The Academy Awards presentation has a limited audience in India. Ever since movies like Lagaan (2001) and Slumdog Millionaire (2008) that exude a pan-Indian belonging, got nominated for the Oscars, its viewership in the country saw an up-rise. People started switching on their TVs at 5 in the morning to catch the live telecast of the event taking place in Dolby Theatre (Los Angeles) 13,000 kilometers away. But what makes the Oscars so great? Apart from the who's who of Hollywood thronging along the red carpet and the scrutinized awardee nominations chosen by the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences (AMPAS), it's the host of the show that brings life to it.
The Oscars have a few favorite hosts, like Ellen Degeneres, Billy Crystal and last year's host Chris Rock who had performed a gig earlier in 2005. But not only do the hosts bring humour and context to the show, they also sometimes do a satirical gig on the important political or social happenings in the world. In 2015, the Oscars were accused of having only white people in their nominations. Hashtag #oscarsowhite trended throughout the event and a lot of celebrities, black and white, boycotted the Oscars. Chris Rock in 2015, in his opening monologue, did a satirical racial gig that had the audience in a laugh riot. But he also subtly brought out the underlying problem of blacks not getting the same opportunities in the industry.
George Clooney, who boycotted the Oscars that year, told Variety: "If you think back 10 years ago, the Academy was doing a better job. Think about how many more African Americans were nominated. I think around 2004, certainly there were black nominees—like Don Cheadle, Morgan Freeman. And all of a sudden, you feel like we’re moving in the wrong direction. There were nominations left off the table. There were four films this year: Creed could have gotten nominations; Concussion could have gotten Will Smith; Idris Elba could have been nominated for Beasts of No Nation; and Straight Outta Compton could have been nominated."
It was not the first time that an Oscar host took a political stance and it will surely not be the last. This year Jimmy Kimmel, of the Jimmy Kimmel Live! fame, will be hosting the 89th Academy Awards. After President Donald Trump assumed incumbency, the Oscars would be more political than ever this year. "People who love Trump will think I was too hard on him. People who hate Trump will think I should have made more jokes about him. It’s really a lovely position to be in," Kimmel joked while speaking to The Wall Street Journal.
This year at the Golden Globe Awards, Meryl Streep accepted the award for a lifetime of notable work. She took the occasion to express her discontent over Trump winning the seat. "There was one performance this year that stunned me. It sank its hooks in my heart. Not because it was good, there was nothing good about it, but it was effective and it did its job."
Hollywood, in thought, has a varied stance on Trump. Some oppose him, some support him. As the biggest night for Hollywood rolls out on February 26 (February 27 in India), we'll find what Oscars' standpoint is on the 'issue'.