I'm too tired to post in every different thread, so I'll offer my full reactions here.
I was pretty alienated going in -- partly from the dreary sameness of the season and lack of interest in the top race; partly from life issues; and, in the end, from being sick for about the last two weeks, which made preparing our Oscar party a major chore. I can't even fully comment on the presentations, as I was occupied trying to host through much of the first hour and missed any number of jokes.
But, from what I saw, the big surprise was how typical an Oscar show it was. For all the talk (and deliciously snarky anticipation) that Shankman was going to move it to the level of reality TV, it pretty much felt like dozens of other editions I've seen. Apart from the Vegas-y opener and the "why is this here?" Hughes tribute, the show wasn't a disgrace, and it managed some nice moments. I honestly liked alot of intros of the lead performers -- Pfeiffer & Robbins in particular -- and thought it seemed a decent variation on last year's innovation...giving more tribute to the top nominees than a mere one-more-time recitation of their names. (Though even that honor was not accorded the best picture nominees -- did Hanks screw up, or were they just running late?)
But, in the end, it comes down to the awards, and here, for me, it was mostly ho-hum mixed in with an occasional Oh, no! The award to Bullock -- which will live in infamy -- wasn't even the evening's low point, that having been provided by the disgraceful screenwriting award to Precious. How sad when you go in with low expectations, and the evening's biggest surprise takes them lower. You might guess I also disapproved of the other screenwriting award -- undeserved AND a quick tipoff to the evening's final award. Screenplay had been a safe harbor for many of us over the past two decades, but the last few years, since '04, beyond the best picture winners I've found very little to cheer in that area.
They should have given the sound awards in reverse order if they'd wanted any modicum of suspense. Once Hurt Locker took sound editing, sound mixing was a gimme. (And, again a sign of where best picture was going, though, like many, I briefly entertained the prospect of a ghastly Precious upset)
It wasn't, of course, an evening totally without its pleasures. Waltz and Mo'Nique were deeply deserving, and so, for me, was Bridges. And I was happy for Bigelow, who look like she might keel over from the thrill. About the issues people are raising re: her -- 1) I think her being a woman made her unstoppable, and, by my ears, the night's most heavily-applauded winner, but The Hurt Locker defied all sorts of historical gravity to get this far, so writing her off as a victor-by-vagina is utterly silly; 2) I agree, Strange Days is her earlier film that most bears a look...though I think it crashes in the last reel; 3) her acknowledgement of the troops is emphatically not support for the war -- in fact, she's numerous times spoken of bringing them home. What she is doing is what many on the left have done concerning Iraq to correct a mistake made during the Vietnam era: not holding the individual soldier, who is bound to obey authority, responsible for the mistakes of leadership.
As for Sandra Bullock -- who cares if she gave a nice speech? A nice speech is in fact the problem, as those who voter for her do so with the speech rather than the performance in mind. A disgraceful choice. (And BJ, you're correct: Streep will be a significant part of Who'll Be Back this year -- to come whenever I can shake this everlasting cold and get my thoughts down on paper)