Looking back on some of the highlights, lowlights and surprises from Sunday's 85th annual Academy Awards.
• Biggest Surprise No. 1 — No, it wasn't Ang Lee snagging a second directing Oscar for "Life of Pi" over the favored Steven Spielberg ("Lincoln"), though that was a surprise. It was tie for the sound editing award between "Zero Dark Thirty," about the hunt and assassination of Osama bin Laden, and "Skyfall," the latest, and one of the best, James Bond films.
"No BS, we have a tie," presenter Mark Wahlberg said in response to the crowd's reaction. It's only the third tie in Academy Award history, and first since Katharine Hepburn ("A Lion in Winter") and Barbra Streisand ("Funny Girl") split the best actress award in 1968. It happened one other time, when Wallace Beery ("The Champ") tied Frederic March ("Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde") in 1932.
• The Host — There seemed to be a lot of consternation going in about having so-called bad boy Seth McFarlane, creator of TV's "The Family Guy" and director of the comedy movie "Ted," as this year's host. But the show's producers were looking to liven and lighten things up.
It worked. McFarlane cleverly bridged the generation gap with a series of well-timed, groan-eliciting cracks and nods, especially in the fun (if overly long) opening. He struck the right balance between old-school Hollywood class and impish younger outsider throughout.
That opening, in fact, was one of the most entertaining parts of the 3.5-hour show. Discussing eventual best actor winner Daniel Day-Lewis' famous reputation for immersing himself in his characters, known as Method acting, the host asked if the actor tried to free black actor Don Cheadle during the making of "Lincoln." "How deep does your method go?"
It was fun to see William Shatner ham it up (what else?) as "Star Trek" Capt. James T. Kirk, advising McFarlane not to "mock the movies, celebrate the movies." The tuxedoed host responded by singing, well, "The Way You Look Tonight" as Charlize Theron and Channing Tatum danced an elegant waltz. He then showed a clip of "Flight" featuring sock puppets, sang "High Hopes" and danced soft-shoe with Daniel Radcliffe and Joseph Gordon-Levitt, then closed the 15-minute opening sequence with an ensemble version of "Be Our Guest."
• Biggest Surprise No. 2 — That first lady Michelle Obama announced best picture winner "Argo" from the White House. It's hard to keep a secret in Hollywood. Even harder in Washington, D.C.
• Favorite McFarlane Line No. 1— He noted that when 9-year-old best actress nominee Quvenzhane Wallis turns 25, she'll be "too old for Clooney," at dig at George's penchant for younger women.
• Nicest Surprise — Austrian-German actor Christoph Waltz showed a real propensity for letting Quentin Tarantino's intelligent dialogue lilt off his tongue as a multi-dimensional Jew hunter in "Inglorious Basterds," for which he won a best supporting actor Oscar.
His win in that category again for playing the kind-hearted but cold-blooded bounty hunter in Tarantino's controversial slave revenge drama "Django Unchained" was not only a testament to the director's literary gifts (he won for best original screenplay) but to Waltz's unique talent for making this stuff sound like poetry.
• Favorite McFarlane Line No. 2 — The host introduced presenters Radcliffe and Kristen Stewart as "the boy wizard" and "the vampire," noting that's "pretty much everything the Christian right said is wrong with Hollywood."
• The Music — McFarlane said this year's show had a musical theme. It did, sort of. Certainly, there were three musical highlights that made the show — well-paced for the first hour, but dragged a bit in the second half — go down easier.
One was Adele's restrained, classy performance of her haunting, and now Oscar-winning, original song "Skyfall," from the Bond movie of the same name. It started slowly, built up methodically and exploded in that big, powerful note she belted out at the end, fading to a whisper.
Another was Streisand's heartfelt rendition of "The Way We Were," sung in tribute to composer Marvin Hamlisch, who died last year. At 70, some signs of wear are beginning to show in that special voice, but clearly Streisand hasn't lost much.
I also thought the cast performance of "I Dreamed a Dream" and "One Day More" from "Les Miserables" was surprisingly powerful.
• Down Beat — Unfortunately, watching Catherine Zeta-Jones lip-sync "All That Jazz" from "Chicago" and Jennifer Hudson, who tends ot oversing anyway, screech through "And I'm Telling You I'm Not Leaving" from "Dreamgirls" was time I'll never get back.
Shirley Bassey, who's 76, struggled through "Goldfinger" before finding that vocal wallop of hers. And we could have done without Norah Jones singing McFarlane's nominated song from "Ted." Cut those performances and the show runs three hours.
• Favorite McFarlane Line No. 3 — The host took a shot at smarmy movie "critic" Rex Reed for his recent insults about "Identity Thief" star Melissa McCarthy's excess weight. After Adele, still showing the extra weight from her recent pregnancy, finished performing, McFarlane quipped: "In a few moments, Rex Reed will be out here to review Adele's performance of 'Skyfall.'"
• Fashion — Sorry. I don't pay attention to it. Have you seen the way I dress?
• Favorite McFarlane Line No. 4 — Guess that nod to old Hollywood wasn't totally sugar-coated. Introducing presenters Michael Douglas and Jane Fonda, McFarlane noted "they remember when this town was nothing but cocaine trees as far as the eyes could see."
• The Red Carpet — I avoid that, too. I watched a spring training baseball game.
• Favorite Daniel Day-Lewis Line — The actor, who won an unprecedented third best actor Oscar for "Lincoln," acknowledged his wife Rebecca for living with "some very strange men" over the course of their marriage. Didn't he look like he was preparing to play Morrissey in a movie? Well, he did joke that he was originally supposed to play Margaret Thatcher.
• Favorite McFarlane Line No. 5 — Voicing his CGI Teddy bear character Ted from the movie of the same name, McFarlane's disembodied voice tried to get copresenter and devoted Catholic Wahlberg to admit to being part Jewish. "You wanna work in this town?," he cracked.
• Random Thoughts — Loved the use of the "Jaws" theme to rush long-winded award winners off the stage ... Too bad obscure Detroit rocker Sixto Rodriguez, the subject of the winning documentary, "Searching for Sugar Man," didn't perform ... Cool idea the Academy had having six student filmmakers replace the models who escort the winners off stage ... Didn't Kristen Stewart look stoned or drunk on the show? Turns out she attended on crutches after stepping on glass. Ouch.
• My Predictions — I made my own predictions in all 24 categories in Sunday's paper. How'd I do? I got 15.5 right, 8.5 wrong. The half, obviously, was the result of the tie in the sound editing category. I thought "Skyfall" was going to win. I nailed the best picture ("Argo"), actor (Day-Lewis), actress (Jennifer Lawrence) and several of the technical and other awards, but missed on director (Lee), supporting actor (Waltz) and several other awards.
I'm consistent at least. Last year, I got 16 right and 8 wrong.