Review: Ellen DeGeneres’ Academy Awards Opening

Ellen Academy Awards
Kevin Winter/Getty Images

Ellen DeGeneres did not sing a song about seeing actresses’ boobs on screen, which, after last year’s Seth MacFarlane skit, represents some sort of progress. Everything else about her opening monologue, however, screamed of a desire to dial the show back to safer terrain — playfully bantering with the nominees and joking about Hollywood foibles, as if Bob Hope or Johnny Carson was in the driver’s seat. Stripped of any pyrotechnics — no song-and-dance number, no film montage — the opening actually worked reasonably well, mostly because it placed the focus on the movies and the stars, which pays off when someone delivers a heartfelt acceptance speech, like best supporting actor winner Jared Leto.

Historically, Oscar hosts get too much credit or blame, given the amount of actual screen time they occupy. Still, choosing an ostensibly risky emcee has been a tried-and-true means of helping promote the show — and, with less success, seeking to attract more elusive demographics.

DeGeneres doesn’t meet those criteria (her audience skews heavily female, as does the Oscars’ profile), but she is good company, and able to deftly deliver a one-liner. And her playful jabs at the expense of June Squibb or Jennifer Lawrence managed to feel fun without being mean-spirited.

Beyond that, the producers made some questionable choices in terms of kick-starting the telecast — beginning with perhaps the night’s least-suspenseful award, best supporting actor, and then shifting to a filmed sequence about animated heroes that, at the very least, should have been saved until the animated-feature category. Fortunately, that was interrupted by Jim Carrey’s impersonation of Bruce Dern.

All told, it sets the tone for a night where whatever happens, DeGeneres won’t be the main reason for the show being perceived as memorable or forgettable, a success or failure. And frankly, that’s the way it should be.

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  1. Gen.ray says:

    FYI The producers do not choose the order of the awards. The order of the awards always starts off every year with either best supporting actor or actress, and they alternate every year.So next year the first award to be won will be best supprting female. As do the presenters, the person who won the year before is next year’s presenter for the opposite sex award- so Next year Cate Blanchett will be presenting best actor .

  2. Jeff Palmer says:

    When you report on the host’s aftermath of a show, which is quintessentially of the content needed to receive the highest ratings. As data analysis concluded that the viewing was the most in 14 years. In a condescending manner conveying to society in an un censored way. It goes from inconsequential reporting between media and society. To a futilely attempt to satisfy a need for a particular behavior from others viewing. To amplify the need for attention of a predisposition of an insecurity of which the reasoning is unknown. Perhaps jealousy of some kind? Or maybe it is a fortitude to the saying ,”what does not kill me will make me stronger.” And you were thinking I see so much potential in Ellen. That if I degrade her performance. Next year if they ask her to host again she will be that much more diligent to her bravado. Enhancing her performance to a superb showing! If so, I applaud you. I digress, for I know parasites…I mean media is the definition of bigotry. Either way, I love the propriety reaction from the majority of the viewers! Next time if you want and need to do this behavior. Not calling out someone who is sincerely a good person. I know you reported this to get the predisposition of human behavior which is relevant in the publicity this article received. It’s a discontent against a cultural morality; which is fiction. Suggesting that one’s opinion will get a reaction and in return you get paid. Disregarding Ellen’s neurobiological reaction which could of hurt her emotionally causing self doubt leading to depression, drugs use. Okay, we all know Ellen is too cloying and confident to even think twice about what this reporter said behind a pen and paper which shows he is inferior.

  3. Cloud 9 says:

    When I read those comments below they make me sick and I get bored!
    1. Some of you say that Ellen was dull and she offended Liza. Liza has a great sense of humor and she wasn’t sad! How about Seth and his “I saw your boobs” song? Wasn’t that inappropriate?
    2. In all interviews with actors who were on the Oscars, they say that it was amazing! They say is the most important that because Ellen was hired to relax them!
    3. If you don’t know Ellen she cares about other people and that’s way she bought pizza.
    4. She played with the audience! She made a history taking a selfie with stars!
    5. You can think that Ellen was terrible but I can bet that she will host Oscars again!

