The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences and Billy Crystal have always had a very "When Harry Met Sally" relationship. Sure, they may branch off and date other people, but you know, in the end, they will always end up together. It's inevitable. Why fight it?
After flirting with the good but not great (Hugh Jackman, Jon Stewart) and the disastrous (Whoopi Goldberg, HathaFranco), the loving couple are back in each other's arms for the 84th annual Academy Awards. To celebrate the long-awaited reunion (he last hosted in 2004), here's a look back at some of Crystal's greatest hits.
Billy Sticks Up for Barbra (1992)
During the opening of the 64th annual Academy Awards, Crystal pointedly brought up the elephant in the room. Despite scoring seven nominations, "The Prince of Tides" was noticeably absent in one particular category: Best Director. Producer and star Barbra Streisand was snubbed, something that is always brought up whenever the Academy is accused of being sexist (which is often).
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The History of Cinema Gets Crystal-lized (2000)
Two of Crystal's Oscar trademarks are the opening song parodies and the film montages, where the comedian inserts himself into that year's nominated films. To mark the start of the new millennium, he actually went back and Zelig'd his way into the entire history of cinema.
His First Time (1990)
Yes, he opens with a lame crack at the much-maligned "Rob Lowe/Snow White" duet, but give him a break, he's just getting warmed up. Crystal was much more "stand-up comic" than "song and dance" man the first time out, but you can see why he fits the telecast like a glove. Funny, likable, just edgy and insider-y enough…it was a tease of the years to come.
He Gets in Everyone's Head (2004)
You can imagine this idea going terribly, terribly wrong in anyone else's hands, but the concept of Crystal pretending to narrate the interior monologues of the A-list audience members just works for Billy. He's got enough goodwill built up among the glitterati that he can get away with gentle prodding.
Hannibal Crystal (1992)
Still one of the most-referenced stage entrances of Crystal's Oscar run. The year that "The Silence of the Lambs" dominated the show, Crystal entered strapped to a gurney like Hannibal Lecter. He then proceeded to walk into the crowd and personally welcome the man himself, Anthony Hopkins. Cute, a little cheesy, and charming. Crystal in a nutshell.
Billy Saves the Day (2011)
The 83rd annual Academy Awards has already gone down in history as one of the worst telecasts of all time. Between the manic Anne Hathaway and the bored James Franco, nary a single joke fell without a deafening thud. But when Crystal took the stage in a surprise appearance, he reminded the audience what good Oscars shows were like. This short clip is a major reason why he's back for 2012. Why mess with success?
The 84th annual Academy Awards airs live Sunday, February 26th at 7 PM ET on ABC