Last year, the annual Academy Awards ceremony proceeded without a host for the first time since 1989. The decision, which came just a month prior to the actual ceremony, was a shock, since hosts’ opening speeches and bits throughout the night usually defined coverage of the big night. But after the announcement that comedian Kevin Hart would host, Hart became a subject of controversy when some of his old homophobic jokes resurfaced, and as Hart aggressively responded to the criticism, the position seemed to become toxic. Multiple past hosts came forward to say that hosting the Oscars is a thankless task that opens a performer up to brutal examination and criticism. Hence, no host.
But last year’s awards ceremony proceeded without much of a hitch, and it seems to have been enough of a success for this year’s Oscars to go on without a host as well.
The 92nd Academy Awards ceremony opened with Janelle Monáe taking on the mantle (and sweater) of Mister Rogers, serenading the gathered crowd with “Won’t You Be My Neighbor?” The actress / singer then segued into a song running down the biggest movies of the year — with back-up dancers dressed as everyone from Eddie Murphy in Dolemite Is My Name to Joaquin Phoenix in Joker — accompanied by Billy Porter. Monáe also shouted out the snubbed female directors, as well as the fact that it’s Black History Month.
The number ended with an extended low-energy call-and-response, which really only served to emphasize why the lack of a host might be a good thing. The bits just aren’t always necessary! Steve Martin and Chris Rock gave the opening speech, delivering a short speech about their past Oscar host gigs (and referring to this new intro bit as a “demotion”) and asking: “Why don’t they have hosts anymore?”
The answer: “Twitter!”