This year's Oscars ceremony went off without a hitch, for the most part, and even finished right in the nick of time. This was essentially the biggest surprise of the evening, given the prizes doled out were pretty much exactly as our team of experts predicted.
Over the course of a highly entertaining show emceed by second-time host Ellen DeGeneres, there were touching speeches, funny cracks, and even a "record-setting" selfie. Of course, there were a few lows, too.
Join us as we review the best and worst moments of the 2014 Academy Awards.
BEST: Lupita Nyong'o's Teary Speech
She came into tonight owning the season already, so we had no doubt that the "12 Years a Slave" breakout star would deliver gold from the stage. She obliged in a poignant speech that acknowledged the dilemma of celebrating such difficult subject matter ("It doesn't escape me for one moment that so much joy in my life comes from so much pain") and praised director Steve McQueen ("I'm certain that the dead are standing about you and watching and they are grateful and so am I"). She delivered most of this speech through tears, and likely had many viewers at home crying along with her.
BEST: Jared Leto Gives Mom Props
Best Supporting Actor winner Jared Leto ("Dallas Buyers Club") gave the number one lady in his life a super gushy nod from the stage. "In 1971, Bossier City, Louisiana, there was a teenage girl who was pregnant with her second child. She was a high school dropout and a single mom, but somehow she managed to make a better life for herself and her children. She encouraged her kids to be creative, to work hard and to do something special. That girl is my mother and she’s here tonight. And I just want to say, I love you, Mom. Thank you for teaching me to dream." Like his SAG shout-out to the lady who made him, it came off cute instead of trite. (The rest of his speech might have done with a bit of a trim job, though.)
[Related: Complete List of 2014 Oscar Winners]
BEST: Ellen's Opening Monologue
Ellen might usually be one of TV's friendliest, but tonight she uncharacteristically went for the jugular with a few of her opening notes, like that moment she started yelling her jokes at June Squibb (at 84, the night's oldest nominee) or when she ribbed on Jennifer Lawrence for tripping again this year (and came up with the not-so-bad solution of just bringing the Oscar to her if she wins). And perhaps the zingiest moment came when she propped Jonah Hill for showing her something she "had not seen in a very, very long time" (for those who haven't seen "Wolf of Wall Street," that would be male genitalia). Oh, and she also called Matthew McConaughey dirty pretty. 'Cause obviously.
WORST: That Liza Minnelli Diss
Was it just us, or did Ellen take kind of a cheap shot at poor Liza Minnelli there? She complimented the crowd for boasting "one of the most amazing Liza Minnelli impersonators [she'd ever seen] … Good job, sir." She was of course referring to Minnelli herself, but the 67-year-old did not appear amused. To be fair, she did offer up an olive branch later in the show with some friendly selfie action.
Best: Most Epic Twitter Selfie of All Time
Ellen was on it about working the crowd (see above), but never was that more awesome than when she orchestrated the best Twitter selfie of all time – wrangling in Jared Leto, Jennifer Lawrence, Channing Tatum, Meryl Streep, Julia Roberts, Kevin Spacey, Brad Pitt, Lupita Nyong'o (and her brother), Angelina Jolie, and Bradley Cooper to make the most retweeted selfie of all time. According to her, she got a note from Twitter saying it totally worked. Oh, and she also accomplished helping Meryl Streep do what she declared was her first tweet ever.
— Ellen DeGeneres (@TheEllenShow) March 3, 2014
WORST: John Travolta Butchers Idina Menzel's Name
Granted, the "Let it Go" singer’s name is unique, but John Travolta absolutely mauled the pronunciation of Idina Menzel when he introduced her. You had one job, man!
BEST: The Orchestra Remains Silent
Refreshingly enough, the music did not seem to play off tonight's winners mid-speech, even when the chatter did run a little bit over here and there. In turn, most of the acceptances were short and sweet enough, especially from the technical and docu-folks. The awkward prompter push-pull we've come to expect was not missed, so how about let's have this become a thing, yeah?
WORST: Random, Unnecessary Montages
Jim Carrey used his stage time to whip out a funny Bruce Dern impression, sure, but what was he doing on the stage anyway? With all the problems the Oscars have with time running over, did we really need a presentation on animated heroes? Really? And as much as we love our superheroes and whatnot, a montage of "Independence Day" and "Footloose" and "Thor" comes off as a little desperate for the Academy.
