oscars 2014 recapKevin Winter/Getty Images

These days especially, what matters in a three-and-a-half hour awards show like Sunday's 86th annual Academy Awards is not who won or lost -- though the victories for Steve McQueen's "12 Years a Slave" and Alfonso Cuaron's "Gravity" seemed to be part of history in the making -- but which moments were most likely to go viral.

In case you missed the Ellen DeGeneres-hosted extravaganza -- or nodded off at some point during its 212 minutes -- here are the best and worst of the evening's memorable moments.

Best DeGeneres Opening Monologue Joke
Poking fun at Hollywood vanities and neuroses, she said, "I'm not saying movies are the most important thing in the world, because we all know the most important thing in the world is youth. But really, we know that the most important thing in life is love and friendship and family. And if people don't have those things, they usually get into show business. We are all one big, frightened family."

Worst Censorship
Bleeping the N-word out of Michael Fassbender's performance clip. Sure, it's an unpleasant word, one that ABC's censors clearly didn't feel comfortable broadcasting to a primetime audience of tens of millions at home and millions more around the world. And if the Oscar producers had picked a different clip to highlight Fassbender's Best Supporting Actor-nominated performance as a cruel plantation owner in "12 Years a Slave," one that didn't include that word, no one would have noticed. Instead, they made the word seem more conspicuous by the clip's sudden silence. Besides, isn't the whole point of the movie to avoid flinching from the physical, psychological, and, yes, verbal violence of slavery? Doesn't shying away from the brutality of his language lessen the effectiveness of Fassbender's performance in particular and the movie as a whole? Director Steve McQueen keeps saying they're going to teach this movie in schools; are they going to softpedal the language then?

Best Presenter Introduction
DeGeneres introducing Jim Carrey by observing, "'Citizen Kane.' 'Lawrence of Arabia.' 'Ace Ventura.' Our next presenter was in one of these." Bonus points to Carrey for continuing the point, making repeated it-must-be-nice references to the fact that he's never been nominated for an Oscar.

Best Music Moment (Unexpected)
Legendary back-up singer (and "Lethal Weapon" actress) Darlene Love, celebrating the Best Documentary victory of "20 Feet From Stardom" with an a capella verse of "His Eye Is on the Sparrow."

Best Parental Shout-Out
Best Supporting Actor winner Jared Leto, honoring his hard-working, inspirational single mom, who accompanied him to the ceremony, along with his brother. Runner-Up: Best Actor winner Matthew McConaughey, imagining his dad watching him from heaven, wearing no pants and enjoying a bowl of gumbo, a lemon meringue pie, and a Miller Lite beer.

Best Fashion Trend
White dinner jackets on the tuxedos. Ryan Seacrest sported one; so did "Dallas Buyers Club" acting winners Jared Leto and Matthew McConaughey, and, after her first costume change, so did DeGeneres. In a sea of black tuxes, the white jackets helped give the wintry show an almost summer-y feel.

Best Blazer
Nicholas Reed, Documentary Short winner for "The Lady in Number 6: Music Saved My Life," sporting that red alligator-pattern smoking jacket.

Worst Waste of an Octogenarian Screen Legend
"Vertigo" star Kim Novak, 81, who hardly ever makes public appearances, dragged out of mothballs just to banter with Matthew McConaughey and present trophies to the animated films. There was also the matter of her seemingly botox-paralyzed face, making it bitterly appropriate that she was giving the Animated Feature prize to "Frozen."

Best Use of an Octogenarian Screen Legend
At least Sidney Poitier, 87, got to give out the more prestigious Best Director prize. Marking the 50th anniversary of his historic win for "Lilies of the Field," which made him the first black performer to win an Oscar for a lead role, Poitier was part of another historic moment, the first directing win for a Latino director, "Gravity" helmer Alfonso Cuaron. Of course, Cuaron's main competitor for the award was "12 Years a Slave" director Steve McQueen, so if he'd won, Poitier would have bestowed the first Oscar ever given to a black director. Either way, Poitier was poised to pass the torch of Oscar history to a worthy successor.

Best Running Gag
Ellen's pizza delivery bit. First, she offered to order pies for some of the hungry A-listers in the aisles. Later, she and a befuddled delivery boy distributed slices and paper plates to the tuxedo'd and begowned stars in the orchestra seats. (Alas, she only had three pizzas, hardly enough for the 3,300 people in the Dolby Theatre audience, so nominees in obscure categories who were sitting in the nosebleed section were out of luck.) Finally, she came back and got mogul Harvey Weinstein and other successful movie folks to chip in a few bucks each for the pizzas, collecting the money in Pharrell's deep Smokey-the-Bear hat. The gag risked turning Hollywood's most prestigious event into just another episode of DeGeneres's daytime talk show, but it succeeded in puncturing the air of solemnity and bringing the ceremony down to earth.

