Oscarcast: A fine scene hosted by Ellen DeGeneres

NEW YORK — With only a week to catch our breath after the lengthy cavalcade of Winter Olympics coverage, this year’s Oscarcast may have seemed a refreshingly snug handout of awards. After all, it lasted only slightly more than three and a half hours, aired on ABC from a single venue (Hollywood’s Dolby Theatre), and was emceed by the comfortably reliable Ellen DeGeneres.

By comparison to the Sochi games, Oscar went by in a flash.

Meanwhile, it had its high moments and a bare minimum of deficits, easily catalogued in cinematic terms: Great scene! Or … best left on the cutting-room floor.

Great Scene: The show’s kickoff, which, unlike so many years before, wasn’t an extravagant comedic film featuring the host with a bevy of stars, but instead, found DeGeneres arriving on stage to deliver her simple, but satisfyingly funny, monologue.

In gently wry style, she ribbed celebs in the hall as well as show biz in general. (The nominees, she declared, had collectively made over 1,400 films, “and you’ve gone to a total of six years of college.”)

Then she brought on the first presenter. Brisk and efficient.

After that, she kept the energy flowing through a broadcast predictably sparse in surprises among those who won. Unlike many hosts, she was a regular presence, at one moment gathering stars in the audience for a group selfie to tweet, at another bringing in a pizza delivery guy to share slices with audience members (and then confessing she had no money to pay the bill: “Where’s Harvey Weinstein?”).

DeGeneres did what any host should do: Stay involved and make sure everyone has fun.

At the same time, she seemed to be committed to an unspoken theme for the evening: Humanize Hollywood’s glitterati for the viewers. In return, the stars were on their best behavior.

Great Scene: Best supporting actor (for “Dallas Buyers Club”) Jared Leto’s acceptance speech paid tribute to his mother, thanking her “for teaching me to dream,” then celebrated the dreams “in places like the Ukraine and Venezuela” — before pledging his support to those who have felt injustice “because of who you are or who you love.” He was the night’s first winner, and, in accepting his trophy, also pulled off a humanistic hat trick.

For the Cutting-Room Floor: The ironic spectacle of veteran actress Kim Novak, who was a presenter in the category of animation but, at age 81, revealed an eerily baby-smooth face that seemed frozen in place.

Great Scene: Musical number with Pharrell Williams performing his nominated song, “Happy.”

Great Scene: U2 performing their nominated song, “Ordinary Love.”

Great Scene: Pink performing “Over the Rainbow” against panoramic clips from “The Wizard of Oz” in a salute to that beloved film’s 75th anniversary.

Great Scene: A particularly moving presentation of the In Memoriam roll, free of distracting applause from the audience. After the faces and names of the departed had been seen, Bette Midler sang the evocative “Wind Beneath My Wings.”

For the Cutting-Room Floor: Superfluous remarks from the president of the Academy, a mission statement whose pace-arresting effect was underscored by DeGeneres a moment later when she cracked, “Good luck following that, Amy Adams and Bill Murray!”

Great Scene: The heartfelt acceptance spilling out of best supporting actress Lupita Nyong’o (“12 Years a Slave”), who made it clear she understood that “so much joy in my life is thanks to so much pain in someone else’s.”

For the Cutting-Room Floor: The format of introducing the nine best-picture nominees, bunched in groups of threes, giving each film short shrift. Isn’t there a better way of giving viewers a fitting sense of these contenders, which, after all, are the heart of what the Oscars is all about?

Great Scene: The evening’s finale, a joyous reception for best picture winner “12 Years a Slave.”

All in all, a sleek show was the Oscarcast. Few bombshells, fewer embarrassments, from fade-in to fade-out.

Then, in cinematic terms, that was a wrap.

———

EDITOR’S NOTE — Frazier Moore is a national television columnist for The Associated Press. He can be reached at fmoore(at)ap.org and at http://www.twitter.com/tvfrazier

More in Life

‘Found’: Author and climber a 20-year veteran of mountain rescue

In her second book, Bree Loewen shares her experiences of volunteering with Seattle Mountain Rescue.

Secret garden: Privacy trees that won’t outgrow a small space

These plants offer some height to block out unwanted sights without taking over your yard.

Stock your winter bookshelf with these animal and nature reads

Four new books cover outdoors topics from butterflies to wolves.

The Shed Players recently released their new album “Our Shingle Most Favorites.”
Listen here: Josh Clauson, The Shed Players release new CDs

This feature is all about Snohomish County’s homegrown talent: locals who make music and record it.

Newfangled cooker isn’t for those with tried and true methods

Columnist Jennifer Bardsley recently succumbed to peer pressure and purchased an Instant Pot.

Now is the time to assess your student’s back-to-school plan

Take a good look at how your kids are managing their new routine, class, teacher(s) and homework.

Author’s talk of birds and clouds kicks off Marysville series

1. Birds and clouds Marysville’s Outdoor Adventure Speakers Series is kicking into… Continue reading

How to shop in the street markets of France

It’s the best way to connect with the nation’s farmers and artisans.

Oprah Winfrey joins ‘60 Minutes’ for 50th anniversary year

The media giant debuts on tonight’s show, reporting on a story about America’s political divisions.

Most Read