That opening bit, with all the nominated actors coming out on stage to wave at the crowd? Weird and random.
Neil Patrick Harris' opening number was a pleasant surprise. If there was internet scuttlebutt suggesting he'd be there, I missed it. NPH is always welcome.
In case you were worried, George Clooney's sourpuss act throughout the show was just that: an act. He was in on it, and knew ahead of time that Steve Martin and Alec Baldwin would be picking on him.
Generally speaking, I enjoyed the Martin/Baldwin pairing. But the funniest bit for me was Tina Fey and Robert Downey Jr. espousing the differences between writers and actors, particularly when Downey Jr. referred to writers as "mole people" and Fey explained that writers hope actors will one day be replaced with computer constructs they can order around.
Mo'Nique's thanks in her speech to the Academy Awards being “about the performance and not the politics” was a reference to some media buzz earlier in the season suggesting she wasn't making all the requisite appearances (film festivals, dinners, etc) of an Oscar Nominee. Backstage, she said that some reporters wrote "someone needs to teach Mo’Nique a lesson. Someone needs to tell her how this game is played." She elaborated on her comment saying, " I am very proud to be part of an Academy that says, ‘We will not play that game. We will judge her on her performance and not on how many dinners she attended and how many pictures she took. It’s on the screen.’” *
*Thanks to Entertainment Weekly for the quotes
The woman who won the costume design award was kind of a bitch. I mean, she probably intended to come off as self-deprecating and nonchalant when mentioning this was her third Oscar, and she probably meant well when she dedicated the award to all the costume designers working on non sci-fi/period movies that never get recognition, but in the end, she just came across as spoiled and ungrateful.
I'm a film score nut, so I enjoy any excuse for the Oscars to play a montage of all the nominated scores. If they want to have people dance to those scores instead of watching the orchestra play or clips of the movies, it makes no nevermind to me.
According to Entertainment Weekly, the woman who pulled a Kanye on the winner of the Best Documentary short subject was "Elinor Burkett, a journalist who worked on the film but left after creative differences." Apparently she retained a producers credit on the movie, which is why she was at the awards, and there's apparently a fair amount of bad blood between her and the guy who went up to accept the award.
Not that it's her fault, but I thought it was kind of funny that Kristen Stewart, introducing the tribute to horror films, said that horror has been absent from the Academy Awards since "The Exorcist" in 1978. Said tribute then included scenes from "Silence of the Lambs", which won the "big five" Oscars in 1991.
On the one hand, repeating last year's schtick of having co-stars/friends of nominated actors introduce each nominee was kinda fun, and by limiting it to the lead actors, seemed less tedious. On the other hand, it was a bit disingenious to the supporting actors and remains kinda odd, particularly when they have to stretch to find people that relate to the nominated actor. Bottom line, I think I'd just rather see clips of the nominated performances, or at least have the introducers speak more specifically to the work of the actor being recognized.
Dr. Bitz discovered an article suggesting the meaning behind Sean Penn's mad ramblings before announcing the winner of the best actress award. It seems he was referencing his ex-wife Robin Wright Penn, whom he failed to thank after winning his Oscar last year, and who turned in what some felt was a nomination-worthy performance last year that the Academy overlooked. Overall, it still doesn't make much sense, but that's Sean Penn for you.
Sandra Bullock probably had the best acceptance speech, managing to be funny, grateful and heartfelt without it feeling overly long or tedious.
There was some meaning behind Barbara Streisand's presentation of the best director Oscar: she was considered a shoo-in for a nomination (and a front runner for winning) in that category for directing "The Prince of Tides" in 1991 but failed to receive a nomination in what was considered one of the more blatant showings of the Academy's bias. So I'm fairly certain that, in a year with Kathryn Bigelow almost certain to become the first woman to receive a best director Oscar, the producers sought out Babs to present the award.
The much-discussed ratings? They were the highest in five years, with 41.3 million viewers, up 14% from last year. Was that because of the Best Picture expansion, or because the highest-grossing movie of all time was one of those best picture nominees? We'll never know for sure, but neither certainly hurt. Expect to see ten best picture nominees for the foreseeable future.