It feels like this year was an all time low in terms of speculation as to who would be hosting the Oscars next. There was plenty talk of Seth MacFarlane being asked back to host, but he gracefully opted out. [Insert joke about MacFarlane’s graceless Oscar telecast here] Tina Fey quickly took herself out of the conversation, saying the gig is a thankless job, and a beleaguering one at that. Matter of fact, it felt like nobody wanted to host the Oscars at all this year. With such a poor track record recently, who’d want to step up to the gig.
As it turns out, one who’s already done it once before, but not as obvious or safe a choice as Billy Crystal. Ellen DeGeneres has been announced to host the 86th Annual Academy Awards, making it her second time hosting after making her debut with the 79th show. Personally speaking, I’m pretty happy about it. Not only did I love DeGeneres’ presence back in 2007, the year Martin Scorsese’s The Departed won Best Picture, but she’s arguably only improved on that vivacious likeability and energy since then.
DeGeneres has maintained her daily talk show since 2003, becoming something of an Oprah presence in her own right. I’d argue that classy, fun-loving vibe is exactly what the show needs most at this time. Dual hosting gigs like Steve Martin and Alec Baldwin or James Franco and Anne Hathaway couldn’t properly balance or maintain the competing stage personalities. Billy Crystal was a quick decision after the Brett Ratner controversy kicked him and incumbent host Eddie Murphy out the door. (Is anybody else sadder every year that Eddie Murphy never got the chance to take the stage?)
Then there was Seth MacFarlane, and we won’t dig that hole any deeper. Some enjoyed that telecast, while others (myself included) felt it was in poor taste. I doubt that’ll be the case with Ellen, and I hope returning producers Craig Zadan and Neil Meron acknowledge a classier approach to this year. The nominations are announced on January 16th, 2014, and the telecast takes place on Sunday, March 2nd. With all the telecast details more or less locked in, expect our first official Oscar predictions to go up soon!