Capturing the collective attention of tens of millions of fickle television viewers who are really more interested in what Angelina is wearing or if Jack will ever take off those shades than who walks away with an editing Oscar is no easy task. Combine that pressure with the added responsibility of keeping a three-hour-long ceremony feeling brisk and finding common ground with a viewing public who historically don’t watch the nominated films and you have one miserable job description.
Such is the overwhelming duty of the appointed Academy Awards® host, an honour/curse bestowed last year on Aussie beefcake Hugh Jackman, who brought a whole lot of song-and-dance to the party with decent results.
This year, the Academy decided to use a tag team approach and enlisted first-timer Alec Baldwin and former host Steve Martin. Time will tell if these two comedic statesmen have people changing the channel or following in the footsteps of Oscars’ best hosts, catalogued here for your reference and reverie.
Top Oscar Hosts
His brand of humour may be a touch too pedestrian and safe to be considered truly impressive but still manages to elicit chuckles, which is likely why Billy Crystal has hosted the Oscars an astounding eight times. His schtick of inserting himself into nominated films and making legendary entrances, including being wheeled in as Hannibal Lecter complete with wired mask or coasting atop the Titanic, proved to be enduring calling cards that consistently won big laughs. His most recent stint as host was in 2004 and judging by the Academy’s obvious Crystal crush, it probably won’t be his last.
Martin’s considerably dry sense of humour and lack of a/v-aided gags meant that the Academy audience was in for a change when he took over hosting duties in 2001. Martin did a more-than-capable job of filling Crystal’s shoes with memorable zingers, among them: “Hosting the Oscars is like making love to a beautiful woman. It’s something I only get to do when Billy Crystal is out of town,” and “Be sure to stay to the end of the show because at the end of the night we're going to vote someone out of showbiz." Truly a job well done.
The comedian’s typically adult material and preponderance for four-letter words made his appointment to Oscar host a bit of a head-scratcher. Likely looking to engage the twentysomething set by choosing a cutting-edge comedian, the Academy were wise to go with Rock who sidestepped salty language in favour of poking fun at the A-listers, paying special attention to Russell Crowe and making one ubiquitous Brit especially uncomfortable when he asked: “Who is Jude Law? Why is he in every movie I’ve seen in the past four years?” Rumour has it that Law is still fuming.
Courtesy of Paramount Pictures
The irreverent host of “The Daily Show” returned two years ago for his second stint as the ringleader of an event that’s watched by one in six people. Jon Stewart, somewhat predictably, couldn't resist talking politics but hit the mark with his jab at Eddie Murphy’s box-office bomb – “Even Norbit got a nomination, which I think is great. Too often the Academy ignores movies that aren't good” – and ushered in the post-writers’ strike Academy Awards by welcoming everyone to the make-up sex. We love you too, Jon.
As a four-time Oscar host, Goldberg has a long-standing and rather historical relationship with the Academy: credited as both the first female host and the first African-American host, she’s also the only Oscar winner to ever host the Academy Awards and the second African-American woman to win an Oscar. Willing to get silly for a joke as often as risking getting booed, she’s a fearless comedienne who also loves her elaborate costume changes. In 1999, she appeared in full regal regalia as Queen Elizabeth, calling herself the African Queen and quipping, “Some of you may know me as the Virgin Queen, but I can't imagine who."--
Who do you think was the best Oscar host? Who delivered the best jokes and entertained the crowd? And how do you think Alec Baldwin and Steve Martin will do? Share your thoughts!