Hugh Jackman named Oscar host

Posted by · 10:21 am · December 12th, 2008

The news is out — the Australian thesp and “Sexiest Man Alive” will host February’s 81st Academy Awards.

And why not? He’s charismatic, well-liked by all, a bona fide movie star and a genuine showman who has proved his mettle at this short of thing before by hosting the Tony Awards (and winning an Emmy for his pains).

I’ve always said the Oscar host doesn’t necessarily need to be a comedian — it needs to be someone urbane, witty and relatable, who can deliver good material and keep things running at a fair clip. I have no doubt that Jackman can pull that off, and the fact that he’s an able song-and-dance man will no doubt come in handy.

Meanwhile, add the fact that more young viewers actually know who he is, and that more female viewers (hell, more male viewers too) will probably tune in for the eye candy, and this fits neatly with the strategy to boost telecast ratings. But it’s no dumbing-down move either: Jackman is an old-fashioned Hollywood star who should keep the traditionalists happy.

I’ve always thought George Clooney would be the ideal choice, while Kris imaginatively plumped for Kevin Spacey a while back, but the choice of Jackman is a clear move in a similar direction. Good call, Bill Condon.

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36 responses so far

  • 1 12-12-2008 at 10:26 am

    N8 said...

    This intrigues me. I know many will be skeptical (afraid) of the thought of a singing/dancing Hugh Jackman at the Oscars, but so long as they keep the schmaltz to a minimum, this looks to be a very clever choice.

  • 2 12-12-2008 at 10:36 am

    Kristopher Tapley said...

    I was just talking to Bill Condon a few days ago. He’d already made the decision. All I got out of his partner was “it’s not a left field choice” and “you won’t be surprised.” Right on both counts.

    A great choice.

  • 3 12-12-2008 at 10:45 am

    JAB said...

    so i guess this means there is absolutely no shot at all of him getting nominated for Australia…I mean, not that there has been for a few months, but this is the real nail in that coffin.

  • 4 12-12-2008 at 10:46 am

    Kristopher Tapley said...

    Also, I suffered through “The Day the Earth Stood Still” last night, but it was worth it for the BAD…ASS “X-Men Origins: Wolverine” trailer.

  • 5 12-12-2008 at 10:46 am

    JAB said...

    will australia even get nominated for tech awards at this point? it seems like it was mostly an all around disappointment, despite the fact that i liked the film

  • 6 12-12-2008 at 10:52 am

    Chris said...

    Awesome choice! Although I loved Jon Stewart, I think this will give the show a new, interesting direction.

  • 7 12-12-2008 at 11:15 am

    steamfreshmeals said...

    Hope this is a sign of good things for “Milk”

  • 8 12-12-2008 at 11:38 am

    Ryan said...

    Great, inspired choice.

  • 9 12-12-2008 at 12:30 pm

    Adam Smith said...

    Maybe it’s just because I’m a theatre nerd, but this is made of win. Great choice.

  • 10 12-12-2008 at 1:05 pm

    John said...

    Why would his selection mean that Australia won’t do well/ get anything come Oscar time?

  • 11 12-12-2008 at 1:09 pm

    Patrick F said...

    I kind of felt like Jackman was dead weight for the Tonys. They needed a bigger star than this to help ratings. Of course we’ll be watching, but this doesn’t help ratings much.

  • 12 12-12-2008 at 1:20 pm

    Lance said...

    Hey Guy, can you please include gay men when saying who would be tuning in for a sexy man. By only mentioning women, it’s as if gay men don’t exist. Otherwise, great post and great web page!

  • 13 12-12-2008 at 1:23 pm

    Chris said...

    But don’t gay men watch it anyway? Just kidding.

  • 14 12-12-2008 at 1:33 pm

    Andrew L. said...


  • 15 12-12-2008 at 1:46 pm

    Andrew said...

    I like Jackman, seems like a good all round guy and actor, but to host the Oscars? Really? What are the producers thinking?

