I like Ellen DeGeneres. I do. She has a nice, innocuous presence on television and when her deadpan jokes work, they really work. I thought her opening routine last night was funny-ish, safe, not offensive – the opposite of last year’s debacle. But then a host’s job really begins, as Billy Crystal explains in his book. It’s a loooong evening and the show inevitably sags in the middle during all the technical awards, so a host needs to jump in during the breaks in the action and respond to whatever’s going on. Sadly, DeGeneres’s reliance on pizza delivery didn’t cut it. Not even a little bit amusing. The selfie with all those A-listers was cute, but enough with all the stuff about Twitter. I mean, don’t the movies matter? Isn’t that why everybody was there? To celebrate Hollywood, not social media?
(Oh, I must digress to say that my Oscar dinner was delicious. I’m still drooling over the short ribs and mashed potatoes.)
Back to the show….Well, first the dresses. Absolutely gorgeous were Cate Blanchett, Charlize Theron, Lupita Nyong’o, Jennifer Lawrence, Amy Adams and Naomi Watts. Pure goddesses. On my not-so-gorgeous list were Anna Kendrick (too much going on), Angelina Jolie (she can never look bad, but the dress was too matronly), Anne Hathaway (didn’t love all those thingies on top), Jennifer Garner (her dress looked like a chandelier) and Julia Roberts (too lacy-dowdy). Loved Bette Midler’s singing live. Didn’t love poor Kim Novak, Liza Minnelli and Goldie Hawn, whose plastic surgery fails made me wince. Very sad to see how frail Sidney Portier has become. I missed George Clooney. I missed Jack Nicholson. I missed Warren Beatty, Jane Fonda, etc. Old Hollywood, in other words.
As for the awards themselves, I had most of them checked off on my Oscar ballot so I was pleased with the results. I was surprised that “American Hustle” was totally shut out, but once “Gravity” started winning all those tech awards, I knew it had the momentum for director Alfonso Cuaron. And I also knew that “12 Years a Slave” would take the top prizes. Just meant to be and deservedly so. Matthew McConaughey, Jared Leto and Cate Blanchett were locks for their awards, but I loved all their acceptance speeches too, although Cate needs to learn the meaning of the word “exacerbate.”
Lots of good movies last year should have made for a livelier show, but I can’t wait to see what rolls into theaters in 2014.