The champagne is chilling, our major Oscar bets have been placed – and everyone is trying to guess what Chris Rock is going to say when he takes the stage to host the 2016 Academy Awards on Sunday.
In fact, while we’re all dying to see if Leonardo DiCaprio finally wins his first Oscar, or if Mad Max: Fury Road will manage to beat The Revenant or Spotlight for Best Picture, it’s probably safe to say that Rock’s monologue is the most highly anticipated element of the 2016 telecast. So, while we could spend hours dissecting every clue that Rock has given us about what to expect from his performance, it’s also worth looking back at the last time the comedian ran Hollywood’s biggest night, back in 2005.
If you’re looking for the best indication of what we can expect from Rock at this year’s ceremony, simply take a look back at his 2005 monologue, in which he poked fun at everything from the stoic nature of the ceremony itself – “The Oscars are the only show, the only awards show, where the people getting awards don t perform.” – to the A-listers in the audience – “I remember one year when Halle Berry won the Oscar. Nicole Kidman was smiling so wide, she should have won an Emmy at the Oscars for her great performance.” – to President George W. Bush – “[President] Bush basically reapplied for his job this year. Now could you imagine applying for a job and while you re applying for that job there s a movie in every theater in the country that shows how much you suck at that job?” Suffice to say, this year’s monologue should be anything but boring.
Million Dollar Baby took home the top prize in 2005, its director, Clint Eastwood, won Best Director and Jamie Foxx nabbed the Best Actor trophy for his performance as Ray Charles in Ray (he was also nominated for Best Supporting Actor for Collateral). Other big winners that night included Morgan Freeman, who won Best Supporting Actor for Million Dollar Baby, the film’s star Hilary Swank, and Cate Blanchett, who won Best Supporting Actress for The Aviator.
“We have, what, four black nominees tonight. So great, it’s like the Def Oscar Jam tonight,” is how Rock kicked off his monologue for the evening, celebrating the diverse list of acting nominees, which included – in addition to Freeman and Foxx – Don Cheadle for Best Actor and Sophie Okonedo for Best Supporting Actress. DiCaprio earned his second Academy Award nomination that year, for his performance in The Aviator, alongside Johnny Depp for Finding Neverland, plus Natalie Portman, who earned a Best Supporting Actress nod for Closer. In the Best Picture race, The Aviator, Finding Neverland, Ray and Sideways all came up short opposite Eastwood’s boxing drama.
Every great Oscars host has some kind of “bit” they break out to keep things moving as the night drags on. Hugh Jackman had a song and dance routine, Ellen DeGeneres took the starriest selfie of all time and Neil Patrick Harris did a magic trick, but Rock (and a few famous faces) chose to make fun of how few people see the Oscar-nominated films. And, proving that a good host knows how to keep the audience entertained at all costs, he even allowed himself to be upstaged by one hilarious member of the public.
The Major Controversy:
While everyone’s waiting on tenterhooks to see what Rock has to say about the Academy’s diversity controversy, back in 2005, he found himself in hot water when he offended Sean Penn after cracking jokes about Jude Law. “Who is Jude Law?” Rock asked in his monologue. “Why is he in every movie I have seen the last four years? He s in everything. Even the movies he’s not acting in, if you look at the credits, he made cupcakes or something. He’s in everything.” When Penn came out to present Best Actress, he made it a point to fire back at Rock: “Forgive my lack of humor Jude Law is one of our most talented actors.” So there.
Though the reaction to Rock’s hosting gig was mixed, the comedian himself didn’t seem too bothered by any criticisms leveled at him (whether from Penn or those watching the show). A few months after the telecast, Rock appeared on The Late Show with David Letterman, and (in a video unearthed by Vulture) joked about his experience on the big night: “These actor types, man! Who the hell do they think they are?” But when asked if he would ever return to the Oscars stage, Rock replied “Yeah, if there’s a lot of black people on it, I would do the show again.”
We can’t wait to see what happens on Sunday. Tune into the Academy Awards tonight at 7 p.m. ET on ABC.