New host Seth MacFarlane proved he could sing and dance, but he seemed a bit nervous during his opening (which was saved by the excellent William Shatner). I would like to see him return as host, building on what he did right (some genuine moments of sincerity, such as acknowledging the Academy's mistake of not nominating Ben Affleck for "Best Director") and eliminating what he did wrong (stay away from race jokes, please). Sometimes his voice sounded like he was doing a bad Don Pardo impersonation, instead of just being natural. He should also stop clapping, it looked awkward.
I couldn't tell which gaffes were genuine and which were planned to give the show a sense of unexpected suspense. "It's live! What will happen next!" Some of the presenters and performers just seemed clueless, such as Renee Zellweger. I like Kristen Chenowith but she was pretty awful on the Red Carpet and messed up the finale by singing the wrong lines.
I'm not the best judge of fashion, but even I noticed that some of the gents did the impossible -- making a tuxedo look terrible. One of my writing/directing heroes Quentin Tarantino looked like a slob with an untucked shirt and unbuttoned collar, and one of my acting heroes Jack Nicholson seemed to be wearing an ill-fitting suit. This is the Oscars, guys, not the Golden Globes, and you're both millionaires -- hire someone to pick out a proper-fitting tux and don't look like you slept in it!
I liked the Jaws theme playing everytime a winner exceeded the time limit for an acceptance speech, although it was weird that the live orchestra was playing in a different building!
Daniel Day-Lewis gave the best speech of the night. Everyone henceforth should take lessons from him on how it's done. Funny, touching, classy!
This year's celebration of musicals was fine, but let's not overdo it in the future. This isn't the Tony Awards. The trick will be to show an equal passion for cinema. Wouldn't it have been great, for example, to have all the actors who played James Bond appear on stage together during the Bond 50th anniversary tribute? I know Sean Connery is retired, but it would have been a moment for the history books. Instead of just having the cast from Marvel's The Avengers on stage, how about having them square off side by side with their DC Comics counterparts -- Christian Bale, Ryan Reynolds, and Henry Cavill?
How can we keep the energy going throughout the evening without those deathly dull moments? I don't want to minimize any of the categories, but there needs to be some way to make some of them more relevant to the show while everyone waits for the "bigger" awards. For example, they should explain to the general public watching what the difference is between "Sound Mixing" and "Sound Editing."
Jennifer Lawrence looked stunning and I was glad she won. She handled herself very well, even after her little trip up the steps. (They should have some gentlemen helping the long-gowned actresses up the stage in the future.)
It was great to see so many actors show their singing and dancing chops -- Daniel Radcliffe, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Hugh Jackman, Ann Hathaway, Charlize Theron, etc.
While I was rooting for Lincoln, I was glad to see Ben Affleck accept the gold for Argo as "Best Picture." His speech, which started off as a rambling mess, turned out to be quite touching and inspirational.
I don't know how to balance my request for cooler categories with my other ideas for improving the Oscars, but hopefully they will keep trying. There's plenty I still love about the Academy Awards, but it's still a needlessly long ceremony that could use some trimming.