Videos Of Chris Rock At The Oscars Prove He's The Perfect Host For The 2016 Academy Awards
This weekend, the anticipated (and controversial) 88th annual Oscars will be hosted by Chris Rock… and it won't be the comedian's first time holding the coveted position as emcee of Hollywood's most important night of the year. The Saturday Night Live alum, stand-up comic, and Madagascar voice actor previously hosted the 77th Academy Awards back in 2005, the year that Clint Eastwood's Million Dollar Baby took home the coveted gold statuette for Best Picture over The Aviator, Finding Neverland, Ray, and Sideways. Thanks to videos of Chris Rock at previous Oscars ceremonies, we have some idea of what to expect this Sunday evening.
When Rock hosted in 2005, he became the first black man to host the Academy Awards. (Whoopi Goldberg had previously hosted four times, most recently in 2002.) Despite the fact that he had already hosted the MTV Music Video Awards three times (including the year of the infamous Madonna-Britney lip-lock) Rock was viewed at the time as a surprising choice for the traditionalist Academy, a more "risque" selection following a spate of more "mainstream" hosts like Steve Martin and Billy Crystal, according to Variety. His appointment was clearly an effort to appeal to younger viewers — an effort that backfired when the ceremony's ratings slipped to the lowest since 1997, as reported by The Guardian at the time. The publication also reported that Rock "was generally felt to have struggled in his new role," although it went on to point out that "the real culprits may have been the films themselves, with no bona fide blockbusters up for best picture nominees."
Despite the low ratings and mixed reception, Rock's rep reported the comedian as saying, "He'd like to do it again down the road." Well, that wish has come true 11 years later as he now gears up for his second shot at the gold. Here are some clips of Rock at past Oscar ceremonies, which give us a hint as to what to expect from the host this time around.
1999: Sound Effects Editing
The only time Rock had appeared on the Oscar stage prior to his first hosting gig was when he presented the award for Best Sound Effects Editing (now simply referred to as Sound Editing) to Saving Private Ryan at the 1999 ceremony. Even in a category as relatively "minor" as this one, Rock was able to find a way to make some scathing comments about the event, referring to the audience as a "Million White Men march" — proving that the issue of diversity among Academy Award nominees is not a new one in 2016.
2005: Opening Monologue
Rock's second time on the stage was his highly-scrutinized opening monologue at the 77th Oscars, in which he once again tackled the subject of race head-on, commenting that the presence of four black acting nominees (Ray's Jamie Foxx, Million Dollar Baby's Morgan Freeman, and Hotel Rwanda's Don Cheadle and Sophie Okonedo) had turned the Academy Awards into the "Def Oscar Jam." But the host soon segued from race to politics, using Michael Moore's snubbed documentary Fahrenheit 9/11 to talk about President George W. Bush's time in office.
2005: Best Movie Of The Year
Later in the ceremony, Rock used this pre-taped segment to show how out-of-touch the Academy was with the general moviegoing populace — and specifically, the African-American moviegoing populace, who cited films like Alien Vs. Predator, The Chronicles Of Riddick, Saw, and White Chicks as their favorite movies of the year. Additionally, none of the people interviewed seemed to have even seen any of the five Best Picture nominees.
2012: Animated Feature Film
Rock's third and most recent time on the Oscar stage once again returned to the issue of race. Introducing the typically family-friendly and lighthearted category of Animated Feature Film, the presenter pointed out that in animation, you can be anyone you want to be… before joking (but not really) that black men could even play donkeys and zebras. The reference to Eddie Murphy's role as Donkey in Shrek and his own as Marty in Madagascar pointed that unfortunately, Hollywood rarely offers complex roles to actors of color — even when they're voicing animated characters.
2014: Governors Awards
The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences doesn't just host the Oscars; every year they also host the Governors awards, in which they give out Honorary Oscars and Lifetime Achievement awards to the best actors and filmmakers in the industry. Two years ago, Rock presented the Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award to then-86-year-old actor/singer Harry Belafonte. Even in his brief introduction of the black icon, Rock found time to make references to both President Obama and voting rights, landing on two of his favorite topics to address: politics and race.
2015: New Year's Eve
During ABC's New Year's Eve broadcast, the network unleashed a promo for the upcoming Oscars in which the host likened the holiday to the upcoming ceremony, in that they both end "with a lot of drunk, disappointed people swearing they'll do better next year," promising that in addition to addressing important issues with humor, Rock also won't hold back on targeting the inflated egos of Hollywood's biggest celebrities.
Tune in to watch Rock's second sure-to-be-divisive hosting gig at the 88th annual Academy Awards this Sunday, Feb. 28, at 8:30 p.m. ET on ABC.