This is what the Academy Awards can learn from how to choose a host
Talk to anyone in Hollywood and they’ll tell you the same thing: the Oscars are fine, but a little dull. The real party is at the Golden Globes.
It’s the raucous combination of savvy choices about hosts and a riotously open bar – The Hollywood Reporter estimates that more than 7,500 glasses of Moet et Chandon champagne are drunk over the course of the evening – that makes for a night to remember.
How can the Oscars stand to compete? It may be the most glittering event on the awards season calendar, the place where the most prestigious awards in cinema are handed out to rightful (and otherwise) recipients, but it’s also mostly dry. As Ian McKellen said: “It lasts for three and a half or four hours… And a bit dejected you’re coming out looking forward to a drink.”
On the subject of alcohol, anyway, the Oscars can’t really change their spots. There is a bar out in the lobby of the Dolby Theatre, but because guests are seated in an auditorium and not in a hotel around tables where a dinner is being served as they are at the Golden Globes, there’s a limit to how many glasses of champagne can reasonably be smuggled into the theatre. Even by Jennifer Lawrence.
But there is one thing the Oscars could do to make the night a bit more exciting for everyone. They could take a leaf out of the Golden Globes’ books when it comes to choosing a host. According to industry insiders, the Oscars hosting gig is an anxiety-inducing nightmare of a job that nobody wants. Oprah Winfrey, Justin Timberlake, Jerry Seinfeld and Julia Louis-Dreyfus have all turned it down. Past hosts Hugh Jackman, Ellen Degeneres, Chris Rock and Jimmy Kimmel have all largely declared they would never do so again.
In the end, the job of hosting next year’s Oscars has gone to comedian Kevin Hart. It was the choice everyone was anticipating, one that Hart has campaigned for steadily over the past few years, calling it the “opportunity of a lifetime for me as a comedian”. According to The Hollywood Reporter, Hart is the perfect host because he is “funny without being tasteless.”
But it’s not the kind of hosting choice that gets people excited. That honour, again, goes to the Golden Globes, who today announced that no less than Andy Samberg and Sandra Oh would host the 2019 ceremony.
Samberg is no stranger to hosting duties: he emceed at the 2015 Emmy Awards, where he made one particularly hilarious joke about the diversity of that year’s crop of nominees. (“Racism is over! Don’t fact check that.”)
But it’s the choice of Sandra Oh that is truly inspired.
Has anyone had a better 2018 than Sandra Oh? There was her masterful turn as an obsessive analyst hunting down a psychopathic assassin in the BBC’s television series Killing Eve, a role that led to awards glory and the commissioning of a second season.
Somewhat incredibly, before Oh a woman of Asian descent had never been nominated for the Best Actress in a Drama category at the Emmy awards. She took her parents, clad in traditional dress, to the awards ceremony and broke the internet.
During the ceremony, Oh and her future Golden Globes co-host Samberg handed out the Best Director award and displayed a jittery, ribbing chemistry that providing a bit of a taster of their potential for hosting partnership gold.
Walking onstage, Oh declared she had decided to “speak from the heart” instead of presenting the award and ripped the envelope featuring the winner’s name to shreds. Instead of announcing the nominees, she declared her love for a boy she dated in high school called Jimmy Park. It was genius, and the most memorable thing about the entirety of the Emmys.
Oh’s playful sense of humour and comedic timing – just revisit her performance as the gushing headmistress in The Princess Diaries and, of course, the iconic Cristina Yang on Grey’s Anatomy if you need reminding – are exactly what an awards show host needs.
With Samberg as the straight guy, Oh gets to be silly and nonsensical, a space in which she shines. Just think about the way she slayed every joking line reading about croissants on Killing Eve. We’re predicting that Samberg will keep the laughs humming along in the background, but it’s Oh who is going to say that one killer line that brings the house down and trends on Twitter.
Samberg on his own would have been fine. He’s a funny guy! That’s the kind of choice the Oscars might make about who to host their show. But the Golden Globes have always made more interesting decisions when it comes to their hosts. Just think of Amy Poehler and Tina Fey’s three year tenure as hosts, an era that Vanity Fair called the “golden era of the Golden Globes” and which gifted us the following gag: “Gravity is the story of how George Clooney would rather float away into space and die than spend one more minute with a woman his own age.”
By tapping Oh this year, the Golden Globes are doing exactly what makes their show so exciting: giving women a spot on that stage to be unpredictable, silly and totally, side-splittingly hilarious.
We can’t wait. Bring on January 7!