“It’s a wonderful night for Oscar (Oscar, Oscar!) who will win?”
Thus began every Oscar monologue given by the master Billy Crystal. The first time I ever seriously watched the Oscars (I was super invested in “Good Will Hunting” winning) it was hosted by Billy. He worked his ass off to entertain – a true performer and just plain silly. He came out 3/4 of the way through the show at crouched behind the glass podium exclaiming: “Look! I’m a present!”
His songs during the opening monologues, pointing out the (at the time) 5 Best Picture nominees were the precursor in many ways to what Neil Patrick Harris has accomplished many times at the Emmy’s and Tony’s. To Matt Damon and Ben Affleck he crooned to the tune of “Night and Day”: “Matt and Ben – you are the ones. Your script was tight and, damnit – so are your buns.”
This Sunday, however, will be hosted once again by Ellen Degeneres. Ellen did a great job the last time she hosted with her signature folks-y, meandering comic style with surprise zingers. She last hosted when Helen Mirren would win for “The Queen.” Ellen quipped: “Lots of British nominees. Would I say ‘too many’? Not here. Alone at home in my pajamas with a box of chardonnay in me? who knows what I’d say!”
The good thing about Ellen is that she never gets too overtly political, which is bad for the air on Oscar night. Chris Rock went very far in that direction, holding his mic like a true stand-up, with this joke that didn’t even have anything to do with the Oscars: “Bush did some stuff you could neeeever get away with at your job, man. You know when Bush got into office they had a surplus of money. Now there’s like a 70 trillion dollar deficit. Now just imagine you worked at the GAP…”
Whoopi got political the first time she hosted (the first time ANY woman hosted), but she condensed it to one “political soapbox rant” that ended with: “Let Frank Sinatra finish!”
Jon Stewart, who I love on Daily Show, was also a bit political, but less so. He just seemed ill-at-ease while not behind his desk. He didn’t know what to do with his hands. But he did have some great lines such as: “Diablo Coldy used to be an exotic dancer and now she’s an Oscar-nominated screenwriter…I hope you’re enjoying the paycut.” And my favorite of his: “This year’s theme is “Bringing Back the Glamor” and let me just say — thank god. Because for too long Hollywood has been without.”
Second to Billy as my favorite host is definitely Steve Martin: “When they asked me back in January if I wanted to host the Oscars my first thought was: “Would there be enough time for my facelift to heal.”
What they both do so well is poke fun at Hollywood, which I think is so necessary on a night where super rich celebrities give each other statues made of gold. And when he joined forces with Alec Baldwin (the first DUO to host the Oscars) it was pure magic.
Unfortunately it lead the way to one of the WORST Oscar duos – James Franco and Anne Hathaway.
So here’s to Ellen and a great night at the Oscars!