(HOLLYWOOD, United States-AFP) – 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.
“Stripped of any pyrotechnics — no song-and-dance number, no film montage — the opening actually worked reasonably well, mostly because it placed the focus on the movies and the stars.”
DeGeneres, who hosted the awards for the first time in 2007, aimed lighthearted jokes at various members of the audience, including Liza Minnelli.
“I have to say, one of the most amazing Liza Minnelli impersonators I’ve ever seen in my entire life,” DeGeneres said. “Good job, sir.”
Last year’s best actress winner Jennifer Lawrence was also targeted, with DeGeneres revealing that the star had tripped out of the limo which had deposited her on the red carpet.
It followed last year’s memorable Oscar moment when the starlet took a tumble as she went to collect her award.
“If you win tonight, I think we should bring you the Oscar,” DeGeneres quipped to the “American Hustle” star, who eventually lost out to Lupita Nyong’o in the best supporting actress race.
Bruce Dern, nominated for his turn in “Nebraska,” was meanwhile reminded of his illustrious heritage.
“His grandfather was the governor of Utah. His great uncle was a Pulitzer prize-winning poet. And his godmother was Eleanor Roosevelt. And here you are, among us tonight – what went wrong?”
DeGeneres, whose last performance seven years ago had drawn criticism for its informal nature, was clearly unfazed and adopted the approach again.
At one point in the show, she ordered in pizza — and persuaded movie mogul Harvey Weinstein to pay for the delivery tip.
And in another signature moment, she created a Twitter sensation when she suddenly hopped into the audience and corralled a gaggle of A-listers into the shot for a selfie.
It quickly became the most retweeted message ever on the micro-blogging platform.
“We crashed and broke Twitter. We have made history,” she told the crowd during the broadcast, when her picture went viral with more than 2.2 million retweets.
“See, Meryl, what we did, you and I?” she boasted, referring to multiple Oscar-winner Meryl Streep, who crowded in next to a grinning DeGeneres in the photo.
The selfie also included Julia Roberts, Kevin Spacey, Brad Pitt, Bradley Cooper, Angelina Jolie and Nyong’o.