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The Hello Girl
Ellen DeGeneres's second outing as Oscars host started strong. Joking about Jared Leto's luscious ombre locks and Jonah Hill's exposed member, she even stirred the pot with a cheeky (and ultimately prophetic) closer to her monologue: ''We should get started. It's going to be an exciting night. Anything can happen, so many different possibilities. Possibility number one: 12 Years a Slave wins Best Picture. Possibility number two: You're all racists. And now please welcome our first white presenter, Anne Hathaway.''
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Rave on, Rayon
Fewer people were surer bets than Jared Leto for his career-defining performance in Dallas Buyers Club, so the real victory was Leto's selfless speech after winning Best Supporting Actor. Learning from his disastrously unfunny Golden Globes acceptance speech, Leto struck an appropriately honest tone. After a touching dedication to his mother for teaching him and his brother Shannon to live their dreams, he paid tribute to the 36M people who have lost their battle to AIDS and finished, telling ''anyone who's ever felt injustice because of who you are and who you love, tonight I stand here with you and for you.''
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Come on, Get ''Happy''
Living up to its name, Pharrell's performance of his Despicable Me 2 track was pure joy. From the ebullient dancing corps of tweens to Meryl Streep shimmying like the rent was due tomorrow, this performance was everything. And I didn't even get to Lupita Nyong'o and Amy Adams!
Don't listen to me, just watch.
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Kim Novak was in Vertigo, one of the greatest movies of all time, and she was in one of the weirdest Oscar presentations of all time. Golden boy Matthew McConaughey couldn't even save this bit from its deadly awkwardness.
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Best Documentary Feature winner 20 Feet from Stardom may be about backup singers, but former Phil Spector favorite Darlene Love took center stage at the end of the winners' acceptance speech, belting out an a cappella rendition of ''His Eye Is on the Sparrow'' that drew a standing ovation.
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In her most successful in-between bit, Ellen took a not-so-great selfie of herself with Liza Minnelli before soliciting Meryl Streep, who's broken records with her 18 Oscar nods, to break Twitter's retweet record (previously held by Barack Obama's ''Four more years'' post-election celebratory tweet). Before you could say ''Cheese!'' a veritable constellation of A-listers had jumped into frame (as did Lupita Nyongo's brother Junior, who has seriously awesome chutzpah). More than 2.3 million RTs later (and counting), Ellen broke (shattered, really) the record — and Twitter.
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The Ultimate Validation
Lupita Nyong'o has, without question, been the darling of this awards season. Collecting her Best Supporting Actress statuette, she smiled through tears with a moving speech that showed her genuine, thoughtful appreciation for all the people who'd helped her achieve so much (and so quickly — this was only Nyongo's first film role!). Most notable was her inspiring finish: ''When I look down at this golden statue, may it remind me and every little child, that no matter where you're from, your dreams are valid.''
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While presenting the Best Cinematography trophy, Bill Murray made a brief aside to remember his friend and collaborator Harold Ramis, who passed away at the age of 69 less than a week ago. Despite his apology for detracting from eventual winner Emmanuel Lubezki's moment, Murray's aside was honest, it was heartfelt, and it was appreciated.
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Though Ellen's ''Hey guys, let's order a pizza!" shtick seemed like it would be a dud at first, it turned out to be genuinely funny when the pizza guy arrived and was descended upon by a starving pack of actors. Watching Meryl Streep, Brad Pitt, and Kerry Washington devour into a slice may have turned out to be one of the most deliciously unexpected pleasures in awards-show history. The real payoff (literally) was when Ellen walked around the audience taking a collection for the pies — in Pharrell's hat, no less. With $200 seed money from Harvey Weinstein, a begrudging (estimated) $60 from Pitt, and plenty of other donations (including Lupita's lip balm), it's safe to say the host made out like a bandit — or, hopefully, that the world's luckiest pizza guy got a really good tip.
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Pink proved once again that she doesn't need aerial feats to impress as she sang ''Somewhere Over the Rainbow'' during the Wizard of Oz 75th anniversary tribute. She looked stunning in a ruby-studded gown, and her voice was on-point. What else do you need?
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The In Memoriam montage is, without fail, tricky to pull off. Who will make the cut? Whose fans will the Academy miff? This year was pretty close to unimpeachable, wrapping with an elegantly complementary staging in which Bette Midler followed the package with a performance of ''Wind Beneath My Wings.'' It's okay to admit you cried.
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''Please welcome the Wicked-ly talent, the one and only? Adele Dazeem!''
As Modern Family's Eric Stonestreet noted, John Travolta is clearly a big fan of Frozen star Idina Menzel, who sang the Disney über-hit's Oscar-winning track, ''Let It Go.'' And can you blame him? Homegirl is a big deal, y'all. She even has her own Twitter! Plus, she came out and blew the roof off.
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EGOT It in the Bag
Frozen composer Robert Lopez joined an incredibly exclusive club this year when ''Let It Go'' won the Best Original Song Oscar, making him one of the few people to win an Emmy, Oscar, Grammy, and Tony. Accepting the award, Lopez and his wife Kristen Anderson-Lopez iced the cake with a rhyming series of thank-yous (''Idina Menzel [and] Kristen Bell, Kristen Lee [and] Peter Del V?.''). As if that weren't charming enough, the Lopezes ended with these words for their daughters, courtesy of Kristen: ''This song is inspired by our love for you and the hope that you never let fear or shame keep you from celebrating the unique people you are.''
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Just Keep Winnin'
We tend to forget that when an artist turns out to be such a lock during awards season, the chance to deliver a lame speech lies in wait around every turn. But Matthew McConaughey delivered a crowning jewel of a speech while accepting the Best Actor statuette. EW's pick for the night's best speech, it was perfectly calibrated to close out his spectacular run. Touching on his late father (who loved gumbo, lemon meringue, Miller Lite, and dancin' in his underwear), his wife and children (''you are the four people in my life that I want to make the most proud of me''), and even the man he aspires to be 10 years from now. It had style, it had structure, it had a delightfully McConaughey-esque dash of hubris?it had something for everyone. ''To any of us, whatever those things are — whatever we look up to, whatever it is we look forward to, and whoever it is that we're chasing, to that I say, 'Amen,' and to that I say 'All right, all right, all right' and 'Just keep livin'. Thank you.''
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12 Years a Slave Wins Best Picture
One of this year's tightest categories, the votes for Best Picture ultimately awarded artistry over industry by naming 12 Years a Slave the night's biggest winner over the innovative Gravity. One of the most fun moments of 12 Years' win? When director Steve McQueen jumped for joy right after his remarks. McQueen has been dignified and reserved throughout this awards season, so it was thrilling to see him finally, ahem, ''Let It Go.''