Having watched the Academy Awards for many years, this gray-haired observer of countless Oscar presentations feels qualified to say, after watching the 2010 show...
Bring back the vibe of the good old days: wilder, crazier, less structured, more unpredictable. Somehow this year I felt like a lot was missing from the Academy Awards even though it ran three and a half hours.
When Sean Penn walks onto the stage to give an award and is utterly well-behaved, something is wrong. When Steve Martin, the original "wild and crazy guy," is reduced to 99% reading of scripted lines and 1% spontaneity, something is wrong.
When the camera quickly pans away from the single show of genuine social outrage (during the acceptance speech for best Documentary won by makers of a film about Japan's cruel slaughter of dolphins) -- a guy holding up a placard with a save-the-dolphins text message number -- something is wrong.
When the dance/music numbers are ho-hum, and there's no real hilarity, just some mild chuckling moments, something is wrong. When the hugely talented Sasha Baron Cohen is banned from the show because it was feared his Avatar spoof could ruffle James Cameron's feathers, something is wrong.
That said, I found the 2010 Academy Awards to be pleasant and entertaining, as the Oscars show always is. I just frequently thought, as I sat through the 210 minutes, about memorable moments that I remember from past years.
A naked streaker. Jack Palance's one-armed push ups. Roberto Benigni going wild. Sacheen Littlefeather refusing to accept Marlon Brando's best actor award, at his request, because of the film industry's mistreatment of Indians.
These sorts of uncontrolled moments don't happen much any more, because the Academy apparently prefers bland over real.
Hollywood is filled with talented actors who make us feel things we've never felt before. But the Academy Awards has turned into a predictable "I've seen this before" show.