The best and worst monologues and speeches from the Oscars
With the Oscars just days away, many will have made their picks for the main categories.
Now thoughts turn to how the night itself is going to go.
There is a small mountain of expectation on host Neil Patrick Harris' shoulders.
His opening monologue will be key to how the rest of the evening goes. Given his talent at such things for the Tony Awards, anything less than stellar for the predicted song-and-dance number could be seen as a fail. The real shock would be if he drops the warbling and hoofing in favour of a music-free monologue.
Could he beat his own benchmark of this opening number for the 2013 Tony Awards?
Now, things don't always go well at the Oscars. It can be a tough crowd. The audience can be so po-faced that the theatre full of stars is where great lines go to die...silently.
Then again, there have been some utterly rotten moments. (Yes, you James Franco!!)
Here are some of the best and worst opening monologues and speeches at the Oscars in past years.
THE BEST MONOLOGUES
Steve Martin and Alec Baldwin, 2010
The last time they tried multiple hosts was in 1987 when a Chevy Chase, Goldie Hawn and Paul Hogan combination (sounds bad, was bad) set the Academy on the solo host path for 23 years.
Martin and Baldwin, both veterans of Saturday Night Live, had a light bickering banter and played well off each other. Of course, the following year, Anne Hathaway and James Franco made multiple hosts a terrible idea again.
If not Martin's "It's that Damn Helen Mirren" then the duo's scowl-off with George Clooney:
Ellen Degeneres, 2014
DeGeneres was a swift return, having hosted in 2007. This was a masterclass in showing gentle humour does not mean lame.
Sadly, the selfie to end all selfies was not part of the monologue so we'll just have to plump for: "I have to say that is one of the best Liza Minelli impersonators I have ever seen in my life. Really...Good job, sir." This was of course, to the real Liza Minelli.
Hugh Jackman, 2009
First-time host Jackman nailed his stint by unleashing his song and dance persona on Hollywood and dazzled in a piece of schtick based on budget cuts.
A brilliant sequence of "handmade" sets and goofy lyrics (helped by Community's Dan Harmon and Rob Schrab) it was a lusty return to the idea of films being great instead of some wise-cracking host out to keep egos in check. That said, beyond the opener, the "everything is wonderful" nature soon started to grate.
THE WORST MONOLOGUES
Anne Hathaway and James Franco, 2011.
So one year, the Academy thought, let's get some of those youngsters we hear so much about. Something for the under-40s.
So they looked for youth and for 3 hours and 15 minutes, the world looked on, horrified as Anne Hathaway tried to escape the charisma vacuum that is James Franco.
It didn't even start well and one suspects Franco went off the reservation early. There's nothing wrong with a healthy disdain for the whole prize-giving palaver, but he should have let Hathaway know he wasn't planning on turning up mentally.
THE BEST AND MOST MEMORABLE SPEECHES
In 1994, after winning Best Actor for his performance in Forrest Gump, Tom Hanks gave a very emotional and sincere speech which ended with him telling the world how much he loves his wife.
He'd made a classic speech for the same award the year before talking about "the streets of heaven are too crowded with angels", and outing his school drama teacher, an event which itself became the basis of a film.
Last year, Lupita Nyong'o gave an inspiring speech after winning Best Supporting Actress for her performance in 12 Years a Slave.
Alfred Hitchcock, after receiving two minutes of adulation about his career for the prestigious Irving G Thalberg Memorial Award, comes on and says....five words. Timing, people. You either have it or you're James Franco.
THE WORST SPEECHES
At the 2003 Oscars, Michael Moore won Best Documentary Feature for Bowling For Columbine.
His speech quickly turned into a political rant and garnered jeers from the crowd. It is awkward to watch because, even if you go along with what he is saying, the timing is so off that you know he won't be winning any new converts. The walk-off music could not have come soon enough.
And hey, let's not forget Gwyneth. If you ever feel like your favourite star was short changed in terms of time given for their speech, it's so incidents like Ms Paltrow's can never happen again.
Catch the 87th Academy Awards from 6am (Singapore time) on HBO (StarHub TV Ch 601).