Ellen DeGeneres lit up the Oscars on her return as host on Sunday, ordering pizza, taking a star-studded selfie and poking fun at her audience in a well-received performance on Hollywood's biggest night of the year. The 56-year-old comic followed confidently in the footsteps of celebrated Oscars hosts such as Billy Crystal and Bob Hope, mixing wry, deadpan humor and cracking jokes at the expense of her A-list audience at the Dolby Theatre. It was in stark contrast to last year's raunchy opening monologue by comedian Seth MacFarlane, which divided critics. "Ellen DeGeneres did not sing a song about seeing actresses' boobs on screen, which, after last year's Seth MacFarlane skit, represents some sort of progress," Variety wrote in a snap review of DeGeneres's efforts.
Liam Neeson soared to the top of the North American box office with his plane thriller "Non-Stop," raking in $30 million on Oscars weekend, industry estimates showed Sunday. Neeson pipped another new entry, "Son of God," into second, according to box office tracker Exhibitor Relations. "The Lego Movie," the Warner Bros animation film, was relegated to third after a short stint in prime position. It was far ahead of George Clooney's "The Monuments Men," starring Bill Murray, which earned a relatively paltry $5 million in estimated ticket sales between Friday and Sunday.
NEW YORK (AP) — With only a week to catch our breath after the lengthy cavalcade of Winter Olympics coverage, this year's Oscarcast may have seemed a refreshingly snug handout of awards. After all, it lasted only slightly more than three and a half hours, aired on ABC from a single venue (Hollywood's Dolby Theatre), and was emceed by the comfortably reliable Ellen DeGeneres.
LOS ANGELES (AP) — After a blustery few days of torrential downpours, Hollywood appears ready for smooth sailing at Sunday's Academy Awards. But things got off to a soggy start as lingering showers persisted through midafternoon, soaking portions of the red carpet that had been uncovered in anticipation of clearing skies.
Hollywood counted down the hours Sunday as stars gathered for the most fiercely contested Oscars show in decades, with three movies leading the field for Tinseltown's most highly coveted prizes. They awoke to gray skies but no downpours for the first time in three days, and a canopy protecting the Hollywood Boulevard runway leading into the Dolby Theatre was finally removed. Academy President Cheryl Boone Isaacs told AFP: "This has been an incredible year for films. On the acting front, Cate Blanchett is favorite for her turn in Woody Allen's "Blue Jasmine," while Matthew McConaughey is widely fancied to strike Oscars gold for his portrayal of homophobic HIV-positive AIDS activist Ron Woodroof in "Dallas Buyers Club."
By Mary Milliken LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - In true Hollywood fashion, the Academy Awards on Sunday promised a cliffhanger finale to the tight race for best picture Oscar between favorites "12 Years a Slave" and "Gravity" and a big gamble on rain and the red carpet. After three days of heavy downpours soaked parts of the red carpet along Hollywood Boulevard, workers removed the plastic tenting and unwrapped the golden Oscar statues hours before hundreds of movie stars in designer dresses and tuxedos begin arriving for Hollywood's biggest night. And while it was still drizzling outside the Dolby Theatre as TV crews from around the world went live from Hollywood, organizers were confident that the most glamorous of red carpet shows would go off without a hitch.
By Ronald Grover and Chris Michaud LOS ANGELES/NEW YORK (Reuters) - "Non-Stop", a thriller starring Liam Neeson as a U.S. air marshal trying to stop a string of murders on an international flight, collected $30 million in ticket sales to soar into the lead at the domestic box office. It swept the week's other new film, "Son of God", into second place with $26.5 million in sales during a strong box office weekend which coincided with Sunday's bestowing of its annual Oscars, Hollywood's biggest night. The voice of the 61-year-old Irish former amateur boxing champion is also featured in the animated "Lego Movie," which "stars" characters based on the colorful plastic toy blocks. "This was a great result for the weekend," said Nikki Rocco, president for domestic distribution at Universal Pictures, which released "Non-Stop".