Bringing out past co-stars to effuse about the lead actor and actress nominees, rather than last year's cattle call of past winners to welcome the newest to the fold. While last year's was nice and all, it was often painful when the speaker was reading praise off the TelePrompTer, very obvious they hadn't even seen the performance. Seeing Michelle Pfeiffer reminisce about Jeff Bridges from The Fabulous Baker Boys, etc. was a welcome trip down memory lane.Gabourey Sidibe's runway pose when her name was announced at the beginning of the show, when all the lead acting nominees came onstage.
The crackling "tension" that appeared to be going on between Alec Baldwin and George Clooney during the opening monologue. Priceless.
Jeff Bridges' emotional praise of his showbiz parents (and repeated use of the word "groovy" and "man"). Had Jason Reitman (son of Ivan) had won Best Adapted Screenplay for Up in the Air, you would have seen a similar speech, but alas, it was not to be.
Costume Design winner Sandy Powell (The Young Victoria) astutely observing that designers for movies that are not period dramas are underrecognized, but that their work is just as hard.
Taylor Lautner's terrified expression when Steve Martin and Alec Baldwin mentioned his name during their opening monologue, tensing himself up for a joke at his expense.
The stars of the Animated Feature films being interviewed by Barbara Walters, press junket-style. Best is The Fantastic Mr. Fox lamenting that this isn't a "real" category.
The tribute to John Hughes. Not in a long time have I seen a montage of clips that perfectly encapsulated someone's influence, rather than just a mishmash of iconic well-known scenes. Plus it was nice to see the number of actors who got their start in a Hughes pic. The girl laughing at Watts wearing "boys' underpants" in the locker-room scene from Some Kind of Wonderful still stings today. (Side note: Vanity Fair has a terrific profile of the late '80s writer-director).
No Best Song performances. I thought I would miss them. I didn't.
The Best Score interpretive dance, which I would have put in the "Neither Here nor There" category, except for the dance for Up, which really made me appreciate the score even more.
The top half of Zoe Saldana's gown.
NEITHER HERE NOR THERE
Neil Patrick Harris' musical opening. I love me some NPH, but the opening was not nearly as brilliant as his Emmy number. Many confused audience members probably echoed Harris' sentiment, "What am I doing there?"
Co-hosts Steve Martin and Alec Baldwin. When they were onstage, they were spot-on, and they had some great brief bits involving Snuggies and a riff on Paranormal Activity. The only complaint is not using them enough.
Ben Stiller presenting Best Makeup dressed in full Avatar getup. I would applaud his fully committed performance had he not meandered and rambled about wanting to "plug my braid into your dragon."
Morgan Freeman narrating the Best Sound introduction. Yes, he is the voice of God in my head, but CBS Evening News, Visa.. is there anything the man hasn't voice-overed yet?
The absence of the Governor's Award, Honorary Oscar and Thalberg Award presentations. They were done in a separate dinner so the honorees would get more air time and a more intimate setting. Which is all well and good in keeping the show short, but that Lauren Bacall acceptance speech alone looked like it was prime-time worthy.
Demi Moore introducing the "In Memoriam" sequence, but not mentioning anything about Patrick Swayze.
The Oscar pre-show. Two bad decisions were made here: Kathy Ireland "interviewing" stars, and including in the past red-carpet montage celebrity couples who are no longer together (Richard Gere and Cindy Crawford, for instance).
The failure of AquaNet. Judging by the frizzy coifs of Sarah Jessica Parker, Anna Kendrick, Demi Moore and others, some hairstylists will find themselves without a job tomorrow.
Kristen Stewart: For the love of God, stop fidgeting.
Using the sweeping theme from E.T. to announce... Elizabeth Banks (who was recapping the Sci-Fi and Tech Oscars). With that music, was anyone else expecting Steven Spielberg to walk out? Or Drew Barrymore?
Orchestra vs. winner playing chicken. The director from The Cove awkwardly stood there as the cutoff music played, seemingly considering if he should talk over the orchestra or get them to stop. He ended up shrugging and leaving the stage, probably cursing co-producer Fisher Stevens for hogging all the air time.
The horror movie montage. Its purpose was ... what, exactly?
The bottom half of Zoe Saldana's gown.
"Well, the time has come." -- Barbra Streisand, presenting Best Director to The Hurt Locker's Kathryn Bigelow (the first female to win)
"Oscar AND Penelope. That's an uber-Bingo." --Christoph Waltz, whose Supporting Actor statue was given to him by Penelope Cruz
"It's a collaboration between handsome gifted people and sickly little mole people." --Robert Downey Jr., on the relationship between writers and actors
"I want to thank Miss Hattie McDaniel, for enduring all that she had to so that I would not have to." --Best Supporting Actress winner Mo'Nique of the first African-American Oscar winner
"I want to thank the Academy for not considering Na'vi a foreign language." -- director of El Secreto de sus Ojos, winner for Best Foreign Language Film, of the made-up language spoken in Avatar
"I'll never forget what you said to me about friendship on the last day of shooting [The Shawshank Redemption]. He said, 'Being a friend is getting the other a cup of coffee. Can you do that for me, Ted? It is Ted, isn't it?'" -- Tim Robbins, presenting Best Actor nominee Morgan Freeman
"[He's a] fantastically fantastic mister foxy fox." -- Vera Farmiga, presenting Best Actor nominee George Clooney
"It is in the area of awards and accolades that you show a certain... selfishness ... That is why I have spearheaded a movement in the Academy to cap the number of nominations by an actor at 16." --Stanley Tucci, presenting Best Actress (and 16-time nominee) Meryl Streep
"For not letting me ride in cars with boys till I was 18, 'cause she was right, I would have done what she said I was gonna do." -- Sandra Bullock, tearfully thanking her late motherAnd the best of co-hosts Steve Martin and Alec Baldwin:
"He directed A Single Man." "And she weighs a single pound." -- Introducing designer Tom Ford and Sarah Jessica Parker
"Our next presenter won a screenwriting Oscar at the age of 27, and then went on to become an action star, which represents the first time a screenwriter has gotten any action." -- introducting Matt Damon
"In Inglourious Basterds, Christoph Waltz played a Nazi obsessed with finding Jews. Well Christoph... (gestures to the audience) .. the motherlode."
"Meryl Streep holds the record for most nominations for an actress. Or as I like to think of it, most losses."
"She was so pleased to be nominated with him she sent him a beautiful gift basket... with a timer." "And he reciprocated by sending her.. a Toyota." --regarding the Best Director nominees (and friendly ex-spouses) Kathryn Bigelow and James Cameron
"Oh look, there's that damn Helen Mirren." "That's Dame Helen Mirren." --Martin misreading the TelePrompTer
"The show is so long that Avatar now takes place in the past."
What were your favorite moments? --Ellen