Billy Crystal wins Emmy — for his performance hosting the Oscar Awards

September 13, 1998: Actor/comedian Billy Crystal at the Emmy Awards in Los Angeles. He won for Outstanding Performance in a Variety or Musical for his hosting of the Oscars. (Photo by Featureflash Photo Agency on Shutterstock)

The Academy Awards, aka the Oscars, is the night where the elite of the film industry vie for the most coveted trophy in Hollywood. But there is one unsung hero that can make or break the entire night the host. They are the glue that holds everything together, the one who can turn a regular awards ceremony into an unforgettable event. So, we searched to find who experts think are the best Oscar Awards hosts to grace the stage. 

If the viewership is anything like 2022, many of the people you know will be watching. And they were prepared for last year’s ceremony, too! According to a survey, 56 percent planned to watch as many nominated films as possible prior to the event. And if that sounds like a lot of people, you might be surprised to know 74 percent of the respondents intended to tune in for the awards. 

It’s not uncommon to disagree with the award-winners. A decade or two ago, most Americans browsed their local newspapers for the latest movie reviews. Nowadays, it’s all about online reviews. And guess what? That’s shown that audiences (not just critics) impact consumers’ decisions on which movies to watch. This is especially true when movie reviews posted by both critics and regular viewers share similar content. In that case, it bodes well for box office performance, according to University of Notre Dame researchers. Just like regular reviews differ among critics and audiences, so do opinions about Oscar winners. 

With the 95th Academy Awards ceremony coming up on Sunday, March 12, we were inspired to find the best of the best Oscar Awards hosts. After all, a good host can make or break the show! Over the years, there have been many to entertain us all night long, but only a handful can claim the award as the best host. Let us know if you have a favorite we didn’t mention in the comments below. And the award for the best Oscars host goes to  … (scroll down to find out!). 

Oscars - Academy Awards
(© Игорь Петрутик – stock.adobe.com)

The List: Best Oscar Awards Hosts, Per Experts

1. Bob Hope

Hope’s hosting style was characterized by his quick wit, charm and ability to connect with the audience. Insider crowns him king: “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.” 

AS.com writes, “There is no name more synonymous with Oscar-hosting duties than Bob Hope, the comedian who hosted the ceremony a record [19] times from 1940 to 1978. With his comic timing and droll delivery Hope was a crowd favourite. He presented awards at the 50th anniversary ceremony in 1978, establishing himself as a true legend of the Oscars.”

“This Hollywood icon hosted the ceremonies more than anyone, sometimes with co-hosts but often on his own. He remains the gold standard for what a host should be,” DigitalTrends says.

2. Whoopi Goldberg

Whoopi Goldberg has hosted the Oscars four times! Her humor and intelligence have made her a fan favorite. Collider says she made history: “Whoopi Goldberg, the iconic talk show host, actor and producer, hosted the Oscars a whopping four times. She is the first Black woman to host the Academy Awards solo. Goldberg was known for her variety of jokes and costumes, entering as Queen Elizabeth I at the 1999 Oscars. To say the least, Goldberg is iconic and beloved by so many fans.” 

“When Whoopi Goldberg first hosted the Oscars in 1994, she was the first and only woman to ever have done so. The EGOT winner is one of the most beloved hosts of all time, and returned to the Oscar stage as host in 1996, 1999, and 2002,” Redbook summarizes.

DigitalTrends writes, “As the first woman to host the ceremonies on her own, Goldberg showed why she deserved to be on the stage. Alongside her fantastic comedic timing and quirky sensibilities, she also recognized when to tone down the comedy, especially during her first time hosting, when the powerful film Schindler’s List won Best Picture. On the flipside, Goldberg also wasn’t afraid to be kooky and go the extra mile to get laughs.”

3. Billy Crystal

CBR.com says it’s not the same without Billy Crystal: “It wouldn’t be the Academy Awards without the beloved Billy Crystal, one of the most well-known and memorable Oscar hosts ever. Crystal hosted the awards nine times and always found a clever way to connect his jokes with the movies of the year. One of the most famous instances of this was when he hosted in 1992 and made his entrance on stage just like Hannibal Lector, poking fun at Anthony Hopkins’ film The Silence of the Lambs.” 

“Crystal is credited with reinventing the role of Oscars host during his four-year run from 1990 to 1993. A more high-energy personality than most of his predecessors, the When Harry Met Sally… star proved himself a versatile awards show entertainer, and would return again five times over the years. He was comfortable with showmanship, not to mention self-promotion: at the 1991 awards, to promote City Slickers, he closed the ceremony by riding offstage on a horse,” Independent writes.

According to DigitalTrends, “While his later appearances may not have lived up to his earlier days, they always received critical praise; he has even been awarded several Emmys for hosting and writing for the show.”

4. Steve Martin

MovieWeb thinks Martin knew how to make himself the punchline: Martin was very successful when hosting on his own. His humor was kind-hearted and warm, even when he poked fun at others, and audiences seemed to genuinely like him. ‘Hosting the Oscars is like making love to a beautiful woman,’ Steve Martin once remarked. ‘It’s something I only get to do when Billy Crystal’s out of town.” 

“Steve Martin has shown himself to be the ideal Oscars host of the last 30 years. Like Crystal and Goldberg, he’s got comedy bona fides while also being a legitimate movie star — the kind of movie star that the current blockbuster-choked climate doesn’t create anymore, in case you were wondering why new iconic Oscar hosts have been hard to come by — and he holds the audience in the room in the palm of his hand with jokes that manage to puncture them without seeming like he’s sneering,” PrimeTimer raves. 

CBR.com points out, “Steve Martin is one of the most beloved comedians of the last 50 years, which makes it no surprise that he’s hosted the Oscars on three separate occasions. While his shared duties with Alec Baldwin in 2010 were awkward and unmemorable, his solo runs in 2001 and 2003 were much better.”

5. Ellen DeGeneres

You might remember that famous selfie! In Touch writes, “Ellen DeGeneres has hosted the Oscars twice, and she captured one of the most famous selfies in show history.”

“In recent years, Ellen DeGeneres’ public opinion has gone through an ebb and flow. Currently, it is in a bit of a low favor, but back in 2014, she was everyone’s favorite daytime host and comedian. Her stint as host in 2014 resulted in one of the more memorable moments in the show’s history. The selfie seen around the world remains a funny but simple gimmick, featuring actors from all walks of entertainment,” Screen Rant recaps. 

Who was in the selfie? “Jennifer Lawrence, Bradley Cooper, Meryl Streep, Brad Pitt, Angelina Jolie, and others. The picture went viral on Twitter, and became the most retweeted picture ever at the time. It’s hard to see her ever putting the host hat back on, but she was undoubtedly great at it,” writes CBR.com.


If you want fresh popcorn that will help make your Oscars party extra fun, check out the expert-recommended list of the best popcorn makers.

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