In the past, surprises like the streaker that ran past David Niven, and Jack Palance who did one-armed pushups helped boost the laughs on the traditionally stodgy Oscar awards show. The 79th Annual Oscars presented a much lighter, definitely more relaxed atmosphere for the audience and folks at home. Here’s why.
#1- Host Ellen Degeneres
Ellen Degeneres brought her own homey brand of humor to the 2007 Oscar awards show and immediately set everyone at ease. Her jokes and surprise invitation to a gospel choir helped set the relaxed tone. Members of the well-heeled audience jumped to their feet ready to dance and clap. Ellen’s “take it to the people” approach was just the right medicine.
#2-The Sound Effects Choir
I thought they were kidding. A full live choir accompanied selected film scenes with sound effects from wind blowing to crickets chirping to water flowing. I honestly don’t know if these people are used for real sound mixing, but it was lively and fun.
#3-Ellen gives Scorsese a Script
Ellen worked her was through the audience, saying hello to Mark Wahlberg, who just lost the Best Supporting Actor award to Alan Arkin. Then she knelt down next to Martin Scorsese and handed him a script she supposedly wrote to take a look at. Scorsese said that he would read it.
#4-Ellen asks Eastwood for a photo
This was my favorite funny moment. Ellen was walking through the audience again and stopped at Clint Eastwood. Clint asked if Ellen had a script for him to look at. No, she wanted a photo for her myspace page. Legendary filmmaker Steven Spielberg was sitting two seats over. Ellen asked Spielberg to take the picture. She criticized his first attempt and told him to reframe it more evenly.
#5-Ellen joins Pilobus
Ellen tried her hand at making “Snakes on a Plane” behind the Pilobus screen. It was not the best. So the Pilobus troupe rolled in and overtook her and formed a formidable “Snakes on a Plane” image. When Ellen escaped and returned to the stage she announced breathlessly “they’re naked!”
#6-Ellen appears in her pajamas
At 11:50pm EST, already 20 minutes over time, Ellen appeared in her pajamas and announced the show was over. She got a “call” from the producers so she announced “we have a couple more awards to give out” – the most anticipated ones of the night.
#7-Ellen vacuums the floor
Ellen, in her pajamas, vacuumed the rug on the floor near the front seats. She made stars like Penelope Cruz lift their feet and gorgeous dresses so she could get to the carpet. Ellen picked up something off the floor and announced, “someone left their roll paper”. She decided it belonged to the band so she tossed it into the orchestra pit.
#8-Al Gore with Leonardo DiCaprio
Gore got a laugh from the audience by sparring with hunky Leonardo DiCaprio encouraging everyone to “go green”. Gore started a fake political speech with “my fellow Americans”. After his incredibly stiff persona in the presidential elections, a joking Gore is novel.
#9-Al Gore accepting Best Documentary
On stage with the rest of the crew responsible for the winning documentary “An Inconvenient Truth”, Gore evoked another laugh from the audience by starting his “my fellow Americans” speech again.
#10-Robert Downey, Jr.
Presenting for Best Visual Effects, Downey joked that giant spiders, ghastly things from the sea and flying men were what he normally saw during the mid-90’s. The award went to the crew from “Pirate of the CarribbeanLDead Man’s Chest”.