Steve Martin and Chris Rock did such a knock-out job not hosting the opening monologue of the 2020 Oscars tonight, maybe the Academy will get smart and hire them to not host the entire show next year.
The host-less event began on a wildly over-the-top and thoroughly underwhelming note, with R&B singer Janelle Monae donning a Mr. Rogers cardigan, launching into “Won’t You Be My Neighbor” to a mortified front-row Tom Hanks and then moving into a higher octane original number and embarrassing Leonardo DiCaprio by trying to get him to sing along. In grand Oscar tradition, Monae was backed by a chorus of dancers outfitted in movie-themed costumes. Dancing Dolemites, no less. (See that video below.)
Martin and Rock then took the stage (see the video above) in a previously unannounced appearance, the two former hosts delivering the sort of Oscar Classic monologue that can seem downright quaint in the post-Gervais world.
The cruelty-free jokes (not counting the divorce barbs aimed at Jeff Bezos) were nonetheless topical, with Martin wondering what was missing from the Best Director category?
“Vaginas?” responded Rock.
Rock also pointed out Mahershala Ali in the audience, noting the Green Book actor had two Academy Awards to his credit. “You know what that means when cops pull him over at night? Nothing.”
Nor did the dearth of acting nominees of color go unnoticed. Martin and Rock commended Harriet‘s Cynthia Erivo for her performance as Harriet Tubman, who hid escaped black slaves via the Underground Railroad. “Did the Academy get you to hide all the black nominees?” Rock asked, before Martin shouted “Eddie, I loved you in Dolemite!”
Giving diversity credit where it’s due, Martin pointed out that in 1929 there were no black actor Oscar nominees.
“And now in 2020 we got one,” said Rock.
Tonight’s ceremony marked the second consecutive year the Oscars went host-less. Last year, the show opened with a musical performance by Bohemian Rhapsody subject Queen and segued into an all-star comedy led by Tina Fey, Amy Poehler and Maya Rudolph.
Here’s Monae’s performance:
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