Best and worst Oscar in Oscar hosting

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Sam Dunham

BY SAM DUNHAM (’17)

When someone asks you to describe an Academy Awards, the first thing they’ll talk about (barring any mistake regarding the Best Picture Winner) is who the host was. From solo performances to ensembles to, yes, even there once being no host, Oscar hosts have come in all shapes and sizes, each with different flavors and talents. Some have been great, others polarizing, and some objectively horrendous. Here’s a look at some of the worst and best of Oscar hosting.

The Worst:

It’s only fitting to start off with the most recent undeniable flop of Oscar hosting. In 2011, James Franco and Anne Hathaway made history not for their charm or youthful energy, but for a painfully awkward and unfunny show-hosting. Initially, it appeared like a promising duo. Combining Hathaway’s experience in stage performance with Franco’s comedic talent seemed like a good idea, but it became clear that their styles did not work with each other nor with television viewers. The script was filled with flat jokes and uninteresting skits and the two hosts were not above criticism either. Franco spent the entire time seemingly only half-aware of what was going on around him, phoning it in more than post-2000s Al Pacino. On the complete flipside, Hathaway imbued so much enthusiasm that she gave the appearance of “trying too hard”. While perhaps more respectable than the sleepy, disinterested attitude of the eldest Franco, her innocent, “perfect girl” persona did not fit the dry, teasing humor customary with the Academy Awards.

The other major folly in the history of the Oscars came in 1988 when legendary comedian Chevy Chase hosted the 60th Oscars. This lackluster performance was, for the most part, not Chase’s fault. Only a month before, the Writers Guild of America went on strike, forcing the producers to completely redo and mostly improvise the entire show. Chase, who had hosted the Oscars the year before (and received positive reviews for his hosting), was left to deal with a half-done script and a wildly unorganized award show. In total, the 1988 Oscars lasted an astounding four hours. The Academy even tried to bring on more comedians such as John Candy and Eddie Murphy for the presentations with the hopes of using their improv skills in order to save the faltering production. Sadly, not even the likes of Billy Crystal, an Oscar-hosting legend, could salvage it. In fact, the only thing that seemed able to take a win was “The Last Emperor,” which won 9 of the 22 awards handed out that night.

The Best:

Billy Crystal. End of article.

The undeniable King of the Academy, the beloved actor and comedian has churned out nothing but five-star performances in each of the NINE times he has hosted. Beginning in 1990, Crystal has continually returned to host this esteemed award show year after year. After the great success of his first stint in 1990, he actually returned to the Oscars for three consecutive years after that. He most recently hosted in 2012 (coincidentally a year after the Franco/Hathaway disaster) and is still rumored to host yet again in the near future. Besides, it’s not often you get to see a Hollywood celebrity enter a high-class award show on a horse or a giant Oscars statue.

Some other extremely popular hosts through the years have been Johnny Carson, Whoopi Goldberg, and Bob Hope. All three of these hilarious personalities have returned multiple times to deliver great performances in hosting. Carson’s decades of experience on the Tonight Show , Goldbergs sharp wit and amazing sketches (see her Victorian Queen costume with white-face), and Bob Hope’s whopping 19 host appearances make these three legends in the award show community.