TOP 10: Candidates Who Should be Considered to Host the Next Academy Awards
Published: February 28, 2012 - 10:55am
After two consecutive years of lackluster presenters, I believe what the Oscars need is an extra dose of panache to win audiences back for 2013's purported biggest movie event. Some of these choices may seem obvious, while others may cause you to balk; either way, it's hard to deny that any could do worse than what we've recently dealt with.
I guess the Oscars are on the right track. At least, I hope the are. The last ceremony I actually enjoyed watching because of a host and not in spite of was when uber-charismatic Hugh Jackman commandeered the stage in 2009. One year later, when Alec Baldwin and Steve Martin took over, the show was surprisingly flat. Not bad, mind you, just uninteresting; which really surprised me considering it was Martin's third time hosting and Baldwin's recent increase in popularity due to the hit NBC series 30 Rock.
Then came the infamous Anne Hathaway and James Franco debacle. The pair had absolutely no chemistry and, regardless how much effort Hathaway put into balancing out Franco's dismal presence, they couldn't manage to keep anyone entertained outside of seeing two pretty people on stage. This year, after scheduled host Eddie Murphy dropped out, the Academy chose Billy Crytal to MC to event. A safe and welcome choice. Mostly safe, but very much welcome by the majority of longtime watchers who still have fond memories of his prior hosting accomplishments. What most viewers weren't expecting, though, was Billy Crystal circa 1991–1993; arguably the best of his nine at bats. His 2012 shtick was chock full of dated and recycled material worthy of the occasional chuckle but nothing more. Basically the show regressed to the Baldwin/Martin year of bland.
But bland is better than bad any day of the week, so I'm holding out hope that next year's will be at the least a step in the right direction. Obviously, writing has a lot to do with how the Oscars plays out. It's a scripted show after all. Being that I am not a screenwriter, and have only read a handful of scripts cover to cover, I won't pretend to know the best people who can handle this duty. Instead, this list is focused on the person whose performance will have to captivate, motivate and overall entertain both the attendees and home viewing audiences. In my opinion it all comes down to showmanship; a quality that Billy Crystal once had in spades and Hugh Jackman brought with him to the 2009 ceremony. It's not based on a gag or tried and true routine, it can't be. It's a balanced combination of presence, timing, joy and the ability to adapt to the environment blended together with a wallop of charisma that engages viewers long enough to pleasurably sit through a three hour event. You don't have to be outrageous, and preferably you should be someone likable, but a touch of baited controversy wouldn't hurt either. That feeling we have watching a show where surprises are imminent and natural.
So, with all that said, here is my list of best candidates to host next year's Academy Awards.
#10. Nicolas Cage - The Wild Card
Why? It doesn't matter if you're 16 or 60, you know the name Nic Cage and for the most part it piques your interest. It's anyone's guess what batshit craziness is going to come out of his mouth or into one of his roles, but at the same time he's not an attention whore. He won't embarrass himself with "love me" antics because he's out of ideas. He's an actor, and an Academy Award winner to boot.
Pros: Marketable and entertaining. He's able to play off self depreciating humor with an amiable 'Hey, I'm Nic Cage' shrug. Predictably unpredictable, it's what people expect from him in measured doses. It's his best quality.
Cons: He needs a solid script with very few gaps. Like I said earlier, he won't embarrass himself or anyone else if given too much room to ad lib but he'll undoubtedly slip off on some long winded and uninteresting tangent.
#9. Samuel L. Jackson - The Authority
Why? When Sam Jackson talks, people listen. Maybe it's because he's one of the most vocal, old school Civil Rights activists. Maybe it's because he's the hardest working mainstream actor in Hollywood whose credit list is longer than most of his supporting cast members combined. Maybe it's because he's just plain honest. But when he talks, we listen; intently and happily.
Pros: Well known. He's got presence to spare. Great smile he doesn't wear out by flashing it 24/7. He'd can easily switch gears from a serious tone to a lighthearted one. There's also a good chance he'll already appear in a handful of clips shown in the opening show sizzle reel of the year's best films.
Cons: He probably won't do it. Most likely because he knows he swears a lot.
#8. Christopher Walken - The Entertainer
Why? Because I love him! Seriously, that's my main reason for putting him here. The #8 slots on most Top 10 lists is reserved for bias personal choice. And, by God, Chris Walken I chose you! Aside from that, he's a well rounded and classically trained entertainer who does what he loves and it shows.
Pros: His name attached to the show alone would make people my age and older tune in. He's the straight man's straight man. Dry, sardonic humor is his specialty. Plus he can dance.
Cons: Young audiences don't know who the hell he is unless they've watched SNL's More Cowbell! skit on YouTube or the movie Balls of Fury one too many times. His occasional awkwardness is not unanimously appreciated.
#7. Sacha Baron Cohen - The Jester
Why? When I call him a 'jester' I mean it respectfully. Cohen is not a clown. He's a performer. Like court jesters of old he knows his purpose and gives his audience what they want (even if sometimes they don't).
