Well, the main event of the awards calendar is now history, although it had a strangely familiar feel to it, confirming expectations rather than actually surprising us. At least it sporadically felt fresh, whether the results were pleasant (Steve Martin and Alec Baldwin's hilariously free-form opening double act) or painful (Neil Patrick Harris' clanking musical number). The winners were very predictable, right down the line. Even The Hurt Locker's big final win was more of a relief than an upset - wiser heads prevailed after all. But don't say that to Meryl Streep.
The show itself felt a bit tired. For all the talk of freshening things up, it still lumbered along without much personality. It was fun trying to guess why presenters were chosen to introduce the Best Picture or lead acting nominees - some of the connections were a little tenuous, but that only made the game more challenging. But after all the talk, it was surprising that there weren't more surprises in the way they staged the show itself. There are rarely surprises amongst the winners. In fact, the only one that came out of the blue was Geoffrey Fletcher for the Precious screenplay, and no one will begrudge him.
The speeches were pretty sober, as usual, but at least it seems like we're finally getting away from lists of names and returning to gushing sentiment, which is a lot more fun. Christoph Waltz managed to do both in another carefully tailored speech, just as he has with the other 800 awards he's won this season. It was sublime to see Jeff Bridges finally up there as a winner. Kathryn Bigelow broke a big Oscar barrier with sheer skill and class. And three cheers to Mo'Nique for blasting the absurdity of awards campaigning in her speech. In the fashion stakes, Kate Winslet once again wins hands down for being most glamorous person in the room. And Gabourey Sidibe wins for both the most fabulous dress and the best red carpet comment: "If the Oscars were porn, this dress would be the money shot."