Ellen DeGeneres will be hosting 2014's Academy Awards, and we couldn't be more excited. No doubt, she's going to be one of the most charming hosts the Oscars have had since, well, her, back when she hosted in 2007. That year, her witty monologue charmed viewers and critics, and was a welcome treat after a tumultuous 2006 for Hollywood. Thanks in large part to Mel Gibson going off the rails, racial talk was abundant that year. But just like when DeGeneres hosted the 2001 Emmy Awards, which occurred two months after the 9/11, and in 2005, following Hurricane Katrina, the comedienne's sharp but playful banter at Hollywood's biggest night helped bring a much-needed levity to the show. In fact, DeGeneres managed to even address racial chatter and invite laughs, telling the audience during 2007's ceremony, "What a wonderful night, such diversity in the room, in a year when there's been so many negative things said about people's race, religion, and sexual orientation. And I want to put this out there: If there weren't blacks, Jews and gays, there would be no Oscars, or anyone named Oscar, when you think about that."
Next year's Oscars shouldn't be much different. This 2013 has been a tough year for both Hollywood and the country as a whole, with tragedy after tragedy — mass shootings, terrorist bombings, infuriating verdicts in race-base cases — taking over headlines daily. After such a difficult time, the Academy Awards doesn't need a host who will only zing the audience, even if they have the best intentions. (Ahem, Seth MacFarlane.) Instead, DeGeneres, who has mastered being funny without a shred of negativity, will be the perfect kind of host — one who wins laughs by giving audiences a break from the darkness of the real world.
That said, DeGeneres won't play naive and ignore all the bad that's occurred in the past year. Like she did at both the 2001 and the 2005 Emmys, DeGeneres will likely acknowledge America's difficult year head-on, and then remind people that a relaxing, glamorous night celebrating beloved movies is exactly the real-life escape that everyone needs once in awhile. Who didn't feel touched in 2001 hearing DeGeneres say, "I think it's important for us to be here. Because they can't take away our creativity, our striving for excellence, our joy," and then howl with laughter when she followed it up with, "Only network executives can do that." (The joke was only trumped by her next line, "I feel like I'm in a unique position as host. Because, think about it: what would bug the Taliban more than seeing a gay woman in a suit surrounded by Jews?") It might have just been the first time we collectively laughed as a country following 9/11.
It's still a long time away from the Oscars, and there's plenty of time to speculate on what DeGeneres will bring to the table. Yet, if her past hosting duties are any indication, Oscar made the perfect choice for this tumultuous 2013. Our times might be dark, but there's little doubt the 2014 Oscars will bring some much-needed lightness, thanks to DeGeneres.