For the third time in her career, Ellen DeGeneres was asked to host a Hollywood awards ceremony after a tragedy — this time the tragedy being Seth MacFarlane’s Hollywood-savaging Oscars hosting of a year ago. Ellen hosted the twice-delayed Emmy Awards after the September 2001 terrorist attacks and, four years later, after Hurricane Katrina. Tonight she hosted the first Academy Awards since MacFarlane opened the Oscars with “We Saw Your Boobs” and followed it up with a crack about John Wilkes Booth (rather than nominee Daniel Day-Lewis) being the actor who best got into President Lincoln’s head.
“For those of you watching us around the world, it’s been a tough couple of days for us. It has been raining. We’re fine – thank you for your prayers,” DeGeneres joked as she opened tonight’s ABC broadcast — a nod to her deft hosting of the aforementioned Emmy broadcasts, including that twice-postponed ’01 Emmys, which she’d opened with the observation: “What would bother the Taliban more than seeing a gay woman in a suit surrounded by Jews” to gales of laughter.
Related: OSCARS: Deadline’s Live Blog
When tonight’s disjointed show finally ended, a minute or two into Monday morning for about a third of the country’s TV viewers who live on the East Coast, DeGeneres had reminded us she’s likeable as all get out, but her improvised bits did not work so well – Amy Poehler and Tina Fey did it much better at the Golden Globes. She’d called Liza Minnelli “sir”, complimented “him” on his great Liza Minnelli impersonation; shamed Harvey Weinstein into putting $200 bucks into Pharrell’s hat, which she was passing around to collect money to pay for the product-placement pizza she ordered for the A-listers in the front rows; pocketed and used best supporting actress winner Lupita Nyong’o’s pizza-collection contribution (a lip gloss); and maybe crashed Twitter shortly after piling about a dozen celebrities into one selfie during the broadcast in an attempt to break the record for most re-tweets (it was pushing 2 million by the time the trophy show was over, causing the Motion Picture Academy to apologize for contributing to the Twitter traffic jam).
Heroes in Hollywood was this year’s theme. “We need heroes now more than ever,” DeGeneres said during the broadcast. “People in the world are going through hard times, and movies offer us an escape. Movies inspires us. I’m not saying that movies are the most important thing in the world ’cause we all know the most important thing in the world is youth,” she snarked, in the first of her costume changes — in a sort of barrister suit minus the wig, which inspired MSNBC show host Ronan Farrow to tweet: “Tomorrow on Ronan Farrow Daily: exclusive interview with Ellen DeGeneres’s cravat.”
Deadline followers on various social-media sites had wildly different opinions about the show. “Death” said one succinct criticism; others cut DeGeneres some slack because they like her a lot; one Twitter user was “completely unimpressed” and asked if Ricky Gervais was available for next year.
As with the Golden Globes, some awards did not get handed out at the Oscars tonight, but let’s remedy that right now:
* Best Guerrilla Upstaging Of A Multimillion-Dollar Product Placement Campaign By Oscar Sponsor Samsung (touting its new Galaxy S5): Lupita’s lip balm which, which, according to Twitter chatter, is Clarins.
* Best Brain Freeze: John Travolta introducing Frozen’s “Let It Go” singer and Broadway’s Wicked star Idina Menzel as “the Wickedly talented Adela Dazeem.” Within minutes a Twitter account had been created for Adela Dazeem which as of posting had 11,000 followers and counting, and was trending.
* Best Acceptance Speech Demonstrating Why Actors Need Directors: Matthew McConaughey’s shout-out to God and himself-in-10-years during his acceptance speech for the Best Actor win.
* Most Revelatory Moment About Celebrity Psychology That We Knew All Along But It’s Nice To Have It Confirmed: Kevin Spacey photobombing Ellen’s selfie with Meryl Streep and other invited A-listers. “My photobombing gets better and better,” Spacey bragged on Twitter. (Spacey seemed like a drunk high schooler crashing a wedding at the Oscars; he got more screen time than any of the night’s nominees, and then showed up on Jimmy Kimmel’s post-Oscar show and took another selfie of himself and Kimmel to see if he could beat Ellen’s re-tweet tally).
* Best Spontaneous Expression Of Joy That Starts Well And Ends Badly: 20 Feet From Stardom cast member Darlene Love bursting out into song that goes on just long enough off key to demonstrate why she’s a backup singer not a headliner.
* Best Thank You That Comes Off As Note To HR Personnel File: The Great Gatsby costumer Catherine Martin thanking Ian Gracie, supervision art director, with, “you rock and you swear a lot.”