It’s official. Chris Rock will host the 88th Academy Awards in February, 2016 – 11 years after he first hosted the ceremony. The Oscars is a tricky task for any performer, as it seems inherently more formal than the likes of the Golden Globes. But if anyone can pull it off (again), it’s the motor-mouthed comedian. 10 stars have hosted the show since Chris Rock graced the stage at the Dolby Theatre (two were duos, Steve Martin and Alec Baldwin in 2010 and, infamously Anne Hathaway and James Franco in 2013) and we’ve ranked them best to worst. Hope you’re reading, Chris.
Ellen Degeneres, 2007 and 2014
The talk show host did a sterling job in 2007, warning potential winners against giving boring speeches, but it was 2014 that went down in history. Because of that selfie. You know the one. Everybody famous was in it, from Bradley Cooper to Jennifer Lawrence to Kevin Spacey, and it broke the internet. And that’s what makes a good awards ceremony host nowadays – if you go viral, you nailed it.
Jon Stewart, 2006 and 2008
The satirist was so good in 2006 that they roped him back in just two years later. His first effort opened with a skit in which he pretends to wake up next to George Clooney – and is delighted at the fact – and in 2008 he made a gag whose punchline was ‘Gaydolf Hitler’. We really miss you on The Daily Show, Jon.
Steve Martin and Alec Baldwin, 2010
Who knew these two would be a comic dream team? Martin brought the comic muscle, while Baldwin provided real Hollywood glamour, a prequsite for the ceremony. Despite that set-up, Baldwin knocked out the best gag of the night: “Steve, I know you loved Invictus, because it combined your two of your biggest passions, rugby and tensions between blacks and whites”. They also implied Meryl Streep is a Nazi that they’d had a threesome with.
Hugh Jackman, 2009
Wolverine gave it a good to, indulging his penchant for musical theatre, cracking self-deprecating jokes about his lack of range (“I’m an Australian who played an Australian” in a movie called Australia) but all those references to “the recession” sat queasily in a room full of seriously rich people. “In Hollywood you don’t need money, you can build a dream with nothing,” he said. Which is probably funnier when you’re a millionaire.
Billy Crystal, 2012
Crystal had hosted nine times by 2012, so he clearly knew the moves. There was noting particularly bad about this outing – the songs were catchy enough and the digs at the privileged folks in attendance at the Dolby Theatre – but he seemed to be merely going through the motions by this point.
Neil Patrick Harris, 2015
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The producers were looking for someone likeable, a safe pair of hands, and understandably they went to the star of How I Met You Mother, though Harris perhaps played it a little too safe. Most of the gags were lame and the singing and dancing numbers just a little too try-hard, though he gets points for a zinger in which he called out the lack of racial diversity in Hollywood (“Tonight we honour Hollywood’s best and whitest – sorry, brightest).
Seth MacFarlane, 2013
Well, it seemed like a smart move – Family Guy is funny, right? – but MacFarlane came across as a kind of a dickhead at the 85th annual Academy Awards. There was a song mocking actresses who’d gone topless on film and a gag about the torture scenes in Django Unchained being akin to a Rihanna and Chris Brown “date night”.
Anne Hathaway and James Franco, 2011
Unbearable. Just unbearable. Franco should take the heat for this infamously grim charade, having said as little as possible and grinned slyly through ceremony, as if the whole thing were a private joke only he heard the punch line to. Hathaway, on the other hand, tried gamely to raise a few laughs, which actually made their joint performance even more cringeworthy.