The big news of yesterday was Billy Crystal being named as the host of the 84th Academy Awards. The announcement was met with a lot of debate, some arguing that the choice is too safe and that the Academy should have tried to do something new, while others made the point that Crystal has a wealth of experience as host and has done a previously done a great job. While I still wish that the Muppets had gotten the job instead, I will admit that the Team Crystal has a point. Dating back to 1990, the comedian has hosted the awards show eight times and has always succeeded in making people laugh. Need proof? Well, while don’t I take you on a little tour through history.
Scouring around the internet, I’ve unearthed five moments from Oscars past that wonderfully demonstrate the skills that Crystal has brought to the ceremony. Not all of the videos are top notch in terms of quality – in fact, some of them look like someone held a camcorder in front of a TV playing a VHS recording – but you can hear the jokes, which is really what’s most important. Check it out!
The 60th Academy AwardsUnlike the rest of the videos on this list, this one isn’t actually from when Billy Crystal hosted the Oscars. Instead, this was two years before Crystal’s debut, when duties fell to Chevy Chase for the second year in a row. Instead, this movie features this year’s host presenting for Best Sound. From the muted speech gag at the beginning to the weird impressions to his off the cuff remark about reading from the teleprompter, it’s a funny moment that shows that he can do the short-form stuff at the show too.
The 69th Academy AwardsSadly I couldn’t find any videos from four times that Crystal hosted (Damn you, internet! You are useless!) so now we jump to number five, which was held in 1997. I particularly like this clip because it opens with Crystal interacting with Yoda, voiced by Frank Oz of Muppet fame, but also has some great parodies of Fargo and The English Patient as well as a truly ridiculous cameo by David Letterman.
The 70th Academy AwardsNo more time warping, we’re heading to the very next year, 1998, for the presentation of the 70th Academy Awards. This video features Crystal doing his opening monologue and introducing the Best Picture nominees in an inventive way: song covers. Prepare for the epic mashup of Gilligan’s Island and Titanic that you probably forgot all about.
The 72nd Academy AwardsBecause Whoopi Goldberg took over hosting duties in 1999, we’re skipping ahead to the turn of the century for the 72nd Academy Awards. What’s great about this one is that instead of just going back to the movies released in the previous 12 months, in 2000 the opening skit was a retrospective of the last 100 years in film and placed Crystal into some of the greatest movies of all time, including Taxi Driver, The Godfather and The Exorcist. It makes for some pretty solid gags.
The 76th Academy AwardsFinally there’s the 76th Academy Awards, the last time that Billy Crystal hosted the show. Doing the exact opposite of what I liked in the last video, this one features Crystal going back through the notable movies of 2003. While Lord of the Rings is at the center of most of the jokes, keep an eye out for some funny parodies of Something’s Gotta Give, Monster and Seabiscuit.