In the year 1989, the already long-running Academy Awards was held without a host acting as master of ceremonies for the first time. This concept was the brainchild of the 61st Awards producer Allan Carr, who relied on the program being carried by a succession of Oscar presenters. Speaking of Oscars, this awards ceremony replaced the old “And the winner is…” lead with the now-enshrined “And the Oscar goes to…” tagline. Critics were not impressed by the telecast, both its presenter format and an eyebrow-raising opening number. Ask a viewer today however, and they might say a host-less Oscars would be a perfect idea that was ahead of its time.
To be sure, having a repeat of lacking a host for the 91st Academy Awards last Sunday, February 24, may have actually helped to jumpstart its ratings back up from its abysmal numbers last 2018, according to Entertainment Weekly. Once again falling back on having the program be carried along by the awards presenters was perceived by viewers to have dramatically increased the pace of the proceedings, not to mention introduced a variety of interesting conversation that was not tied to a single unifying host.
Statistics gleaned from Sunday night saw a reversal of figures. CNBC reports 29.6 million viewers tuning in to catch the Oscars, a 12% increase from last year. The shorter running time was legit too; at 3 hours and 20 minutes it had been 40 minutes shorter than the 90th Academy Awards. One other significant factor in the increase would have to be the slate of performers lined up. No less than Queen (with current vocalist Adam Lambert) was the much-lauded opening act. Also appreciated was the duet of Bradley Cooper and Lady Gaga, both of which and their film “A Star is Born” being major nominees of the evening themselves.
Finally, the nominees in themselves were pretty significant or groundbreaking enough for more people than expected to tune in. “Black Panther” did make history as the first superhero movie to be in the running for Best Picture; it did not win but triumphed in some of the technical categories. Another super-feature, “Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse” succeeded in winning for Marvel its first Oscar in Best Animated Film. Rami Malek certainly got lots of props when he won Best Actor for portraying Freddie Mercury in “Bohemian Rhapsody.” This and “Black Panther,” “Roma” and “Green Book” were the top multi-awardees of the night while “Roma” and “The Favourite” led in nomination count.
A notable trend was the number of wins for both Disney films (despite having no major Oscars this time) and that of 20th Century Fox. It should be recalled that the former is set to acquire the latter and several other Fox media assets, with only international approval holding up the finalization of the deal.
Image courtesy of NBC News