The glitter dust of the 84th Academy Awards may have settled, but with the 85th edition a mere 363 days away, there are some lessons for next year's producers, whoever they may be. Let's review while our memories are still fresh.
Keep it short: Clocking in at a slim 3 hours and 14 minutes, last night's telecast was the seventh shortest Oscar broadcast since 1973 (the last time producers kept it as brief was in 2005, the year Chris Rock hosted). The producers zoomed right into the thick of things last night, doubling up on the awards-per-presenter ratio and eschewing Best Song performances and the oftentimes long and tedious Lifetime Achievement presentations. All future shows should be this refreshingly efficient and, you know, respectful of the audience's time. It's a school night, after all!
Keep it light: The silly and wholly unnecessary "Salute to Movies" stuff they kept doing aside, this year the ceremony seem mostly untouched by the Oscars' oftentimes overly heavy hand. There wasn't a lot of effort made to make the industry seem more serious than it is, host Billy Crystal kept politics out of his jokes for the most part, even the "In Memoriam" segment was a simple, brief affair without all the applause-o-meter scoring of years past. Sure the Academy is still pretty self-aggrandizing and the moneyed celebrities in the room perhaps a bit out of touch, but this year's show was refreshingly un-pompous -- hopefully a sign that the puffed-up, We Are Special And Amazing And Relevant attitude that's infected the Oscars in the years since 9/11 might be finally dying down.
Test the mics: That noise! That terrible, terrible noise. The weird tinny, metallic feedback sound marred last night's viewing experience, and it wasn't the first time. Obviously the Oscars telecast is a huge ship to steer and some technical foul-ups are inevitable, but this is a big one. If they want us to treat the ceremony has a big, slick, important thing to watch, it needs to sound like it isn't being broadcast by a high school A.V. club somewhere.
Find a new host: Billy Crystal's creaky humor coupled with the whole silent movie-era stuff was maybe a little too cozy and old-timey. The Oscars usually go off the rails when they try lots of crazy or "edgy" things (ahem, James Franco), but there's something to be said for trying to buck tradition a little bit. Cirque du Soleil was cool and all, but at this point they're not quite the surprise oddity they once were. We understand that the producers had to scramble to put the show together after the whole Brett Ratner fiasco, but we wish they hadn't played it quite so safe. Sadly it may be time for Mr. Crystal to hang up his tux once and for all.