First of all, many of the ladies in their Oscar gowns looked gorgeous, even despite some questionable fashion choices—like Charlize's boob-swirls, Zoe Saldana's struggle against being taken down by her dress, and Vera Farmiga's gown that seemed to be a resurrection of Patti LaBelle's 1980's hair (see 0:47). But what up with everything looking great, except wispy frizzy hair that looked like they forgot to comb it down? I'm looking at you, Sarah Jessica Parker and J-Lo and slew of other guilty parties. Surprisingly, normally scrappy Cameron Diaz's hair looked elegant, as did Sandra Bullock, and (of course) Kate Winslet.
And speaking of Sarah Jessica (not to pick on you, dear), Sam Worthington, and yes, again, many others: spit out your G-D gum if you are on camera in front of a global audience. You may have cleaned up real good in your fancy red carpet duds, but chomping like a cow completely shatters the visuals.
Alec Baldwin and Steve Martin as co-hosts sounded brilliant on paper, but their pairing seemed a bit clunky, like they never got the chance to practice together. Especially after Neil Patrick Harris (in a very shiny jacket) got to wow the crowd with the opening song and dance number. Alec and Steve saying, "Oh, look! There's Meryl Streep! [crack one-liner joke]... Oh, look! There's George Clooney! [insert one-liner]..." went on too long and became kind of wince-inducing.
BUT! The comedic moment of the show that got the most laughs from my party was Martin and Baldwin's spoof of Paranormal Activity, that had the two sharing a bed because the Academy was too cheap to put them up in separate rooms. Heee-larious!
I never thought I'd miss the Best Song performances, and all the weird choreography that often accompanied them... That is until we were treated with a hip-hop interpretive dance to the score of The Hurt Locker (and other nominated films). Did anyone else notice that breakin' and poppin' (do the kids still call it that?) looks astonishingly like miming when they do it in slo-mo to classical scores?
Simply put, the John Hughes tribute with the mini-reunion of his favorite actors (Emilio Estevez, where art thou?), made my whole group weepy. Can you say: Target audience? John Hughes, we miss you, and always will. (sniff)
The Dead People Montage improved over last year, but still caused confusion at my party. James Taylor began singing "My Life" (after we begged the TV: "Pleaseohplease don't play 'Fire and Rain'!!!") and the montage again started on the screen behind him before the show's producers finally showed it full-screen on our TVs. The impact of seeing Patrick Swayze first was dimmed because we weren't ready, and we still have no idea who the second guy in the montage was, as we couldn't read his name. And what up with Michael Jackson being included over Farrah Fawcett? I just learned that Farrah was a member of the Academy for 40 years, fer chrissakes, and she didn't make the cut, but MJ did??? Really? For The Wiz???
Speaking of bad style, Kristen Stewart is quickly anointing herself as the Winona Ryder of her generation. And that is not a compliment, nor is it punk. I don't think I've seen a young woman with such a lack of poise in a gown since gum-chomping Winona (see gum complaint above) followed Julie Andrews on the presenter's podium several years ago. Now we have an embarrassed-looking Taylor Lautner (nicely cleaned up) presenting with slouchy, mumbling Kristen Stewart. She DID NOT just turn her head and hack over her shoulder in the middle of a sentence, DID SHE????
The inclusion of a side camera angle during the speeches kind of threw me off. Interesting change, but when a recipient faces the camera, we feel included in their thank-you speeches as the audience. When we look at the sides of their heads, it is a little weird. Except occasionally we got to see something interesting, like Barbra Streisand openly sobbing next to a swooning Kathryn Bigelow when she won Best Director. Yay, Kathryn! (But note to producers: Cuing the orchestra to play Helen Reddy's "I Am Woman" when Kathryn left the stage... VERY tacky!)
And, a special thank to Kathryn Bigelow, who at her second stint at the podium (while she was still obviously stunned and looking like she was about to pass out), gave a shout-out to hazmat workers! As my real job deals with the hazardous materials industry, that got a guffaw of delight from me, which was a nice way to end another overly-long, mostly boring, but entirely glorious evening... As always, my favorite TV night of the year! :)