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.