  4. Lucy Fulginiti says:

    you may feel the way you do about Ellen, and that you have been to parties like the ones they hold at the Oscars, but i feel that Ellen did and excellent job…The pizza idea i feel was cool….Ellen brings out the best in people…and just to let you know did you see all the stars grabbing for a piece…Ellen makes you feel right at home…and everybody loves her…she is everybodies friend…I love Ellen she is one good good woman, who cares about people..her last words on her show is BE KIND TO EVERYONE…she is a beautiful beautiful woman…so you cant say anything bad about Ellen….Ellen just to let you know EVERYONE LOVES YOU….

  5. dana cornblath, esq. says:

    That was 2 1/2 hours of my life I can’t get back. Everyone has perfectly articulated the problem with Ellen’s performance. So let me be less eloquent.. She sucked so bad it was painful to watch. With Billy Crystal and Gervais there was more entertainment other than the solo singers. I couldn’t believe the pizza nonsense. I’ve been to these events and the dinner afterwards is a wonderful gourmet catered affair so watching celebrities grab for a slice of pizza was beyond ludicrous. Whoever hired her and reviewed her sketch should be fired…
    ….

  6. Diane B says:

    FOR A HOST FOR NEXT YEAR – HOW ABOUT JAY LENO, JIM CAREY, AND WHOOPIE (ALL 3 TOGETHER) – THAT WOULD BE GREAT, AND A LOT OF FUN!!!

  7. Poppy says:

    Ellen fell flat. The show felt lackluster and common. Her picking on Liza felt cheap. She should’ve picked on someone who deserved it – not an easy target who who was there to honor her Mother, Judy Garland. Cheap shot.

  8. Kim Reed says:

    right on, as always, Brian.

  9. aduprez1@aol.com says:

    what ever happen to the way oscars were during the fifties and sixties, yeah i’am old school,but it was all about the stars and less about the host, the pizza thing was not at all funny.

  10. VON yaitso says:

    Arguably one of the most boring ever.Feeding people is not watchable in the rest of the world. Ellen was bland and witless.The whole show reeked of a pre-fab seudo quality. I`m already tired of the texas surfer 0h-shacks- routine. ( losing weight is always a crowd pleaser ). De Caprio is the REAL actor. Political correctness invaded what should have been a judgment.

  11. Millicent says:

    The Oscars have been boring for years. Let the ceremonies finally die. The winners can be announced in 30 minutes and have their statue mailed to them. The idea that people should be awarded for playing pretend is insane in a world that has so many problems. If Hollywood wants to have that much influence it could try making films without egregious violence, sex and immorality.

    • Edwin Foley says:

      I agree wholeheartedly with you, Millicent. This vapid broadcast is so dated and over-hyped. This mind-numbing idolatry and gross display of excess is simply disgusting in these times.

  12. colig says:

    reviewers need to stop panning Seth’s hosting.he tried to make a boring as shit show at least some fun.ellen did too.overall the a large percent of the show is a big yawn.i DVR it and FF thru most of the tedious shit which includes most of the speeches.besides matthew and lupita who actually said things that meant something instead of rattling off a list of names,most were boring.i mean say something worthwhile,the people involved know they were there,no need to remind them.for the most part awards show suck but there are some moments that stand out.that,s why dvr is great.

    • Nick Hronis says:

      Seth MacFarlane was entertaining and funny. He delivered to the Academy the under-watching young males demo, and is the host that had the largest increase of the viewing audience (by a whopping 12%.) of the last two decades (Ellen only got 6%). He deserves to come back and I hope he does.

  13. WORST HOST. NOT MEMORABLE AT ALL. BORING. BORING. SNORING.

  14. Aaron says:

    I think you’re wrong. The Oscars were the best in a long time and its largely due to Ellen. She was great. I love that she kept it casual and made the celebrities join in and have fun. Also, this praise is coming from a 32 year old MALE.

    • Lynn says:

      I thought it was a snooze fest. Bring back old hollywood chic, edge, humor, bite. Pizza is not nourishment. It’s the lowest common denominator, pandering to simpletons.

  15. Jack says:

    Wonderful night at the Oscars. Jared’s opening was inspired. The winners came prepared and delivered thoughtful and heartwarming messages. 12 Years a Slave well deserved and a great photo finish as best picture with Gravity that hauled away most of the gold. Ellen kept us up all night, she was so endearing and truly gave us a sense of being amongst real people not icons. Totally disarming. Watched the whole show, first time in years! Bravo.

