Today, in honor of Sunday's Oscar telecast, we are going to take a look at some of the most memorable opening numbers and musical montages from the Academy Awards over the years, with a special focus, of course, on theatrically-related presentations and performers. The 2012 night of Oscar gold marks the return of frequent host Billy Crystal, so we are sure to be in for some truly terrific movie parodies and unscripted asides to have us rolling in aisles over the course of the hotly anticipated award show's three hours - Hollywood's night of nights. From the infamous Allan Carr-produced show in 1989 to some of the best moments from Crystal, Whoopi Goldberg, Ellen Degeneres, Anne Hathaway and Hugh Jackman, this collection of clips surely has something to please all the movie buffs, Broadway babies and all-around entertainment enthusiasts out there reading this who will be tuning in to the big show this weekend - from 1965 to 2011, we have it all. Plus, after all, how could we possibly miss a night this big? Whether the top winner of the night ends up being THE ARTIST, THE HELP, HUGO or THE DESCENDANTS, Billy Crystal is guaranteed to make the night run as smoothly and enjoyably as possible - and, potentially, much much more (as the following clips clearly show). As for the rest of the night's proceedings? Well, we will have to wait and see what happens!
Also, be sure to check out my special SOUND OFF review of the Oscars on Monday morning, right here on Broadway World.
First up, here is one of the most spectacular sequences in recent Oscar history: the Baz Luhrmann-directed "The Musical Is Back!" musical montage starring Hugh Jackman and Beyonce.
Next, let's go back to just last year and see soon-to-be LES MISERABLES: THE MOVIE MUSICAL co-stars Anne Hathaway and Hugh Jackman featured in this parody of the classic tuner's ballad, "On My Own".
Continuing on the Wolverine theme, witness Hugh Jackman doing what he does best in this sensational opening number from the year he hosted by clicking through to YouTube.
Following that, click through to watch Whoopi Goldberg's Marie Antoinette-themed opening monologue from her most recent hosting of the Hollywood fete-of-fetes.
See what Steve Martin and Alec Baldwin did to make their mark on the emceeing duties in their 2010 Ziegfeld-inspired opening here.
With one of the most unforgettable - and scary/funny - opening montages in recent Oscar history, here is Billy Crystal in Hannibal Lector mode - complete with mask and gurney - at the 64th Academy Awards in 1992, where SILENCE OF THE LAMBS took the top 5 prizes of the night.
Twelve years later, here is Crystal's guffaw-inducing 2004 opening.
Here we have Ellen Degeneres hosting the 79th annual Oscar show, with the entire indescribably amusing opening montage included.
Going back more than twenty years, here is the opening monologue from the 1990 Oscars, hosted by Billy Crystal.
The year before that, the Academy Awards showcased one of the snazziest musical production numbers to date, "I Wanna Be An Oscar Winner", introduced by Bob Hope and Lucille Ball here. While nothing will ever beat the over-the-top camp of the opening number from that year's Allan Carr-produced show (Crystal even references the Snow White debacle in the 1990 clip above), this comes pretty close.
With perhaps the best clip of this entire bunch, here we have Angela Lansbury blowing the roof of the theater with this absolutely jaw-dropping performance of "Thoroughly Modern Millie" from the 1968 Oscar telecast. Leave it to a big Broadway star to show everyone how it's really done!
Speaking of Broadway's best leading ladies, here we have Academy Award-winning actress Julie Andrews presenting a montage of the best musical numbers up until 2003, in honor of the annual presentation's 75th year.
As the first of our bonuses, sample this newsreel footage of the 1965 Academy Awards to see the sights, sounds and stars as they were nearly fifty years ago. THE SOUND OF MUSIC was the night's big winner, of course.
As a last, special bonus, check out this spine-tingling performance by recently deceased pop superstar Whitney Houston alongside pop/R&B diva Mariah Carey performing the Oscar-winning "When You Believe" from THE PRINCE OF EGYPT live, an anthem penned by WICKED and GODSPELL composer/lyricist Stephen Schwartz.
So, what movie are you rooting for most this Oscar season? Will Billy Crystal live up to his past appearances as best-of-the-best Oscar host and knock our socks off yet again? What fabulous production numbers do we have to look forward to this year that may match some of the above? And, most of all, who will take home Oscar gold? Tune in on Sunday to see! See you back here on Monday!