    Ratings are already going to tank when the Academy snubs The Dark Knight for Best Picture. And now they’ve picked Wolverine to host the Oscars. He was just in one of the biggest flops of the year. And how many times are they going to run promos for Wolverine? What do the host duties now go to the highest bidder? Is Governor Blagojevich in charge of this too? People are going think the Oscars are just one big promo for a movie.

    Nah, if they wanted to improve ratings to get people to watch a program they’re no longer looking forward too they either needed another comedian, like the late Bernie Mac or Brad Pitt, a huge star.

    My two cents from flyover country.

  • 16 12-12-2008 at 1:58 pm

    Patrick said...

    Charming, eloquent, and easy on the eye. Perfect selection.

  • 17 12-12-2008 at 2:05 pm

    Guy Lodge said...

    Lance: No slight intended! I could also mention the straight guys out there who have a man-crush on him.

    Steamfreshmeals: Care to elaborate on what you’re implying?

  • 18 12-12-2008 at 2:08 pm

    Andrew L. said...

    Methinks it was another gay thing. literally.

  • 19 12-12-2008 at 4:19 pm

    Mimi Rogers said...

    I prefer Americans to host the Oscars. The Oscars is in America and it should not be hosted by non Americans!

  • 20 12-12-2008 at 4:39 pm

    Guy Lodge said...

    Gee, thanks for being so open-minded, Mimi.

  • 21 12-12-2008 at 5:40 pm

    Jonathan Spuij said...

    What a wonderful choice. He is such a charismatic figure and this will be his role of a lifetime. Great choice, and another bold young new direction for the Oscars.

  • 22 12-12-2008 at 9:20 pm

    Eunice said...

    To Mimi: You’re the first person on the Internet to leave me speechless. Not out of awe or happiness, though.

    About Jackman: Well, a lot of parties will be satisfied, especially those looking for someone good on the eye to host the Oscars. I was a bit surprised, though. I thought they’d call on Ellen Degeneres, Jon Stewart, Conan O’ Brien, or even Steve Carell to host this year. I hope they don’t make the program too formal. I’d love to see fun song and dance numbers and clips, because keeping still for a four hour program can be a little challenging, especially if it’s boring.

    And I think the ratings for this year’s Oscars will definitely be higher than last year’s. Just a feeling.

  • 23 12-13-2008 at 12:10 am

    Glenn said...

    “Nah, if they wanted to improve ratings to get people to watch a program they’re no longer looking forward too they either needed another comedian, like the late Bernie Mac or Brad Pitt, a huge star.”

    Because the Academy’s revolving door or comedians (four this decade so far, right?) have worked so well these past few years. The ratings prove that people aren’t necessarily watching for the host – although it probably helps to have someone likable and Jackman is indeed that. Plus, he’s done award shows before, knows how to work a room and will have writers working for him to capitalise on his strengths. It’s not like Chris Rock (a terrible host by the way) or Jon Stewart or Ellen DeGeneres wrote all the material themselves (which seems to be the reasoning behind people being worried – what if his material isn’t good? etc).

    I’m not sure if Hugh will work great, but I hope he does and it’s certainly a better choice than yet another American comedian that nobody outside of the cultured left cares about (and you’re fooling yourself if Stewart and Rock did anything for international viewers). And, hopefully, Jackman will mean the political stuff will be kept to a minumum. We don’t need a Chris Rock style comedian making black president jokes all night and mocking the people who – as hard as it may be to admit – keep the film industry alive, the people who go see movies like “Four Christmases” and the like.

  • 24 12-13-2008 at 12:13 am

    Glenn said...

    BTW, they couldn’t choose Pitt because he’ll have a big film in contention and that’s just awkward. Besides, the hosts in the past have typically not been people who have been huge CINEMA stars. The likes of Carson, Goldberg, Stewart and Crystal were all more successful in TV/stage than in cinema (although Goldberg obviously had big crossover success) so it makes sense for somebody like Jackman who isn’t the biggest star in the world, but who is well known.

