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Ellen DeGeneres returned to the Dolby Theatre on Sunday night, seven years after she first, and most recently, hosted the Oscars. The 2014 Academy Awards emcee delivered on expectations of a softer introduction, a departure from last year’s more snarky showing from Seth MacFarlane — and though there was no “We Saw Your Boobs,” there were a few barbs.
“I hosted for the first time seven years ago,” said DeGeneres. “I am so honored that they had me back so quickly.”
Oscar weekend’s spate of precipitation was the first thing to come under fire, as the three days of rain prompted elaborate tenting outside of the venue. “For those of you watching around the world, it has been a tough couple of days for us here,” she said. “It’s been raining. We’re fine. Thank you for your prayers.”
DeGeneres chose her targets wisely, pointing out Captain Phillips star Barkhad Abdi. “He’s from Somalia, and he’s a sommelier,” she said, while a cut to Abdi revealed the actor to be a bit confused. “He knows a lot of about wine. Who’s the wine captain now?”
Jennifer Lawrence‘s famous fall on her way to the stage last year also came up. “Jennifer, I am not going to bring up last year when it happened,” said DeGeneres. The camera found a laughing Lawrence for a good minute as DeGeneres proceeded to not just go over the details of her 2013 fall — but also her tumble on the red carpet just an hour earlier.
A lot of DeGeneres’ cracks were directed at herself — “Jonah Hill is nominated for his amazing performance in Wolf of Wall Street. Honestly, you showed us something in the that film that I have not seen for a very long time. You get it?” — and her peer group as a whole — “I’m not saying movies are the most important thing in the world. We all know that the most important thing in the world is youth” — but she did get in one slightly nasty dig.
“I have to say one of the most amazing Liza Minnelli impersonators I’ve ever seen in my entire life,” she said, pointing out Minnelli sitting in the audience next to sister Lorna Luft. “Good job, sir.”
DeGeneres’ nice-gal persona received a warm reception from critics when she hosted the Oscars back in 2007. During her first stint the talk show host snapped pics with Clint Eastwood, asked Martin Scorsese to read her screenplay and vacuumed the floor mid-ceremony.
She closed her opening by saying that the night was going to end one of two ways. “Possibility No. 1, 12 Years a Slave wins best picture,” she said. “Possibility No. 2, you’re all racist.”
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