Oscars 2018: Jimmy Kimmel nailed it… almost

Jimmy Kimmel delivers a speech during the opening of the 90th Annual Academy Awards | AFP

Every year at the Oscars, the host pulls some unexpected rabbit out of the hat. And something that, almost always, makes you wish you could erase it from your memory. In retrospect, they probably wish it too. Remember Seth MacFarlane’s song We Saw Your Boobs? He addressed it to women who had gone topless in films. All of them sitting in the audience probably wanted to remove their bras and slap him with it. Or how Hugh Jackman broke into spontaneous dancing all of a sudden? There went all my romantic fantasies of Wolverine. Or how Jimmy Kimmel tweeted at the president during the show last year?

Thankfully, this year was a fairly event-less and selfie-less one (we’re talking to you Ellen DeGeneres). There were a few awkward moments, like when Kimmel brought a boy onstage as his “9-year-old self”. Or when he went to a movie theatre and told one of the viewers to announce the presenters of an award category. The poor bloke tripped over Tiffany Haddish’s name and Kimmel had to correct him. Imagine making a faux pas in front of hundreds of celebrities on the biggest award night of the year.

But overall, Kimmel did a stellar job. He was suave and confident and most of his zingers hit their mark (maybe he could have avoided the ones on Christopher Plummer’s age; let’s admit it – the guy looked more dashing than men half his age in the room). Kimmel didn’t shy away from addressing the elephant in the room—sexual harassment and #MeToo. “If we can stop sexual harassment at the workplace, women will only have to deal with it at all times everywhere else they go,” he said. He also touched upon the issue of racial diversity and politics. But the best jokes were reserved for ‘envelopegate’, when Faye Dunaway announced the wrong film as winner of the best picture award last year. “This year, when you hear your name called, don’t get up right away,” he said. “Just give us a minute.”

Hosting the Oscars is risky business. The pressure to be funny can be debilitating. The pressure to be funny in front of millions of viewers is a nightmare. You have to be smooth enough not to hurt egos and snarky enough not to be afraid of taking a few potshots. Every host has a distinctive style—Chris Rock’s humour was biting, he wasn’t afraid to take out the big guns. Billy Crystal and Steve Martin were, of course, legends. To members of the audience, they were probably like the teacher whose eyes you meticulously avoid in class because you know that any minute, you could be picked on. James Franco and Anne Hathaway are probably still recovering from the embarrassment of putting everyone to sleep as Oscar hosts. Kimmel has a very understated way of hosting, and you get the feeling that he’s comfortable without trying too hard to be funny.

So, who’s going to take the mantle from him next year? Our vote is for Maya Rudolph and Tiffany Haddish. They were the best presenters of the evening. “I know what you’re thinking,” said Haddish. “Are the Oscars too black now? Don’t worry. We were just backstage and there are still a bunch of white people still to come.” They could be the new Tina Fey and Amy Poehler. Except that they’re coloured. And proudly so. Three cheers to that.