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'Saturday Night Live' best host poll: And the winner is...

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Saturday Night Live turns 40 years old next year. The big 4-0. What does that mean, exactly? Well, to put it in perspective, that means 11 of the 21 people who hosted during SNL‘s 39th season were not even alive when the show premiered on Oct. 11, 1975 with George Carlin as host. The show has evolved slightly from one cast to the next. But at its core, it’s still the same format that Lorne Michaels and his irreverent crew established way back when, though the first few seasons relied on such a small circle of guest hosts that Buck Henry became the inaugural member of the Five-Timers Club before the end of season 3.

It would be interesting to go back to the very beginning and award a Mr. Saturday Night to the best host for every season of SNL. Elliott Gould might take the prize in season 1 for performing double duty, and perhaps Steve Martin wins in season 2 for the same feat. But who deserves the honor for season 3: Martin again, for hosting a record three times, or a tongue-in-cheek nod to Chevy Chase, who brawled with Bill Murray on his first time back after leaving the show?

At least we know who have been the best hosts of the last three years. In 2012, EW.com readers crowned the first Mr. Saturday Night, Jimmy Fallon. Last year, Justin Timberlake ran away with the trophy. This year, the two title-holders teamed up for one super-size Christmas spectacular with Fallon as host and Timberlake as musical guest. But still, Fallon has hardly been a cinch, rising and dropping in the weekly polls that eliminated one host at a time until we were left with six finalists. His former Weekend Update co-anchor Tina Fey is back in the game, and Catching Fire‘s Josh Hutcherson is the surprise dark-horse who remains in striking distance. Might he surprise everyone and accomplish what even Jennifer Lawrence could not last year — win Mr. Saturday Night?

Before we announce the victor of this year’s contest, though, there are six other non-democratic awards to present. READ FULL STORY

'Saturday Night Live' poll: Who was the best host of the year? -- VOTE

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Early during this season of Saturday Night Live, Alec Baldwin interrupted first-time host Edward Norton to share some pointers on how to host the legendary show, a late-night institution in its 39th season. “It’s a three-wheeled bus careening towards a blown-out bridge,” he said, describing the delirious mayhem that can either terrify or thrill a novice. It’s not easy in the slightest, and honor to those who make it look so.

For the third straight year, Entertainment Weekly has asked its online readers to vote for the best Saturday Night Live host each week. And every week, we eliminated one guest host, until we were left with six of the season’s finest. Last year’s Mr. Saturday Night Justin Timberlake didn’t return this past season to defend his crown. Instead, he lent his unofficial support to BFF and fellow Mr. Saturday Night Jimmy Fallon as his musical guest and all-around secret weapon. (He even sent Fallon’s rival, his old digital-short pal Andy Samberg, a very public show of non-support.) But this final vote promises to be extremely close, with only six percentage points separating the last week’s top-3 vote-getters: Fallon, Josh Hutcherson, and Anna Kendrick. To that mix, add Samberg, who is going to be fresh in everyone’s minds, and Tina Fey, an all-timer who was granted a second chance. Hoping to make up ground is first-timer Andrew Garfield. While Timberlake won last year with nearly 50 percent of the vote, it’s entirely possible that this year’s winner takes the prize with under 30 percent. READ FULL STORY

'The Hunger Games: Mockingjay' cast takes a trip to Cannes -- PHOTOS

Filming a dystopian survival story is no picnic. So the cast of The Hunger Games: Mockingjay took a little vacay from shooting in Paris to get in some sun — and photo ops — at the Cannes Film Festival on Saturday.

Stars Jennifer Lawrence, Liam Hemsworth, Josh Hutcherson, Sam Claflin, Julianne Moore, Donald Sutherland, and director Francis Lawrence shed the somber battle gear for some beachside glamour. Take a look: READ FULL STORY

'Saturday Night Live' host poll: Did Charlize Theron's show sing? -- VOTE

Charlize Theron can’t sing — but that really is about the only thing she can’t do better than you. She’s beautiful, of course, has an Oscar, and has proven on Between Two Ferns and Arrested Development to be extremely funny as well. Her return to Saturday Night Live for the first time since 2000 — she was promoting The Legend of Bagger Vance then — is pegged to A Million Ways to Die in the West, her comic western with Seth MacFarlane; Hmmm, so maybe the only thing she can’t do well is believably watch Will Smith caddy for Matt Damon.

Saturday was a mixture of high and lows, as most SNLs are. Still, Theron had some fine moments that should make for an interesting vote in this week’s Mr. Saturday Night poll. With only one week to go in the season, our contest is truly wide open. Andrew Garfield made a splash last week and holds a commanding lead in the voting with 39.5 percent. That’s a solid but not spectacular debut showing, and it will be interesting to see if the Spider-Man star can hold those numbers. Jimmy Fallon was rock steady again with 22.3 percent, and he might be poised to move up again if anyone falters. Anna Kendrick had been in first place but her support was slashed in half, from 33.9 to 16.9 percent. Ditto for Josh Hutcherson, whose week-to-week numbers have been like a yo-yo; he sank to fourth place with 15.7 percent. Louis C.K. was eliminated with only 5.6 percent. READ FULL STORY

'Saturday Night Live' host poll: Was Andrew Garfield an 'SNL' superhero?

