Hollywood got dolled up in its finest for the annual Academy Awards party last night, but the American public yawned and changed the channel.  According to early reports, the three-hour seventeen-minute telecast ranks as one of the lowest rated shows in Oscar history.  Ironically, hardcore film buffs would probably agree that Sunday’s show featured the best line-up of winners in ages.  Sure I was personally hoping that There Will Be Blood would be named Best Picture, but No Country for Old Men is a less embarrassing choice than, say, Crash or Gladiator.  In fact, I wasn’t enraged with any of the winning films.  Diablo Cody winning for Juno?  Not my first choice, but that screenplay definitely shows promise.  Elizabeth: The Golden Age nabbing the Oscar for costumes?  The fashions were the only memorable things about that movie.  The Bourne Ultimatum sweeping its three technical nods?  Very cool–the editing and sound work on that movie was top-notch.  And boy, did I cheer when The Golden Compass beat out Transformers for Best Visual Effects.  Yes, Optimus Prime looked cool, but I’m thrilled that the Academy continues to deny Michael Bay an Oscar.

So it was a good night for the winners, but a mediocre show overall.  Lowlights included Jon Stewart’s messy opening monologue, the time-consuming montages, Seth Rogen and Jonah Hill’s flat “I’m Halle Berry” routine, the last musical number from Enchanted and playing Marketa Irglova, one-half of the Oscar-winning Once duo, off-stage before she had a chance to say anything.  Highlights included every post-monologue Stewart appearance (he got looser as the show went on), Javier Bardem’s heartfelt acceptance speech, the fake “Salute to Binocular Vision” montage and Stewart inviting Irglova back onstage after a commercial break.  There were no grand “I’m the King of the World!” boasts a la James Cameron, but also no truly memorable bits like Adrien Brody planting one on Halle Berry or Jack Palance doing one-handed push-ups.  In other words, it was a very low-key, business-as-usual show, which is probably why it attracted such a small viewing audience.  For me, the saddest part of the night was how badly I did in my predictions.  I went 11 for 24, a truly horrid score for which I have little excuse.  Hopefully you didn’t listen to me when filling out your own ballot.  If you did, sorry I cost you the $100 jackpot in your office pool.  But just so we’re clear, I’m not sorry enough to pay you out of my own pocket.

For the record, hear are all of last night’s 24 winners.  The bolded titles are the ones I predicted correctly.

Best Picture
No Country for Old Men   

Best Director
Joel and Ethan Coen, No Country for Old Men

Best Actor
Daniel Day-Lewis, There Will Be Blood

Best Actress

Marion Cotillard, La Vie en Rose

Best Supporting Actor
Javier Bardem, No Country for Old Men

Best Supporting Actress

Tilda Swinton, Michael Clayton

Best Original Screenplay

Best Adapted Screenplay
No Country for Old Men

Best Animated Feature

Best Art Direction
Sweeney Todd

Best Cinematography
There Will Be Blood

Best Costume Design
Elizabeth: The Golden Age

Best Documentary Feature
Taxi to the Dark Side

Best Documentary Short Subject

Best Editing
The Bourne Ultimatum

Best Foreign Language Film
The Counterfeiters

Best Score

Best Makeup
La Vie en Rose

Best Original Song

Best Animated Short
Peter & The Wolf

Best Live Action Short
The Mozart of Pickpockets

Best Sound Editing
The Bourne Ultimatum

Best Sound Mixing
The Bourne Ultimatum

Best Visual Effects
The Golden Compass