Academy Awards 2014: Can Ellen Save the Struggling “Oscar Host”?

Oscar Sunday is quickly approaching (4 days!), and this year beloved comedian and talk show host Ellen DeGeneres is taking the reigns as host for the big show and the pressure couldn’t be higher. The past few years have been quite bumpy for hosts of the Academy Awards. The Academy desperately tried to appeal to a younger crowd in 2011 by choosing James Franco and Anne Hathaway to co-lead the ceremony, and I’m sure we’re all familiar with just how much of a bomb that turned out to be. In 2012, they covered up their blunder by going the traditional route by hiring Billy Crystal for his ninth time as ringleader, and while Crystal is an undisputed comedian, the decision to play it safe resulted in a pretty forgettable show. Last year, the Academy tried to have it both ways by hiring Seth MacFarlane, who has the raunch to appeal to teenagers and the Sinatra voice to woo the older crowd. And yet, MacFarlane’s presence got all the headlines (the boob song!) and distracted from the movies at play. So maybe the Academy is finally in luck this year with DeGeneres, who no doubt appeals to a very large, all-encompassing demographic and who has hosted before in 2007. We’re confident she has it in her to be one of the best hosts in recent years.

When she hosted in 2007, she had a fairly strong opening bit. She made jokes about how nervous all of the nominees must be and drew big laughs when she claimed that she wouldn’t want to be them. Later in the show, she memorably walked around the audience and interacted with some of the prestigious audience members. She chatted and did small bits with Clint Eastwood, Mark Wahlberg, Martin Scorsese, and others. She even gave Scorsese a script to look at, and seeing as he will be in the audience again this year for his multi-nominated The Wolf of Wall Street, we may be able to witness a humorous Scorsese/Ellen gag one more.

We’re certainly hoping that Ellen uses some more interactive comedy this year, as it worked very well for her in 2007. She had both her audience members and home viewers in stitches while walking around the aisles and cracking jokes with the audience. Since the award-show format has become quite generic, we pretty much expect our host to stand on the stage, tell a few jokes, and maybe throw in a musical number for some lively pizazz, but not all hosts are willing to approach their audience and talk to them in the middle of the evening face-to-face, and that’s why we love Ellen –  she’s humble, personal, and willing to turn the stars into jokes and laugh along with them in a way that is highly entertaining to watch.

Through her daytime talk show and various social media platforms, Ellen has also done an excellent job of promoting the Oscars. Nominees such as Meryl Streep (Best Actress – August: Osage County), Lupita Nyong’o (Best Supporting Actress – 12 Years A Slave), and Jared Leto (Best Supporting Actor – Dallas Buyers Club) have recently appeared on her show. She has also played and posted videos of her guests who have previously attended the Oscars as they talk about their Academy Award experiences. In these clips, Julianne More joked about how she has been nominated five times but has never won and Steve Martin declared himself the best Oscar host ever. Ellen will also have a live show on the Monday following the Oscars. Her Facebook page is currently keeping a countdown to both the Oscars and her live episode, and she jokingly admitted that she might have to host her talk show with a hangover the following day.

Overall, Ellen is smartly using her social media pages to create buzz for the Oscars. She created a competition on the video app Vine, challenging her viewers and fans to make six second Vine-videos that have to do with the movies nominated for Oscars this year. Using the hashtag #Oscars4Ellen, thousands of people parodied the most acclaimed movies of the year, some using their Legos to reenact scenes, others having young kids belt out the songs from Frozen, and others flaunting their best Matthew McConaughey impressions. Some of Ellen’s favorites will be featured on her post-Oscar show. In addition, her Facebook page is constantly posting promotional videos and pictures, as are her Twitter and Instagram accounts.

Ellen has clearly put in a lot of hard work for the Oscars already. We know she’ll be funny, so now we’re just hoping she’s one of the best hosts of the 2000s. We’ll see all of Ellen’s hard work come alive on Sunday March 2nd.

Are you excited for the big show?

Article by Sam Chricton

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2 thoughts on “Academy Awards 2014: Can Ellen Save the Struggling “Oscar Host”?

  1. Pingback: 86th Annual Academy Award Predictions: “12 Years”, “Gravity”, & More! | Reel Reactions

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