Oscars 2014: Ellen DeGeneres' bid for best host
- 3 March 2014
- From the section Entertainment & Arts
Ellen DeGeneres' return as Oscars host will be remembered for three things - a picture, a prediction and a lot of pizza.
She previously presented in 2007, when Twitter was in its comparative infancy. Though the world has long since been in the social media age, it was only with this edition that the Oscars finally caught up, their host Tweeting as she presented.
In fact, as so often can happen with Twitter, sometimes DeGeneres became so immersed in her tweeting it distracted her from what she was actually meant to be doing.
She declared she wanted to break the record for the most retweeted photograph in history, a not-selfie (since it was actually taken by Bradley Cooper) featuring herself surrounded by the front row talent - and best supporting actress winner Lupita Nyong'o's brother.
She broke the record within the hour, and in doing so, broke Twitter's servers too. It was a moment of Oscars history, by far the definitive moment of the evening as far as the host was concerned.
Indeed, it was the thing that will mark the 2014 Oscars down as "the year Ellen took that photo in the audience".
Which is lucky for her, as the rest of the material she was working with was less convincing than John Travolta's hair.
"It has been a tough couple of days for us here - it's been raining," was her opening line. Her monologue continued by shouting at 84-year-old June Squibb as if she was in an old people's home and a very weak gag that Barkhad Abdi's being from Somalia meant he was a sommelier.
It is understandable the show's producers were keen to avoid anything so disastrously misjudged as Seth MacFarlane's We Saw Your Boobs, but this was very safe stuff indeed.
She did land a cracking zinger with her prediction for the last award: "Possibility number one - 12 Years a Slave wins best picture. Possibility number two - you're all racists."
But she also absolutely bombed when she suggested it was not actually Liza Minnelli in the audience but a man in drag. The camera cut to Minnelli - there to celebrate the 75th birthday of The Wizard Of Oz which starred her mother Judy Garland - and she did not look at all amused.
The vibrations from so many shuffling awkwardly in their seats were probably felt throughout California.
Fortunately, the night went on so long - there was only one award presented in the entire first half hour - that there was time enough for DeGeneres to recover.
Although a later snap with Minnelli suggested she was not forgiven by the entirety of the audience, DeGeneres' trademark style - popping up in the audience, asking the stars if they wanted pizza, then delivering it personally when it duly arrived - won most of them back over.
And besides, she was hardly alone in dropping the odd clanger.
Every Oscars night it is surprising how often people whose entire job is to read lines out loud manage to stumble over a simple five lines of autocue.
But for whatever reason, in 2014 the mistakes and mess-ups were so frequent they made Police Squad's Frank Drebin look like Bob Hope.
Charlize Theron and Chris Hemsworth ended up reprising Sam Fox and Mick Fleetwood's infamous Brit Awards hosting gig, so unsure were they of who was reading which line. "Is this me?" the South African actress had to ask in the end.
Bill Murray asserted his co-presenter Amy Adams "looks like $146m domestic". And in one of the most bizarre moments in recent Oscars history, John Travolta somehow introduced Broadway star Idina Menzel as Adela Dazeem - who instantly got her own Twitter account.
That two of the night's three big winners involved Aids and slavery also made for some very odd juxtapositions, such as when the Dallas Buyers Club make-up artists' tribute to "the people who lost the battle" was immediately followed by the Indiana Jones theme for the introduction of Harrison Ford.
Ford's script demanded he enthuse about the "riveting and raucous" Wolf of Wall Street. Shame, then, that he sounded one Night Nurse short of comatose.
Thankfully there were still moments like Darlene Love singing - not just singing, but belting out in fact - her acceptance speech for the documentary 20 Feet from Stardom.
And DeGeneres continued to work the room, taking more selfies and seeking out money for her pizzas. She had progressed from nervous to warm and charming - though whether she had much to say that was funny was questionable.
Maybe the weather had got to the scriptwriters, because what they had produced was damper than a downpour.
But at least DeGeneres had got her record - and had the broken Twitter servers to prove it.