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The Rock should host the Oscars

Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson is the man the Oscars should hire to host next year.
Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson is the man the Oscars should hire to host next year.
Frazer Harrison/Getty Images
Emily St. James was a senior correspondent for Vox, covering American identities. Before she joined Vox in 2014, she was the first TV editor of the A.V. Club.

The Rock should host the Oscars.

The awards show is perpetually in need of a host who will bring the kind of stability Johnny Carson and Billy Crystal once offered and has yet to hire someone to host the 2017 show.

Hosting the Oscars is a particularly unforgiving job. It requires somebody who can play to the gigantic Dolby Theatre while also offering winks and nods to the viewers at home. It combines the scale of live theater with the intimacy of television, and that's a mix not everybody can handle.

What you need is someone with a sincere appreciation for show business to appease old-timers, with the sort of ironic detachment the kids are all about these days. You need someone who is good at delivering corny jokes and can be almost supernaturally charming while doing so. And ideally, you'd need somebody who's got a healthy movie career — if not an outright movie star.

All of which brings me back to my first sentence: The Rock should host the Oscars.

Can you think of anybody better?

Okay, maybe Ellen DeGeneres

Ellen's not bad. Her first hosting gig in 2007 was only okay, but she had clearly learned from it when she hosted again in 2014, delivering a solid show. (Oscar hosts are almost always better their second time around, but unfortunately the awards are often too quick to boot hosts who didn't quite work the first time through.)

Also, she did this, and even if it turned out to be product placement it was still fun.

Ellen's certainly charming, and she can handle goofy sincerity as well as anybody. But she skews a little too much toward the TV side of things, and her film career has never really taken off.

So, yes, if you can't get The Rock, get Ellen DeGeneres. She's great.

But seriously. The Rock.

The Rock has already proved himself a great host

Let's look at that list of qualifiers for a good Oscars host I made above. Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson can deliver a cheesy one-liner with the best of them. It's basically his entire role in the Fast & Furious franchise. Because of those movies, he's popular with younger viewers, and they've also proven his ability to be deeply sincere at the drop of a hat. They're also proof he has box office power. (Now consider an Oscars co-hosted by Johnson and fellow Fast & Furious star Vin Diesel. That might be even better.)

And Johnson's also built up a resume full of proof that he could be a tremendous Oscars host.

Every time he drops by Saturday Night Live, it's an event. His recent hosting gig on the show was a terrific episode, packed with great bits that showed off his gift for comedy. And, yes, hosting SNL isn't exactly the same as hosting the Oscars, but outside of hosting another awards show, it's one of the closest tasks out there to the gig. It's another show where the host plays to a studio audience (albeit a much smaller one than at the Oscars), while also having to play to viewers at home.

But there's an even better example of Johnson's potential than SNL: professional wrestling.

How wrestling paves the way for the Oscars

Johnson rose out of the world of the WWE, where he was one of the best, most charismatic wrestlers of his era, so good that he pretty much had to turn to movies because of how clearly he exuded star quality.

It might seem odd, but pro wrestling might actually be one of the entertainment arenas most like the Oscars. Sure, everybody's in their skivvies, but it's playing to a live audience in an arena somewhere while also playing to TV viewers at home. Johnson, in other words, already knows intuitively how to do this.

Here is something completely unlike wrestling that will give you the idea just as well.

The sad thing is that Johnson's stardom, derived as it is from wrestling and movies about cars being used as weapons, is probably the chief thing standing in the way of his ever getting the hosting gig.

The Oscar host is usually a sly comedian, and the few times the awards have tried something else, it's proved disastrous. Remember James Franco and Anne Hathaway hosting in 2011? The Oscars would rather you didn't.

But the Oscars also could stand to try something new. The show has felt increasingly moribund in recent years. The easiest way to switch that up is by trying an off-the-wall host, but candidates like Franco, Hathaway, and Seth MacFarlane (who hosted in 2013) didn't really know what they were doing.

The Rock does, though. He'll do the Oscars up right.

Also, he looks great in a suit

I mean ...

Furious 7 Los Angeles Premiere Sponsored by Dodge

Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson looks tremendous in a suit at the Furious 7 Los Angeles premiere in Hollywood, California.

Michael Kovac/Getty Images for Dodge

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