Cinephile: The significance (or utter triviality) of this year's Oscar host selection

By Katie Kilkenny | 10/4/12 9:42am

Nonetheless, MacFarlane’s lack of renown surprised nearly everyone, as the Academy of Motion Picture Sciences usually opts for prestige picks. Or, as in the case of 2011, popular young stars that look nice together onstage, though utter lack of chemistry led to accusations that one was high and the other trying too hard. After that calamitous ceremony, many thought the Academy’s days of attempting to appeal to younger audiences with hip emcees were over.

However, the choice of MacFarlane this year is an attention-grabbing move that dares even more to Oscars' reputation on the line. MacFarlane represents a significant risk for the Academy Awards, as his crude and crass sense of humor could raze the traditionally stiff ceremony. In the worst-case scenario, MacFarlane could bring the pomp of the Oscars down to the level of a Ricky Gervais-hosted Golden Globes with distinct attacks on scientology and Tom Cruise — gasp! Since MacFarlane has already insinuated that Nazis would have supported the 2008 McCain/Palin presidential campaign and crafted a musical making light of AIDS, what jokes might he slip in between Sound Mixing and Costume Design categories?

Despite the endless possibilities for how MacFarlane could revolutionize (and mercilessly mock) the ceremony, he recently showed off that he possesses the key to helming the awards ceremony while hosting the fall premiere of Saturday Night Live – the ability to sing quite well. Wasn’t that the whole reason Hugh Jackman was asked a few years back?

And though MacFarlane has only one movie to his name (in the clip, his Stewie voice responds to his claim that he is more than just voices, “Oh yes, so many directors host SNL. I believe Garry Marshall is hosting next week”), his first project, "Ted" (2012) was a bombastic box office success. Given the premise — Mark Wahlberg befriends a vulgar teddy bear — and the current climate of box office woe, this is an incredible feat of word-of-mouth and social networking buzz. The Academy clearly hopes to repeat this triumph by snagging the elusive young male demographic.

Ultimately, though, despite all the hoopla about the host and how the routine is perceived, the films are the real stars, and this year is not without incredible options. "The Master" (2012), "Argo" (2012), "Lincoln" (2012), "Silver Linings Playbook" (2012), "Moonrise Kingdom" (2012) and "Django Unchained" (2012) all promise to make for a competitive and creatively-charged ceremony. If you’re like me, you watch the prolonged and exhausting ceremony not for the host, the dresses, boring speeches or E! Network’s laughable “mani cam,” but for that moment when the envelope is opened and films take their place in history.

Katie Kilkenny