Hugh Jackman, 81st Annual Academy Awards host, brings music in leau of comedy

The 81st Annual Academy Awards took place this last Sunday, February 22. There was one significant difference in these Oscars from prior years: the type of host. Usually, the host is some type of comedian. Past hosts include Bob Hope, Ellen DeGeneres, Steve Martin, Jon Stewart and Billy Crystal. However, this year, the host was Hugh Jackman. Not only is Jackman a well-known actor, but he has also hosted the Tony Awards three times; thus, he had previous hosting experience before he accepted this big job.
The ceremony began with a little speech by Jackman, who commented that the Academy likes to reward variety. For example, he said, they nominated Kate Winslet, a Brit who played a German in The Reader, and Robert Downey, Jr., a Caucasian American who played a white Australian who was playing an African American in Tropic Thunder. As for Jackman himself, he is an Australian playing an Australian in a movie called Australia, so hosting was the only way for him to be on stage at the awards show.
Also helpful is Jackman’s theater skill. His opening number consisted of a lack of budget skit, in which he created a musical number, with purposeful homemade props, representing most of the major nominees, such as Slumdog Millionaire, Milk, The Dark Knight and Frost/Nixon, among others. He even pulled Anne Hathaway out of the audience to participate in his skit, proving she can not only sing, but also portray the world’s cutest Richard Nixon. The best line of the whole act came towards the end when Jackman announced, “I ironed all my men and frosted my Nixon, because I am Hugh Jackman!” The entire performance was humorous, entertaining and overall enjoyable and clever.
Throughout the show, there was only one more major routine by Jackman, all about how “The Musical is back!” Jackman wasn’t alone for this one, either. Helping him recreate songs from Grease, Chicago, Moulin Rouge, Mamma Mia! and High School Musical, and more, were Beyoncé , Amanda Seyfried and Dominic Cooper (Mamma Mia!) and Vanessa Hudgens and Zac Efron (HSM). In general, the number wasn’t as enjoyable as the opening, but it was still very creative and pleasant. It was obvious that many hours of rehearsals were put into the routine, and it did pay off.
All in all, Jackman was very enthusiastic, even if he wasn’t the funniest host we’ve seen in a while, (after all, who can forget Ellen Degeneres vacuuming mid-show?), but that in no way indicates that he was not ready to host. He was ready, and he did a great job hosting the most prestigious awards show in Hollywood. Preliminary reports even show that ratings are up six percent from last year. And, most importantly, even though the show ran over time, it did end before midnight, which is not an easy task. Bravo, Mr. Jackman, and here’s to hoping we see you again on stage at the Kodak Theatre.