Hang on a minute, fans of the Muppets (or fans of the Facebook ‘like’ button), who may be confused and distressed by the decision of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts (and Sciences?!- is that right?! surely not), to reinstate the great Billy Crystal as host for 2012. Sure, you’re thinking couldn’t we have enjoyed the awkward mumblings of handsome hipster polymath James Franco one more time? Or couldn’t the Academy have given us the adorable Muppets, with room for a few wry notes like Miss Piggy presenting the Award for Achievements in Make Up, or Steve-Buscem-eyes Kermit the Frog as MC?
Well yes, if unlike the Academy, you prefer style over substance.
But I would argue that not only is Billy Crystal the safest pair of hands in Oscar history, he is also the coolest host in decades, and here’s why…
1. OK, so you might think of Billy as older than Methuselah, but with age comes gravitas and there is no one else in Hollywood brave enough to sit on Clint Eastwood’s knee singing ‘Old Man Eastwood, he just keeps rolling along’ to the tune of Old Man River. Don’t try and tell me that’s not one of the most baller moves in Oscar history?! Billy got some serious game! You’re not going to see Anne Hathaway burn a great like Jack Nicholson the way Billy can. He’s irreverent, but old-school charming, so you come away thinking ‘WOOOOAH BABS STREISAND GOT ABSOLUTELY SCHOOLED RIGHT THERE’, but Babs is laughing along, she can’t stay mad at Billy, no one can! I’m telling you, Billy is the rogueish Chuck Bass of the over-60s comedy world. And Babs is Blair Waldorf’s nana.
2. Everyone knows when Billy hosts the Oscars that he’s going to start with a ‘Billy appears in the movies’ bit, which is always hilarious (my personal favourite was when Charlie Chaplin told him he loved ‘Analyze This’, come on!) Following that, he always does his musical number ‘It’s a wonderful night for Oscar’, where he sings about each of the films to classic Hollywood Showtunes. His version during the 70th Academy Awards in 1998 is a particularly great example, when he takes on Good Will Hunting to the tune of ‘Night and Day’
“Matt and Ben, you are the ones,
Your script was tight and damn it, so are your buns,
You’re a hit, it’s clear to see,
And you haven’t yet hit puberty,
I hate you both, Matt and Ben.
Ben and Matt, they’re off to the Governor’s Ball,
While I call to get the results of my test for cholesterol,
Robin, Gus and Minnie too,
Are all nominated and it’s because of you,
Ben and Matt, Matt and Ben”
He’s sampling classic showtunes appropriately, knowingly, with style, he’s subverting the genre by being lyrically playful, he’s providing an incisive commentary on the whole event, Billy Crystal should release an album of these called ‘Oi, Watch the Throne!’
3. The ‘When Harry Met Sally’ look is so on trend now that I’m thinking of starting a tumblr called ‘Hipster or Billy Crystal in When Harry Met Sally?’. I mean, come on, is this a trailer or a vintage American Apparel ad?!
Also, fans of Wes Anderson, isn’t it time we moved on from the fetishisation of Bill Murray in the wake of Garfield 1 and 2? In terms of hipster-cred, I’d say Billy is the new Bill. Not convinced?! Check out Billy OWNING Bill in this clip-
12 mins in for the Lost in Translation section
“Bill Murray showed his range, to hell with Charlie’s Angels 2” NAAAAAAILED IT.
I think you’ll agree that once you’ve seen that, it’s time you took down your Life Aquatic poster and replaced it with a fresh one of My Giant, or the Princess Bride if you’re feeling skittish.
4. OK, we were all thinking that having Eddie Murphy host was going to be pretty cool, but let’s face it, it was only going to work if there was anyone left in Hollywood who had the balls to peel him out of his Norbit fat-suit and get him into the Raw-era purple leathers, which seems unlikely given the last 20 years.
So let’s stop pining for those old, forgotten dreams, and appreciate what we’ve got by making a facebook event for an ironic Oscars party in February 2012. And don’t try and tell me Billy Crystal isn’t cool.