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Oscar Welcomes Back Billy Crystal, "Hugo" Takes Early Lead

Crystal kills in opening, "Hugo" takes early lead

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    NEWSLETTERS

    AFP/Getty Images
    Billy Crystal knocked 'em dead during the opening of the 84th Annual Academy Awards.

    Billy Crystal didn't disappoint as host of the Academy Awards, opening the show with a montage that put him in the action from more than a dozen of the evening’s nominees.

    It started as a silent black-and-white clip, a la “The Artist,” with Crystal screaming, via title cards, “I won’t host! I wont do it I tell ya! ... Although my movie 'Parental Guidance' does come out in November.”

    "Hugo"

    [NATL] "Hugo"
    From his home inside the walls of `the Paris subway, the orphaned son of a robot builder tries to unlock the mystery of how a strange girl came to own the key that operates his father's greatest creation. Directed by Martin Scorsese and based on Brian Selznick's "The Invention of Hugo Cabret," it opens Nov. 23. (Published Thursday, Feb 7, 2013)

    Crystal subsequently found himself in “The Descendants” receiving a deathbed kiss from George Clooney; telling the scouts from “Moneyball,” “The problem is, I don’t have enough jokes!”; and telling Minny from “The Help,” “It's like there’s a little piece of you in every bite (of pie)!”

    There was also one of Crystal's patented medleys that gave a shout-out to the Best Picture nominees, and the monologue that followed ended with one of his best lines.

    Crystal was called in to host the Oscars in November, replacing Eddie Murphy. Hope swere high thaty the eight-time host would rescue the ceremony after a rocky performance by James Franco and Anne Hathaway last year.

    As the show started, things looked good.
    “So tonight, enjoy yourself, 'cause nothing can take the sting out of the world’s economic problems like watching millionaires give each other awards,” Crystal said.

    Martin Scorsese’s “Hugo” jumped out to an early lead, picking up wins for Cinematography (Robert Richardson) and Art Direction (Dante Frichetti for production design, and Francesca Lo Schiavo for set decoration). And everyone’s Best Picture favorite, “The Artist,” picked up the statue for Best Costume Design (Mark Bridges). The award for “Best Makeup went to “The Iron Lady” (Mark Coulier and J. Roy Helland);

    Crystal last hosted the Oscars 2004. Since then, the show was hosted by the likes of Chris Rock, Ellen DeGeneres and Jon Stewart, before bottoming out with the not-so-dynamic duo of Hathaway and Franco. The way was cleared for Crystal's return when Eddie Murphy backed out in the wake of his “Tower Heist” director, Brett Ratner, stepping down amid furor over his use of an anti-gay slur. Crystal was really in a no-lose situation.