By Kristen Baldwin
January 21, 2019 at 10:00 AM EST
Andrew Eccles/ABC; Photo Illustration by EW

In case you haven’t heard, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences are announcing the nominations for the 91st annual Oscars tomorrow — and barring an act of God (or Ellen DeGeneres), there will be no host when the ceremony airs on Feb. 24 on ABC.

It’s been a rough few months for the Academy: First, their trial balloon about a potential “popular films” award got shot down in a hail of Twitter fury, and then their chosen host, Kevin Hart, withdrew after he was criticized for offensive old tweets. And now the Oscars organizers stand accused of pressuring stars not to present at other ceremonies like the Screen Actors Guild Awards.

Guys, take a deep breath, okay? We’re here to help. You don’t need a host to produce a great show — you just need to follow our step-by-step guide to Oscar night perfection. Sure, our ideas may sound ambitious, but hey, you have 34 whole days to put it all together.

The Cold Open:
A memorable opening — think Justin Timberlake performing “Can’t Stop the Music” in 2017, or Billy Crystal’s trip through film history in 1998 — is essential for any successful awards show. This year, enlist Billy Eichner to hit the streets of New York City with presumptive nominee (and all-around wonder) Regina King for a series of shouty ambush-interviews with befuddled passers-by. Just imagine it: “Miss, for a dollar, If Beale Street Could Talk… what would it say?”

The Monologue:
Who better to handle the host’s chief duty — delivering an opening monologue that is topical, surprising, and of course wildly funny — than Emmy magnet and Last Week Tonight host, John Oliver? Expect a tight 10-minute set covering Hollywood’s pay-gap problem, the reign of Black Panther, and of course, Peter Farrelly’s penis.

The In-the-Audience Stunt:
By now it’s somewhat of a tradition. Near the midpoint of the show, as everyone’s blood sugar and will to live is starting to flag, the host will wake up the crowd with some kind of interactive stunt — like Ellen taking the world’s most star-studded selfie in 2015, or Jimmy Kimmel handing out snack boxes to his captive audience in 2018. As 2019 is likely to be the year of A Star is Born, why not send Bradley Cooper into the crowd to distribute make-up wipes to all of the A-list actresses? As Lady Gaga will attest, it can be a very refreshing experience.

The in Memoriam Montage:
There is only one way to honor the many Hollywood luminaries we lost in 2018 and this year: With a duet of “The Way We Were” sung by Ms. Barbra Streisand and her co-star from the 1976 version of A Star is Born, Kris Kristofferson. All together now: Memories… light the corners of my mind…

What to Cut:
Sorry, nominees in the Sound Mixing, Sound Editing and Film Editing categories — while your work is important and deserves to be recognized, we’re going to have to ask the Academy to recognize it on February 9 at the Oscars Scientific & Technical Awards Ceremony. Some of us want to get to bed before 1 a.m., y’all!

The Best Picture Reunion:
The Avengers? Eh, it can’t really be a reunion if they never went away. Ensure an honest-to-goodness viral moment by reuniting the cast of the 1983 best picture nominee The Big Chill. Imagine — presumptive nominee Glenn Close next to everyone’s favorite weirdo Jeff Goldblum next to the ultra-reclusive Meg Tilly (what a coup!) next to Kevin Kline, William Hurt, Tom Berenger, JoBeth Williams, and Kevin Costner, who’ll be wheeled onto the stage in an open casket, in homage to his barely-there role as Alex the corpse. And Costner can pop out just in time to read the winning film’s name. Take that, Moonlight/La La Land mixup!

If you have additional suggestions for the Academy, be sure to post them below. This year, they’re going to need all the help they can get.

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