Best Side Effect of the Best Song Victory for "Let It Go"
Co-composer Robert Lopez is now one of only 12 people ever to have hit the entertainment grand slam known as the EGOT (the term coined for performers who've racked up an Emmy, Grammy, Oscar, and Tony) -- he has daytime Emmys for "The Wonder Pets," Tonys for the music from Broadway musicals "Avenue Q" and "The Book of Mormon," and a Grammy for the "Mormon" soundtrack. Does this mean it's finally Tracy Jordan's turn for the next EGOT?

Best Verse
The rhyming list of thank-you shout-outs from Best Song winners Robert Lopez and Kristin Anderson-Lopez, a string of couplets that included a plea to Disney to let them compose tunes for a "Frozen" sequel.

Worst Shutouts
Not that "12 Years a Slave" and "Gravity" didn't deserve all the kudos they won, but their gain meant that "American Hustle" went 0 for 10 nominations. Also, "Nebraska" went 0 for 6, and "The Wolf of Wall Street" went 0 for 5. If not for Ellen's pizza, all those nominees would have sat through the whole show empty-handed.

Best Musical Number
All four nominated songs enjoyed stellar renditions. Karen O took off her shoes and sat on the floor for a sweetly crooned "Moon Song," U2's acoustic rendition of "Ordinary Love" was typically hypnotic, and Idina Menzel belted "Let It Go" to the rafters of the Dolby Theatre. But the most euphoric number was Pharrell's "Happy," which, like the song's video, featured ecstatic dancers of all ages. He even got some of the nominated actresses sitting in the front row to shimmy along -- no mean feat in those gowns. It was the rare Oscar song-and-dance number you wish could have gone on longer.

Worst Time Wasters
It was a coup, I suppose, to get Bette Midler and Pink to make their first-ever appearances as performers on the Oscar show. Still, Midler was brought on to belt her signature "Wind Beneath My Wings" after the "In Memoriam" montage. It would have made more sense for her to sing it during the montage, so that the focus would be on those who died, rather than on the performer paying them homage. Instead, it felt like the producers rushed the clip tribute in order to get to Midler's song. As for Pink, she did a fine, dramatic version of "Over the Rainbow" (complete with the introductory verse that you almost never hear because it makes the song a minute longer). Still, you had to wonder, why didn't they get Liza Minnelli or Lorna Luft (Judy Garland's daughters, who were both present) to sing the tribute? What's Pink's connection to the 1939 film? And why single that film out for tribute in the first place? (I know, it's the 75th anniversary of 1939, the Best Movie Year Ever, and "Oz" is about the only film from that year that most people have seen. Well, "Oz" and "Gone With the Wind," but no one was going to commemorate that film on the night that belonged to "12 Years a Slave.")

Best Costume Change
One good thing about the "Oz" bit was DeGeneres' appearance later in an overly puffy Glinda the Good Witch gown, acting peeved, as if she'd missed her cue to appear in the number. Just seeing Ellen looking miserable in something that frilly and pink, after an evening spent looking spiffy in mannish tuxedos, made for a memorable sight gag.

Best Ad Lib
Bill Murray, who slipped the name of his recently deceased longtime collaborator Harold Ramis into the list of cinematography nominees. It was a nice little tribute, considering that Murray is seldom a presenter at awards shows because no one expects him to be serious, and considering that Murray and Ramis had been estranged for two decades and had apparently reconciled only on the latter's deathbed.

Worst Self-Promotion
Presenter Kevin Spacey, who, in the voice of his "House of Cards" politico, announced that it was a nice change to leave Washington for Hollywood. At least he didn't come out and mention "House of Cards" or Netflix by name.

Best Emotional Speech
Lupita Nyong'o, who seemed to be crying tears of joy throughout her gracious list of thank-yous for her Best Supporting Actress victory for her brave "12 Years a Slave" performance. Runner-up: Laurent Witz, director of Animated Short winner "Mr. Hublot" (one of the few genuine surprise winners during an otherwise largely predictable night), holding his thank-you list in a visibly trembling hand.

Best and Worst Feminist Moment
Cate Blanchett's acceptance speech for Best Actress for "Blue Jasmine," which she used to remind Hollywood's power brokers that films centering on great performances by women do make money. Best because Blanchett was impassioned and eloquent about it; worst because she felt she had to say it at all, since it should be so obvious. Or, as she put it, "The world is round, people."

Best Picture
That selfie Ellen took in the aisle with Meryl Streep, Jennifer Lawrence, Julia Roberts, Bradley Cooper, Brad and Angelina, Lupita and her brother, and a handful of other Oscar luminaries. The intent: to make Twitter crash, a goal Ellen achieved later in the show. (As of now, it's been retweeted 2.6 million times.)

Best Dance Moment (Unchoreographed)
"12 Years a Slave" director Steve McQueen jumping for joy at the end of his Best Picture acceptance speech. He's no Cuba Gooding Jr., but he still did an impressive job spiking the metaphorical football in the end zone.

What did you think of this year's Oscars?
categories Oscars, Awards