I sat out Oscar season but did watch the show. I can't comment a lot because I saw none of the Best Picture nominees (despite their repeated plea for big screen viewing, I'll wait for the DVD).
It was fitting that Crash won Best Picture on the same night Robert Altman was given an honorary Oscar. The message was clear, at least to me: actors control the Academy, and the big winners are an expression of their own selfish preferences. They like acting showcases with little regard toward craft and structure, or history for that matter. From that frame of mind, I can see how a series of L.A. stories with a large multiracial cast would have its appeal.
Jon Stewart made a very noble effort to ground Sunday's ceremony in reality, but the Oscars came across as more pretentious than ever. His "Oscar's salute to montages" comment perfectly captured my criticism of the ceremony: we like to celebrate the films we used to make, and hold out some small hope that the films we choose tonight might join the pantheon.
Things I liked: the cameos in the opening, which was a fitting tribute to Jon Stewart's self-deprecating nature. The Best Picture clips shown before commercials, without introduction. The history of cowboy homoeroticism. The fake Oscar campaign commercials, narrated by Stephen Colbert. That Ludacris was the most well-spoken presenter of the night. Jack Nicholson's "I'm not kidding, it says Crash here" look on his face.
Things I disliked: Lauren Bacall's lack of preparation (and glasses) for an unnecessary tribute to film noir. Philip Seymour Hoffman, so respected by actors, doing actors a disservice by his mumbling, pointless speech. Diana Ossana on sedatives, which should have been funny but was instead slow and painful. Only two surprise winners. That much of the ceremony is already forgettable.