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The biggest question going into the 2019 Academy Awards wasn’t who would win any particular award, it was how well the show would work without a host. The show is now behind us and it has to be said that while the 2019 Oscars can’t exactly be called smooth sailing, it all actually worked pretty well even though the ship had no captain.
A third of the total number of awards were presented in the first hour of the telecast, and the pace was pretty much kept up throughout. The broadcast wasn’t quite nothing but awards either. That first hour gave us the rocking opening from Queen and we got some of the Best Picture presentations as well. We even got something resembling an opening monologue from Tina Fey, Amy Poehler, and Maya Rudolph.
Having said that, for the most part, the show really was a cruise from one award to the next, with little breaking things up. We got the Best Original Song nominees, four out of five anyway, performed, and that really was about the extent of the show’s “entertainment.”
Gone were Chris Rock’s man on the street interviews pointing out that the average movie fan doesn’t pay attention to the Oscars, or Jimmy Kimmel diverting a tour bus full of people to the show. While I was fully expecting something along those lines to have been written into the show, it never happened.
Sometimes these comedy bits worked, and sometimes they didn’t, but they always brought the show to a complete halt. The show just stopped moving so that the host could justify their existence.Without them, the broadcast never stopped moving. Even while some bits may have felt rushed or unrehearsed, they were over and we were on to the next thing before it ever bothered you.
This year, there were no host egos to get stroked, and so the awards telecast was able to focus on the actual awards.
Of course, the show still exceeded the goal of three-hour telecast, but it did a lot better than the nearly four-hour marathon last year. The fact that little more than the awards presentations happened is proof that such a goal is essentially impossible with a host under any circumstances.
The purpose of the Oscars is to honor filmmaking and by removing all distractions, the Oscars actually did that. Most of the winners actually were given time to talk and while some got interrupted by music before they were done, it certainly felt like that happened less often than in previous years.
With the show having now wrapped up, I certainly don’t feel like it was any less entertaining than previous years. There were some upsets, there were some great speeches, and the awards weren’t swept by any one film, which means there’s a good chance that whichever movie you were rooting for, it won something. This is why we watch.
A good host can certainly make his or her part of the show entertaining and fun, but it’s clear that the role simply isn’t necessary. With a bit of practice, the show can streamline the rough parts of tonight’s broadcast and we’ll end up with a great hostless show in the future.