Question: Can an Oscar nominee help or hurt himself by hosting Saturday Night Live in the heat of the awards’ race?
One month after Silver Linings Playbook star — and Best Actress nominee — Jennifer Lawrence hosted, Django Unchained actor and Best Supporting Actor nominee Christoph Waltz took the Studio 8H stage at 30 Rock. For the most part, he lived up to his reputation as a generous supporting player — squiring Regine and playing a partygoer in a Tippy sketch. But when he did step into the main spotlight, there was something delicious about his cruel gameshow host, something creepy about his secret admirer, and something glorious about his Djesus Uncrossed parody trailer.
Historically, SNL hasn’t had many Oscar nominees on the show in the midst of Oscar campaigns. Part of that is due to the fact that the Academy doesn’t exactly revere comedy, so the nominees rarely overlap with those eager to host. Before Lawrence, Jesse Eisenberg was the most recent nominee to host while up for an Oscar (Best Actor for The Social Network) — he lost — but hosting didn’t hurt Forest Whitaker, who appeared in 2007, two weeks before taking home the Best Actor Oscar for The Last King of Scotland.
Waltz waltzes into a best-host competition that remains wide open. Martin Short and Seth MacFarlane are the two frontrunners, but this season still hasn’t had its first dynamite, Hall-of-Fame episode (in my humble opinion). At the very least, the Oscar-winning Austrian is virtually guaranteed a first-week walkover in our poll after Justin Bieber’s episode attracted such an underwhelming display of popular support. In the pop-singer’s first week in the competition, he scored just 16.6 percent in the poll, an historic low for a debut. (For comparison’s sake, Jeremy Renner drew 46 percent right after he hosted.) Bieber, however, is still alive — at least for another week. Adam Levine, who had debuted in first place, was sent packing with only 14.3 percent. Short‘s support surged to 26.7 percent, to regain first place, and season-premiere host Seth MacFarlane picked up the most slack from Levine and Bieber’s misfires, gaining nearly 10 percentage points to 24.8. Even Jennifer Lawrence got a boost, up nearly four ticks to 17.6 percent and — for now — a comfortable spot in third place.
Remember, gang: This poll is about who was the best SNL host, according to whatever subjective criteria one uses to determine this sort of thing. Below, I’ve embedded one representative clip for each of the five hosts currently in the race. After the vote, the host with the least support will be eliminated, and the other four will advance to compete against first-timer Kevin Hart on March 2. Ultimately, we’ll eliminate the less memorable hosts and crown a new Mr. or Ms. Saturday Night. Watch the clips, refresh your memories, and vote below.