I went into Oscar night taking the advice of astute film critic David Edelstein of “CBS Sunday Morning.”
He told his viewers Sunday to remember that the Oscars are “a game, a sport – and if you watch in the right spirit, they’re Olympian in their power to make you cheer … and gasp in horror.”
So I watched Sunday night in the spirit of the Sochi Olympics, with Ellen DeGeneres expected to be a funnier version of Bob Costas with better eyes.
I usually love DeGeneres, but I practically gasped in horror at how unfunny she was for most of her monologue and throughout the evening ordering pizza. Costas might have been funnier if he had been willing to dress like the Good Witch.
I also gasped in horror after “Gravity” won a slew of deserved technical awards and Alfonso Cuaron won as best director – I feared it might even win Best Picture. That made no sense to me.
Here are my gold, silver and bronze winners:
Gold for Best DeGeneres Joke: No winner. She always is a pleasant performer but not even her cheap sex joke directed at Jonah Hill’s character in “Wolf of Wall Street” was laugh-out-loud funny. Silver: Her last monologue joke on the possibilities of the night for Best Picture was clever. “Possibility No. 1: ‘12 Years a Slave.’ Possibility No. 2. You’re all racists.” Bronze: Her joke about the nominees having made a total of 1,400 movies and having been in college a total of six years made me smile. After this mess, I wondered how many of DeGeneres’ writers went to college.
Gold Medal Speech: Jared Leto, incredible as a supporting actor in “Dallas Buyers Club,” gave the first one, and it was tough to top. How sweet. He started off by praising his mother for raising him and making him dream. How smart. He put the night in perspective by mentioning current events in Ukraine and Venezuela. Sure, he was just about a sure thing and had time to plan. But he delivered it well after an early stumble.
Gold Medal Speech (tie): The speech by Lupita Nyong’o after her Best Supporting Actress win for “12 Years a Slave” was the equal of Leto’s and had a similar theme of “No matter where you are from, your dreams are valid.”
Bronze That Hat: Pharrell Williams reprised his hat from the Grammys to sing the Oscar-nominated “Happy.”
Gold Medal for Direction: Matthew McConaughey did a great job guiding fellow presenter Kim Novak – who has had a rough life since leaving Hollywood – through an animation award.
Gold for Visual Effects: In a slightly amusing and silly bit, DeGeneres had Meryl Streep and a variety of big-name stars help her break the record for most tweeted photo. Streep said, “I’ve never tweeted before.” It was funnier than anything DeGeneres said or did all night.
Bronze for Pre-Show Jump: Jimmy Kimmel’s bit in which he jumped into the home of a heavy, poorly dressed, fake couple and berated them for tweeting insults was mildly amusing, even if it wasn’t original. Jimmy Fallon cracked a monologue joke Friday about people in sweatsuits at home tweeting horrible things about the way the actors were dressed on Oscar night.
Gold Medal Song: Darlene Love of the documentary winner “20 Feet from Stardom” woke up the actors in Hollywood and those watching at home with a spontaneous song 80 minutes into a lifeless program.
Gold Medal Shout-out: Bill Murray found a way to spontaneously mention the late Harold Ramis, cleverly throwing his name in the award he presented. This show really needed spontaneity of any kind.
Gold for Best Dressed: Jennifer Lawrence, Amy Adams, Olivia Wilde, Kate Hudson, Jennifer Garner and Charlize Theron all deserve gold medals. Amazingly, it was a year in which I didn’t gasp in horror about the way anyone was dressed while I watched in my sweatsuit eating pizza.