Well, I think we've all come down from our Oscar high (heck, the afterparty I was at just now ended) and it's time evaluate the ceremony itself. Going in, the producers said they wanted to shake things up. Did the changes work? My thoughts on those and some other stuff:
- Hugh Jackman: I thought he did a good job. He wasn't Billy Crystal/Steve Martin-great, but he was funny enough and kept things moving. He certainly wasn't Whoopi-bad.
- The dance numbers: The first one was pretty good, while the second one was God awful (even with Beyonce present). This night is supposed to salute film, not Broadway.
- The action/comedy/animation montages: "Hey, here are the movies that actually make us money! Let's recognize them with some clips...but no statues."
- The death montage: Seriously, they NEED to just cut the audience audio from the World's Most Morbid Popularity Contest. The sporadic bursts of applause are crass and a slap in the face to the lesser-known people who've passed. Queen Latifah's song was fine, but enough with the swaying screens and funky camera angles. Half of the time, you couldn't see who was being honored.
- The Heath Ledger tribute: A nice moment marred by the fact that Michelle Williams wasn't on stage with the rest of his family. Sure, she's his ex-wife, but she's also the mother to his daughter. Maybe she was invited, but declined, though.
- The revamped acting category presentations: These were by far the worst changes to the ceremony. Having five previous winners individually praise the five nominees slowed things down incredibly and, as unbelievable as it would seem, made the whole evening an even bigger self-important circle jerk. "Courageous" and "fearless?" Please. These are people who are paid millions to play dress up. I'd much rather see clips of the nominated performances than be told how the nominee changed the world for the better.
- Political grandstanding: Aside from a few instances, Hollywood showed a great amount of restraint with their soapbox and I applaud them for that.
- Best song mash-up: Interesting, but I prefer to hear each nominated song performed in its entirety. By concentrating these performances, we miss out on much-needed periodic bathroom breaks and you piss off Peter Gabriel. And that's something you just don't do.
- Steve Martin and Tina Fey: Their presentation for the screenplay awards was the best part of the ceremony. They should co-host next year.
Unfortunately, the ratings are up this year from last year's lowest-ever rated broadcast, so there's the possibility some of these changes will stick.
Also, I'd like to congratulate Kate the Great and KPMD, who placed first and second, respectively, in my Oscar pool (I tied for second, as well). My 20-for-24 ballot was good enough to win srah's pool, though. All hail me!