LOS ANGELES – The Dolby Theater at Hollywood and Highland was filled with A-listers for the 85th Academy Awards on Sunday night, but the coveted task of presenting the final award was given to someone not even on the premises.
Instead presenter Jack Nicholson cut to First Lady Michelle Obama, featured on a drop-down screen, flanked by military servicemen and women, to deliver a passionate monologue live from the White House.
"(These films) taught us that love can beat all odds," Obama said of the nominees. "They reminded us that we can overcome any obstacle if we dig deep enough and fight hard enough and find the courage within ourselves."
According to The Hollywood Reporter, the FLOTUS appearance was the work of Obama supporter and friend Harvey Weinstein and his daughter Lilly, who arranged for Academy representatives and show producers to secretly fly (via Disney's jet) to D.C. just two weeks ago to make the magic happen.
And let's not forget that last month former President Bill Clinton made an unexpected cameo and drew a standing ovation at the Golden Globes when he presented "Lincoln." That guest list addition was rumored to have been a last-minute favor pulled by director Steven Spielberg, one of the entertainment industry's most dedicated Democratic donors.
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So not to be outdone, the Academy went for a one-up: a reigning White House resident.
"I was hallucinating at that point," Ben Affleck said backstage with regards Obama's presentation of the Best Picture Oscar to his film "Argo." "I was asking people, 'was that Michelle Obama?' It was a huge honor, and the fact she was surrounded by servicemen and women. It was very cool."
However, instead of inspiring, the surprising presenter instantly drew a few head shakes and loud groans from journalists backstage.
"This makes no sense, it adds nothing to the show," one industry expert told FOX411's Pop Tarts column with a bemused laugh, while another surmised it as something of a "suck job."
"They threw all the campaign parties, I guess it was Hollywood's way of acknowledging their continued love and support of the Obamas," said another. "It was stupid and pointless."
Indeed FLOTUS' presentation drew mixed reviews and ignited quite the debate in the twitterverse.
"Forget separation of church and state - we need a separation of Hollywood and state," conservative journalist Michelle Malkin retweeted, while others weighed in that it was "tacky and tasteless" and cheapened the Presidency.
Scores of other viewers gave Obama rave reviews, however, calling her appearance "amazing," "show stealing" and placing her and her designer Naeem Khan gown at the top of the Oscars best dressed list.
Hollie McKay has been a FoxNews.com staff reporter since 2007. She has reported extensively from the Middle East on the rise and fall of terrorist groups such as ISIS in Iraq. Follow her on twitter at @holliesmckay