What Advice Would Past Oscars Hosts Give NPH?

Anne Hathaway has recovered well from the Hathahate that plagued her and even made her leave Hollywood for a while (she literally got bullied out, which is pretty sad). But now she's back with a "to hell with it all" attitude and no qualms about poking fun at her "past life." In an interview with New York Times Magazine, she was inevitably asked about her turn hosting the Academy Awards with James Franco in 2011, and the dramatic disaster of it all. When asked if she had any words of advice for 2015 Oscars host Neil Patrick Harris, she simply said: "Do the opposite of what I did, and you'll be fine."

Pretty sound advice, I would say. Hathaway and Franco's 2011 hosting was, to put it kindly, a hack job; they were elected as hosts to appeal to a younger audience, but that didn't go over so hot, especially as they made several awkward self-referential digs at the fact that they were young and fresh and hip. Franco's head was definitely NOT in the game, and critics noticed, one calling him: "that lacrosse boy you wish your daughter didn't hang out with so much, sort of heavy-lidded and smirky." Pretty accurate.

But she's not the only host in recent years that's had some flubs. Here's advice other past Oscar hosts might give to NPH about the huge responsibility of being master of ceremonies, even though, as Anne Hathaway says, "He’ll be great. He’s a natural host." (Also notable: when asked what went wrong with the ceremony, she said "I think it's so obvious that it doesn't even need to be identified. Ninety percent certain this is a barb at James Flacco.)

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Ellen DeGeneres, 2014

This was Ellen's second time hosting, and she did a bang-up job. Advice from her successful run: Keep it light! Keep it fun! Play to your strengths! Ellen's opening was a monologue of her clean humor, poking fun (but not too much fun) at the famouses in the audience. She also did a few gags that were reminiscent of her talk show, like ordering a pizza that Kerry Washington was all about and taking that infamous selfie.

Seth MacFarlane, 2013

Don't sing a sexist song about boobs that will alienate at least half your audience! Don't be so fratty! But DO invite lovable industry hams with natural Broadway stage presence like Joseph Gordon Levitt and Daniel Radcliffe to sparkle up your stage, because you're doing a poor job of it. Here's a bootleg version of the song, because the Academy removed the original from YouTube! Tsk tsk.

Billy Crystal, 2012

Unfortunately advice from Crystal would probably be like, "Try something new." Crystal has hosted the Oscars a total of nine times, but his 2012 job was a little boring. Not bad, just kind of a snoozefest. I'm guessing Crystal would tell Harris, who hasn't yet hosted the Academy Awards but has helmed the Tonys four times and the Emmys twice, "It's hard to live up to yourself" in that weary Billy Crystal tone.

Hugh Jackman, 2009

GOOD GOD MAN, DANCE! Jackman cheesed it up to wild acclaim with his opening number, and later a song with Our Lady Beyonce. Maybe Jackman and Queen Bey will return to the stage with NPH. We can dream, right?

Jon Stewart, 2008

As much as I love J. Stew, I feel like his advice to Harris would be "Don't be SO smarmy." As Stewart himself put it best about comedians hosting the Oscars, "The problem with having us host it, if I may, is that at some level, deep in our hearts, we think it's stupid." He was understandably pretty pissed about the writers' strike that year, and it came through.

James Franco, 2011

Don't smoke weed before/during the ceremony. Give a damn.

Image: Getty