Each Wednesday through the week of the 2019 Academy Award nominations on Jan. 22, Take 2 is handicapping the Oscar rush with The Award Chase.
It’s our final Award Chase before Tuesday’s nomination announcement, and we are at an unfamiliar place. The Academy Awards ceremony does not have a host, and the Chase hasn’t touch that topic until now.
For weeks, it was difficult to come up with a post about potential candidates because no one stood out as one, and the trade magazines kept running stories about how no one wants to host. Then came Kevin Hart. The popular comic and box-office draw seemed like the right choice at the right time as the Academy tries to recover from shrinking audiences and the double whammy of Jimmy Kimmel hosting the last two ceremonies. However, past homophobic tweets and jokes caused an uproar, and Hart’s response to the finds were not well received. Days later, he withdrew from what he previously called his dream job and issued an apology.
That was a long time ago. Like 2018 long ago. 2019 is a whole new era.
In 2019, while on a publicity tour for “The Upside,” Hart appeared on “Ellen” where talk show host and two-time Oscars host Ellen DeGeneres asked him to reconsider, as she had talked to Academy heads and said they wanted him back. But by the time his movie was in theaters, Hart backed away again.
And while the Academy is said to be going hostless, other awards ceremonies have quietly made selections that are in tune with the times. Out of the major events, only one has or had a white male host. That would be “Brooklyn Nine-Nine” star Adam Samberg, who co-hosted with Sandra Oh of “Killing Eve” for last week’s Golden Globes. The odd but adorable couple played it safe throughout the three-plus-hour telecast, but Oh let go during the monologue to applaud the strides she and other Hollywood figures of color made in 2018.
Other ceremonies have been or will be hosted by women, minorities or LGBTIA+ representatives. And some are emceed by figures that intersect all three. Taye Diggs, a star of television, theater and film, was the host of the Critics’ Choice Awards last Sunday. The Film Independent Spirit Awards, usually broadcast the day before the Oscars, will have Aubrey Plaza, the unofficial millennial Parker Posey of the indie scene, and Aisha Tyler is hosting the Directors Guild of America’s ceremony. In less than two weeks, Megan Mullally will be only the second host in the history of the Screen Actors Guild Awards, now in its 25th year.
Even the Grammys have switched up hosts this year, selecting 15-time winner Alicia Keys.
The last time the Oscars went hostless was in 1989, one year before I started watching the event. That year had terrible segments like “The Stars of Tomorrow” and the infamous Rob Lowe and Snow White debut.
For the Oscars to go without a host this year, rumors are swirling that big-name celebrities will introduce segments, and SAG is accusing the Academy of trying to make certain stars exclusive to its telecast. Had the Academy followed the path that other awards ceremonies followed with their host selections, maybe it would not be in the pickle it is in now.