James Corden Kills It as Awards Show Host

The only thing missing, really, was some "Carpool Karaoke" with Wiz Khalifa.

The host of The Late, Late Show may have been the “21st person asked” to MC the 19th annual Hollywood Film Awards. But thanks to an ebullient performance from start to finish, James Corden is going to be at the top of the lists of future awards show organizers.

“If someone had told me a year ago that I would be hosting the Hollywood Film Awards, I would have said, ‘What are the Hollywood Film Awards?'” Corden joked in his opening monologue. “I mean, even the name sounds like you’re lying. Do you know what I mean? Like, ‘Have you ever won awards?’ ‘Yes… I have. I’ve won… a Hollywood Film Award. It’s above my fireplace, next to my… New York Play Award.’”

Corden kept things loosey-goosey throughout, ordering the show producers at one point to put on the NFL Sunday night game in the room when a set change was dragging on. He was the main reason the “final event of the Hollywood awards pre-season” was so solidly entertaining.

Another reason the non-televised Beverly Hilton proceedings were such a blast is that they allowed for lengthier acceptance speeches. No ‘Wrap It Up!’ prompts here. Instead, Sunday’s parade of honorees answered the awards show question – What happens when winners are allowed to talk for as long as they want?

The answer: Folks generally tend to go on for four to five minutes. And without the blare of an orchestra introducing them with excessive pomp and circumstance, and then playing them off, the audience Sunday was treated to a variety of memorable moments. Robert De Niro gave a clever Lifetime Award acceptance; the cast of Straight Out of Compton was full of energy; Adam McKay zinged after being introduced by longtime Second City pal Steve Carell; and Will Smith was allowed to delve fully into the complexities of Concussion. 

The Hollywood Film Awards are to awards season what Donald Trump is to the presidential nomination process. And just as The Huffington Post erred in relegating Trump to its Entertainment section, entertainment journalists who still have a beef with event founder Carlos de Abreu need to recognize that the show has cemented its place on the Tinseltown back-scratching events calendar. Thanks to the participation of A-listers like Bobby D, Jane Fonda, Vin Diesel and Smith.

But that doesn’t mean stars are blind to the ballroom context. Just as Golden Globes winners like to occasionally rib the Hollywood Foreign Press Association from the stage, there were a number of wink-wink references last night to the selection process anchoring these prizes. Smith, accepting that Hollywood Actor Award for Concussion, had the best line in that regard, deadpanning: “Of all the awards I’ve received, this is the most… recent.”

Disclosure: Dick Clark Productions, purchased in 2012 by Adweek parent Guggenheim Partners, is a current partner in the Hollywood Film Awards. Starting next year, de Abreu is slated to no longer be involved in the show; it will be exclusively the domain of DCP.

Previously on FishbowlNY:
James Corden’s Astute Aggregation of Graham Norton
Rod Stewart, The Edge, Adam Clayton and Giddy Fandom