- The Academy Awards are Hollywood’s biggest night, and celebrate achievements in cinema by A-list stars and directors.
- While most of the focus is on the Oscar winners, past hosts of the ceremony have also made a name for themselves on the industry’s biggest night of the year.
- Stars like Chris Rock, Jimmy Kimmel, and Bob Hope have all hosted the Academy Awards successfully, while others, like James Franco and Anne Hathaway, weren’t so noteworthy.
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For an actor, no honor is bigger than winning an Oscar. The only thing that can top it is hosting the Academy Awards – something only a select few have accomplished.
Although there have been 90 Oscars ceremonies, there have only been a few dozen hosts because many have hosted multiple times. And in some years, including 2019 and 2020, the Oscars went on without a host.
We rounded up our favorite hosts – some as a singular host and others as part of a pair – and ranked them in order from worst to best.
Kristin Salaky contributed to an earlier version of this story.
18. James Franco and Anne Hathaway hosted in 2011.
This shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone, as they were regarded one of the weirdest Oscar-hosting pairings of all time. People were baffled by Franco’s snide remarks paired with Hathaway’s upbeat nature.
17. Steve Martin teamed up with Alec Baldwin to host the 2010 Oscars.
These two may be favorites when they perform on “Saturday Night Live” together, but their chemistry wasn’t the same when hosting together. They seemed nervous and unprepared and reviewers noted the timing seemed off.
Although it was probably good publicity for their movie “It’s Complicated,” which was coming out soon, their performance as hosts was not award-worthy.
16. Comedian Chevy Chase hosted in 1988.
When you think of Chevy Chase, you probably don’t think of a cruder comedian. Unfortunately, this style of comedy doesn’t always translate well onscreen and many were put off by his 1988 solo hosting gig (he’d co-hosted the year prior.)
It may have been the writers strike happening around the broadcast or just a bad joke gone wrong, but he opened the show with “Good evening Hollywood phonies,” It did not land well.
15. “Family Guy” creator Seth MacFarlane was the host for the 2013 ceremony.
Seth MacFarlane isn’t exactly known for being a quiet and delicate person, but he took his crude humor to a new level when he hosted the Oscars in 2013. His turn as host was filled with jokes that elicited groans from the audience, most notably the song “We Saw Your Boobs,” in which he sang to actresses who had gone topless in films.
14. Even late-night host David Letterman had trouble hosting the ceremony in 1995.
If you know anything about Letterman’s turn as an Oscars host in 1995, you probably remember his nonsensical “Oprah-Uma” bit in the very beginning. Despite his late night background and his enthusiasm for the hosting role, this year was widely regarded as a pretty big flop.
13. Neil Patrick Harris has hosted multiple awards shows, including the Oscars in 2015.
Neil Patrick Harris seems born to be a host. He’s taking the helm at tons of award shows, including The Tonys and The Emmys – and has hosted some multiple times. So it was surprising when his time as an Oscar host in 2015 was not well-received.
In an awkward moment, the winner of “Best Documentary Short Subject” Dana Perry got interrupted while speaking about her son who had died and the show seemed to drag in parts.
To top it off, the crux of all his jokes seemed to be a reveal of what was inside a chained up box. People were not impressed when the joke did not seem to pay off.
12. Legendary actor Jack Lemmon hosted twice, in 1964 and later 1985.
Despite hosting four times, you don’t hear much about Jack Lemmon’s performance as an Oscar’s host very often. Lemmon hosted as part of a pair in 1958 and 1972, but went solo in 1964 and 1985.
11. Singer Frank Sinatra hosted the 1963 ceremony.
Frank Sinatra was nearly late for his own Oscar-hosting duties due to a parking dispute, but this Oscars host did a fairly good job – despite his usual gig involving crooning rather than cracking jokes.
10. Jon Stewart hosted in 2006 and 2008.
Jon Stewart made a lot of jokes about the difficult role of being an Oscars host in his 2006 monologue, but his performance that year showed just how hard the gig can actually be. He didn’t do awfully, but his performance the first go-round was regarded as sleepy and awkward.
But when he returned in 2008, with all the fanfare of an election year, the audience seemed to take to him more and he gained more positive reviews.
