I agree with Mary Melton, the executive editor of Los Angeles Magazine, who blogs that the Bill Condon-Larry Mark-Hugh Jackman Oscars show was more watchable, not less. She posts:
The whole evening was less stodgy, less staged, less ridiculous—don’t get me wrong, I love ridiculous—than before. There was more snap to the near three and a half hours, mostly because the producers filled the clock with less “cue the orchestra, shoo them off the stage, and get this thing over with” and more “Let’s enjoy ourselves and let it breathe a bit.” Producers Bill Condon and Larry Mark know what they like and not surprisingly translated it well: The thrust stage that made even the Kodak feel intimate; gorgeous sets that evoked both a theater’s backstage and a movie studio’s soundstage; jazzy orchestrations that were low on pretension yet still showy; and a host who was enormously appealing and whose only misstep was too little screentime, not too much....
Contrary to many of the pans I’ve been reading today, I found the tribute/introductions to the individual nominees, even the awkwardly delivered ones, moving. When nominated actress after nominated actress welled up (even some of the actors did), it seemed genuine, the words from those who’d come before them unscripted and heartfelt (with the exception of Sophia Loren, who looked frozen in amber).
Oh by the way, the TV ratings were up substantially from last year's rock bottom despite the most popular movies not being nominated. I also liked Queen Latifah making the point that the yearly honor roll of obituaries is, for the people in the room, about their friends, colleagues and loved ones. But, um, how could they leave out George Carlin (who died in June) and voiceover king Don LaFontaine (September)?