It's the morning after, so let's take this painless, bullet point-style:
- The first time he hosted, I thought Jon Stewart was terrible for the first hour or so, and that once he realized he had bombed -- and that, therefore, the likelihood of a return invite was slim -- he relaxed and turned back into Jon Stewart. This time, I thought he was himself, and pretty funny, from the start. You could tell which lines were by Stewart and his people (the slam on "Norbit," for instance) and which came from the usual Oscar joke-writers (the awful Harrison Ford intro, which Stewart looked miserable delivering), but he was confident and enough of the jokes landed that I wouldn't mind him coming back in a year when there was more prep time and a chance to do the now obligatory phony clip montage. Ellen DeGeneres was a disappointment in her stint, Chris Rock and Letterman aren't ever going to be asked back, Billy Crystal was coasting the last time he did it, and Steve Martin apparently doesn't want to ruin the perfection of his time on the stage by doing it again, so I think Stewart deserves another shot.
- Admittedly, the only award where I had a real rooting interest was for Best Original Song, where I loved "Falling Slowly" from "Once," but for me the highlight of the night wasn't just Glen Hansard and Marketa Irglova winning, but Stewart (or someone in the control room) deciding after the commercial break that Marketa should get to come back and give the speech that the orchestra wouldn't let her give in the first place. Admittedly, lots of people get played off by the band and don't get a second chance like this, but it was such a lovely speech -- "Fair play to those who dare to dream" -- and the crowd in the theater was clearly so gung-ho for "Falling Slowly" and its singer-songwriters, that it created the kind of moment that used to be more routine at the Oscars before the endless march of preliminary awards shows (many of them canceled or toned down this year) sucked the life out of the main event.
- There were a number of other great speeches: Javier Bardem talking to his mom in Spanish, Tilda Swinton (clearly not expecting to win and winging it) rambling on about George Clooney's batsuit with nipples, Ethan Coen being mercifully brief twice, among others. I was watching the show on a DVR delay and fast-forwarded through the speeches in the more obscure categories, so for all I know most of the audience had to suffer through the usual deadly laundry lists of thank yous, but what I saw, I liked.
- I know I should have hated the Jonah Hill/Seth Rogen bit about who got to be Halle Berry -- it went on forever and had nothing resembling a punchline -- but for whatever reason, it made me laugh. I can't explain it.
- I haven't yet seen "Enchanted," and while Amy Adams did a nice job with her song, I feel like that performance needed the kind of context that the other two "Enchanted" numbers got, rather than just letting Jim Halpert's ex-girlfriend sing alone on-stage.
- Does anyone know for sure whether you have to be an Academy member to be included in the In Memoriam montage? That would be the easiest way to explain the absence of Brad Renfro. (Roy Scheider died after the cut-off, and will no doubt get big applause next year.)
- The juxtaposition of grumpy old man Harrison Ford giving an award to tattooed uber-hipster Diablo Cody amused me, though nerves seemed to overtake Cody during her speech.
- As Josh Brolin started apologizing to Jack Nicholson for his awful Jack impression (the latest in a series I like to call "Josh Brolin Is At An Awards Show And Is Going To Say Whatever The Hell He Wants, Dammit"), my wife pointed out that seated right behind Jack was Diane Lane, Brolin's wife, and I'll be damned if I can figure out whether that frozen smile on her face meant she was amused or appalled by what Brolin was doing.