From Bob Hope to Ellen DeGeneres, the Oscar hosts over the years have been an eclectic mix of actors and comedians that have produced shows of varying degrees of quality. This years host Seth Macfarlane had an up hill battle from the very beginning. Prior to the show he had dozens of detractors worrying about his humour not suiting the award show, as well as having to follow last years show, which was extremely… OK. Nothing particularly memorable just, OK.
Well how did he do? He did what he had to. He nailed a few punch lines while a few jokes missed the mark. He sang with aplomb and didn’t make things feel too awkward (it’s a strange but common part of award shows – the uncomfortable silence). And his opening line – “Welcome to the Oscars. And the quest to make Tommy Lee Jones laugh begins now” set the tone for his hosting duties of the night – Consistently funny and just a bit cheeky.
The rest of the show however suffered in parts from some inconsistency, and a few too many musical numbers. The theme was music in movies but you can only bring the cast of Chicago out so many times before people start remembering that Chicago; probably shouldn’t have won best picture 10 years ago.
The problem now is that any of the shows inconsistency will more than likely be blamed on Macfarlane, which is pretty unfair. When you really think about it the host only has so much to do. Each year they have to have a memorable opening, a nice monologue, and they have the odd task of introducing other presenters (their role is to present presenters?).
The true mark of a good host is consistency. They hit every mark, they don’t slip up too many times, and they don’t offend anyone too much. The most highly regarded hosts from over the years are the ones that did it multiple times (Hope, Carson, Crystal). The best award moments are the faux pas and the fumbles. Steve Martin got some of his highest praise as a presenter when he adlibbed a funny line after Michael Moores’ on stage rant.
The fact of the matter is the Academy wants their awards show to be the greatest show on earth, and the fact of the matter is; it’s just a fancy way for the movie industry to congratulate themselves every year. They can be as edgy/flamboyant/star-studded as they want. But unless they want to turn into the MTV music awards; they can only do so much.