It's been rumored for a few days, and now it's official: Eddie Murphy will host the Oscars in 2012, the Academy Of Motion Picture Arts And Sciences announced today.
It's not a terribly surprising choice; Murphy is a once-edgy young comic who later transitioned into family-friendly projects, which is the same path taken by former hosts Steve Martin and Billy Crystal. Last year's poorly received performance by actors Anne Hathaway and James Franco — charismatic people who just looked lost and odd the entire time — has predictably sent the ceremony back into the hands of a comedian people have been watching forever. Someone with standup experience, someone with the ability to think on his feet, but someone whose later work includes a lot of stuff like Meet Dave and Doctor Dolittle. (Not to mention his Oscar-nominated work in Dreamgirls.)
It might seem like a bit of a retro pick, but Murphy is angling for a comedy comeback of sorts: he's starring in the upcoming film Tower Heist, a big ensemble movie also starring Ben Stiller, Matthew Broderick and Alan Alda. And that film is directed by Brett Ratner — the director of X-Men: The Last Stand and the Rush Hour franchise. Ratner has been named as one of the producers of the Oscars.
The Academy appears to have learned from last year's experience that the Oscars aren't supposed to be young and cool. They're supposed to be old and safe, and surprisingly enough, at this point, that means Eddie Murphy.