LOS ANGELES - The Academy Awards started smoothly with a breezy opening from host Ellen DeGeneres and a best supporting actor award to the velvety "Dallas Buyers Club" star Jared Leto.
As expected, Leto won for his acclaimed, gaunt performance as a transsexual in the Texas AIDS drama. He thanked his mother, his date on the night.
"Thank you for teaching me to dream," said Leto. Later backstage, he passed around his Oscar to members of the press, urging them to "fondle" it. The actor, who had devoted himself in recent years to his rock band 30 Seconds to Mars, gravely vowed: "I will revel tonight."
Tonight's Oscars hung on a nail-biter of a finish, with the best picture race believed to be between the historical drama "12 Years a Slave," the 3-D space spectacle "Gravity" and the con-artist comedy "American Hustle." DeGeneres alluded to the options in her opening monologue.
"Possibility number one: '12 Years a Slave' wins best picture," she said. "Possibility number two: You're all racists."
Her opening went over well in Los Angeles' Dolby Theatre. She chided Leto ("Boy, is he pretty") and mocked Jennifer Lawrence for falling on her way onto the red carpet, just as she did when she accepted the Oscar last year for "Silver Linings Playbook."
"If you win tonight, I think we should bring you the Oscar," said DeGeneres to Lawrence, nominated for her performance in "American Hustle."
Disney's global hit "Frozen" won best animated film, marking - somewhat remarkably - the studio's first win in the 14 years of the best animated feature category. (Pixar, which Disney owns, has regularly dominated.) With box-office that recently passed $1 billion globally, the film was sure to be the biggest hit to take home an Oscar tonight.
Though the Oscar ceremony is usually a glitzy bubble separate from real-world happenings, international events were immediately referenced. In his acceptance speech, Leto addressed people in Ukraine and Venezuela.
"We are here and as you struggle to make your dreams happen, to live the impossible, we're thinking of you," said Leto.