Ellen DeGeneres hosted the Oscars for a second time and she had to accomplish just one thing to be considered a success: Not be as offensive as Seth MacFarlane last year, who made an impressive amount of people angry with his jokes about naked actresses and Rihanna/Chris Brown.
Mission accomplished, at least from the first smattering of reviews Monday morning. Critics were perfectly fine, if not overwhelmed, by DeGeneres’ brand of cheery, low-key humor.
“DeGeneres is the perfect sort of host for roaming the aisles and joshing around with the celebrities who adore her non-threatening style. The show was cute and casual and just a bit boring,” The Post’s TV critic Hank Stuever wrote, adding that she told “jokes that were easy on the ears, gentle on the mind and, for the most part, sparingly nice.”
Other critics also zeroed in on Ellen’s whole “we’re all friends here” act but didn’t seem to think it was a bad thing. Her monologue, wrote Variety’s Brian Lowry, “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.”
Some thought her Meryl Streep-centric selfie with the nominees — now officially the most retweeted Tweet in history — summed up the night well. “It was Oscars in miniature — a little stuffed and crowded, designed to involve the folks at home and show the stars in a good light, not take itself too seriously or make anyone too uncomfortable, and sell a bunch of stuff along the way,” Time’s James Poniewozik wrote. “Seth MacFarlane saw your boobs. Ellen DeGeneres saw you take a really cool selfie with the Samsung Galaxy!”
On the opposite end of the spectrum, Hollywood Reporter’s Tim Goodman declared the three and a half-hour long ceremony an “endurance test,” and thought DeGeneres bombed. “Even paragons of happiness and good cheer come out and tank — as DeGeneres did with her opening jokes that seemed oddly mean spirited for her (poor Liza Minnelli) and set a flat tone that the telecast could never overcome,” he wrote.
True, DeGeneres did get some flack for that Minnelli joke, calling the actress a Minnelli impersonator (“Good job, sir.”). Otherwise, none of her other digs seemed all that controversial. Calling out Jennifer Lawrence for tripping and falling again and pointing out none of the nominees had really changed since her first hosting stint in 2007 is pretty much as safe as it gets.
“Things are so different now. Last time for instance when I was here Cate Blanchett was nominated, Meryl Streep was nominated, Leonardo DiCaprio was nominated, Martin Scorsese was nominated. So different,” she remarked.
She also managed to capture the mood of the room: “I’m not saying that movies are the most important thing in the world,” she said. “Because we all know that the most important thing in the world is youth.”
After much laughter: “Now, we know the most important thing in life is love and friendship and family. And if people don’t have those things, well then, they usually get into show business,” she added. “We’re all one big frightened family, is what we are.”