Hosted: twice (2000, 2002), three times if you include the 2009 co-hosting gig with Alec Baldwin
Martin looks like the perfect host. He has the silver hair. He’s sharp in a tux and good-looking, but not distractingly so (look out, Jackman). He’s quick with a comeback. And, Lord knows, he’s smart. But there’s a cold remove to him; it has always seemed like a lot of work to get those eyes of his to twinkle. His first year on duty was pre-Sept. 11, back when a break with Billy Crystal seemed like a break with tradition. On the upside, irony was still kosher, and Martin rallied to do a perfectly decent job (“I wanted to wear my swan tonight, but to me they’re so ‘last year,’” he joked about Bjork’s infamous outfit). Then when he came back for the 2002 awards in early 2003, irony was dead, the United States was about to shock and awe Iraq, and the entire country was tentative about everything, including whether or not it was OK to have a party. Ratings were as low as they’ve ever been and, by association, Martin took the blame. He didn't return until 2009, and even then it was as co-host, unless you count his appearance in that 2005 opening montage of Jon Stewart’s, where Martin declined the invitation to return in favor of spending more time with his “kids” (a pair of blow-up dolls). Love that he can joke about his own weirdness, but there’s the crux of the problem; the Oscars are a mainstream beast and Martin is not and never will be, no matter how many Father of the Bride sequels he makes.
Overall impression: The wrong bedfellow, the wrong time.