1. The singers of the 60’s rocked our world all over again. Barbra Streisand followed an exquisite tribute to those the movie industry lost last year with a beautiful rendition of “The Way We Were.” And Dame Shirley Bassey concluded the 50 Years of Bond tribute by showing us how to raise the roof with “Goldfinger.”
2. A satisfying win for “Brave.” It was a great year for animation and all the nominees deserved a prize. But I especially loved Pixar’s first-ever movie with a female lead character and it was a delight to see Mark Andrews (in a kilt) and Brenda Chapman honored for their work in bringing this marvelous story to life with such vibrancy and meaning.
3. Spotlighting the musicals. Bringing back Oscar winners Catherine Zeta Jones and Jennifer Hudson to reprise their show-stopping numbers from “Chicago” and “Dreamgirls” was a terrific lead-in to the performance from the cast of “Les Miserables.”
4. A surprise guest appearance from the White House. First Lady Michelle Obama honored the Best Picture nominees and the way that the best movies inspire us and bring us together.
5. Daniel Day-Lewis set a new record. With his extraordinary performance as Abraham Lincoln, Day-Lewis became the first actor to win three Best Actor Oscars. And his acceptance speech was a model of graciousness and charm.
Worst moments of the night:
1. Seth MacFarlane was a disappointing host. He tried to have it both ways with some meta-jokes about his own performance, but buried the good lines with overkill that came across more self-centered than self-deprecating. We all like to see glamorous stars get teased, but too many of MacFarlane’s jokes, including a song about breasts, and (as Ted) asking about orgies, and making fun of the Jewish community in Hollywood were offensive.
2. Jaws music to cut off the winners? We know the show always runs over and no one whose name isn’t being listed wants to hear an acceptance speech of more than two minutes, but it is just plain rude to play the “Jaws” shark attack theme remind them that their time is up.
3. What happened to the Avengers? The stars of the biggest box office hit of last year seemed like confused amateurs as they tripped over each other’s lines.
4. The hair! What was it with the hair this year? A couple of the male winners had hairstyles somewhere between Fabio and Legolas. And John Travolta seemed to be wearing a fur hat.
5. A closing song for the losers. Really? The purpose of this show is to honor the nominees and winners and remind viewers of the pleasure, excitement, glamour, and romance of the movies. A concluding song reassuring non-winner Bradley Cooper that he can still make “Hangover 4” ended things on a sour and snarky note.
Nell Minow is Movie Mom, a blogger for Beliefnet, and her reviews can be found here.