Just about everyone it would seem tuned into the Oscars this past Sunday night, according to the American-institutionalized Nielsen ratings. In fact, it was the most highly watched Academy Awards since 2000; bringing in a whopping 43.7 million enthralled viewers from across the country. What was the Academy’s secret? Ellen DeGeneres, of course. The second-time host brought a sprightly finesse to the dignified affair and calmed the actor’s anxieties with her silly and endearing antics; earning the Oscars some very serious ratings.
From endlessly amusing costume changes to bringing an unsuspecting pizza delivery guy onstage, Degeneres pulled out all the stops to ensure her night in the spotlight would go down as an instant classic. In the first five minutes, the beloved comedian and daytime TV reigning champion had called Liza Minnelli a drag queen, declared Jared Leto the prettiest of them all, and propositioned the immediately petrified Jonah Hill with the possibility of being her first man in quite some time. This was just the beginning of the highly entertaining three and half hour event.
Not even halfway through the festivities, DeGeneres delivered on her promise to the rows and rows of skinny celebrities and brought a pizza guy onstage, a real pizza guy. With him were indeed three actual pizzas, which he promptly handed out in a lovable state of star-struck-shock. Julia Roberts took a slice, Jennifer Lawrence, Brad Pitt, Angelina Jolie, the list goes on. In one fell swoop the amusingly dazed boy fed every A-list celebrity on the roster, and he never even saw it coming. The best part: Ellen collecting money on live television from the on-the-spot actors who’d hungrily devoured their mid show snack. After the show, she happily divulged she’d collected $600 from the not-so-secretly wealthy stars and added $400 of her own; bringing the total of her legendary tip to $1000. That lucky boy, plucked from obscurity much like the esteemed members of the audience at one point in their careers, thanks to Ellen, had quite a night himself.
As the show carried on, and films of what seemed like an exclusively grave nature swept the awards, Ellen did her damnedest to keep the mood light. After all, without her silly repartee the Oscars this year would’ve been all pomp and no play, and perhaps wouldn’t have garnered such seriously substantial ratings. The laughs continued after Pink performed “Over the Rainbow” in tribute to the 75th anniversary of The Wizard of Oz and DeGeneres walked out in a sensationally overkill recreation of Glenda the good witch’s Pepto Bismol tinted dress, claiming she’d missed her cue to be a part of the song. At one point the hostess with the mostest even ventured into the audience, gathered a group of megastars, and had them pose in a selfie with her that has since surged through twitter with unrelenting popularity. By the end of the illustrious evening no one was really concerned about winning or losing anymore, they were having too much fun.
In the end Gravity took seven awards, Twelve Years a Slave took best picture, Dallas Buyers Club was awarded for it’s performances, and Ellen stole the entire show. A night of solemn film achievements was sweetened and made digestible by the wildly efficacious master of ceremony. Ellen tapped a magical formula that miraculously kept the audience awake during what can traditionally turn into a snooty snooze fest. With her silly and impish antics and lighthearted nonchalance she brought the Oscars their highest ratings and arguably best night in 14 years. Hopefully, the whimsy of this year’s awards show will be replicated in every year to come. At least if they want the world to keep watching like they did this year that is.
By Brandon Duringer