Arts·My Favourite Season

7 suggestions for award show hosts who would bring the absolute most to the Oscars and beyond

From the SAG Awards to the Golden Globes, every show needs a host. Consider Keke Palmer, Jinkx Monsoon or the trio behind Only Murders in the Building.

You hosting? Consider Keke Palmer, Jinkx Monsoon or the trio behind Only Murders in the Building

A still frame from the show Only Murders in the Building. Selena Gomez, Steve Martin and Martin Short sit together, looking a combination of concerned and annoyed, as Martin Short holds up an actively recording phone.
Selena Gomez, Steve Martin and Martin Short can solve Only Murders In The Building but can they host Only Oscars In The Theatre? (Hulu)

My Favourite Season is a monthly column by CBC Arts producer Peter Knegt that runs through the six-month "season" that is both his favourite and Moira Rose's. It explores all things awards in the leadup to the big one: the Oscars, which will take place on March 12, 2023.

Awards season kicked into high gear today, with the first major nomination announcement — the Gotham Awards — dominated by Todd Field's Tár (as Lydia would have surely demanded), with 5 nominations including best feature and acting noms for Cate Blanchett and Nina Hoss. Soon, there will be nomination announcements for various awards more or less every other day, and the path to the Oscars will become more and more clear. (We've updated our Oscar predictions for the month of October here and will continue to add all the latest buzz to that list.)

One thing we have not heard any news about, though, is the matter of who is going to be hosting all of these ceremonies. Famously considered something no one ever really wants to do (particularly when it comes to the Oscars), last year's slate of hosts included a mix of "unintentionally hilarious tweets because they were banned from having an actual ceremony" (re: whoever was behind them for the Golden Globes), "okay I guess but not as good as Aubrey Plaza when she did it" (re: Megan Mullaly and Nick Offerman hosting the Spirit Awards) and of course, "they did a pretty great job all things considered" (re: Amy Schumer, Wanda Sykes and Regina Hall doing their very best to salvage the Oscars).

So as organizations start brainstorming who might be the right fit to lead us through the various ceremonies (including the Globes, which are somehow coming back), may I make a few suggestions:

Martin Short (with or without Selena Gomez and Steve Martin)

It was not much of a secret that last year, the Oscars were very much courting what seemed like the dream hosting trio: Selena Gomez, Steve Martin and Martin Short. And they remain a dream a year later.

And why wouldn't they be, as three extremely well-liked people who collectively bridge various generational and demographic gaps and who star on a wildly popular TV show that just so happens to — like the Oscars' broadcaster ABC — be owned by Disney? One of them (Steve Martin) has even hosted the Oscars before!

But "scheduling conflicts" didn't allow last time around, which leads me to suggest: Martin Short can do this on his own if Steve and Selena can't make it work. He is truly a living legend who has, shockingly, never hosted the Oscars before, and there are few people more universally beloved. 

Hugh Jackman

If the Oscars do want to go with a single host who has already been tried and tested, may I suggest the literal greatest showman and in my opinion the best host they've had so far in the 21st century: Hugh Jackman.

His performance at the 2009 ceremony was a remarkable feat of commitment and charm that harkened back to old Hollywood while still feeling incredibly of-the-moment. Even though Jackman is not a comedian, his song-and-dance numbers to the nominated films was funnier than anything we'd seen in the ceremonies hosted by Jon Stewart or Ellen DeGeneres that preceded him.

Keke Palmer

If they're looking more for a great showwoman who might bring in a younger demographic, few ideas would be greater than Keke Palmer. The woman can literally do everything, whether it's killing it hosting daytime television or playing all the characters in the Emmy winning web series Turnt Up with the Taylors or being the best thing about the latest Jordan Peele film. Charisma is generally key when it comes to hosting awards shows, and Palmer has all of it.

Jinkx Monsoon (with or without a bunch of other drag queens)

Why we haven't already just fully handed over awards show hosting duties to drag queens exclusively is beyond me. And if anyone is most up to the task, it's recent RuPaul's Drag Race All Stars: All Winners winner Jinkx Monsoon, who proved herself to be the absolute GOAT particularly when it comes to comedic skills — a key component of hosting.

But why stop with Jinkx? Invite the entire cast of that season to host and just imagine the possibilities: epic lipsyncs to all the nominated songs, a special Snatch Game where they do all the acting nominees or simply opening the library to read all the nominees before they announce the winner. Endless opportunities! (Also drag queens tend to be much less reluctant to turn down a gig than, say, Martin Short or Hugh Jackman.)

Sheryl Lee Ralph

When Sheryl Lee Ralph won an Emmy for Abbott Elementary earlier this year, her speech was instantly legendary and something I've personally already rewatched 400 times. So why not let her offer that energy to an entire award show? Let her break into song whenever she wants and maybe have her bring some of her Abbott co-stars along for some bits. (ABC does air both the Oscars and Abbott, so it's a big win-win.)

Lady Gaga and a literal gaggle of gays

One of the other greatest moments from the past year in awards shows was Lady Gaga being so precious with Liza Minnelli when they presented the Oscar for best picture. And in that moment, I thought what many of you are immediately going to consider way too much of an idea: let Gaga host the whole damn thing.

She's already gonna be there (likely winning another trophy for the Top Gun: Maverick song) and she's surely up for a new challenge. But may I suggest a twist that might even out Gaga's energy: get, like, 8 or 10 gay comedians to join her as co-hosts. I'm thinking like Bowen Yang and Julio Torres and Joel Kim Booster and Matt Rogers and Jerrod Carmichael and Guy Branum and even Billy Eichner. Let Gaga lead the gayest Oscars of all time, because that is absolutely what the show was always intended to be.

Kristen Wiig and Bill Hader

This has always long been my dream host scenario, whether for the Oscars or the Golden Globes or literally just a livestream of a dog show. Because Kristen Wiig and Bill Hader are — in my opinion, obviously — the funniest two cast members to come out of the past two decades of SNL and have a chemistry that is unparalleled. They'd surely make the show a special kind of unhinged that only they could create, but we would be all the better for it.

Check out our latest predictions for the 2023 Academy Awards here.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Peter Knegt (he/him) is a writer, producer and host for CBC Arts. He writes the LGBTQ-culture column Queeries (winner of the Digital Publishing Award for best digital column in Canada) and hosts and produces the talk series Here & Queer. He's also spearheaded the launch and production of series Canada's a Drag, variety special Queer Pride Inside, and interactive projects Superqueeroes and The 2010s: The Decade Canadian Artists Stopped Saying Sorry. Collectively, these projects have won Knegt four Canadian Screen Awards. Beyond CBC, Knegt is also the filmmaker of numerous short films, the author of the book About Canada: Queer Rights and the host of the monthly film series Queer Cinema Club at Toronto's Paradise Theatre. You can follow him on Instagram and Twitter with the same obvious handle: @peterknegt.

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