It took the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences longer than usual to find a host for this year Academy Awards ceremony. However, it lost him in record time. Kevin Hart has now said once and for all that he won't be hosting this year's show, and it seems all but confirmed at this point that this year's Oscars ceremony will go forward without a host at all. It will only be the sixth time in history the ceremony has had no host since it started in 1929.
But is this even a problem? Does the Oscars ceremony even need a host? Well, as is frequently the case, we here at CinemaBlend don't entirely agree on the answer to these questions. Sr. Movie Contributor Mike Reyes and myself, Dirk Libbey, are on opposite minds on the topic, and have broken down why we feel the show does, or does not, need a host.
I've honestly been wondering for the last couple of years why the Oscars, or most award shows for that matter, even bother with a real host. What exactly do they do? They open the show with some sort of monologue or performance. They introduce some awards presenters, but rarely all of them. They throw in a couple of longer form comedy bits to keep the show from being an endless stream of awards. Then they say goodnight.
The fact is that we just don't need one person to do all of these things. Hosts are traditionally comedians and a monologue is the traditional form of opening the show. Is there no comedian who might be willing to do 7 minutes of standup about movies if they didn't have to host the whole show?
What's more, the show doesn't need to open with comedy. The best show opening of the last decade was when it opened with Justin Timberlake's performance of his Oscar-nominated song "Can't Stop the Feeling." It gave the show an insane amount of energy from the get go and didn't require the host to be involved at all.
The introduction of all presenters can simply be done by the in-theater announcer. Randy Thomas has been doing the job for nearly a decade and her voice has become iconic. Let her shine a bit more. She does most of that work already, to the point that when the host bothers to make an introduction, it's mostly an excuse just to get them back on screen.
The same goes for the comedy bits that get inserted into a show. They seem to mostly exist as an excuse to remind us that the show has a host. Sometimes the bits are actually funny, sometimes they fall flat, but does it really matter? The Academy Awards is a long-ass show and usually, around the time Jimmy Kimmel hijacks a bus full of tourists, I'm just ready for the show to end.
I'm also ready for the show to focus on film, not the host. The Academy Awards already has built-in entertainment if you want more than just awards. It's called the nominees for Best Original Song. Too often these songs get the short end of the stick, with performances being shortened or turned into a medley to make room for the other stuff that we just don't need. Make these moments the draw they should be. If you want more entertainment, let the orchestra in the building perform music from the Best Original Score nominees.
The Academy Awards is a celebration of film. The fact that we're even talking about the host is proof this is getting lost. The host's role simply isn't necessary and should be done away with.
For decades before the current climate, being an Oscar host was an honor and a privilege for those who would accept it. In its long storied history, there have been luminaries such as Bob Hope and Billy Crystal that held court over numerous ceremonies, with Johnny Carson, Whoopi Goldberg, Steve Martin AND Alec Baldwin, and Seth MacFarlane all making their own fantastic marks on the board.
Undoubtedly, the recent era of the Academy Awards has left it hard to find a host worth hiring and/or keeping around, and as such doubt has been cast on the institution of having a host in the first place. Some are probably thinking that since it worked for the Emmys, it can work for the Oscars. I believe this couldn't be further from the truth.
The position of Oscar host may be a thankless one in its darkest hours, but even then it is vital to the show. Much like any party, the Oscars need someone to glue the pieces together through schtick, set and maintain the tone for the evening's festivities, and smooth things out through the entire evening.
Without a host, the Oscar ceremony is chaos, and not a particularly interesting brand of chaos at that. I still think that the Academy should take some time off from telecasting the awards in order to work out the myriad of issues they have sitting in front of them. One of those problems is nailing down criteria for the perfect Oscar host.
This year's ceremony will be the ultimate test as to whether or not the Oscars can work without a central host. But from where I'm sitting, the most memorable moments from any of the Academy Awards ceremonies came from the central personality that was running the three-ring circus.
Let's not forget, the last time we had a hostless Oscars, back in 1989, the infamous Rob Lowe/Snow White opening was allowed to happen. Without that central personality of a host to work around, the producers are allowed to run the show. Given the choice between the host or the producers setting the tone, I'll trust a host any day of the week, because they know how to host.
Ships need captains, schools need teachers, and the Oscars needs a host or team of hosts. It's natural law.
So that's how we feel about it. Undoubtedly, how well this year's show goes without a host will go a long way in determining whether the Oscars goes host hunting in the future. Who do you agree with? Let us know in the poll down below.