One year removed from the Seth MacFarlane travesty, when every joke the “Family Guy” creator made sounded like an intentional insult to the actors and filmmakers in the audience, Ellen Degeneres returned to save the awards show. The daytime talk show host made the Oscars light and fun again. The show went way long and wasn’t perfect, but awards shows never are. There were more than plenty of great moments from the Oscars on Sunday, each uniquely delivered in different forms. First, Twitter.
Meryl Streep’s first tweet
The Academy rewards animated and documentary shorts during the program, but Ellen may have created the best “short” the world could ask for — “Breaking Twitter,” we’ll call it. This segment became greater on every level that raised the stakes. Ellen only set out to take a selfie with Meryl Streep, which she later admitted was her first tweet, to try to set the Twitter record for retweets, but oodles of star power filled the frame. Scripted or not, J-Law, Leto, Spacey, Cooper, Brangelina, Runaway Bride, Nyong’o and brother gathered. This picture is the kind of substance viewers at home dream about, immediately thinking, “I need to see that photo.” The fact that you could immediately find it on Twitter only validated how great of a moment it was. It’s the most live moment in Oscars history, down to the instant email, Twitter to Ellen, telling her that she, in fact, broke the website.
Ellen’s build up on J-Law falling
A clever take on Meryl’s legend: “One of the nominees is Her, and by Her I mean Meryl Streep. She has been nominated for an Oscar a total of 18 times. It sounds good, but if you do the math between dresses, hair and makeup, that’s hundreds of thousands of dollars. Simply put, Meryl cannot afford to be nominated again.”
Jared Leto’s storytelling
The speeches that the sound editors, production designers, cinematographers, etc. get on stage and give are boring. They’re merely a list of names of people to thank. A long list of people we don’t know. I get it. You have to write your thank you notes, but I favor the speeches that tell a story and make a statement. Leto’s speech does that in so many ways, from his beautiful tribute to his mother, to his acknowledgement of what his work means to people. He pin points the purpose of “Dallas Buyers Club,” like director Steve McQueen does later in his speech.
The pizza party
I love the idea that Brad Pitt is the first guy on his feet to help pass out paper plates to his peers. Then, Julia Roberts is grabbing a slice and Kevin Spacey is taking a box for his section of the party. You’re smarter than me if you guessed that Ellen’s initial segment about everybody being hungry was going to lead to an actual pizza delivery guy on the ground floor. Also, Ellen had the napkins. Anna Kendrick said In-N-Out Burger was at the Vanity Fair after party. Food was everywhere Sunday night.
McConaughey’s well-deserved Best Actor
Did Matthew McConaughey’s speech get weirdly self-centered toward the end? Maybe, but his image of his father is hilarious and nobody’s speech was weirder than Spike Jonze’s. McConaughey’s speech is warm hearted and well intentioned and he was more than deserving to be on stage with that Oscar. His last line, “Whatever it is we look up to, whatever it is we look forward to and whoever it is that we’re chasing, to that I say Amen and to that I say alright, alright, alright,” turned into a hashtag (#AlrightAlrightAlright).
Gravity missing Best Actress and Picture
No picture here. Get it? I had a feeling “Gravity” was finished after taking home Best Director and all of the other behind-the-scenes awards. Frankly, their name was getting annoying. I don’t want to write more than I have to on this topic.
Frozen’s “Let It Go” and acceptance speech
Torn between which video to post, I chose the acceptance speech because Kristen Anderson-Lopez and Robert Lopez are adorable. Their ironic joke about their rock star counterparts hit a home run. Their poetic list worked. Their “Happy Birthday … Let’s do Frozen 2” song made me smile because I want it to happen. Their dedication to their daughters was sweet and inspiring. They’re clever people. It’s no wonder they wrote such an incredible song for an incredible film.
Ellen to Pharrell: “You happy?”
Pharrell didn’t win the Oscar, but entertained. He brought a colorful performance to the stage and danced with Lupita Nyong’o, Meryl Streep, then Amy Adams. There was some serious eye contact between Pharrell and Meryl. Then, Amy showed us some moves different than the ones she let loose on the “American Hustle” dance floor. Did you catch the joke later in the show? Ellen, walking down the isle, sees Pharrell and asks, “You happy?” I laughed out loud.
Steve McQueen hopping on stage
Director Steve McQueen exuded joy on stage, reacting to his Best Picture win for “12 Years a Slave.” His speech was equally as fantastic, with a little humor sprinkled in. He followed up Ben Affleck and “Argo” last year with another poignant speech.
Bill Murray’s nod to Harold Ramis
The comedic genius found a way to honor his close friend and fellow legend, Harold Ramis, alongside beautiful presenting partner Amy Adams. The one mistake was making Amy read the winner. The “American Hustle” star had to be sick of hearing “Gravity” by that point. I was, too, Amy.
Everyone chips in for pizza
“You’re stock just went up. You have some money now, Lupita.” Nyong’o hands Ellen her lip balm: “That’s worth something!” The pizza bit capped Ellen’s excellent night. She delivered her comedy in small doses. She gets a great grade — not Poehler-Fey, but she made the Oscars fun again.