Owen Wilson and Ben Stiller top our Oscar host wish list. Appearing as their… (Melinda Sue Gordon / Paramount…)
Jimmy Fallon says it’s an honor to be nominated … but, as he put it in an awkward exchange with Matt Lauer on Wednesday morning on the “Today” show, he’s “not going to do the Oscars.”
And since newly elected film academy president Hawk Koch has repeatedly said that finding a new Oscar host and producer rates as his top priority, we thought we’d offer a few suggestions so he can cross that item off his to-do list and move on to other things. (We’d fix the screwy rules governing the documentary category first, but do what you have to do, Hawk. Just make sure you get to that one.)
The show needn’t go full Hathaway-Franco, but we do think some new blood is needed. Here are five recommendations for Oscar host, in descending order of preference:
Ben Stiller and Owen Wilson
Pros: Proven chemistry and they actually seem to enjoy working together. Contrasting styles -- Stiller’s slow-burn butting up against Wilson’s mellow charm -- has played well when they’ve presented at past Oscar shows in 2002 and 2004.
Cons: Stiller currently deep into making ambitious “Secret Life of Walter Mitty” and would probably hesitate at time commitment needed to host. Then again, the high-profile turn might just be the tonic needed to wash away memories of “The Watch.”
Robert Downey Jr. and Sandra Bullock
Pros: Consistently quick on their feet whenever presenting or accepting awards, this pair would deliver the kind of star power that the academy needs to attract viewers. The promise of smart, flirty banter would help keep the audience from nodding off during the show’s inevitable midpoint lull.
Cons: Again, the time commitment, though these two strike us a capable multitaskers. Telecast producers might be nervous given Downey’s penchant (talent) for going off-script, but that’s part of the attraction, right?
Amy Poehler and Maya Rudolph
Pros: Prior co-hosting experience on (ahem) “Saturday Night Live’s” “Bronx Beat.” Check. Smart and funny. Check and check. Plus, Rudolph will probably have to attend anyway with squeeze Paul Thomas Anderson contending for “The Master.” Might as well make herself useful.
Cons: Both women have insanely busy schedules, which would limit prep time. On the other hand, they’re masters at improvising. And they could turn to pals Tina Fey and Kristen Wiig for help. Make it a party!
Pros: Mayor of Hollywood Tom Hanks is a perennial choice for hosting duties, but why not another versatile, nice-guy industry favorite? And, again, Carell’s improv experience would prove invaluable, injecting some spontaneity into an evening that too easily becomes a lumbering bore.
Cons: “Daily Show” host Jon Stewart couldn’t beat the show’s rigid format. Perhaps his former ace correspondent wouldn't fare any better?
Neil Patrick Harris
Pros: Hosted the Tonys three times and Emmys once and killed on every occasion.
Cons: Too ubiquitous, perhaps? Participation in “Smurfs” sequel likely to stick in craw of academy members with small children.