Comedienne and talk show star Ellen DeGeneres returned as Oscar host on Sunday, bringing her deadpan affability, and free pizza, to the 86th Academy Awards show while still poking fun at Hollywood royalty.
Shrugging off complaints from some critics that the breezy levity of her first Oscar stint in 2007 was at odds with the Academy Awards’ traditional sense of decorum, DeGeneres forayed into the Dolby Theatre audience several times during the show to mingle with the film industry elite, as she did seven years before.
While mostly veering away from the ribald streak that marked Seth MacFarlane’s widely panned stint last year, a tuxedo-clad DeGeneres showed she was not above mocking the biggest stars in town. Early reviews of DeGeneres’s latest performance were mostly positive.
She handed a pair of lottery tickets to American Hustle star Bradley Cooper after he lost his bid for best supporting actor; took a “selfie” snapshot with nominees that was swiftly re-tweeted more than 2 million times during the show; and even ushered a real pizza delivery guy in to hand out slices to the stars.
DeGeneres then called on producer Harvey Weinstein to pay the tip: “No pressure, only a billion people are watching, whatever you feel is right.”
She zeroed in on supporting actress nominee and last year’s best actress winner Jennifer Lawrence, recalling that the star famously tripped on the stairs to the stage on her way to accepting her Oscar.
DeGeneres also alluded to how Lawrence, 23, nominated for her role in American Hustle, stumbled again on the red carpet on Sunday. “If you win tonight, I think we should bring you the Oscar,” DeGeneres dead-panned.
Finally, DeGeneres went into how beautiful everyone looked, highlighting Jared Leto as the prettiest princess of the night. Dallas Buyers Club “deals with the serious issue of people who have sex at rodeos”, she quipped.
In another pithy moment, DeGeneres declared two possible scenarios for the final outcome of the Oscar race: “Possibility No. 1, 12 Years a Slave wins best picture. Possibility No. 2, you’re all racists.”