Disinterested presenters, far-from-funny proceedings and random movie montages…the Oscars lacked Gravity, says Sudhish Kamath, who spent the wee hours of Monday glued to the television

What was it, Hollywood? A house party on a rainy night or the Oscars?

A damp squib was what it was, Ellen Degeneres.

After a nervous start with barely one joke in the first half hour of the show that was devoid of anything spectacular, inventive or irreverent, the show seemed terribly underproduced. That’s right. No fun movie montage or parodies to begin with. And that one joke was about Ellen talking about two possible outcomes “a. 12 Years A Slave wins Best Picture b. You’re all racist.”

Which would have been a good joke had 12 Years A Slave not won.

The fact that this is difficult to watch but a well-meaning film won Best Picture sums up what the Academy thinks passes for a good show. But who cares as long Ellen got a chance to get a super-selfie of her and friends clicked at the Oscars and get two million retweets (and counting), right?

It was almost as if the Academy brought Ellen on to prove that Seth MacFarlane last year was a great host. She walked around fumbling and bumbling, and only some of it seemed intentional. She tried very hard though and dragged what seemed like a fun thing to do till it became boring. She first clicked a picture on her phone from the stage to sound cute, later a selfie... She asked if people were hungry, ordered pizza, then actually distributed pizza and asked for money and came back for another round of collecting money for the pizza. She changed costumes, even dressed up as fairy godmother and generally walked around talking to guests like she had no script. 

Maybe she didn’t. 

The only surprise of the evening was the great whitewash of American Hustle. The most nominated film went home empty handed. And for this, the Academy deserves a hand. Well done.

Also not many were expecting Gravity to win seven out of its ten nominations including Best Director for Alfonso Cuaron who pulled off an upset beating Steve McQueen for 12 Years A Slave. We were almost certain of hearing Steve’s name being announced when Sidney Poitier was invited to give away the Oscar. But Cuaron truly deserved this.

Best Actor Matthew McConaughey (Dallas Buyers Club) gave a terrific acceptance speech, so did Lupita Nyong'o (Best Supporting Actress for 12 Years A Slave) while Best Actress frontrunner Cate Blanchett (Blue Jasmine) completed formalities by picking up the golden statue.  Jared Leto (Dallas Buyers Club) beating Michael Fassbender for Best Supporting Actor was the other big surprise of the night.

Paolo Sorrentino’s Italian classic The Great Beauty predictably won the Best Foreign Film while Frozen picked up Best Animated Feature.

There were no surprises in the writing category either with Spike Jonze picking up Best Original Screenplay (Her) and 12 Years a Slave winning Best Adapted Screenplay. 

While most of the presenters looked disinterested (what was Harrison Ford on?) and bored right from the beginning, Jim Carey tried to infuse some energy into the drab proceedings punctuated with random movie montages put together for no evident reason. We understand why a segment of real heroes may be interesting but comic book heroes and animation clip montages only showed lack of imagination and budget.

But then, no money is not really an excuse for such a poor show. The minimalist staging of the Moon Song, so soulfully rendered by Karen O, was the single most brilliant performance of the evening. 

Waking up at half past five wasn’t then a complete waste. Especially because Bradley Cooper and the rest of the American Hustle team went back with the coupons Ellen Degeneres gave out generously as a joke.