The Oscar Ceremonies of Leap Days Past

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Billy Crystal has hosted several Oscar ceremonies.
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Billy Crystal has hosted several Oscar ceremonies.

The last Oscar award show held on Leap Year was eerily similar to this year's ceremony. Back in 2004, Billy Crystal hosted the 76th Academy Awards on February 29, making it the first Oscars ceremony held on Leap Day since the 12th Academy Awards of 1940.

Just like this year, the 76th Awards show featured Crystal being digitally inserted into movies - he found the magic ring from "The Lord of the Rings" in a Cracker Jacks box; set sail with Johnny Depp's character Captain Jack; and got naked in front of "Something's Gotta Give Star" Jack Nicholson. Like he did in this year's "Midnight in Paris" spoof with Justin Bieber, he resurrected his old Sammy Davis Jr. blackface routine for a "Seabiscuit" skit.

There was even a "What are the stars thinking about?" segment back in 2004. Billy tried that shtick again this year, but he got their thoughts all wrong. Here's that the stars were really thinking: "I've got the strangest feeling of déjà vu." At least Billy didn't look like he's aged a day since 2004.

So who won big on Leap Day 2004? "Lord of the Rings: Return of the King" basically won Best Picture for the whole trilogy of fantasy films. A lot of people were wondering if the final Harry Potter movie would pull of something similar this year, but it didn't even snag a nomination.

Many of the stars that won Oscars eight years ago seemed to be absent from the 2012 ceremony. Sean Penn and Tim Robbins took home awards for Best Actor and Best Supporting Actor for their roles in the drama "Mystic River," while Charlize Theron uglied herself up to win Best Actress for playing a serial killer in "Monster." Renee Zellweger took home a little gold man for "Cold Mountain," but her career has seemingly cooled off since then.

But who won big at the only other Academy Awards show held on Leap Year? In 2012 Best Picture might have gone to "The Artist," a black and white silent movie, but back in 1940, everyone was marveling at the majesty of Technicolor masterpiece "Gone with the Wind." It beat out "The Wizard of Oz" to snag the Outstanding Production award (the same thing as Best Picture), and Vivien Leigh won Best Actress for her role as Scarlett O'Hara. However, the most memorable moment from that Leap Day ceremony hosted by Bob Hope has to be Hattie McDaniel becoming the first African-American performer to win an Academy Award for her role as Mammy - surely she'd be proud of "The Help" star Octavia Spencer winning the same Best Supporting Actress award this year.

The next Academy Awards ceremony that could potentially take place on Leap Day wouldn't be until 2032, so there's no telling which stars would be in attendance on that day - by then Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes' daughter Suri could be competing with Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt's daughter Shiloh and one of Jennifer Garner and Ben Affleck's daughters for Best Actress, and the ceremony could be hosted by Crystal's head in a jar (by then let's hope that there's no blackface).

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