The last time the Oscars didn’t have a host, the show didn’t exactly move briskly. The 61st Academy Awards, which aired in 1989, opted to go without an emcee and instead began with a baffling musical revue featuring Rob Lowe and a then-unknown actress playing Snow White. The ceremony was such a disaster that it took 30 years for the Academy to risk going hostless again. This time, it did so only after the debacle of Kevin Hart’s hiring, the uproar over the comedian’s past homophobic tweets, and Hart’s subsequent decision to step down. But with ABC reportedly pressuring producers to make the telecast as short as possible, going without an opening monologue certainly saves some time, and this year’s ceremony felt speedy as a result.
To kick things off with somewhat of a bang, the show producers Donna Gigliotti and Glenn Weiss enlisted the surviving members of Queen, fronted by Adam Lambert. The band performed a medley of “We Will Rock You” and “We Are the Champions” to an awkwardly half-seated, half-dancing crowd of celebrities. It was no Snow White fantasia, but it wasn’t exactly a rousing spectacle either—aside from the cloud of controversy over Bohemian Rhapsody itself, the entire affair felt more like a middling number at the Grammys, not the Oscars. But it did serve the broader purpose of moving things along quickly.