The only real highlight this year was Kathryn Bigilow's win for Best Director. First woman to do that, But I was hoping her speech would build on that, mention all the unsung (and often uncredited) women directors of classic Hollywood, as well as those in recent years that broke down the barriers.
I would have loved to have heard Ida Lupino lauded or Randa Haines (who broke ground with CHILDREN OF A LESSER GOD as a woman director but was overlooked for the nomination despite almost everything else in that movie being nominated—full disclosure Haines was a friend at the time, but she still deserved a nomination).
The opening number with Neil Patrick Harris was embarrassing. The problem is they try to create the show partly to impress the live Hollywood audience, who can see the screens on stage and the dance numbers and the moving Ikea sculptures or whatever they were in a personally in-the-house connection way.
But they also have to impress the rest of us who are watching on our TVs. Most often they end up doing neither. Like I said, the opening number was an embarrassment and wasted way too much time. Ed Sullivan knew how to pace a show better in the 1950s!
But some stuff worked well. Like the co-hosts. A great team, comfortable and professional and not too intrusive (it wasn't about them, as it was about Billy Crystal say). And they made me laugh out loud a lot (full disclosure Alec Baldwin's an old friend).
I thought having James Taylor sing and play acoustic over the memorial segment was a nice touch, though the confusion in the directing booth about the on-stage screens and the TV screen at home made for some awkward moments. They never had that problem years ago, just automatically switched to the small screen the second any clips or montages began. Now they seem to linger for us to see, in this case, two screens at odd angles and have to try and figure out what's on them.
And as others have pointed out, they not only left Farrah Faucett off the memorial montage, but Bea Arthur, Henry Gibson and Brad Renfro as well. What's up with that?
And too many extraneous clips (like the one on how they did the sound for a DARK KNIGHT explosion, as if making up for leaving THE DARK KNIGHT out last year) and not enough of the stuff that matters (remember those old montages, like the one that incorporated what seemed like hundreds of the most iconic movie moments of all time—more of that please!). [I used to remember the guy's name who edited that, but can't post brain surgery and can't find it on the net either)
Surprisingly there were no memorable speeches this year either. I was hoping for something from Bridges or even Bullock that would nail the moment, but they kind of wavered and settled for sincere, but not that poignant or ultimately interesting (Bridges initial remark about being an "extension" of his parents and their show biz aspirations and achievements was a nice touch, but then he went into "The Dude" mode and I wondered if he had maybe toked up beforehand and thought everything was happening a lot faster than it was).
When Geoffrey Fletcher won for adapted screen play that almost turned into a memorable moment because he's the first African-American to win in that category and was obviously overwhelmed, but then it became more about him than the story, which after all was adapted, not written by him, though he sounded as if it had been. And as far as I could hear he didn't even include Sapphire among those he thanked and she wrote the book he took the story and characters and much of the dialogue from! (I hope I'm wrong about that, so if you heard different let me know.)
The other dance number had some amazing moves in it (triple flips etc.) but it was too much. They should have made the soundtracks the dancers were interpreting into a medley and had the dancers do their most spectacular moves in the shortest time possible, or cut the whole bit.
But despite all the problems and disappointments and glitches and being way too long, in the end I enjoyed it, because of Baldwin and Martin and because of some of the presenters and recipients and mostly because there were some nominees who were totally deserving of the accolades, and I got to see some old friends and co-workers live, even if just on the small screen.