What Happens When Ellen Does Her Thing: 2014 Oscars
I like Ellen DeGeneres. I like her talk show and her humor, even though it’s a little safe and definitely not risqué. But what I enjoyed about her hosting the Oscars is that she’s just as big a deal as any of the celebrities in attendance. She’s not in movies, but as we found out during the show, she’s definitely got the clout to get Brad Pitt out of his chair to pass out napkins and plates. It wasn’t perfect, but in the end Ellen did her thing.
I kept up on Twitter throughout the night, reading gut reactions as they were happening and found it disgusting. There were some online personalities I respect (not as much now) dishing out insults at Ellen’s pizza bit or the celebrity selfie ushered by Ellen and Ms. Oscar herself, Meryl Streep. I don’t know what it is and who these people think they are, but the Oscars are supposed to be a celebration of the best films of the year. As I was looking at my Twitter feed I felt like I was reading reactions to the worst films of the year. I can’t imagine what the Twitter feed for the Razzies would look like.
Pizza, Pharell and a Selfie
The Oscars is a classy event, but I think Ellen did a good job of loosening up the occasion, with the aforementioned ordering of pizza and the celebrity selfie. It did look like Ellen was a little bit obsessed with Twitter, but I thought it was a brilliant way to get the fellow nominees involved. It was also great to see someone like Meryl Streep so fascinated by not only the selfie, but also Pharrell’s performance of “Happy.” It’s much better than what Seth MacFarlane trotted out last year. It was a more pleasant telecast, even if certain things were a bit off.
Some of the bad things involve John Travolta introducing Idina Menzel (he butchered it), Bette Midler’s rendition of “Wind Beneath My Wings” and how long the telecast overran. These are things that could have been avoided, at least two out of the three. You could easily fill in someone else for the aging Travolta and Midler’s performance felt like too much following the “In Memoriam” segment, plus it wasn’t especially good. Running the show too long wasn’t the worst thing, but the other two things were pretty bad.
There were so many great things about the telecast and the year in film as a whole. Lupita Nyong’o winning Best Supporting Actress in her film debut is remarkable, especially her acceptance speech: “No matter where you’re from, your dreams are valid.” Enough said. I also loved Bill Murray’s tribute to Harold Ramis. I thought it was off-script in the best way. It’s something the Oscars aren’t necessarily keen to. Cate Blanchett’s speech for her win for Best Actress resonated with me; with it focusing on the fact that leading women are box office worthy while also noting “the world is round people.” There were some great speeches (Matthew McConaughey), some singing speeches (Darlene Love) and history being made (the selfie broke the record for the most retweets ever). The catalyst for all of this is Ellen DeGeneres by the way.
Finally, I was pleased to see 12 Years A Slave win for Best Picture. It was by far the best film of the year, and one I plan on revisiting, as soon it’s available for purchase. It’s fantastic that in a year where films like Slave and Dallas Buyers Club, with important subject matter, get recognized with wins, but it’s also great to see the exuberance of one of the catchiest songs going (“Happy”) and how it infects an audience as well as seeing beautiful and talented people celebrate their craft. In my opinion, it’s the best award show, with so much talent and passion inside that building every year and it’s so great to experience the stories being told through the work and the speeches, and it’s just great seeing pretty people being pretty.
All of this is thanks to Ellen, someone who set the tone early and kept it classy but goofy all at the same time. I hope she comes back next year.