This year the Oscars were to be hosted by Kevin Hart. A celebrated choice for one day. Following, he was put through the twitter ringer when old tweets resurfaced that were homophobic. Hart has since stepped down from the hosting gig and has been on a PR apology tour. Now, the Academy has decided to skip a host this year instead of replacing him, as reported by Variety. This marks only the second time the show will be hostless. The first was in 1989, an awards show that lives in infamy. Best Picture that year was Rain Man, which remains a beloved film, yet its winning night was shocking and bad. Rob Lowe recounted the show in 2013 for The Hollywood Reporter.
Modern Oscar History
The Oscars telecast is one of the most watched TV events of the year. Yet, the show has seen decreased viewership steadily over the last several years. With the political climate changing, Weinstein, fresh-faced stars, and many top-honored films not making it to theaters it shouldn’t be surprising that people are checking out from the show. The host is supposed to save the show and bring in viewers, but this hasn’t been working. Jimmy Kimmel hosted the last two years and was not able to save this ship.
This year’s most talked about films may very well be the Best Picture nominees. With many years of Best Picture films sprouting out of the ground through the film festival circuit and not theatrical releases audiences have felt increasingly disconnected from the show. If films like A Star is Born, Crazy Rich Asians or Black Panther are nominated, viewers may watch to see who wins. Last year’s winner The Shape of Water made less than $200 mill. at the box office worldwide. A Star is Born alone has made nearly $400 mill worldwide. Although box office numbers don’t necessarily influence the Academy’s choices, it does influence whether or not people watch the show. So, film fans may tune-in because they are seeing films they love receive nominations and wins.
Hosts have become polarizing choices with many viewers not wanting to see Hollywood stretch its political muscles on Oscar night. The show was necessarily political last year following the transformative year of the Weinstein fall-out, the #MeToo movement, and the establishment of Times Up. The women of the industry feel they need to be heard and seen more, so a choice following Kevin Hart that was also male could also have backfired. Politics and gender politics are new to being at the forefront of Oscar conversation. We will have to see who participates in this year’s show even if none are the official hosts.
The idea of the show being host-free may open doors to bring back some A-List talent. We have been in a transitional time for Hollywood’s top stars. We are cheering the successes of young stars in recent years with Jennifer Lawrence, Emma Stone, and Eddie Redmayne all winning top acting honors early in their careers. Stone and Lawrence both won Best Actress before turning 30. In turn, we have seen a smaller Oscar attendance for the previous generation of A-Listers that are still adored by fans around the world. One of the most tweeted about moments ever came from Leonardo DiCaprio winning his first Best Actor Oscar in 2016 for The Revenant. Yet, his peer group like George Clooney, Brad Pitt, and Jack Nicholson have not been at the show in a few years.
The young talent is starting to fill more and more seats, but with their films not being as widely popular or available it will become more challenging for the Oscars to use them as viewership leverage for the telecast. Though, if they become more involved with the show itself, as a hostless show could indicate, then viewers may tune-in out of curiosity to see what their favorite new and established A-List stars may do on Oscar night.
The Academy Awards will be on February 24, 2019.
What are your thoughts on a the Oscars skipping a host this year? Share in the comments!