The 10 Best Oscars Hosts

From Ellen DeGeneres to Alec Baldwin, being an amazing Oscars host takes a sense of humor, major charm, and a dash of wit. Some hosts have absolutely killed it, while others have let us down. Let’s focus on the positives and take a look at the 10 best Oscars hosts from previous years.

Image of Jimmy Kimmel

Image via Getty/Kevin Winter

Image of Jimmy Kimmel

The perfect Oscars host must be funny, charming, willing to call out the A-listers of the A-list, and quick on their feet if anything goes wrong. In over 80 years, dozens of hosts have tried their hands at emceeing the elite award ceremony. Of course, some have been better than others; not everyone can be the best. It is after all, Hollywood’s biggest night for a reason.

Between huge production numbers, having to improvise funny banter about celebrities, and entertaining a live audience who entertains for a living, there’s a lot at stake, making the job rather intimidating. Hosts also have to be the bearer of bad news if anything goes wrong (like if an announcer declares the wrong winner—we’re looking at you, Jimmy Kimmel)!

Even Neil Patrick Harris—who hosted the Emmys and the Tonys prior to hosting the Oscars— said that he likely wouldn’t do it again.  “I don’t know that my family nor my soul could take it,” he in an interview with Huffington Post.  “It’s a beast. It was fun to check off the list, but for the amount of time spent and the understandable opinionated response, I don’t know that it’s a delightful balance to do every year or even again.”

Despite it being a daunting task, at least 70 people have gone up to bat—and some who have done it more than once. While comedic legends like Johnny Carson set the standard for what makes a great Academy Awards host with his witty jokes, others were able to add to the job by incorporating selfies, other hosts, and plenty of singing and dancing in their opening performance.

There are lots of bright and energetic entertainers out there, who we hope have their shot at hosting soon—Tiffany Haddish, Keegan-Michael Key, Jordan Peele, and Stephen Colbert, to name a few. Kimmel is up again this year and we’re eager to see how he handles his second year hosting the 90th Academy Awards. As we await his performance and mull over who else could host the show in the future, here are the 10 best Oscars hosts from previous years.

10). Neil Patrick Harris

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Neil Patrick Harris had a lot of practice before hosting the Oscars in 2015; he’d previously hosted four Tony Awards shows and two Emmy Awards shows. No matter what he’s hosting, Harris is always willing to go the extra mile. Whether it’s stripping down to his underwear on stage or opening up with an elaborate musical number, he pulls out all the stops. Plus, he made history as the first openly gay man to host the show.

9). Johnny Carson

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Johnny Carson is often considered the benchmark when it comes to comedic material, and his title as “The King of Late Night” made him the perfect host for five different Oscars ceremonies. As host, he was able to blend jabs at celebrities (like when he told the crowd that he saw “a lot of new faces—especially on the old faces) with commentary on more hot-button issues like diversity in cinema.

8). Billy Crystal

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Billy Crystal did such a great job hosting the Academy Awards for the first time in 1990 that they brought him back nine more times. While other hosts have been known for their great banter, Crystal is remembered for his hilarious skits, like when he dressed up as Hannibal Lecter, or the segment “What the Stars Are Thinking,” where he zoomed in on celebs and guessed their thoughts.

7). Steve Martin and Alec Baldwin

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Like Jay Z said, what’s better than one Oscars host? Two! Okay, HOV didn’t actually say it like that, but it’s still true. Comedy giants and friendly rivals Steve Martin and Alec Baldwin took over hosting duties in 2010, and the two veterans played off of each other’s jokes and roasted everyone from Helen Mirren to Christoph Waltz.

6). Jimmy Kimmel

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Jimmy Kimmel’s first gig was certainly unforgettable, through no fault of his own; the late-night host’s first time taking on the Oscars was mostly overshadowed by the infamous snafu that took place, in which La La Land was accidentally named as Best Picture instead of rightful winner Moonlight. Thankfully, Kimmel made a full recovery, and will return this year to host the landmark 90th Academy Awards.

5). Hugh Jackman

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Most fans (read: me) only knew Hugh Jackman for his role as the X-Men’s Wolverine. But in 2009, Jackman took to the Oscars stage to host the big night and blew everyone out of the water with an elaborate song-and-dance number that included references to Slumdog Millionaire and The Curious Case of Benjamin Button. But the real highlight of the night came when he enlisted Beyoncé to join him in a rather risqué performance.

4). Bob Hope

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Bob Hope’s hosting duties are the embodiment of the phrase “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” Hope hosted the Oscars a whopping nineteen times, more than any other host in history. Hope raised the bar for other hosts looking to take on the biggest night in Hollywood.

3). Whoopi Goldberg

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When it comes to Oscars hosts, you can’t go wrong with an EGOT, especially if she’s Whoopi Goldberg. Three years after Goldberg won her second Oscar, she became Oscars’ first female host and first African-American host. She went on to host three more times, and proved why she’s one of just 12 entertainers in history to EGOT. As host, she donned multiple costumes, and referred to the Oscars as “the only 74-year-old man in Hollywood who doesn’t need Viagra to last three hours.”

2). Jon Stewart

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Jon Stewart has had the honor of hosting the Oscars two times. While his 2006 performance was just okay, he hit it out of the park in 2008. The political climate—a presidential race between Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, John McCain, and Mike Huckabee—and the Writers Guild of America strike made Stewart the perfect choice. He was in rare form as he brought his clever and beloved Daily Show wit to the stage.

1). Ellen DeGeneres

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Another two-time host, Ellen DeGeneres’ second go at it took place in 2014 and was truly one for the books. She brought her hilarious charm to the stage, ordered pizza for the crowd, and righteously collected payment for it in Pharrell’s large hat. And who could forget her epic selfie with Jennifer Lawrence, Bradley Cooper, Meryl Streep, Angelina Jolie, Brad Pitt, Julia Roberts, Jared Leto, Lupita Nyong’o, and Nyong’o’s brother, Peter? She brought all of her usual hilarity, and still made sure the show ran smoothly.

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