81st OSCARS: All That Bubbly & No Fizz

Ah, Hugh, you seem like a nice guy but you're no Billy Crystal. Baz, with all your creativity you give us ... a top hat and tails production number? Why oh why do producers of the Academy Awards try to make the show into a Broadway production with movie montages stuffed inside? And with so much talent at their disposal, why can so few winners give a decent acceptance speech? In the background of laundry list thank yous, even the sparkly Swarovski curtain lost its allure. And when Bollywood in Hollywood can't keep things bubbly you know you're in trouble.

It's got to be hard to put on an awards extravaganza in a recession. But Hollywood movies are big business and one of America's biggest exports. They offer escapism, entertainment and sometimes elucidation and art. Certainly that's worthy of celebration.

Perhaps next time the producers should take a page from Kate Winslet, who embodied modern glamour and class, yet still radiated spirit and personal style. She felt comfortable enough on stage to ask her dad for a whistle so she could find him and chose her YSL dress because she found it pretty and thought her mum would like it.

Other things the Oscars could have used more of this year: Tina Fey and Steve Martin's witty repartee; Ben Stiller; original concoctions like Judd Apatow's short film; emotional surprises such as the Best Actress award. "The best kind of surreal," Anne Hathaway later said to describe the moment she and the four other nominees were feted by five "goddesses" in the business. The presenters' star power could have overwhelmed the award itself but fortunately they spoke directly and sincerely to the nominated actresses and gave us the highlight of the evening.


BEST OPENING LINE:  Sean Penn. But then he took out his notes, glasses and list.

BOLDEST JEWELRY:  In a minimalist year for jewels, Amy Adams' stunning Fred Leighton necklace takes the prize.

MOST MAGNIFICENT MERMAID GOWN EVER:  Anne Hathaway and her Armani Prive gown melted onto the red carpet.

WORST TRENDS:  Beige, khaki and gowns that resemble drapery.

CHEESIEST COMMERCIAL ENDORSEMENT:  Tom Colicchio for Diet Coke. Mr. "honor your ingredients" shilling for soda? Shame on him.

BIGGEST SURPRISE:  Robert DeNiro as a presenter (and a funny one!). And he gave the Oscar to the guy who had the...

PRETTIEST MAKEUP:  Most of the makeup looked subtle and fresh, but Diane Lane stood out. Of course, she'd look good with no makeup.

BEST SONG:  Queen Latifah's I'll Be Seeing You made the obit feature almost bearable.

SMARTEST MOVE:  Peter Gabriel refusing to participate in the dreadful Original Song montage.

BEST DRESS:  Megan Mylan--not an actress but winner of Best Documentary Short and thus the reason I can't yet find the designer of her dress.

BEST OVERALL:  Kate Winslet. Brains, beauty, heart, glamour and talent.

NEXT BIG TREND:  All things India and Bollywood, thanks to Slumdog Millionaire.

BEST ACTRESS: Jennifer Aniston, who managed with good grace to ignore her ex and that gal he has all the kids with sitting smack in front of her.


SURREAL STYLE MANIAC MOMENT:  Imagine my surprise after yesterday's post to see a pre-show feature on the Oscars set designer (and famous designer period), David Rockwell. His Rockwell Group also designed the Kodak Theatre, site of the Academy Awards ceremony.

"Use the good china for breakfast."