Just seven minutes over last year's running time and the show seemed an eternity. Steve Martin and Alec Baldwin were pretty good hosts, but I think we'd have been better off if Steve Martin just did it as a solo.
Why oh why was there a Neil Patrick Harris opener? Firstly the song— something like "No one wants to do it alone"— was awful. Secondly-- it makes the ACTUAL hosts look too talentless to pull off a song. Thirdly, why do we need a song? PAGING JON STEWART! What's wrong with a few jokes and then, get on with the show?
When Steve and Alec did arrive, their jokes were hit and miss, but enough funny ones worked.... I especially loved the "Look it's DAMN Helen Mirren" bit ("That's Dame Helen Mirren."), as well as Martin's gag that Meryl Streep's 16 nominations, means... the most losses.
By the way, can we step back to the pre-show that year after year ABC cannot get right? The only time they get it right is when they cancel it. Kathy Ireland was so busy striking a pose she couldn't concentrate on the interviews. Sherri Shepherd tried her best, but she clearly wasn't listening to the answers to her final questions and shooed off the celebs at the end of each of her interviews. And was it me or did the Oscar artwork in the back look like the poster for CATS?
Now that the song numbers are cut, the individual presentation of all the Best Picture nominees will turn into the going-to-the-bathroom opportunities in the show (And they're pretty badly scripted: "It sneaks up on you... THE BLIND SIDE"). Among the other packages, I enjoyed the "interviews" with the animated characters and even the (albeit totally random) horror movies clips (repetitive, but they hit all the biggies). Yes, PARANORMAL ACTIVITY got no nods and yes, the parodies have been done, but I did laugh at the Steve and Alec piece. I also liked the tribute to John Hughes, except for one thing— they shouldn't have done it. If there's no time to give LAUREN effing BACALL her honorary Oscar on the live show then there's no time to give a tribute to a filmmaker that never received a single Oscar nomination and for whom the Academy would NEVER in a million years have done a tribute for if he died at say 80 years old. Dying young should not warrant a tribute. And I grew up on Hughes' movies... I'm a fan... but it was weird. Marlon Brando didn't get a stand alone tribute, right? Judd Nelson was a freak show... jees. And it was funny that they cut to Kristin Stewart at the end-- she was probably wondering who the hell all those people were! Speaking of bad cuts... it was pretty lame to cut to an African-American any time PRECIOUS was featured... Morgan Freeman, Samuel L. Jackson....
No one among the presenters did that much in the way of clever presenting. Probably because the best awards show presenter in Hollywood was one of the co-hosts (Steve Martin). Please STOP Ben Stiller. His awards show bits are always terrible! And they are insulting to the poor shlub actually getting the award he's presenting. And yet, year after year, the next day his disastrously fallen-flat routine will make countless "best moments" lists. Why? Because these award shows are so desperately devoid of actual moments, that the online community has to find SOMETHING to point out, and it's "easy" to point to the "wacky" as a highlight.
There were two moments in the show where I literally said out loud: "WHAT IS GOING ON?!" — when the now notorious Kayne'd short film guy was interrupted by that red-haired woman acting crazy and when Sean Penn (also now notoriously) rambled on about god-knows-what when he came out on stage.
The interpretive dance-- again.. why? It could have been the best dancing known to man, and it STILL would've been criticized. Haven't the Oscar producers learned by now? No more interpretive dance... it doesn't fit, it doesn't work, and no one wants to see it.
The dead reel started off wrong again this year for the viewing audience that saw the screens in a long shot, and therefore missed a few of the people. Honestly, I wasn't too upset about Farrah (the internet went ballistic)... what they should have done is left both MJ and Farrah out. Although, on second thought, I think they probably could have found room for her. Like, leave the who-even-knows-her Kathryn Grayson, who only just passed, to next year.
The speeches were all good: Sandra Bullock's possibly the most memorable of the four acting winners. The nicest— and most genuine— moment during the acting presentations, was when Gabourey Sidibe teared up when Oprah was talking about her onstage.
Barbra Streisand didn't overshadow Kathryn Bigelow too much, thank god. Boy Bigelow would NOT let go of her Oscars to Steve and Alec at the end of the show! The two had hilarious parting lines: "This show is so long AVATAR takes place in the past."/ "That's all the time we have folks!" Sadly, the smart idea of having clips from the new season's crop of films— that was done over the credits last year— was not continued this year. All in all, a weak show-- last year's wasn't brilliant, but it was better.