All the talk about the announcement of Steve Martin and Alec Baldwin as next year’s Academy Award hosts has started me thinking: Who is the best Oscar emcee of the last decade? There have been seven: Billy Crystal, Ellen DeGeneres, Whoopi Goldberg, Hugh Jackman, Steve Martin, Chris Rock, and Jon Stewart. Below I list each year’s host and the ratings his or her telecast received. As you can see, Crystal boasts the two highest-rated shows, while Stewart pulls up the rear at No. 10. But is that simply a function of their skill and popularity? Or did Crystal luck out by hosting the year The Lord of the Rings won, while Stewart was saddled with the less-seen No Country for Old Men? Part of me thinks it’s more about the movies than the host. Steve Martin drew almost 10 million more viewers when the blockbuster Gladiator emerged victorious than when Chicago waltzed away with the prize. My hunch is that Crystal is the populist choice, and while his opening songs are always chuckle-worthy, I’ll take Martin’s deadpan style anyday.
2000 Billy Crystal (American Beauty); 46.3 million (#1)
2001 Steve Martin (Gladiator); 42.9 million (#3)
2002 Whoopi Goldberg (A Beautiful Mind); 41.8 million (#5)
2003 Steve Martin (Chicago); 33 million (#9)
2004 Billy Crystal (The Lord of the Rings: Return of the King); 43.5 million (#2)
2005 Chris Rock (Million Dollar Baby); 42.14 million (#4)
2006 Jon Stewart (Crash); 38.9 million (#7)
2007 Ellen DeGeneres (The Departed); 39.9 million (#6)
2008 Jon Stewart (No Country for Old Men); 32 million (#10)
2009 Hugh Jackman (Slumdog Millionaire); 36.3 million (#8)
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