  • 25 12-13-2008 at 12:25 am

    Andre said...

    He’s charismatic as hell, and I love the guy but… I still think the Oscar host should be a comedian… Jackman just won’t be able to rip into his fellow actors like an outsider would.

    However, one could do a lot worse! Since I’m such a fan, I’ll keep an open mind.

  • 26 12-13-2008 at 6:36 am

    Chris said...

    Mimi: what’s next? Only Americans should win Oscars? I suppose you shouldn’t watch the show then, because I’m sorry, but it sort of looks like Danny Boyle, Heath Ledger, Penelope Cruz and some British actress might very well be winning one.

  • 27 12-13-2008 at 1:30 pm

    Mimi Rogers said...

    I have always loved the Oscars and I truly believe that the show belongs to USA and should be hosted by an American host following our great tradition. Oprah Winfrey should be hosting the show, not someone from other countries who may take the show in a totally different direction that may not suite the American audiences.

  • 28 12-13-2008 at 2:59 pm

    Frank Lee said...

    In defense of Mimi: How often do the Bafta Awards select an American as host?

  • 29 12-13-2008 at 5:10 pm

    Patrick said...

    The Oscar show is a celebration of film. It is not the 4th of July. It honors excellence in film. It takes place in Hollywood, but we all know that excellence in film does not always mean “Made in the USA.” Perhaps you should tune in to “American Idol” or “The Peoples Choice Awards.”

  • 30 12-13-2008 at 8:50 pm

    Frank Lee said...

    The Bafta Awards show is a celebration of film too, not a celebration of the Queen’s birthday or the Magna Carta. It honors excellence in film. It takes place in London, but we all know that excellence in film does not always mean “Made in the UK.” Yet the Brits would still never hire an American to host. Nor would the French for the Ceasars, or the Australians for their awards show, or the Canadians for theirs. I’m not objecting to the choice of Hugh Jackman (I never object to great eye candy), but if Mimi’s point is objectionable, then the standard operating procedure of every nation BESIDES America is objectionable as well.

  • 31 12-13-2008 at 8:59 pm

    Kristopher Tapley said...

    Then there should be no defense of Mimi at all, should there?

  • 32 12-14-2008 at 3:08 am

    Mimi Rogers said...

    If the Oscars is truly international, why isn’t AMPAS consider holding it in other countries apart from USA? Why isn’t it like other awards show like Miss Universe / Miss World pageant where the show is held in other participating countries?

  • 33 12-14-2008 at 4:16 am

    Glenn said...

    If the Oscars could get Stephen Fry (who has hosted the BAFTAs for a few years) then they’d be fools not to. If the BAFTAs could somehow lure Billy Crystal out of his weird non-retirement then I’m sure they would too, but they’re not going to go around hiring Chris Rock or Jon Stewart who are, by and large, American-centric comedians.

    The Oscars routinely hype themselves up as being watched by a billion people AROUND THE WORLD (not true, but whatever). The same cannot be said for the BAFTAs or the Cesars or the AFIs or the Goyas. The Oscar’s are seen as a celebration of WORLD CINEMA, most other countries have a heavy slant towards nationalism. That’s where the Oscars have lost their way a bit in terms of hosts. Too many niche comedians that have absolutely no name value whatsoever.

    I imagine plenty of more people will see an ad for the ceremony with “Hosted by Hugh Jackman” and be more interested than “Hosted by Jon Stewart”.

  • 34 12-14-2008 at 10:05 am

    Patrick said...

    Mimi, they have tried that before…(remember the ’89 awards from around the world? Including Mel Gibson and Glenn Close via hookup from Australia, announcing Anton Furst’s Oscar for “Batman?”

    And correct me if I am wrong, but isn’t Paul Hogan Australian? And wasn’t Bob Hope born in London?