Thursday, September 18, 2014

Top Ten: Who Should Host the Oscars?

This is a risky post to write this time of year-I was actually almost done with a Kennedy Center Honors predictions list, and then they actually shared who the winners were, making my article a bit moot (I did tackle the Life Achievement Award honors in a slightly different way here).  This may well be the case with the Oscars' host, as the producers have already been announced so it may be only a matter of time before we get to the actual main event.

Still, though, this is about that time of year where everyone starts throwing the names of every comedian, actor, and talk show host under the sun, and I figured I'd pipe in with my two cents in this regard.  Below you will find my top ten theoretical hosts (and co-hosts) that should host this year's Academy Awards.

Note Before We Begin: Tina and Amy are doing the Golden Globes.  We all want them to host the Oscars.  It's not happening until their contract is done with the Globes.  Let it go people.

Another Note Before We Begin: There are four obvious names that could go below that I'm not going to put.  Justin Timberlake is a terrible actor, and hasn't earned the right to host the Oscars yet (and really, who would want that smugness for three hours?).  Neil Patrick Harris can act, but he tends to make the ceremony too much about himself, and that doesn't work on Hollywood's biggest night (see the disaster of Seth MacFarlane)-better for a smaller venue like the Tony Awards.  I have never really liked Conan O'Brien, and I think that would be a Letterman redux if we had him host.  And Jon Stewart isn't listed not because I don't think he'd be great for a third go-around (I think he would), but he's probably more interested in being a nominee this year for Rosewater.

10. Channing Tatum and Jonah Hill

If you want to attract the straight male audience, this may be the best way to do so without alienating your core group of women and gay men.  Both of these guys are extremely funny, and while I do wonder what they'd be like in straight stand-up, their SNL episodes are hilarious and that's frequently a great testing water for how someone will do at the Oscars.  Plus, they both are genuine movie stars now and starred in a big hit over the summer-this is a lot better option than Hathaway and Franco a few years ago.

9. Oprah Winfrey

I have genuinely wondered for years what an Oprah telecast would be like for the Oscars.  I know frequently people bring up Meryl as a host, and while I'm sure she'd be flawless (Meryl always is), no one can work a room like Oprah Winfrey.  Frequently people say the host doesn't matter, but I think this would be an interesting twist-Winfrey isn't a comedian, but she can be funny, and is able to instill a gravitas into the ceremony that few others would be able to do (focusing on the movies and the nominees rather than the dresses and the comedic bits).  Plus, she's a Hersholt winner and is wading pretty strongly back into acting-this would be a solid acknowledgement of that.  And if she doesn't host, can we bring back the Barbara Walters interview show and have Oprah host it?

8. Jennifer Lawrence and Bradley Cooper

I would list Lawrence solo, but she tends to go into some pretty saucy directions, and would need a straight man (pun not intended, oh you Towleroad-like readers), who clearly would be her frequent costar Cooper.  Cooper is extremely good at impressions, great in late night interviews, and is frequently funny (and of course has sensational chemistry with Lawrence).  Plus, both actors couldn't be hotter right now and this is one of those rare years where neither are actually going to be nominated and they need to promote Serena which finally got a distributor and will be released in the Spring-time to strike?

7. James Corden

I know this is unlikely to happen with the Academy Awards hosted on ABC and Corden now under contract to CBS, but this seems just about right.  He can sing, work a crowd, is comfortable on a stage, and is about ready to be a superstar.  Plus, it's been a while since we had a British host (the last one was Dudley Moore at the 55th Academy Awards over thirty years ago), and considering the country's dominance over the nominees over the Oscars' history, this seems like a bit of a contradiction.

6. Jimmy Kimmel

A far more likely contender to host would be ABC's own late-night host, and I honestly cannot figure out why he hasn't actually been called on to do this yet.  He can play to a room extremely well (see his Emmys, which I thoroughly enjoyed) and unlike Jimmy Fallon he can moderate without bursting into fits of laughter over his own jokes (plus Fallon would have too many skits-I hate too many skits at the Oscars, it makes it feel like we're watching SNL, or worse yet-the Emmys (shudder)).  Kimmel's after-Oscar special is already a staple-why not try it for the full night one year and see what happens?

5. Ellen Degeneres

I mean, if it ain't broke?  Last year's Oscars were extremely well-received and well-rated (the highest-watched in over a decade)-part of that is due to everyone's love of Ellen.  She knows how to be funny without being mean (aside from that cutting Liza Minnelli joke last year), and she knows how to bring both the audience at home and the audience in the theater together (I love that she makes a point of "introducing" certain actors and films to the audience that may not know them during her monologues).  Plus, I've long been a fan of AMPAS having hosts come back multiple times-it gives the ceremony itself some history rather than being a flash-in-the-pan every year.

4. Kevin Hart

You'd be hard-pressed to find a more in-demand or hotter actor right now.  Everything that Kevin Hart seems to do lately is a hit, and he's got legitimate stand-up chops.  I know that his films aren't what you'd consider "Academy-friendly," but let's be honest: for the most part, neither were Billy Crystal's and he's been a huge hit through the years.  Hart would also be a clever way for AMPAS to find a comedian that would cater well to the audience in the theater and to the audience at home (this is what made Billy so successful, as well as Johnny and Bob Hope-you have to have both audiences laughing) and would get those younger viewers that AMPAS is always clamoring to recruit.

3. Melissa McCarthy

I mean, isn't this obvious?  McCarthy is the biggest comedic star on the planet right now, and like Kevin Hart, seems to be able to make money for studios in her sleep.  She's persistently hilarious on SNL and whenever she's at an awards show, managing to make even unfunny material work with her show-business moxie.  Plus, she seems to be someone that everyone in Hollywood is rooting for, and therefore would be able to get some of the biggest stars in the audience in on a couple of her jokes and monologue bits (who doesn't want to see her explain the Scorsese drinking game to Marty himself?).  I would be stunned if her name isn't on the Oscar producers' shortlist already.

2. Louis CK

Numbers 2-4 are on here really because they’re the best mix of edgy and Academy-friendly.  One of the big misses with Seth MacFarlane was that people really don’t want a Comedy Central style roast of all of the people in the Dolby-they don’t want a cringe-worthy set of jokes that seems funny to frat boys and no one else.  They want someone who can gently poke fun at the people in the audience and still not appear toothless.  This is why CK would be near perfect-completely aware of his rising star in the Hollywood food chain, he’d be smart but still able to rib all of the A-listers without biting off the hand that feeds him.

1. Whoopi Goldberg

My brother and I may be the only two people in the world who would put Whoopi at the top of this list, but honestly-Whoopi hosted all of my favorite Oscars.  She knows how to do her homework (she frequently finds herself hitting all of the major movies in a way I’ve never seen a host do except for maybe Hugh Jackman), she’s hilarious and can read a room (she can tell when the monologue needs a softball and isn’t afraid to pitch it), and she’s a great actress.  Honestly-how long are we going to have to wait for her to hit her fifth show out of the park?

Those are my thoughts, but there are infinite possibilities-who are you hoping signs up to host the next Oscars?  Share in the comments!!!

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