Pros: He's a professional, cool under pressure and popular. He's a modern day Andy Kaufman without the worry of legitimate insanity. His quick whit and cutting edge showmanship would be a welcome slap in the face of a pompous awards ceremony that takes itself way too seriously
Cons: Most people would probably say Cohen's biggest problem is his need for a short leash; not so. He's way too smart, and even his most embarrassing stunt are meticulously planned out. The real problem here would be getting Academy members to stifle their dislike of his personas to hire him.
#6. Christopher Plummer - The Gentleman
Why? He swept the 2011 awards circuit with his amazing performance in Beginners. Coupled with his appearance in the more mainstream film The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo, a whole new generation of movie goers have been introduced to the wonderment that is Christopher Plummer.
Pros: Old school charm, a resonating voice and endearing demeanor. Just the class act that this awards show needs to rekindle it's importance. Get him to sing a few words of 'Edelweiss' from The Sound of Music and no dry eyes will be seen for miles.
Cons: Adding all the publicity, pre-show and post-show obligations to an already engorged telecast might be too much of a strain for the 80 year old thesp.
#5. George Clooney - The Showman
Why? He's George Clooney. I could fill this in with more details, but it's unnecessary. He's George Clooney, the brand name of cool.
Pros: He's gorgeous. Everyone loves him. He's funny as all hell.
Cons: Might be too safe a choice. We would need zany Burn After Reading Clooney, not smooth and smirky Danny Ocean Clooney -- which is his natural state in front of a live audience. It also has to be a year where he isn't nominated for something.
#4. Cast of HOW I MET YOUR MOTHER - The Ensemble
Why? Neil Patrick Harris should be on every person's Top 10 list for hosting anything. Add his co-stars Josh Radnor, Jason Segel, Cobie Smulders and Alyson Hannigan and it could only get better. Most importantly, let Jason Segel write the show (or at least have a major say).
Pros: No other modern day sitcom cast has the amount of chemistry these guys do (sorry guys, not even Community). It's reminiscent of the early years of Friends infused with quicker, more pop culture themed humor and romantic overtones.
Cons: Pitching a five people to present at an awards show is tough. There could be a falling out or, for whatever unseen reasons, one or more won't be able to attend. This would force the remaining hosts/writers to either rewrite parts of the ceremony or find a last minute replacement (we all know how well that works).
#3. Tina Fey, Amy Poehler & Kristen Wiig - The Talent
Why? These three ladies were crucial to breaking Saturday Night Live out of it's decade long slump and challenging viewers with smart and edgy humor once again. While any one would do fine on her own, all three combined offer even more diverse and dynamic possibilities. Hell, split the awards into three segments and let them each command one.
Pros: They need to write the show. 100%. It won't be the same if they're reading someone else's lines. Wiig's recent Oscar nomination will also add a bit of gravitas to naysayers. Plus, they're not too bad to look at.
Cons: Not to be redundant, but they need to write the show. 100%. It won't be the same if they're reading someone else's lines. Obviously the Academy Awards is not SNL, and I'm sure these gals know that. But convincing it's producers that they get final say-so on the script would be even harder than it sounds.
#2. Robert Downey, Jr. - The Scoundrel
Why? Love him or hate him, it's hard to deny his appeal. He has the energy and capability to handle hosting three of these shows back to back, and has also been nominated for Oscars in both dramatic and comedic categories. RDJ is like red wine, he only gets better with age, but take in too much at once and you'll get sick. Just for fun, throw in walk-on cameos of every leading lady he's worked it to see how he handles it.
Pros: He's more popular now than ever. Looks phenomenal in a tux. Doesn't mind hamming it up. Dances. Sings. Vogues. And even when he puts his serious face on, you feel charmed to no end.
Cons: Writing a script for him must be a nightmare. He needs dedicated space to bring his innovative personality front and center (i.e. Tropic Thunder, Kiss Kiss Bang Bang), but if you give him too much room to run free you'll never get him back (i.e. Iron Man 2).
#1. Jimmy Kimmel - The Master of Ceremonies
Why? He's come a long way from Win Ben Stein's Money, but as his popularity steadily increased he's thankfully been able to maintain his casual demeanor. And he's done every kind of televised talk show you can think of from football commentary to Howard Stern and even co-hosting Live with Regis and Kelly. His own show Jimmy Kimmel Live! garners consistent ratings, even though he spends just as much time working on other projects (i.e. being the best Roast Host on Comedy Central)
Pros: Actors, actresses, directors, producers and all manner of showbiz people who can keep their egos in check love him. That's why they clamor to snag him for their projects (albeit the ones that fit his style) and be a part of his parody videos (the most recent one which premiered after this year's Oscars can be seen HERE). He'll bring natural cohesion to a night of opposition. Oh, did I mention he's a hosting vet with the likes of the AMAs and ESPYs under his belt? I think that helps.
Cons: He may be too good for the gig at this point.
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