I find myself making less of a big deal of the Oscars compared to years past. I still watch them, though, and here are some thoughts on the morning after.
Beginning at the beginning, Chris Rock did just fine as host. His "If you can't get So-And-So, Wait" bit was great and really cut into "popular people" such as Colin Farrell and Jude Law. Both of these actors were notably absent from the audience, but Law received a defense from Sean Penn later in the evening. As much as I like Sean, he should lighten up and realize that Rock was making fun of their ubiquitousness in films lately and not any lack of talent.
I don't normally go into the whole clothing and hair thing with the presenters, but let me make one brief observation. To Renee Zellweger: PLEASE go back to being a blonde. That black hair doesn't work in the slightest.
Easily the winner for most entertaining acceptance speech goes to Jorge Drexler, who won the best song Oscar for "Al Otro Lado Del Río" in "The Motorcycle Diaries". He came onstage, sang a brief snippet of a song in Spanish, said thank you and then left the stage. Most viewers couldn't understand what he sang, but it was such beautiful singing that nobody cared.
Speaking of Jorge, there was a definite Hispanic thread to the night as his Oscar was shortly followed by the Best Foreign Film Oscar going to "The Sea Inside" from Spain. For both of these awards, the camera cut to Antonio Banderas in the audience, who seemed ecstatic. Honestly, he looked happier at those two moments than some of the winners.
And speaking of being emotional for others, I am always touched not so much by the emotional award winners, but rather the people in the audience who worked with them. Such was the case with Kate Winslet who, though she didn't win Best Actress, seemed pleased beyond words when "Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind" and "Finding Neverland" won Best Original Screenplay and Best Score, respectively.
The tribute to those who passed was typically moving, though I preferred the orchestral music that accompanied the clip reel in past years instead of this year's solo done by Yo Yo Ma. It was also nice to see another mention of Jerry Orbach (He also briefly showed up in the Sidney Lumet tribute from his role in "Prince of the City"). However, they only showed a clip from "Dirty Dancing" for his name. I'm willing to bet that "Beauty and the Beast" will be a longer remembered role, but I suppose in the end his in-the-flesh role trumped an animated candlestick for the people who put the tribute together.
To Martin Scorsese: You weren't the only one who thought that this was your year. The only solace I can give you, and this is cold comfort, is that Alfred Hitchcock never won a Best Director Oscar, either. Let's just hope your upcoming remake of the Japanese crime film "Internal Affairs" (renamed "The Departed") will receive just as much love as "The Aviator" did.
And finally, in regards to the telecast as a whole, the proceedings went faster than in previous years and was very enjoyable. However, I have to wonder who made the inexplicable choice of the "Terminator 2" score as the overall musical theme for the Oscars this year. If the softer re-orchestration wasn't odd enough, then the jazzy trumpet solo that accompanied it during the end credits was downright weird. Let's just hope the trend doesn't continue and we won't hear a retooling of the bombastic and overused "Aliens" theme during next year's show.