RANKED: The 5 best and worst Oscar hosts ever
As worked up as we get about which of our favorite movies we want to see win on Oscar night in a given year, how the host of the awards show performs will either elevate or deflate it.
Hosting the Oscars is not easy, judging by more than 80 years of shows, but the payoff is that if the host (or hosts) has a particularly great night, it can launch them to a special type of star in Hollywood. And if they bomb, it might be a good time to take a long vacation.
Before the analysis of how Chris Rock does this year, we looked back on the five hosts who had the best nights, and the five who had the worst in Oscar history.
See photos of this year's Academy Awards nominees:
BEST: 5. Ellen DeGeneres (2014)
The second time was just right for Ellen DeGeneres. The massive selfie she took with the nominees at the beginning of the telecast was original and of-the-moment (and went viral), and the bit of ordering pizza for the starving nominees was fun (it's always entertaining to watch famous people eat). It was the casual style, doing a lot of jokes offstage, that brought a fun intimacy to the ceremony that year.
BEST: 4. Hugh Jackman (2009)
Following Jon Stewart's second attempt at hosting the Oscars, which led to record-low ratings, the Academy went outside the box and instead of signing on a comic, it brought out a contemporary actor. It was a spot-on choice. Having hosted the Tonys for three consecutive years, Hugh Jackman was able to handle the duties, and he displayed a song-and-dance side that many fans of his movies didn't know he was capable of.
BEST: 3. Whoopi Goldberg (1994)
Following four straight years of Billy Crystal as host, Whoopi Goldberg's name was called, making her the first African American and solo female host. In the year that "Schindler's List" took the top prize, the ceremony itself was less jokey, but Goldberg came in with the right understated style for the night. She would go on to host the awards three more times.
BEST: 2. Billy Crystal
Perhaps the greatest Oscar host in our lifetime, Billy Crystal has too many good years to easily point out one. Even in his off-years, he had his killer opening in which he would sing about all the best-picture nominees. It seems a little old-school now, but in the '90s it was some funny material.
BEST: 1. Bob Hope
As with Crystal, it's unfair to just focus on one year for Bob Hope. Holding the record for the most times hosting the Oscars with 18, he did it six times before the ceremony even began its telecast in 1953, making him very polished when general audiences saw him at the helm the 12 other times. Hope laid the groundwork for how hosting any major awards show should be done: respectful but with a playful humor that everyone will get.
WORST: 5. Chris Rock (2005)
The host of this year's ceremony, Chris Rock, is hoping to rebound from his first time as host in 2005, when his style of comedy didn't find many takers. Basically, things went down hill when his joke about Jude Law not being a good actor in his monologue went flat. Hopefully he can turn things around on February 28.
WORST: 4. Chevy Chase (1988)
Chevy Chase's comedy style was never the most personable, which right there makes him not the best choice to host an awards show. But in the late 1980s, he was still a viable comedy star, and he had co-hosted the Oscars the previous year with (get this) Goldie Hawn and Paul "Crocodile Dundee" Hogan, so what could go wrong? Well, Chase bombed as his ad-libbing didn't land and his less-than-welcoming personality turned off the audience and those watching at home.
WORST: 3. Seth MacFarlane (2013)
Now, Seth MacFarlane is the polar opposite of Chevy Chase (on-screen, anyway). But if you're not a fan of the humor on "Family Guy," you're probably not going to dig him, and that's what happened on his night as host. His jokes poking fun at gender and race were probably better suited for the inebriated Golden Globes crowed, not for the Oscars.
WORST: 2. David Letterman (1995)
Following Whoopi Goldberg's historic first hosting duty, David Letterman took the reins, and let's just say Goldberg should never have let go of them. On top of Letterman looking like he didn't even want to be there from his first steps on stage, the disastrous "Uma... Oprah" joke led to a cringe-worthy night of zero entertainment from the host. Even this dog spinning in circles couldn't get the crowd on his side.
WORST: 1. James Franco / Anne Hathaway (2011)
The Academy thought it was on to something in 2011. The year before, it teamed Steve Martin and Alec Baldwin, and for the most part it was a success. How could the show capitalize? Bring in a younger pair. That led to James Franco and Anne Hathaway, and the Oscars hasn't done a tandem since. Though Hathaway tried to stay in good spirits, Franco must have realized somewhere around the halfway point that the ship was going down and pretty much went on auto-pilot. It's still difficult to imagine that as bad as the night was going, Franco still agreed to go out in drag, cementing the duo's fate as the worst Oscar hosts ever.
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