As Jimmy Kimmel found out this year, hosting the Oscars is no walk in the park. Many have tried, many have failed. And just a few have excelled.
The legacy of the 2017 Academy Awards will live long in the memories of movie fans for all the wrong reasons. Commonly the ceremony is used as a political soap-box, and indeed there was plenty of Trump bashing this year. But one monumental error proved to be the biggest talking point the next day.
Legendary actors Warren Beatty and Faye Dunaway were bestowed with the honour of presenting this year’s grand finale, the award for Best Picture. Quickly though, chaos ensued as the pair wrongly announced ‘La La Land’ as the winner. What followed was the most awkward televisual moment for many a year.
On the night Jimmy Kimmel handled the situation as well as could be expected and regaled the audience of his own show with a dramatic account of his experience the following night.
Controversy and the Oscars go hand in hand. In 2016 Chris Rock used his opportunity as host to embarrass the Academy in the best possible way with his hilarious yet brutal opening monologue. Previously dubbed #OscarsSoWhite, Rock’s opening gambit pulled no punches:
“I’m here at the Academy Awards, otherwise known as the White People’s Choice Awards. You realize if they nominated hosts, I wouldn’t even get this job. So y’all would be watching Neil Patrick Harris right now.
But this is the wildest, craziest Oscars to ever host, because we’ve got all this controversy. No, no black nominees, you know, and people are like “Chris, you should boycott.”
Roll back to 2015 and we were watching Neil Patrick Harris. Criticism was levelled at Harris’ clunky segues and lack of comedic skill, yet most acknowledged that the well liked actor was a safe choice.
Harris undoubtedly had a tough act to follow. The previous year Ellen DeGeneres provided another iconic moment in Oscars history, and this time for all the right reasons.
Keeping her approach to hosting accessible, light hearted and contemporary, Ellen seized the moment – and the front pages – with her famous, star-studded selfie. The image went viral and Degeneres’ standing was further improved when stories of her generosity, (feeding hungry actors pizza) emerged.
Where Ellen excelled many others have crashed and burned. In 2011 the unfortunate pairing of James Franco and Anne Hathaway instantly fell flat and remained dreadful throughout the night, leaving the hosts that year widely considered the worst the Oscars have ever seen.
Other hosts should have had the pedigree to succeed but failed miserably. Talk show veteran David Letterman and Family Guy creator Seth Macfarlane both came up short, whilst comedy legend Chevy Chase – whose opening line in 1988 was “Good evening, Hollywood phonies!” – set the ceremony on a downward spiral right from the start.
So where does the Academy go from here?
It’s very apparent that the host of the biggest night in Hollywood’s calendar is crucial to making the ceremony a success, or facilitating its humiliating failure.
Even this soon after the 2017 Academy Awards there are some out there trying to predict the host of the 90th annual Academy Awards.
There are some obvious names in contention including Steve Carell and Kristen Wiig, whose stock has risen following their success as hosts of the Golden Globes awards. Other potentials with successful Golden Globe experience under their belts include Tina Fey and Amy Poehler.
Not such an obvious choice but a possible dark horse is Hugh Jackman. Though his latest – and final – X-Men movie, ‘Logan’, is receiving plenty of positive reviews, the Academy does tend to overlook superhero movies at the awards, potentially freeing the actor up to host again. Jackman’s first appearance hosting the Oscars came in 2009 and is commonly agreed upon as one of the ‘better ones’ in recent years.
However, there is already a favourite – and he’s lurking just at the back of that famous Oscars selfie that Ellen took.
Experienced, calm, charismatic and funny, this man has it all. The next host of the Oscars is…
Kevin Spacey, maybe.