One of the most predictable Academy Awards in years took a film-worthy twist as Kathryn Bigelow and The Hurt Locker beat out the closest thing the movies have to a Goliath — a film that just happened to be made by Bigelow's ex-husband. In doing so, Bigelow became the first woman ever to be named best director. But even some of the night's most foreseeable elements were pleasantly unsurprising: hosts Steve Martin and Alec Baldwin were as cutting as you would expect, and sometimes the overwhelming favorites are the overwhelming favorites for a reason. Welcome to our Top Moments: Oscars Edition.
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11. Best Interplay: Co-hosts Steve Martin and Alec Baldwin display an easy rapport in their opening routine as they deliver sharp jokes worthy of Baldwin's 30 Rock, a show on which Martin once guest-starred. Among the best is their back-and-forth about exes James Cameron and Kathryn Bigelow sending each other congratulatory gifts for their best director nominations. Baldwin: "She sent him a beautiful gift basket, with a timer." Martin: "And he reciprocated by sending her a Toyota."
10. Most Improved Award: After long, confusing speeches after his Screen Actors Guild and Golden Globes wins, Inglourious Basterds' Christoph Waltz accepts the supporting actor award with a charming, gracious speech that seems to leave out no one. He even opens with a quote-worthy one-liner after Penelope Cruz names him the winner: "Oscar and Penelope — that's an uber bingo."
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9. Best Tribute: Matthew Broderick and Molly Ringwald take the stage for a moving look back at the films of John Hughes, who died last year. It ends with the immortal words of Ferris Bueller: "Life moves pretty fast. You don't stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it." Broderick and Ringwald are then joined by five of the other young actors Hughes turned into stars: Macaulay Culkin, Ally Sheedy, Judd Nelson, Jon Cryer, and Anthony Michael Hall.
8. Na'very Funny Award: The usually funny Ben Stiller gets the unenviable job of dressing up as one of Avatar's Na'vi — and speaking in their James Cameron-commissioned language — as he introduces the best make-up award. "That means, this seemed like a better idea in rehearsal," Stiller says, translating himself. Cameron stares up at him at one point with an expression that says, "No! You're getting the accent totally wrong!" (Sacha Baron Cohen, who apparently drew the long straw, bailed out on the presentation a few days before the ceremony.)
7. Tackiest Moment: Music by Prudence co-producer Elinor Burkett cuts off the film's director, Roger Ross Wilson, as he tries to accept the best documentary short award. "Let the woman talk. Isn't that the classic thing?" she says. It's not a full Kanye — at least she's involved in the movie. But we don't foresee these two collaborating again.
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6. Funniest Lead-In: Martin and Baldwin, an ampersand away from not only looking but sounding like a classic comedy team, are forced to share a bed in a clever Paranormal Activity parody. "I can't believe they didn't give us our own room," Baldwin says. Then, in stop-motion, nighttime photography, Martin wakes up from a dead sleep to slap Baldwin clear out of bed. The routine leads into a welcome tribute to horror, the most under-recognized genre in film.
5. Fastest Cutaway: During the best documentary Oscar presentation, the camera darts elsewhere as pro-dolphin activist Ric O'Barry, the focus of winning film The Cove, holds up a banner imploring viewers to text DOLPHIN to 44144. Those who do so will get messages about the subject of the film, the dolphin slaughter in Taiji, Japan.
4. Least Necessary Tributes: You know what's wrong with America? We don't celebrate famous actors enough. This year's ceremony remedies this shameful injustice by having friends and co-stars of the best actor nominees — and then actress nominees — share amusing little anecdotes about them for 16 minutes. Then Tim Robbins holds up a banner asking us to text OSCAR to some five-digit number we don't remember. (Okay, this last thing didn't happen.) It's especially annoying that the ceremony did this for the second straight year. We hope it won't become a tradition.
3. Best Historic Reference: Supporting actress winner Mo'Nique delivers a passionate acceptance speech in which she graciously thanks Hattie McDaniel, the first African-American performer to win an Oscar, for "enduring all that she had to so that I would not have to."
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2. You-Beat-Meryl-Streep Award: One night after winning a Razzie, Sandra Bullock graciously accepts the best actress award for her role in The Blind Side. She thanks all the mothers in the world who take in children — wherever they come from — including her own.
1. Best Historic Moment: Kathryn Bigelow becomes the first woman to win best director, dedicating the award to the women and men "who risk their lives on a daily basis in Iraq and Afghanistan and around the world." Her film, The Hurt Locker, goes on to win best picture. One disappointing note: The cutaway before we can see Cameron's reaction to her win. Another: the orchestra's patronizing playing of "I Am Woman" as Bigelow leaves the stage.
What were your Top Moments?