For a while, it looked like we had the 2013 Oscar host locked down. After a disappointing few years (Alec Baldwin and Steve Martin felt constrained, Anne Hathaway and James Franco were a flat out disaster, and Billy Crystal was kind of creaky last year), it seemed like we'd be getting some fresh blood, and that did seem to have been the case: "Saturday Night Live" mastermind Lorne Michaels was said to have been approached, and was planning on bringing on one of his former stars, "Late Night" host Jimmy Fallon.
But ABC parent company Disney objected to the idea of giving a competitor a free plug and Fallon was ruled out, with Michaels exiting talks soon after, so they're back to square one again. So with the position vacant, we thought we'd use this week's Oscar column to make a few suggestions. Agree? Disagree? Got your own possibilities? Let us know in the comments section below.
Why He Could Do It: The most popular Oscar host of the modern era, Hugh Jackman has both old-school entertainer charms (including the ability to pull off a song and a dance), and appeal to the kids thanks to his role as Wolverine (and with a new film with the character coming up in 2013, the publicity reminder would be a boon). His 2009 hosting gig was one of the most enjoyable in recent memory, and after several disappointing years in a row, the Academy are sure to want him back more than ever.
Why He Might Not: It's been suggested that he's basically been top of the list for the last few years and has turned it down for various reasons. Would this year be any different? This year would also be particularly tricky as he's the lead of one of the hotly tipped contenders, "Les Miserables," and may well be in the running for Best Actor. That wouldn't be unprecedented (James Franco was a nominee two years ago for "127 Hours"), but this is much more high profile, and the Academy might see it as favoritism to pick Jackman this time around. He's currently filming "The Wolverine" and would presumably be free after that, but he is also eyeing a return to Broadway for "Houdini" sometime in the year, so that might be an issue too.
Why He Could Do It: One of the Academy's most beloved favorites, Tom Hanks has always shone when presenting at the ceremony, able to pull off both gravitas and humor. Indeed, he's also one of the best-loved hosts in "Saturday Night Live" history, which is something that should, in theory, be a serious qualification for the job; being able to cope with live TV and pull off wacky moments too.
Why He Might Not: Hanks is first and foremost an actor, and may not be so keen to play host for an evening like this. Indeed, it's been a long time since an A-lister of Hanks' calibre hosted the awards (although one could argue that Jackman is a recent precedent). Maybe his relationship with Lorne Michaels would have encouraged him, but now that Michaels is out, it's less likely. One shouldn't forget that Hanks is also starring in "Cloud Atlas," which could turn out to be an awards contender; it's less of a major speed bump than with Jackman, but could still be an issue if the film builds awards season steam. He's also not the box office force that he used to be: would he really bring in the younger audience that the Academy craves so much? He'll also have promotional duties for "Captain Phillips," which opens in March, looming as well.