As the 2016 – 2017 awards season gets into full swing, all eyes will turn towards the Oscars or, more specifically, who will be hosting the Oscars.
Chris Rock was, albeit retrospectively, an inspired choice as host following six weeks of the #OscarsSoWhite controversy, and his scathing political routine won over large tranches of its audience. In 2017 things may get a little more traditional, by which we mean introspective, or white [probably] Americans mocking their own silly ways as they welcome a new diverse generation of members into their fold.
2017 will be a year that celebrates the different, the unconventional and the wonderfully diverse corners of the film industry. The Academy are under immense pressure to find a host that is accepted by both the inner and outer echelons of its construct – suit just the former and the Oscars once again return to their very white ways, but pander too much to the latter and it’s a knee-jerk reaction that positively discriminates.
The right host also needs to have showmanship, confidence and entertainment value in oodles, not just finding approval before the show but winning fans throughout and, crucially, winning Nielsen ratings.
So who could the Academy pick as their crucial compere? We have a few suggestions…
The man of the moment (pictured above) delivered the most memorable presentation of an award last year, launching into his typically hilarious observational comedy whilst introducing the documentary short nominees. Before the credits even rolled on 2016, fans were taking to the internet in droves calling for Louis C.K. to take the reigns.
The upside – as a man with some big credits to his name including Trumbo and American Hustle, award winning comedy shows and some of the best stand up this century, it would be an obvious choice.
The downside – for Louis to shine he needs the autonomy a-la Ricky Gervais Golden Globes, and with that comes inherent risks. He could be seen as too unpredictable for the show’s producers, unless they’re feeling brave.
Former host Jon Stewart has little to do these days, though he will likely be a sporadic personality during the US election media circus. If his little appearances for old friends is any indication, he may just be interested in reprising his duties for the Academy.
The upside – let’s face it, he has nothing better to do in February, and he’s worked this crowd before so he knows the drill. A political satirist may also be just what the Oscars needs to strike the right balance between ridicule and poignancy as diversity takes center-stage to a race-sensitive social backdrop.
The downside – he’s been there before and he knows the drill. At a time when the Academy are trying to usher in a new generation, and with it a regeneration of their own image, the last thing they want to do is look behind them for inspiration.
3Will & Jada Smith
This may have been a tongue-in-cheek suggestion from our Chief Editor, but let’s roll with it. The Smiths made headlines last year following Jada’s quick succession from the ceremony following her husband’s snubbing, which was embroiled within the #OscarsSoWhite controversy. Will on the other hand seemed quite unphased by the whole situation, so wouldn’t it make great TV to have them both on stage, husband and wife, angel and devil, fronting the very show they challenged last year?
The upside – Will Smith is a popular guy, and a husband-wife duo has never happened before so comparisons to previous comperes is limited.
The downside – they are not natural hosts and Jada’s attack on the Academy last year would likely shape the whole show. Whether or not the crowd would take so kindly to this is doubtful.
One of several Brits to invade the late night talk show game across the pond, James Corden has had a meteoric rise to fame in the past few years. In broad appeal and cheeky entertainment value could be the required antidote to a year of controversy.
The upside – young, funny (allegedly) and a friend to the stars, Corden is a low risk, inoffensive choice for Oscar host who its producers can trust not to make a scene amid a gauntlet of possible catastrophes.
The downside – inoffensive also translates to forgettable. Though he is a safe pair of hands he wouldn’t do much to boost ratings. People want unpredictability and headlines, and Corden would do little to sell ad space.
The face of American equality could come in the form of Daily Show graduate turned late night host Jessica Williams. Hotly tipped as a successor to Jon Stewart, she is one of the most popular, bold and politically savvy comediennes in America and the Oscar gig would do wonders for her prime time profile.
The upside – little known compared to many potential hosts, Williams brings an edge, an predictability and a potential spontaneity to proceedings. And a African-American woman host would be a nod towards diversity without bringing back old-timer Whoopi.
The downside – who is she, and why should we watch? Such will be the sentiment of many families sitting down in front of their televisions on February 26th. Fickle as it may be, Williams lacks the star power to pull in punters, and the experience to reassure show bosses she could handle such an A-list crowd.
Another black comedian to follow in the footsteps of Chris Rock. Slightly more extroverted, a bit louder and one of the biggest comedy actors in Hollywood at the moment.
The upside – he is current, he has a big fan base and if star power is the order of the day it doesn’t get much bigger than Kevin Hart. His box office appeal is a clear indicator that he will drive the hype up for the show, and no doubt he’ll deliver something memorable on the night, though maybe not for the right reasons.
The downside – he would directly compared to Chris Rock, and the Academy may want to shake it up with someone a bit different. If anything, it seems more likely they would ask Rock back than go straight to someone like Kevin Hart.
7Tina Fey & Amy Poehler
Following three wildly popular turns as hosts of the Golden Globe awards, Tina Fey and Amy Poehler have collaborated on hit comedy Sisters. The double act are leading the way for female led comedies and have made a strong case for taking their shtick all the way to the Oscars.
The upside – popular, funny, women, so why the hell not? They have proven themselves on the awards circuit and will bring a big dose of entertainment to the show. They can be trusted to pick up the pieces of any mishaps in their trademark awkward manner, and let’s face it Hollywood are short of a double act.
The downside – the Academy like to be seen as the classier, more respectable older cousin to the Golden Globes. They may not wish to be hiring their cast offs, and the last double act Oscar host (James Franco and Anne Hathaway) hardly set the world alight.
So maybe if Fey and Poehler won’t be considered, another Golden Globes host of old may be invited to take the stage. Gervais is not busy much any more but brings with him a scathing tongue and a merciless sense of humor that will cut right to the heart of the Academy.
The upside – giving the Oscars a much needed reality check, and following on thematically from Chris Rock, Gervais would shake things up big time and give the Oscars something to think about. Sure enough he’ll make a few headlines.
The downside – if the Academy want this kind of host, they will likely turn to Louis C.K.: he’s a bigger star right now and probably funnier right now too. Gervais’ five minutes of fame has been and gone and he just may not be on their radars any more.
9Will Ferrell & Jack Black
One of the all time classic presenter collaborations, Will Ferrell and Jack Black have created some truly memorable moments at past Oscar ceremonies. From their Get Off the Stage to A Comedian at the Oscars – they have given us more musical skits than anyone else.
The upside – they are proven at the Oscars and they are stars. They work together and they have earned their opportunity to host. It’s about time and how could they possibly let us down?
The downside – they may be great for five minute segments, but can they hold up the entire telecast? Possibly better in short doses, they may not scream compere potential.