For a long time, awards show broadcasts have had a reputation for being a bit stolid, predictable, even dare we say, stale. Then, the pandemic happened, and those once-dependable awards presentations were suddenly thrown into a maelstrom—cancelled, delayed, or radically shifted to virtual and socially distanced formats that completely changed our expectations. Now, after a year that brought us homemade red carpets and sweatshirt award acceptances, the film industry's biggest night, the Academy Awards, are back to shake up those expectations all over again—starting with the host.
For the third year in a row, the Oscars won't have a host to emcee the proceedings. The hostless run began in 2019, after comedian Kevin Hart stepped back from his hosting duties following a backlash over his past anti-gay tweets, however, this year's awards will be eschewing a host for an entirely different reason.
"The way we are going to use presenters this year is going to be different," director Steven Soderbergh, who is co-producing this year's telecast, told Vanity Fair. "And we haven’t even used the word host, frankly. We’re calling it our ensemble, because there’s a sort of overarching structure to the evening that they all participate in. So it’s just that word, the H word, just really doesn’t apply to what we’re doing."
Instead, Soderbergh said, the goal is to make the show "feel like a film, in the sense that, at the end, we hope it’ll feel like you watched a movie." Exactly what that will mean isn't clear yet, but it was previously announced that the show would be taking place in-person in Los Angeles (a European hub has since been added for those who cannot travel to and quarantine in L.A.) with no option to join the ceremony virtually.
The lack of a host doesn't mean there won't still be plenty of star-power on stage on the big night, though. A slew of A-listers have signed on to serve as presenters during the show, including Brad Pitt, Halle Berry, Reese Witherspoon, Laura Dern, Renée Zellweger, Angela Bassett, and Harrison Ford, according to People. Other announced presenters include last year's Best Director winner Bong Joon Ho, and Best Actor Joaquin Phoenix, as well as Don Cheadle, Rita Moreno, Regina King, Bryan Cranston, Marlee Matlin, and Zendaya.
"In keeping with our awards-show-as-a-movie approach, we've assembled a truly stellar cast of stars," Soderbergh and fellow show producers Jesse Collins and Stacey Sher said in a statement. "There's so much wattage here, sunglasses may be required."
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