Does the Oscar Host Really Matter?

Does the Oscar Host Really Matter?

AccessReel writer Sian Dhu feels the urge to play conspirator, presenting her argument as to why the choice of host for The Oscars ceremony actually has no importance.

So Seth MacFarlane, host for the 2013 Academy Awards managed to keep mostly respectable for his Oscar hosting gig – an achievement that no doubt surprised many (though some are still moaning he was too offensive for a family show). But hey,  judging by the ratings, maybe family-friendly isn’t what people want: MacFarlane’s numbers exceeded notoriously sugar-coated Hugh Jackman when he had his hosting stint in 2009.

It must be a terrifying gig let’s be honest. Forget about the millions of people around the world watching you: you’re on stage in front of all the “best” people in the entertainment business (your competition) and they want to see you fail!

Each year press (and viewers) around the world critique the host and tend to judge the success of the ceremony on this performance. But I wonder if too much emphasis is placed on this one factor – particularly when it comes to assessing ratings. After all, what influences us more to watch The Oscars: The nominated films or the ‘Master of Ceremonies’?

I love film, I live and breathe film, but I have not watched one Oscar ceremony from start to finish since the release of Lord of the Rings: Return of the King as I have not been excited enough about any film to invest the four hours.

Still, I admit, I could be the only one…. Let’s look at ratings of history’s most notable hosts and what big films were out that year and you decide for yourself:

 Let’s take a look:

           1. Billy Crystal (1998): 57.3 million 

(The year Titanic broke records and won best picture, enough said!)

2.    David Letterman (1995): 48.9 million 

(Perhaps Forrest Gump had a hand in this impressive figure?)

3.    Billy Crystal (2000): 46.5 million

(The year of American Beauty and The Matrix, two films that generated a lot of buzz…are you starting to see the trend here?)

4.    Whoopi Goldberg (1994): 46.3 million

(The year of Schindler’s List…nothing like a good World War II film to bump up interest)

5.    Billy Crystal (1993): 45.9 million 

(Clint Eastwood’s winning year for Unforgiven)

6.    Whoopi Goldberg (1999): 45.6 million

(A big year with conversation starters like Saving Private Ryan, Life is Beautiful and Shakespeare in Love)

7.    Billy Crystal (1992): 44.4 million

(The Silence of the Lambs. Need I say more?)

8.    Billy Crystal (2004): 43.6 million

9.    No host (1970): 43.4 million

(No host?! And it’s the 9th highest rating? This is the year the first X-rated film won best picture thus no doubt generating interest. I rest my case!)

10.  Donald O’Connor and Fredric March (1954): 43 million

11.  Steve Martin (2001): 42.9 million

12.  Billy Crystal (1991): 42.8 million

13.  No host (1989): 42.8 million

(Again, having no host rated highly)

14.  Chris Rock (2005): 42.2 million

15.  Chevy Chase (1988): 42 million

16.  Steve Martin and Alec Baldwin (2010): 41.6 million

17.  Billy Crystal (1997): 40.8 million

18.  Whoopi Goldberg (2002): 40.5 million

19.  Seth MacFarlane (2013): 40.3 million

20.  Billy Crystal (1990): 40.2 million

21.  Bob Hope and Conrad Nagel (1953): 40 million

22.  Ellen DeGeneres (2007): 39.9 million

23.  Billy Crystal (2012): 39.3 million

24.  James Franco and Anne Hathaway (2011): 37.6 million

25.  Hugh Jackman (2009): 36.9 million

 So what do you think? Like my theory? (I’m all for being beaten down by the way…abuse to your hearts content!)

Sian's love for movies spawned from having a tight mother whose generosity stretched only to hiring movies once a week for entertainment. As a pre-teen Sian spent more pocket money then she earned on cinema tickets and thus sought a job at the cinema. Over the next decade she rose to be one of the greats in her backwater, six-screen cinema complex, zooming through the ranks from candy bar wench with upselling superpowers, to pasty projectionist, to a manager rocking a pencil skirt. Sian went on to study Journalism at university though feels her popcorn shovelling days were far more educational