What if a crazy group of presenters is exactly what the Oscars need?

The build-up to the 94th Academy Awards — still scheduled for this Sunday, possible COVID outbreak, be damned — has been a wild ride to say the least. Producer Will Packer and the Academy, seemingly threatened with death by the ABC headline, are pulling many, many stops in an effort to get more people to tune in, from stripping eight categories from the broadcast to potentially allowing Johnny Depp is in the spotlight for a while.

Given all that real controversy, the ever-growing list of the ceremony’s presenters is a trifle. Unless they’re particularly hilarious or oddly dressed or Buzz Lightyear, presenters tend to fade into the background of an awards ceremony, offer a good joke or two and a hug to the winner, then shuffle offstage. (However, a special shout-out to oscar isaac and Jessica Chastain, who was the unintended background for? Troy Kotsur‘s SAG speech. That’s the kind of balance that can turn you into a frontrunner in the best actress.)

So either way, most award show hosts don’t become the main story of the show. But most award show presenters are not DJ Khaled, or snowboard champion shaun white, or surfer Kelly Slater. All three of these names are featured in the Academy’s latest announcement. They have raised a lot of eyebrows, and let’s be honest, there are no people you would associate with filmmaking at the highest level, if at all.

But they fit very well with the theme Packer is promoting for this year’s show: “Movie Lovers Unite.” as he told Vanity Fair‘s Rebecca Ford last week: “There has to be something different this year that connects with people outside of Hollywood, outside of the industry. You have to connect with the casual moviegoer and casual movie fan.” So is the best and brightest of the X Games, and the man known for shouting his own name over his most famous songs, the key to turning casual movie fans into Oscar viewers? Or could their presence at the ceremony alienate those still watching, with the implicit belief that seeing DJ Khaled is more important than seeing the winner of the best edit live?

There is an inherent snobbery built into the Oscars, which exist more or less to promote a medium that is usually much more about profit than art. But much of that snobbery has been successfully pushed back over the years, from Oscar voters’ bias against science fiction and superhero movies to the idea of ​​getting the thing on TV. The most successful changes to the Oscars are all rooted in what Packer says he wants to emphasize this year: his love of movies. So if Tony Hawk and Sean “Diddy” Kammen come on stage and tell us convincingly why they love movies – and why we should – maybe we should let them.

Of course I have no idea if this is going to happen. The absence of eight categories from the live broadcast lends an undeniable sour taste to any subsequent announcement about this year’s show, and Packer and his team will have to work hard to make sure the broadcast is worth that seismic shift. When White, Hawk, and Slater take the stage to present “a Tribute to Sports in Movies,” I’ll happily eat my words. But I continue to hope that all these hosts were chosen because they are willing to stand up for movies as an art form, to help the Oscars grow into more of a marquee, attracting moviegoers of all levels. discovering something new or celebrating something they already love.

But then again, these guys apparently still haven’t invited Rachel Zegler to even attend the Oscars, she says — so maybe the benefit of the doubt isn’t necessary here.


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