  16. Samantha says:

    This is the first time I did not change channel due to Ellen. She was very warm and witty. McConaughey, whom I adore as an actor just talks too much…Last night and on the Indy Spirit Awards. Really lofty. Jim Carrey was excellent. Jared Leto’s speech was inspiring.

  17. Judging by some of the other comments, perhaps my opposite take was due to my trusty DVR.

    I was able to fast forward through most of the minor awards watching the entire telecast in a little over an hour.

    The digested version gave me a better appreciation of Ellen and some of the moving acceptance speeches.

    Ellen was trying to keep it fresh and topical (social media references). But I agree she wasn’t as funny as I would have expected. But I thought the tone and familiarity with some in the audience added some warmth, candor and freshness to the proceedings.

    My lowered expectations after last year’s debacle also probably contributed to my enjoyment.

  18. Jack says:

    Jim Carey should host next year’s Oscars, he was damn funny in his little segment.

  19. Daniel Lawson-May says:

    Ellen did a great job. stop slagging her off everyone

  20. Ellen DeGeneres did something critical and innovative for the movie industry at this year’s awards show. In another year when the Academy represented its affinity for honoring high technology and social justice, she took the audience that pays for tickets past the gowns and tuxedos that keep the industry on a pedestal.

    Shooting most of her segments from among her friends served as a collection of understatements with dramatic effect. If just for a few minutes, her friends became our friends off the big screen. We celebrated OUR lack of education, love of pizza, tweets, and fondness for “selfies” together with some of the most talented people in the world. Those of us who don’t know haute couture designers got to hang with our new buds.

    Whether she planned this effect from the get go or was just expressing her personality in a difficult place to do that, makes little difference. Well done. Thanks Ellen!

  21. Julie Frost says:

    What was the idea with the pizzas?! Just odd.

  22. Heidi Wilson says:

    I thought the entire event was witty and fun. This is as it should be.

  23. Carlos Clark says:

    Ellen is a horrible host for the Academy Awards. Really why does a second rate talk show host rate this job. The actors and actresses deserve betteer

  24. Mary says:

    forgettable. Boring. The first night in years that i have been able to watch the entire program. I love the Oscars- the one award show that I actually watch. This one was a complete disappointment. Pink singing “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” while Liza M. sat in the audience? Really? About as inspired as a box of waterlogged Kleenex. Love Ellen, but hosting a show like this is not her gift. Selfies? Pizza? It just got weird and awkward. He self-deprecating style (which I love on her show) just felt strange in this setting.

    • Samantha says:

      She is first rate talk show host. And she was a very famous comedian and actress before she had the talk show. Comedians make the best host.

  25. Lenore says:

    Terrible show, Hollywood takes itself to serious ,just movies, great over yourselves

  26. Lori Coco Bantel says:

    Snore…bring back Seth!!!

  27. Susan says:

    Ellen was disappointing. Almost boring. I switched channels all night.

  28. What an unfortunate opening monologue! I have been following the Oscars since I was a kid and I don´t remember an opening (and show) as bad as this one. Boring, full of dead seconds between weak jokes. is there any script??? Seems she´s been improvising the whole show. Seth MacFarlane where are you when you are needed.

  29. sherry tee says:

    I was hoping Ellen would follow her TV show format: never skip a beat keep the jokes coming. Instead she spent much of her time with the audience passing out pizza, taking pix. I could have done that with more aplomb at half the price. Very disappointing to say the least. Where is Billy Crystal these days.

  30. epaulso says:

    Yeah, I agree with this.

    • calaway park says:

      Possibly the worst mc job in recent memory. Anne Hathaway and James Franco were quite awful too but they are actors not comedians like Ellen (allegedly) is. Could somebody give Conan or Craig Ferguson a call before we have a similar debacle next year ? (p.s. my money’s on Whoopi !)

      • RedSox68 says:

        Conan or Craig would be an excellent breath of fresh air. I liked Seth, too. He brought an edginess that was much needed. I love Ellen, but last night was grade school antics (selfies and pizza?). No wonder it ran over! All the musical numbers were great and some of the best acceptance speeches in years!

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