Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Top Five Reasons Why Eddie Murphy Will Be A Great Oscar Host

By now you have probably heard the news that Eddie Murphy will be hosting the 84th Academy Awards. It had been circling as a possibility for a while, but was confirmed yesterday on the Academy’s website.

Now anytime you have a comedian turned actor, it is going to be easy for high-brow critics to point to films they didn’t like. That is even more certain when someone has had a career that is as long as Eddie Murphy’s. Even the academy itself hasn’t always taken comedy “seriously” (if you’ll forgive the pun.)

But there are many reasons why Eddie Murphy will make a great host. Here are my top five:

5. He is (or at least, can be) kid-friendly. The academy made a big deal last year about choosing James Franco and Anne Hathaway to appeal to a younger demographic. Murphy has won 3 People’s Choice Awards, has 4 wins and 6 additional nominations from the Kids’ Choice Awards, and 5 nominations form the MTV Music Awards. While film critics and aficionados may not place much stock in these prizes, they do represent a large sector of the population which the Academy is trying to court.

4. He is respected as an actor.  In addition to being Oscar nominated as best supporting actor for Dreamgirls, Murphy has won a Screen Actors Guild award and been nominated for a second, has 1 win and 4 additional nominations from the Golden Globes, 4 Emmy nominations, and a BAFTA nomination.

3. He works with quality professionals from the other branches. This is important for a show that should be about honoring film in all of its many aspects. The average viewer may only care about actors and the best picture prize, but I think it would be helpful to have someone who is familiar with the importance of makeup, music, writing, costume design and animation. Murphy has been a writer, director and producer. While Dreamgirls is obviously his best known prestige picture, Murphy has actually appeared in quite a number of films that have been nominated for their various crafts:

Trading Places, nominated for best score.
Beverly Hills Cop, nominated for best original screenplay.
Beverly Hills Cop 2, nominated for best song.
Coming To America, 2 nominations for best costume design and best makeup.

Harlem Nights, nominated for best costume design.
The Nutty Professor, winner for best makeup.
Mulan, nominated for best score.
Life, nominated for best makeup.

Shrek, winner for best animated feature and nominated for best adapted screenplay.
Shrek 2, 2 nominations for best animated feature and best song.
Dreamgirls, 2 wins for supporting actress and sound mixing and 6 additional nominations for art direction, costume design, three orginal songs, and of course Murphy himself for supporting actor.
Norbit, nominated for best makeup.

2. He may be able to help Hollywood overcome some of their current challenges. No, I don’t just mean the white washing of last year’s ceremony or the controversies around The Help, although make no mistake that this is perfect casting for that as well.

I also mean issues such as whether Andy Serkis could be nominated for acting awards, or where animation ends and visual effects begin when it comes to motion capture technology. Murphy has become a legend in animated voice acting through the Shrek franchise, and while many don’t enjoy the Klumps, there is no denying that he has experience acting under--or through--the guise of makeup and body suits, which isn’t too much different than electric sensors. He even acted opposite bears, dogs and monkeys for Dr. Dolittle. Surely somewhere along the way he gained some insight into how all of these different technological advances are impacting the industry. Obviously being an Oscar host isn't the same thing as being an Academy policy maker, but it does give him the opportunity to shape opinion in a public format, should he choose to do so.

1. He actually knows how to perform. As a comedian, he has done stand-up and spent four years on Saturday Night Live, so he knows how to work a room. And in Dreamgirls we saw that he can sing and dance. The man knows how to put on a show. And isn’t this really the most important thing from an Oscar host?


  1. Great write up.
    I'm glad Eddie is the host.

  2. Good points here! Everybody's hating on him only because he hasn't really done a good movie in quite some time but I think he will be very good as host. A lot better than Franco and Hathaway.

  3. Always been a fan of Eddie Murphy. He should do a fine job.

    Also did you hear about Ricky Gervais' idea about doing a rogue live online commentary simulcast for the golden globes?

  4. Thanks Leysa, Dan O. and Bonjour Tristesse. I'm hoping he'll be great.

    Dan, he's actually put out about one movie a year, and while the quality of his films vary, I think that people are responding with a bit of genre bias. Many of his films have either been animated, geared towards kids/families, or geared towards the African American community. Which hits many of the demographics that the Academy needs to focus on.

    Bonjour Tristesse, I hadn't heard about the simulcast, but just looked it up. Not sure if I'd listen, since I like to hear the actual ceremony and the speeches. Besides, there are so many live tweets and live podcasts by film lovers that I'd probably prefer to listen to. (I'll probably watch the lammies tweet page this year, if anything.)

    Here's hoping Eddie does a great job!

  5. Yea I think Murphy is going to be one of the better host in a while (can't do worse than James "I'm not there" Franco and Anne "I'm high" Hathaway). Haven't seen the guy in a really long time so that should add to the intrigue.

  6. Thanks Castor.

    I actually didn't mind Franco and Hathaway as much as other people did, but definitely agree that Murphy is a better choice. And it might also give him some new exposure that could help him for the next stage of his career.