Andrew Garfield had a pretty great weekend. His Spider-Man sequel grossed more than $92 million and he delivered a promising debut as host of Saturday Night Live. Credit the writers or his celebrity helpers — who included girlfriend Emma Stone, Jack Bauer, and Chris Martin — if you must, but Garfield more than held his own. He was bold, imitating his Social Network adversary and SNL all-star Justin Timberlake during a “Celebrity Family Feud” sketch; he was a brilliant man-on-the-run in a fake trailer for The Beygency; and he even had some fun anti-kissing his real-life girlfriend in a Spider-Man sketch. Combine that with some very funny Weekend Update bits — bravo Leslie Jones! — a great twist on Oliver, and a decent cold open about disgraced basketball owner Donald Sterling, and you get what I thought was one of the finest episodes SNL has had all season.

But in our third annual Mr. Saturday Night contest, my vote counts as much as yours — and the competition is tight. The most recent host before Garfield, Seth Rogen, landed with a thud, garnering only 3 percent of the vote and a quick elimination. Anna Kendrick retained her lead, but just barely, with 33.9 percent. Apparently, Josh Hutcherson‘s fans came back from spring break to vote, as his support more than tripled, from 10 percent to 33.8 percent. Jimmy Fallon held steady with 22 percent, but he’s not necessarily the one to beat anymore, despite his status as a former champion. Louis C.K. finished fourth again, with only 7.3 percent, and he’ll be tested to hold off Garfield this week. READ FULL STORY

'Saturday Night Live' best host poll: Did Seth Rogen play it too safe? -- VOTE

Perhaps Seth Rogen’s latest Saturday Night Live episode wasn’t especially inspired: it opened with the requisite weed jokes, made fun of his oft-imitated laugh, and leaned on some unnecessary celebrity cameos. But if you love Rogen’s slacker comedy, maybe that was exactly what you tuned in for. At least he didn’t tap dance or juggle torches to prove that he’s not just a funny guy.

Voters in our ongoing third annual Mr. Saturday Night contest will have to decide whether Rogen played it too safe for a guy who was hosting for the third time, or if he delivered exactly what the audience wanted.

Last week’s host, Anna Kendrick, sang her way to the top of the poll, scoring 47.8 percent, nearly twice as much as her nearest competitor, Jimmy Fallon, who looks slightly vulnerable for the first time with 24.8 percent. But who knows if Kendrick’s impressive debut will last: Louis C.K. scored 33.1 percent in his first week, but he sank to fourth in his second frame, with only 8.72 percent. Some of Josh Hutcherson‘s fans took the week off, apparently, as he went from 22.9 to 10.0 percent, still enough to hold third place. Sadly, Melissa McCarthy‘s luck finally ran out after narrowly skirting elimination for three straight weeks; she barely trailed Louis C.K. with 8.70 percent. READ FULL STORY

'Saturday Night Live' best host poll: Unvarnished Louis C.K., pure and simple -- VOTE

A lot of guest hosts use Saturday Night Live as a platform to showcase hidden talents, like action stars who also sing, or actors who can do backflips. Good for them, but sometimes it’s nice to see the host stick to what he does best. Perhaps, that’s why I appreciate Louis C.K.’s stints on SNL so much. His monologues are straight-up versions of his stand-up — like George Carlin used to do — and even his sketches make use of the Louie character he’s cultivated on TV. If you like Louis, chances are you enjoyed the most recent SNL. If his brand of humor leaves you cold, well, maybe it was a long night.

Louis is the latest host to take a shot at Jimmy Fallon, who has an enormous (insurmountable?) lead in our most recent Mr. Saturday Night poll. In fact, Fallon’s support jumped 13 points after Lena Dunham‘s SNL debut, a polarizing episode that left the Girls star in a disappointing third place. The Josh Hutcherson grass-roots campaign continues to thrive, as the Catching Fire player held steady in second place. Melissa McCarthy finished in fourth again, but she’ll be hard-pressed to fight off elimination two weeks in a row.  READ FULL STORY

'Saturday Night Live' best host poll: Lena Dunham makes naked ploy for laughs -- VOTE

Lena Dunham’s Saturday Night Live had something for everyone — even her 94-year-old grandmother. There was pixilated nudity, Bible stories, Jon Hamm and Liam Neeson cameos, an obnoxious GPS that didn’t like Dunham’s singing voice, and Liza Minnelli impressions. At the end, Dunham said she wanted to french-kiss the audience, a Benigni-esque declaration of emotion that I don’t doubt for a moment. (After all, her granny was practically a third-base coach back in the day.)

