In Hollywood, the awards season is in trouble. No one even knew the Golden Globes were happening. No one is going to see the Oscar favorites. Even nominally crowd-pleasing fare, such as Steven Spielberg’s remake of West Side Story, is failing to find an audience. Some are reacting with horror that Spider-Man: No Way Home could follow in the footsteps of Black Panther, Joker, and Avatar by nabbing a Best Picture nomination. Meanwhile, critics groups are rallying around an obscure three-hour Japanese film for Best Picture. I’m deadly serious.
All of which is to say that if the Oscars are going to avoid a collapse this year, the show needs a boost. It needs someone who can bring in a new audience to replenish the diminishing group of folks interested in watching a bunch of people no one really likes offer up awards to movies no one has really seen. There has been some buzz about Tom Holland hosting the show, and that’s fine. He is in the biggest movie of the last three years. He’s got a pleasant face. He can sing. And dance. I like Tom Holland! He’s fine!
But Tom Holland should be the backup plan if the Academy Awards can’t get a truly superb host. Because let’s be clear: The show’s producers are going to have to throw a Hail Mary.
And no one’s better at throwing up a Hail Mary than . . . Aaron Rodgers.
Look, I know this is a controversial pick, in no small part because Aaron Rodgers has—foolishly, in my opinion—refused to get vaccinated for COVID. Given Hollywood’s COVID restrictions, he’d probably need a waiver just to attend the show, let alone serve as the master of ceremonies.
But it’d be worth it to bend the rules for the Packers quarterback. Some reasons:
(1) He’s likely to take home yet another MVP trophy for yet another stellar year on the field of America’s most popular sport.
(2) Rodgers is the sort of guy who can bridge partisan divides and help start the healing in America.
Blue State audiences will take comfort in the fact that Rodgers was one of the few big names to come out in favor of NFL players taking a knee: “My opinion is that social justice and social inequality is an issue. I stand with my teammates in the belief that real change needs to happen. At that time, what we decided to do was to lock arms,” Rodgers said. “I just think the best way to grow is to listen, but listening requires being quiet. For me, it’s about listening to my African American teammates.”
Meanwhile, Red State audiences have found something to love in Rodgers’s fondness for salt-of-the-earth podcasters, such as multimillionaire former TV star Joe Rogan. When Aaron Rodgers wore a hoodie sweatshirt denouncing the evils of cancel culture, the elites fumed while normies everywhere smiled. Left and right, elites and proles, he has something for everyone!
(3) Rodgers has experience playing host: He did a bang-up job stewarding Jeopardy during his guest stint in the post-Trebek wilderness.
And that’s not his only experience in the entertainment industry. He’s a well-known commercial actor whose State Farm spots have helped catapult that brand into national prominence and has starred in the Emmy-winning series Game of Thrones. Entertainment is practically the family business: He’s engaged to the Emmy-nominated actress Shailene Woodley.
(4) Rodgers is a lover of the arts. When he’s appearing on programs, he likes to highlight the fine literature on the shelves behind him authored by one of Golden Age Hollywood’s great screenwriters. He’s also been known to pay tribute to cinematic classics, such as Tombstone, during media appearances.
(5) If all of that isn’t enough to make Rodgers the Oscars’s huckleberry, consider this: One of the most important qualities for elite quarterbacks is remaining unflappable under pressure, being able to roll out, improvise, and hit your targets. Rodgers wouldn’t be flummoxed by something like the La La Land / Moonlight kerfuffle that ended the show a couple of years ago when a pair of elderly presenters got confused after being handed the wrong envelope.
There are, admittedly, a few minor downsides to this plan. Having Rodgers as host would obviously hurt ratings in the Chicago and Detroit media markets, given his decade-plus of domination over the Bears and Lions. And having a 6′2″ NFL quarterback standing onstage with Hollywood’s famously diminutive leading men could shatter some illusions.
But at this point, the Oscars have nothing left to lose.