Seth MacFarlane was about what I expected: not raunchy enough for the Family Guy crowd, too raunchy for Hollywood. For the most part, I thought he handled himself well. The monologue was pretty clever, though it could have used some editing (the sequences showing what MacFarlane did in Shatner's future would have worked better if they were shorter and not just, you know, the entire sequences) and I appreciated that MacFarlane didn't disappear later in the evening, popping up occasionally to move the show along and drop a joke or two. It bugs me when the host just pops up to bookend the show.
In terms of his actual jokes, some hit, some missed, but that's true of all hosts on all shows. In particular, I liked, "Argo tells the previously classified story about an American
hostage rescue in post-revolutionary Iran. The story was so top secret
that the film’s director is unknown to the Academy", and "tonight’s ceremony is being watched by close to a billion people worldwide–which is why Jodie Foster will be up here in a bit to ask for her privacy." And, of course, the bit about saying how the next presenter needs no introduction, then walking away.
As for the overall production of the show...well, to be charitable, it could have used some editing as well. I'm not one to bellyache over the length of the ceremony, but it would be nice if that time was spent on some more interesting things. Look, I love movie music and movie musicals, and if the Oscars wanted to celebrate that, fine, but this was more a celebration of Chicago (which, coincidentally, was in part produced by the producers of this year's telecast, so that's...shocking), which wasn't that great a movie to begin with. There are plenty of great movie musicals to celebrate over the last ten years; this show barely celebrated any of them.
Those same producers also produce Smash, now starring Jennifer Hudson. So really, this year's Oscars were a celebration of "two things the producers were directly involved with, and also Les Mis because it's currently nominated so I guess we'd better lump that in".
It also didn't help that the much-hyped James Bond tribute seemed lacking. A non-verbal montage and one song (albeit one that Shirley Bassey absolutely killed on) hardly seems a tribute, right?
One thing the producers did do right that I appreciate was bringing back clips of the nominated actors' work. Also, I really liked the set design, particularly the various drop in backgrounds like the wall of film projectors.
Man, that Avengers bit was pretty awful (it's always bad when you can't tell if something is a bit or if someone went off-script). Another production misstep.
It happens every few years, but I really don't like when they have some kind of animated character "presenting" an award "on stage". It just makes me wonder what the people in the audience are looking at.
In a joke I wish I'd come up with, Alan Sepinwall pointed out that the sound awards were livened up by the fact that all of the winners looked
like Die Hard henchmen.
The tie for Best Sound Editing was the first tie since 1994, when there was a tie in the Live Action Short category. Prior to that, the last tie (and most notable one) was in 1969, when Barbara Streisand and Katherine Hepburn tied for Best Actress.
Speaking of Best Actress, Jennifer Lawrence has now earned a place in the group of people I'm okay with winning anything, ever, because their speeches are so entertaining. "You guys are just standing up because I fell, and that's so embarrassing."
Ditto Daniel Day-Lewis (who became the first person to win three Best Actor awards), who managed to win every award in sight this season and still managed to turn in a memorable speech every time. This time, he was surprisingly funny while also being sincere.
Usually, the Best Picture speeches are pretty dry, but Ben Affleck's speech was also really good, managing to convey his obvious appreciation without feeling canned while avoiding the dry lawyer/agent/etc. thank yous. And even Grant Heslov, the "non movie star" third of the Argo production trio, spoke well, including the great line, "I know what you're thinking: Three Sexiest Producers Alive."