The Girls star wasn’t fazed in the slightest by hosting the show, which isn’t much of a surprise — Dunham doesn’t seem like a shrinking violet. Even skits that didn’t completely work belonged to her. That is, she came with a plan, and/or the writers recognized and appreciated her voice and sense of humor and made an effort to use them. Hit or miss, I so prefer this type of Saturday Night Live sketch to the ones that have little or nothing to do with the host.

Since Dunham’s fame is still rather polarizing, it will be interesting to see how she fares in our best-host poll. Jimmy Fallon might be invincible, but his biggest challenger is shaping up to be a surprise. Jim Parsons debuted in second place with a shaky 22.9 percent of the vote, but it’s Josh Hutcherson, who finished a close third, who is becoming Fallon’s biggest threat. His support nearly doubled, and there seems to be a bloc of voters determined to win him the prize. Melissa McCarthy, who still might rally to chase Fallon, finished a strong fourth, but she’s in danger now of following Drake off the elimination plank. READ FULL STORY

'Saturday Night Live' best host poll: Does Jim Parsons make the cut? -- VOTE

After a month-long vacation due to the Winter Olympics, Saturday Night Live returned this weekend with Jim Parsons making his first official trip to Rockefeller Center’s Studio 8H. It was the first episode since the fall of 2001 that didn’t include Seth Meyers, who started on Late Night last week, and Parsons shared the spotlight with Colin Jost, the show’s head writer, who now co-anchors “Weekend Update” with Cecily Strong.

That month-long hiatus may have helped Parsons, who had the competitive misfortune of following Melissa McCarthy, one of the show’s go-to hosts since breaking out in 2011’s Bridesmaids. A month later, her most recent appearance had faded from memory a tad, allowing Parsons to do his own thing without the bar being too high. In general, Parsons didn’t exactly try to shatter the public’s perception of him — which is, essentially, that he and his Big Bang Theory character Sheldon are one and the same.

It will be interesting to see if voters in our best-host poll will conclude that Parsons played it relatively too safe. He enters a contest that handicappers would describe as a two-horse race: Fallon versus McCarthy. The pair went down to the wire two years ago, when Fallon was elected the inaugural Mr. Saturday Night, and this year, another photo finish might be in the works. McCarthy currently leads after a solid debut, with 48.2 percent. Fallon held steady, with 24.9 percent, and will certainly close the gap as McCarthy comes back to the pack. Josh Hutcherson, like Peeta in The Hunger Games, just keeps hanging around, jumping up to third place with 12.8 percent. Drake was a close fourth with 11.7 percent, but is now on the brink of elimination. Jonah Hill might have two Oscar nominations, but he was quickly dismissed with only 2 percent of the vote.

READ FULL STORY

'Saturday Night Live' best host poll: Can Melissa McCarthy crash the boys' club? -- VOTE

Melissa McCarthy is on a roll. Not only did she star in two of last year’s biggest comedies, but she’s also hosted Saturday Night Live in each of the last three seasons — the only performer to achieve that feat in that span. This past weekend, she didn’t even have a project to plug — a detail that became a funny gag in her opening monologue — but she’s one of those guests who clearly loves the show’s comedy environment. In fact, no one throws him or herself into characters more than McCarthy, who craves physical comedy perhaps more than any female comedian since Molly Shannon.

McCarthy had to share the limelight on Saturday, what with Seth Meyers’ touching farewell, but she delivered some great moments, including the return of aggressive coach-turned-congresswoman Sheila Kelly. It seems certain that she’ll be a major contender for Mr. Saturday Night after finishing second in the past two years, and she enters a race that is wide open. Jimmy Fallon holds a narrow lead, with 26.5 percent, while Drake slipped from first to a close second, with 24.3 percent. Josh Hutcherson saw his support nearly double from last week, and his fans have him right near the top, with 21.4 percent. Jonah Hill had a disappointing debut, with only 17.9 percent, but that was enough to eliminate Kerry Washington.

A quick rundown on our objective: To identify the funniest, most memorable SNL host, the person who best fit in with the cast and put on a performance that you, your mom, and your co-worker were all chuckling about on Sunday afternoon. It’s subjective, of course, but let’s reward the guest hosts who brought something special to the table. My own personal bottom line: Do you want to see this host back on the show next season?

So far, Bruce Willis, Miley Cyrus, Edward Norton, Lady Gaga, Tina Fey (Blerg), John Goodman, Paul Rudd, and Kerry Washington have been eliminated.

Below, I’ve embedded one representative clip for each of the five hosts currently in the race. After the poll closes, the host with the least support will be eliminated, and the surviving four will face off against the next host — still unannounced — on March 1, after the Winter Olympics are finished.

Watch the clips, refresh your memories, and vote. READ FULL STORY

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