9. Jimmy Kimmel hosted in 2017 and in 2018.
- Getty Images
Jimmy Kimmel fulfilled his destiny as a late night host by hosting the show in 2017. He was generally well-received with playful gags like letting tourists into the theater.
But some gags weren’t as beloved, like taking on a tumultuous election year by tweeting at the president during the show.
8. Johnny Carson hosted the Oscars several times: from 1979 to 1982, and again in 1984.
Carson has hosted a whopping five times, with four of those being in succession. The king of late night was, unsurprisingly, a great host for the Academy awards, carrying on the great relationship he had with stars onto the stage.
He was such a quintessential Oscars host that he was dubbed “The Gold Standard” by The LA Times.
7. In 2005, Chris Rock hosted the Oscars. He returned to host again in 2016.
In 2005, Chris Rock was yet another comedian who took hits for having a biting style. For some reason, people didn’t seem to like when Rock mocked actor Jude Law for being in tons of movies that year. (He wasn’t wrong.) Things were pretty doomed after that joke, when air fell flat in the room.
But Rock was invited back in 2016 and fared much better. His no-nonsense style of comedy was welcomed in the year of #Oscarssowhite. His willingness to take on the Academy of Motion Pictures when they deserved it felt just.
6. Steve Martin hosted solo in 2003.
Though he was less than successful when part of a pair, Martin was an absolute success when hosting on his own. His humor was warm, even when he poked fun at others, and both the in-person and at-home audience seemed to like him.
Apparently even the crew liked him, as they reportedly called him the “most low-maintenance host imaginable,” according to The Wrap.
5. Actor Hugh Jackman tried his hand at hosting in 2009.
- Kevin Winter/Getty Images
Like Neil Patrick Harris, Hugh Jackman is a song and dance man that seems like a perfect fit for an Oscars host. Jackman, however, actually excelled at hosting the Academy Awards.
Jackman could be likened to the Energizer Bunny during his 2009 hosting stint. He was charming and likable without being grating and he did it all while singing and dancing wonderfully. He goes down as one of the best.
4. Billy Crystal hosted the venerable ceremony a total of nine times: from 1990 to 1993, and in 1997, 1998, 2000, 2004, and 2012.
Billy Crystal has hosted the Oscars nine times, second only to Bob Hope. Not every gig has been great, but you have to give the man props for coming back time after time.
From his songs to his video gags, Crystal has become the epitome of an Oscars host. He has the kind of smarmy, but never-crude style that allowed him to still managed to make audiences like him year after year.
3. Ellen DeGeneres hosted the Oscars in 2007, but it was her selfie while hosting in 2014 that made her a host to remember.
Who doesn’t love an Oscars host that brings pizza and takes selfies?
DeGeneres wasn’t exactly the most shining host in her first stint in 2007, as her typical type of quiet comedy didn’t exactly resonate with the Oscars audience who seem to be used to some song and dance.
But she more than made up for it in 2014 when she was staged several viral and charming jokes, including delivering pizzas to audience members and staging one epic selfie that would go down in history.
2. Actress Whoopi Goldberg has hosted in 1994, 1996, 1999, and 2002.
If you’ll notice, the list of Oscars hosts doesn’t feature a lot of women. In fact, Goldberg made history as the first woman to host the Academy Awards solo and the first African American to host ever.
As if that wasn’t historic enough, Goldberg killed it in her four stints as Oscars host, never shying away from wearing a wacky outfit, use audience members for gags or even toning it down as her first hosting gig fell on the year “Schindler’s List” won Best Picture, making the night a little more somber.
1. Bob Hope was a legend who hosted from 1940 to 1943, and subsequently in 1945, 1946, 1953, 1955, 1958, 1959 to 1962, 1965 to 1968, 1975, and 1978.
Bob Hope is the undisputed king of the Oscars. He has hosted 19 times either solo or as a team, even before the Oscars were even broadcast on television. For a long time, it was just assumed that Hope would host, and only if he had conflicts would they ask someone else.
He’s made the Oscars what they are today, and is the quintessential Oscars host – even receiving a medal from the Academy in 1966 for his service to the show – and for that, he absolutely deserves the top spot.