[Related: Oscars Red Carpet Arrival Photos]
BEST: Cate Blanchett Tells Julia Roberts to "Suck It" (And Gives a Great Speech, Too)
"Hashtag #SuckIt." That is what Cate Blanchett said to Julia Roberts from the stage while accepting her Best Actress win for "Blue Jasmine." The other girls got niceties like "Amy Adams … your performance in 'American Hustle' blew my mind," but Julia got the business. As for the rest of Blanchett's speech, it was equally amazing. Case in point: "Female films do, in fact, make money. The world is round, people!"
WORST: Missing from the In Memoriam
Sadly, the Oscars missed some pretty major points this year with their In Memoriam salute, including funnyman Jonathan Winters, "The Artist" character actor Ed Lauter, blockbuster author Tom Clancy, Wes Anderson regular Kumar Pullana, and classic tough guy Dennis Farina. Sigh. (They do get points, however, for including Sarah Jones, the 27-year-old camera assistant killed on the set of "Midnight Rider" last week, after a petition was launched in her honor.)
BEST: Ellen Works the Room
Sadly, we were left missing Golden Globes hosts Tina Fey and Amy Poehler for big chunks of time during their show, but Ellen kept herself busy throughout the show – like gifting a stack of scratch-offs as a consolation prize to Bradley Cooper, actually ordering up some pizzas and asking Sandra Bullock for the tip scratch, and, of course, organizing one of the most epic selfies of all time.
WORST: Harrison Ford's Earring
Harrison Ford has been working the earring for a while, we know, but we just can't bring ourselves to acceptance. We forgive him only because he accepted a slice of pizza.
BEST: Darlene Love Breaks Into Song
Well, someone had to break into random song tonight, right? That is how these things work nowadays isn't it? Enter Best Documentary winner "Twenty Feet from Stardom" subject Darlene Love, who got the whole confused place to their feet with her little rendition of "His Eye is on the Sparrow."
WORST: Charlize Theron and Chris Hemsworth Fall Flat
Once upon a time, Charlize Theron and Chris Hemsworth starred in a movie called "Snow White and the Huntsman," together, but, frankly, tonight it was hard to tell they were even actors. Their reunion to dole out tonight's sound awards fell flat, and neither of them could handle the teleprompter for squat.
BEST: Bill Murray (And His Harold Ramis Salute)
Having Bill Murray presenting at the Oscars for the first time ever is great in and of itself because … Bill Murray. 'Nuff said. But he went and doubled down on the awesome sauce tonight when he paid a nice little tribute to the recently fallen actor-writer-director who had a hand in some of his most memorable movies ever: Harold Ramis. After the nominees for Best Cinematography were listed, Murray quipped, "Oh, we forgot one, Harold Ramis for 'Caddyshack,' 'Ghostbusters,' and 'Groundhog Day.'" Well done.
BEST: An EGOT Winner Prevails
"Frozen" songwriter Robert Lopez became only the 11th entertainer ever join the ranks of the EGOT – that's someone who has won the Emmy, Grammy, Oscar, AND Tony, as popularized on the TV comedy "30 Rock" – when he picked up the Academy Award for the hit song, "Let It Go." His rhyming speech alongside wife Kristen Anderson-Lopez was pretty adorable, too.
WORST: Jamie Foxx and His "Chariots of Fire"
We know Jamie Foxx won his oh-so-prized Academy Award in part thanks to his voice, but his sound effects are a little less impressive. We see what he was trying to do there with that little "Chariots of Fire" rendition, but it was not so much entertaining as it was distracting (especially to co-presenter Jessica Biel).
BEST/WORST: Matthew McConaughey's "All Right" Hero
Matthew McConaughey gets major points for capping the season off with his signature "all right, all right, all right" line (and throwing in the "just keep living" bit as icing on top), but in his somewhat meandering Best Actor acceptance speech he also called himself his own hero. "My hero's always going to be me ten years away," he said. "I'm never going to be him, and I'm fine with that because it keeps me someone to keep chasing." So, yeah.
BEST: "12 Years a Slave" Comes Through
While Steve McQueen did not win Best Director (in the second consecutive year the Academy has split its biggest prizes), his widely celebrated, intensely powerful drama "12 Years a Slave" was chosen Best Picture. For his speech, McQueen summarized the message of his picture to say, "Everyone deserves not just to survive but to live. This is the legacy of Solomon Northup." Amen.