The perceived success of Oscar night hinges on many factors — how dull the speeches are, how interminable the musical numbers are, whether Debbie Allen is involved, etc. — but no element, it seems, is more important than the host. A good Oscar host has to be something of a miracle worker: they keep the show moving, react spontaneously to whatever clusterfucks occur (and they always do), rib the royalty but only gently, and make the night edgy enough for home viewers, but not too edgy for the Cryptkeepers in the audience. Many have tried, but only a few have succeeded, so in anticipation of Ellen Degeneres’ second run at the job, we’ve ranked every Oscar host from the last 25 ceremonies (save 1989, which had no host).
Not ranked: Ellen Degeneres (2007)
Confession: your film editor cannot rank Ms. Degeneres’ first time in the host tux, back in 2007, because I never saw it — I boycotted the ceremony that year, still shell-shocked from Crash’s notorious Best Picture prize the previous year. An overreaction? Perhaps. Inconvenient for the purposes of the job today? Most definitely. But I can only beg your understanding; when you witness a mugging, well, you just can’t return to the scene of the crime as quickly as you might need to.