which tapes across the street from the Dolby Theater) and the simple fact that almost every person in that room has been on his show. He perfectly transcends celebrity and can connect with the crowd in ways that a more impersonal host can't. As it stands, his style of humor was specific and topical but never derailed the show. Even his famous bit where he brought a tour group through the theater managed to last just long enough to avoid annoyance to home audiences. Ironically, it was also the night of the notorious envelope mishap where La La Land accidentally won Best Picture before giving it to Moonlight. Kimmel ended the night by suggesting that The Academy wouldn't have him back.

I'm personally glad to see them change their minds. Unlike a type like Ricky Gervais who becomes hostile and unpleasant over time,  I think that Kimmel will only continue to shine as host - possibly even serving as heir apparent to the Billy Crystal vaudeville shtick for a digital era. He's bringing with him the writing staff that made the last show such a hit. One can only hope that he brings the same level of energy and makes the very special 90th anniversary ceremony something special not just for 2017, but for The Academy's extremely rich history. They have made a good call with inviting him back, and I can only wonder how many more times that will happen in years to come.

The ceremony is currently scheduled to happen on March 4, 2018 at the Dolby Theater. Check local listings for more information.

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