It’s somewhat strange that we’re nearing the end of 2016, and we’re still left without an announced Oscar host for the festivities on February 26, 2017. Though there’s a good solid chance the Academy will formally unveil their pick any minute now, The Playlist would kindly like to offer a helping hand in the selection process, if they’re still scrambling to make a last-minute decision.
We don’t have the connections, nor do we have the power to clear everyone’s busy schedule — nor change the fact that the ABC telecast would preclude certain talents under contract at rival studios wouldn’t make the cut — but we know that the Oscars could use some fresh blood, and they could use someone who’ll guarantee some entertainment amidst the trophy-giving, especially after years of bland, sometimes puzzling, and often ratings-struggling Oscar gigs.
In a year as divisive and unconventional as this one, it would be in their best interest to shake things up and provide a memorable, and hopefully exceptional, awards ceremony, one that will give them the ratings, social media attention and public interest needed to combat dwindling attention and indifferent viewers. A kick in the pants is desperately needed, and after a considerable amount of water cooler in-fighting, we’ve settled on a list that should hopefully give the Academy more than a few excellent choices to keep their 89th annual Dolby Theatre-hosted ceremonies afloat in style. They may not all be feasible, or even possible, but we’d like to think they’re all good candidates. Hell, if they get called, you heard it here first.
If nothing else, 2016 finally gave Dave Chappelle the comeback he deserved. The “Chappelle’s Show” namesake not only front-lined a season-best “Saturday Night Live” episode earlier this month after his first appearance on the 30 Rock stage, but the veteran comedian was the hilarious antidote needed after the surprising and troubling results of the U.S. presidential election. His conversational, open-hearted approach never felt more gratifying or soothing. The unfiltered, tell-it-as-it-is opening monologue was a highlight, and Chappelle could easily deliver an equally uncompromising Oscar ceremony, one that would stand apart from the more lacklustre efforts of late. The comedian’s exceptional crowd work, matched only by his smooth, casual-as-can-be demeanor, would certainly circumvent the stuffiness often customary to the Oscar ceremony. A bit of biting social commentary won’t hurt either, but on the flipside, he could be a little too edgy and dangerous for the older, conservative members of the Academy.
For our money, Louis C.K. was unquestionably the highlight of the Oscars last February. Given the rather-uncelebrated Best Documentary Short Film category, C.K. provided a no-holds-barred account of the sad, unremarkable life of a short documentary filmmaker, weaving a story just as punchy, unconventional, heartfelt and astute as anything you’ll likely see from his stand-up sets, and on any episode of “Louie” or “Horace and Pete.” Imagine, then, if he was given the keys to the entire shebang? A filmmaker himself, C.K. comes with deep respect for the art of cinema and what it means to people, and his nakedly confident style would avoid the conventional awkwardness that typically comes from these hosting jobs. Unless, of course, C.K. wants to relish in the awkwardness, which would also be wholly entertaining. The point remains, the veteran comic has an established brand that is growing even more popular by the time, and the Oscar platform could mark the next step of his career. Of course, he could be too risqué and even not big enough of a name, but talent wise, he’s got the goods.
Word-on-the-street is that ABC wants their titular “Jimmy Kimmel Live!” late show host to take a swing at the Oscar-hosting duties. He’s a little safe, perhaps, but Kimmel knows his way around the gig, having proven himself several times at the helm of the Emmys, including earlier this year, Kimmel not only has a captive, younger audience and strong social media presence, but he’s also an appealing personality with plenty of insider friends (hello, Matt Damon). His post-Oscar shows are already the stuff of legend, so it’s only natural that the next stop is hosting the show itself.