The secret to a great Oscars telecast is not a perfect set of winners or speeches; it's the fabulous Oscar presenters who really carry the whole thing.
Presenting is a thankless task. You're given stale TelePrompter feed to read, and you probably spend more time onstage than most of the sputtering winners. You're doomed to be boring unless you try one of the five methods of Awesome Oscar Presentation we've outlined below. We hope this year's presenters take a hint from these wonderful podium moments.
1. The F. Murray Abraham method: Compliment the hell out of the winner
Here's F. Murray Abraham dramatically presenting Best Actress at the 1986 ceremony. Watch as he drums up excitement with florid descriptions of each nominee and concludes by giving Geraldine Page an unprecedented compliment: “This is the greatest actor in the English language!”
2. The Sophia Loren method: Utter jubilation
Roberto Benigni's hammy theatrics are a bit polarizing, but no one could deny the charisma of Sophia Loren when she read her fellow countryman's name at the mic. The excitement! The celebration! Lead us always, Sophia Loren.
3. The Goldie Hawn, Diane Keaton, and Bette Midler method: Gab with your cool friends through the long list of nominees.
Try reading through a list of Best Original Song nominees sometimes. That's a lot of names! Goldie Hawn, Diane Keaton, and Bette Midler got bored in the middle of the recitation and just joked around about knowing some of the nominees. Barbra? She's an old pal! These ladies need another movie together, STAT.
4. The Robin Williams method: Turn the whole thing into a snappy comedy bit
Not everyone can turn a moment at the podium into a successful monologue, but Robin Williams squeezed four or five jokes into his airtime before delivering an Oscar to Dame Judi Dench. That Lainie Kazan joke is just awesome.
5. The Denzel Washington method: Seriousness, sincerity, and slyly prolonging the agony.
I love how Denzel Washington, here presenting Best Supporting Actress to Whoopi Goldberg, starts by saying he doesn't want to prolong the agony. Then after he reads the nominees, he prolongs the agony. He kept his presentation classy but fun with a dash of suspense, and that's really the Oscar puree we want.