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Playing it safe: A look at Jimmy Kimmel’s hosting of the Oscars

The 90th Academy Awards was one of the most pertinent and politically charged Oscar ceremonies in recent memory. The question on everyone’s lips was how host Jimmy Kimmel would address and navigate the revelations and movements that have infused Hollywood; including Times Up, #MeToo and Harvey Weinstein’s expulsion from the Academy. Amid these delicate subjects, hosting the show certainly posed a challenge for Kimmel – so did he strike the right tone?

The host opened the awards with a sharp and stirring opening monologue which did not shy away from the pressing issues at hand. Kimmel tackled the sexual abuse scandal head on and joked that the Oscar statuette was the most beloved man in Hollywood: “Keeps his hands where you can see them. No penis at all. He’s literally a statue of limitations.” Respective jabs were made towards the current administration, Kimmel predicting that the evening would induce a “tweet-storm from the president’s toilet” and quipping “We don’t make films like Call Me By Your Name for money: we make them to upset Mike Pence.” However, Kimmel emphasised that ceilings have been shattered, hailing the achievements of films such as Lady Bird, Black Panther and Wonder Woman, and recognising the successes of Greta Gerwig and Rachel Morrison. The host made sure to tread carefully, addressing Hollywood’s systemic failures while avoiding any truly damning or shocking punchlines. The introduction was earnest without giving into cynicism and still stayed true to the very essence of the awards – celebrating cinema.

The host opened the awards with a sharp and stirring opening monologue which did not shy away from the pressing issues at hand

At this first Post-Weinstein Oscars, Jimmy Kimmel provided a steady pair of hands for an industry in transition. Throughout the show, he acknowledged the many elephants in the room but focused on the positives. The late-night star accurately judged the current cultural landscape, cracking the gags yet highlighting women’s achievements and stressing Hollywood’s responsibilities, expressing “The world is watching us. We need to set a good example”. The result was a tame, yet solid and dependable performance from Kimmel.

The ceremony itself included various calls for diversity and inclusivity, most notably Frances McDormand’s thrilling Best Actress speech in which she urged all the female nominees to stand in solidarity, stressing the importance of female voices and stories. While there is undoubtedly a long way to go, these moments really hint that Hollywood is on the threshold of change.

Jimmy Kimmel provided a steady pair of hands for an industry in transition

While Kimmel was a safe bet for a tumultuous year, in the age of #MeToo and Time’s Up, it would surely be apt to see a woman host the ceremony. Whoopi Goldberg became the first female and first African American host in 1993 and remains one of my personal favourites – from her theatrical costumes to her poised delivery and witty one-liners. Hollywood is brimming with hilarious women who would love the gig but my personal suggestion would have to be Tiffany Haddish and Maya Rudolph who absolutely killed it on Sunday evening. The chemistry between the pair was palpable and the powerhouse duo would certainly lighten up any ceremony.

Jimmy Kimmel did a great job at a safe and perceptive ceremony but as the industry moves into new territory, perhaps it is time too for a new host? Watch out 91st Oscars, changes are afoot…

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