Oscars 2022: Return of a host and potential winners

January 30, 2022

When you hear that the Oscars haven't had a host for the last few years, you’d be forgiven for believing it was completely down to the impact that COVID-19 had on the industry. However, the lack of a host for the prestigious event that celebrates some of the film industries finest, actually predates the virus itself.

Oscars 2022: Return of a host and potential winners

When you hear that the Oscars haven't had a host for the last few years, you’d be forgiven for believing it was completely down to the impact that COVID-19 had on the industry. However, the lack of a host for the prestigious event that celebrates some of the film industries finest, actually predates the virus itself.

The last event to actually have one was in 2018, when the popular TV talk show host Jimmy Kimmel was the man tasked with the job. It was then arranged that comedian and actor, Kevin Hart, would host the Oscars the following year in 2019.

But, as happens when any big names are put into the spotlight, people begin digging for dirt. And with Hart, they very much found some, in the form of resurfaced homophobic jokes and tweets by Hart that he had posted in his past.

Hart came out and tried to apologise for his past behaviour, in a bid to keep his place as the Oscars host in 2019, but the damage was done. No apology was going to save his position as the host, especially as the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Science (AMPAS) had been under much scrutiny in recent years for underrepresentation of ethnic minorities.

They could not afford to be ignoring homophobic abuse as well, and so had no choice but to drop Hart in the blink of an eye. But despite being dropped, the Oscars still went ahead in the winter of 2019, before the COVID-19 pandemic brought the world to a standstill.

In fact, following all the controversy, it had one of its most successful years, with a rise in viewers to 29.5 million, up from 26.6 million. That trend however, would not carry on through the next couple of years.

Trying a new format

Following the successful rise in viewership numbers in 2019, AMPAS decided that they would go down the route of not having a host again. It was actually Karey Burke, the ABC entertainment president who made the announcement, stating that instead of a single host, the Oscars would feature “huge entertainment values, big musical numbers, comedy, and star power”.

They weren’t wrong either, besides those who were there nominated for awards, it was a star-studded ceremony with big names on stage too. There was a short comedy performance featuring Steve Martin and Chris Rock, a presentation from Tom Hanks announcing the Academy Museum of Motion Pictures, and performances from the likes of Elton John and Eminem.

Despite carrying on the hostless format though, the Oscars viewing numbers dropped for 2020, to 23.6 million, the second lowest in Oscars history since 1974. But determined to stick with the new format, a host was left out again for the 93rd Academy Awards in 2021.

There were a host of names presenting awards, and a few different performers. But it was a much quieter affair than the previous year, thanks to COVID-19 disrupting the world in 2020. Many films were postponed, or had filming delayed, and this reflected in the running of the event too.

The location had moved from the Dolby Theatre to Union Station, the number of people in attendance was reduced, and so were the number of acts on stage. It was a watered down version of the 2020 Oscars. And despite history being made, with Kwak Sin-ae and Bong Joon-ho’s Parasite becoming the first international film to win best picture, it was ultimately a flop.

Viewing figures went to an all-time low of 10.4 million. Surprising when it was during a time when millions of people around the world were stuck indoors, unable to venture outside, and were doing nothing but watching TV. Which just goes to show that the general public really have lost interest in the ceremony, and the people who vote for many of the award winners.

Return of the host

Following the record low figures, AMPAS decided to return to the old format of having a famous face hosting the ceremony, with the current ABC entertainment president Craig Erwich making the announcement. He also stated that Will Packer will be the ceremony’s executive producer, declaring that “Will really has his pulse on popular culture and entertainment. I know he has a lot in store and we’ll have more details to share soon”.

Sadly, one of the details that still has yet to be announced is who that host could be. Would they potentially go back to give Kevin Hart a second chance? Will they go with Jimmy Kimmel as the last person to hold the baton of the role of host? Well, one name in the hat right now is the Spider-Man actor, Tom Holland. In a recent interview with the Hollywood Reporter, he said: “If they ask me to, I would, and it would be very fun. I would really enjoy it”.

He certainly has likable qualities, and may well draw in the Marvel fanbase, who have at times felt that Marvel films have been ignored. Despite their incredible success at the box office, and the quality work that has gone into them, they rarely ever get mentioned about being in contention for an award. And this is something that fans have complained about over the years.

Potential winners this year

Unlike last year, where many films were delayed due to COVID-19, this year has seen an abundance of films released. Some have gone on to the big screen, others have launched on streaming platforms like Netflix and Disney+. But with so many in contention, who are the favourites for the big awards this year?

For Best Picture, the main favourite is Belfast at 3/1, which tells the tale of a working class family during the late 1960s in Northern Island’s capital, and has received heaps of praise. And already as awards season has begun, it has picked up a TIFF People’s Choice Award, a PSIFF Vanguard Award and an AFI Special Award.

That is closely followed by the western drama, The Power of the Dog given odds of 4/1, that follows a rancher who inspires fear in those around him, until he finds himself exposed to the possibility of love when his brother brings home a new wife and her son. This too has already won some awards, picking up a VIFF Silver Lion, a Golden Globe for Drama, and making the AFI Top 10.

The same two films are also the top two favourites for Best Director as well. However, it was The Power of the Dog director, Jane Campion who is leading the way so far in that respect at 5/2, having already won Best Director at the Golden Globes as well as a PSIFF Director of the Year Award.

The remaining big awards at the Oscars are the Best Actor and Actress, which still seems strange considering we now call actresses actors as well. You’d think it would have just become a unisex category. However, as time stands it is not, and Will Smith is leading the way for Best Actor at 3/1, for his role in King Richard, with Andrew Garfield in Tick, tick…boom! being the other leading contender at 5/1.

In the Best Actress category, it’s a three-way battle between Nicole Kidman in Being the Ricardos and Lady Gaga in House of Gucci, who are both 5/1, and Jessica Chastain at 7/1 in The Eyes of Tammy Faye. However, just because these are the favourites, doesn’t mean they are guaranteed to win. You can check your favourite actor odds on DraftKings sportsbook app.

Whilst it may seem strange betting on the Oscars, as opposed to traditional sports or even esports nowadays, it’s actually very common. With results kept closely guarded, and not revealed until the night, all odds are based on critics feedback, box office statistics and fan reactions. Making it a very exciting market to bet on, but you never do quite know which way the judges will go on the big night.