11:40am PT by Daniel Fienberg
Critic's Notebook: Who Should Host the 2017 Oscars?
Hosting the Oscars is a tough gig, requiring months of preparation for a one-night performance that usually gets reviewed poorly because the show runs long or Crash wins best picture or James Franco decides to turn hosting into a performance-art piece. Perhaps that's why the list of people who have hosted solo in consecutive years is Bob Hope, Johnny Carson and Billy Crystal. So even though Chris Rock received pretty darn good reviews for hosting the 88th Academy Awards under difficult and unique circumstances, it's doubtful he'll be back in 2017.
Rock tried to anoint his own successor in Kevin Hart, who then trotted out his own audition reel as a presenter, but the Academy tends to prefer hosts who play hard-to-get. Neil Patrick Harris, for example, hosted every other award show ever created before he got a crack at the Oscars, and that went forgettably.
So who are some good contenders?
Louis C.K.: Think of all the time and effort the Academy could save by letting Louis C.K. write, direct, produce and edit the Oscars all by himself. Heck, they wouldn't even need to announce the telecast, you could just turn on ABC one Sunday night and there it'd be, or maybe he could just post the Oscars telecast on his website and charge anybody who cares $5 to download it. Everybody's favorite multihyphenate was funny and honorable in presenting documentary short on this year's show and he'd probably be funny as host, but would he want to be tied down to an L.A.-based commitment like this? And would the Academy want to open itself up to embarrassment for having snubbed Pootie Tang?
Tina Fey with Almost Anybody: For some reason, we like the idea of Tina Fey paired with other people, and you don't hear people suggest she do things solo. It's unclear why that is. If you pair Fey with Poehler, then the Oscars will just feel like the Golden Globes, which is why you don't see anybody seriously suggesting Ricky Gervais. But Fey and Steve Carell are always funny together. Or they're usually funny together. Actually, they weren't especially funny together this year, so maybe not.
Joseph Gordon-Levitt: He's an old-fashioned showman in the Neil Patrick Harris/Hugh Jackman vein, but he's also tapped into that millennial thing everybody wants to be a part of, so like Louis C.K. he'd probably add a DIY vibe to the show, which couldn't hurt. By tapping into his HitRECord community, this could be the first crowdsourced Oscars.
Jacob Tremblay: Look, everybody basically wanted him to be in every shot this year, so we might as well formalize it and let him host next year. If you don't think he could handle it alone, pair him with BB-8. Or, better yet, pair him with Kevin Hart. The short jokes literally write themselves.
Keegan-Michael Key and Jordan Peele: Keanu probably won't be up for any Oscars next year, but if the trailers and posters are any indication, that will be the sham to end all shams. So in lieu of that, bring out Key & Peele as Oscars hosts and let the Keanu kitten appear in the opening monologue. Key & Peele are versatile, hilarious, they'll no longer carry the stench of being merely TV plebes and you know that a surprise appearance by newly departed President Obama, interrupting a Luther the Anger Translator skit, would bring down the house.