Every year, almost as important as the Best Picture winner is the host of the Academy Awards. Both grab headlines the next day, and both are sure to endure their fair share of criticism.
With almost every host having to face the black-and-white judgments of “good host or bad host,” who ranks among the best and the worst? Here’s our take on the Oscar hosts worth awarding and the one’s that should have been snubbed.
If someone hosts the show nine times, there’s probably a good reason. Crystal carved out a niche for himself as the host of the big show starting in 1990 by keeping it light and throwing in a good song-and-dance routine for good measure.
The king of late night hosted the Academy Awards five times, the third most of any host. His overwhelming popularity from “The Tonight Show” carried over into his stints as host and made him one of the most consistently successful hosts. His familiarity with celebrities and experience with off-the-cuff comedy led to one of the Oscar’s most memorable lines: “I see a lot of news faces, especially on the old faces.”
If repeat jobs as host are a measure of success, Bob Hope takes the top prize after hosting the ceremony a record 19 times. Famously calling attention to his lack of nominations, Hope’s self-deprecating humor made him an Oscar legend and a rightful spot as the show’s most frequent host.
Steve Martin and Alec Baldwin
As the first paired hosts since Chevy Chase, Goldie Hawn and Paul Hogan in 1987, Martin and Baldwin played off each other well enough to earn them the title of “best in recent years.” Though Martin had solo hosting duties in 2001 and 2003, it wasn’t until he joined forces with Baldwin that he earned his highest praise.
The late-night host’s name often leads the pack when recalling the worst hosts in the history of the Oscars. His “Oprah, Uma” gag and the negative reaction it got precedes most talk of how Letterman actually did. Letterman never returned to host after his one appearance in 1995.
Anne Hathaway and James Franco
The most notorious hosts in recent years, Hathaway and Franco were supposed to welcome a younger audience and make the Oscars cool again. What resulted was an odd and scattered show that was neither very funny nor cool. Many complained the Franco had phoned it in, while others found Hathaway cloying.
Chase hosted the show a total a two times, but only once by himself. The year after his solo gig, no one hosted, which is all you need to know about that.
It may be hard to believe with today’s bloated ceremony, but in 1959, the ceremony wrapped up 20 minutes before it was scheduled to. To kill the leftover time, Lewis vamped on stage and forced some of the night’s winners to continue singing and dancing on stage. NBC eventually ended the show early, but the dead, ad-libbed airtime remains an infamous part of the Oscar legacy.
Who else should make the lists of best and worst Oscar hosts? Leave your comment below!
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