Coming off last year's debacle hosted by zombie-like James Franco and the impossibly chirpy Anne Hathaway, it was gratifying to see the Academy finally pull off a halfway decent telecast.
Beyond the return of recurring host Billy Crystal, I thought the pacing of the show was better. It actually moved along, with fewer windy speeches and pointless production numbers.
Many are panning the evening of course, saying Crystal's gags fell flat and claiming the show felt old and tired.
Well, though I'll admit he was not batting a thousand on all his routines, I thought Crystal was a solid improvement over the Franco/Hathaway team, and it seemed the large and seemingly appreciative audience who watched it with me (in a theatre no less) felt the same.
Granted we were an older crowd. (Hey-why is "old" such a dirty word anyway?)
After the 2011 awards, when it was so painfully obvious that the Academy was trying to reinvent itself for a younger audience, this year "older" proved to be pretty winning.
Let me count the ways:
Even just one year ago, who could have predicted that a (mostly) silent, black and white movie harkening back to olden days could win Best Picture and four other major Oscars? I can tell you: no one.
Then, nearly half a century after making The Sound Of Music, octogenarian Christopher Plummer wins his first Academy Award. Talk about a Hollywood ending!
Finally, Meryl Streep, on her record-breaking seventeenth Oscar nod, finally scores another statuette after almost three decades. Her acceptance speech, full of warmth and humility, confirmed what we already suspected: she's a total class act.
So -- speaking as someone over fifty whose passion is looking back at the best of film, there was at least something to applaud in this year's Oscars.
As to the movies themselves, it's striking that the industry just bestowed their top honor on a film that could never have been sold in Hollywood.
Beyond all the charm and virtuosity in The Artist, what's so fundamentally cool about it is the boldness of its conceit.
In a cinematic landscape saturated by 3D and CGI, imagine pitching a silent film that dares to play by rules that became obsolete eight-five years ago.
And it worked.
Amazingly, jaded, money-hungry Hollywood, married as it is to formulaic movie franchises, just tipped its hat to something daringly original.
Will this have any impact on the kinds of features we see produced in the years to come?
Probably not, but it's nice to hope.
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An earlier version of this post incorrectly stated that Natalie Portman was a host on last year's Academy Awards.