Allow me to just address what many viewers at home are probably thinking about the show: “With all the technical wizardry and talent that goes into making movies, why can’t the people who create the Academy Awards show get their sound working properly?” It was like this last year, too. The sound was tinny and sometimes inaudible. You knew there were going to be issues as soon as Billy Crystal’s voice during his opening number was overpowered by the music. I’m sure the lyrical bits would have been funnier if they were intelligible.

I had high hopes for Crystal’s return as host. He’s one of those comedians who have the ability to appear absolutely bulletproof in front of a live audience. My overall reaction is slight disappointment, but it mainly stems from too-high expectations. I don’t think he did a bad job; I just expected to laugh and be entertained more. The only joke he cracked that had me chuckle was after watching yet another clip of actors emoting about how they know a film is good. After the clip faded, Crystal stated simply, “I’ve never felt any of those things.” It was a regular person’s response to the dramatic outpouring of Hollywood’s elite and it was perfect. The night needed more of that.

Before the show, Natalie Portman opined about Crystal being the host, stating, “You know he isn’t going to be mean and that he’s going to entertain.” I think the show would have been more entertaining with a few more zings and stings. Otherwise, Crystal’s performance was adequate.

Most of the presentations were as corny as they usually are. I did enjoy Jennifer Lopez’ and Cameron Diaz’ presentation where they quoted Edith Head. “A dress should be tight enough to show you’re a woman, but loose enough to prove you’re a lady,” the quote goes. Never mind Lopez’ plunging neckline or Diaz’ bosom muffin top. The ladies’ model-esque reading of the winning, however, fell flat. As did Tebowing Robert Downey Jr. who is normally reliable in delivering something funny. His presentation with Gwyneth Paltrow for Best Documentary tried to capitalize on Downey Jr.’s perceived narcissism, but sound issues and a one-dimensional gag hamstrung the bit. Finally, Crystal’s mind-reading bit where he attempted to share the thoughts of actors sitting in the audience as the camera zoomed in on them wasn’t very creative. Here Crystal seemed to have lost his edge in adlib. Finding nothing interesting to reveal about Morgan Freeman, Crystal resorted to doing an impression of Freeman’s previous roles. Yes, it was safe – but safe is boring.

The show itself moved at a quick clip. Acceptance speeches were also mercifully short and only one speech had to be cut off, which was probably wise since one of the winners was keeping the sound bleep guy on his toes. Minus a crack at the GOP candidates by Crystal, the show was strangely devoid of politics, considering it’s an election year. The guy who accepted for A Separation (a film from Iran) did read off prepared remarks about how peaceful Iran is and I had to wonder how much of that speech was given of his own free will. Gore Verbinski who accepted for Rango (still can’t believe that was nominated and Tintin was not) and Christopher Plummer who won Best Supporting actor for Beginners were easily the best acceptance speeches – effortless and seemingly unprepared. Finally, am I crazy or does Thomas Langmann, the producer who accepted for Best Picture (The Artist), look just like Peter Lorre? Sure, maybe not a splitting image in pictures, but watch his acceptance speech again if you can find it and then watch Casablanca. Then tell me I’m wrong.

To wrap up, just a few more observations: Cirque du Soleil did not disappoint despite a small flub. Angelina Jolie is looking a little gaunt. I have a crush on Bérénice Bejo now. Esperanza Spalding has a wonderful voice and the In Memoriam was handled exceptionally well this year. And Tom Cruise is an ageless wonder.

Here’s hoping that next year provides a little more spectacle.

Tomorrow, I’m going shopping at JCPenney’s.

Complete List of 2011 Academy Award Nominees and Winners

ACTOR IN A LEAD ROLE

Demin Bichir in “A Better Life”

George Clooney in “The Descendants”

WINNER: Jean Dujardin in “The Artist”

Gary Oldman in “Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy”

Brad Pitt in “Moneyball”

ACTOR IN A SUPPORTING ROLE

Kenneth Branagh in “My Week with Marilyn

Jonah Hill in “Moneyball”

Nick Nolte in “Warrior”

WINNER: Christopher Plummer in “Beginners”

Max von Sydow in “Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close”

ACTRESS IN A LEADING ROLE

Glenn Close in “Albert Nobbs”

Viola Davis in “The Help”

Rooney Mara in “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo”

WINNER: Meryl Streep in “The Iron Lady”

Michelle Williams in “My Week with Marilyn”

ACTRESS IN A SUPPORTING ROLE

Benice Bejo in “The Artist”

Jessica Chastain in “The Help”

Melissa McCarthy in “Bridesmaids”

Janet McTeer in “Albert Nobbs”

WINNER: Octavia Spencer in “The Help”

ANIMATED FEATURE FILM

“A Cat in Paris ” Alain Gagnol and Jean-Loup Felicioli”

“Chico & Rita” Fernando Trueba and Javier Mariscal

“Kung Fu Panda 2” Jennifer Yuh Nelson

“Puss in Boots” Chris Miller

WINNER: “Rango” Gore Verbinski

ART DIRECTION

“The Artist” Production Design: Laurence Bennett; Set Decoration: Robert Gould

“Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2” Production Design: Stuart Craig; Set Decoration: Stephenie McMillan

WINNER: “Hugo” Production Design: Dante Ferretti; Set Decoration: Francesca Lo Schiavo

“Midnight in Paris” Production Design: Anne Seibel; Set Decoration: Hélène Dubreuil

“War Horse” Production Design: Rick Carter; Set Decoration: Lee Sandales

CINEMATOGRAPHY

“The Artist” Guillaume Schiffman

“The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo” Jeff Cronenweth

WINNER: “Hugo” Robert Richardson

“The Tree of Life” Emmanuel Lubezki

“War Horse” Janusz Kaminski

COSTUME DESIGN

“Anonymous” Lisy Christl

WINNER: “The Artist” Mark Bridges

“Hugo” Sandy Powell

“Jane Eyre” Michael O’Connor

“W.E.” Arianne Phillips

DIRECTING

THE WINNER: “The Artist” Michel Hazanavicius

“The Descendants” Alexander Payne

“Hugo” Martin Scorsese

“Midnight in Paris” Woody Allen

“The Tree of Life” Terrence Malick

DOCUMENTARY (FEATURE)

“Hell and Back Again” Danfung Dennis and Mike Lerner

“If a Tree Falls: A Story of the Earth Liberation Front” Marshall Curry and Sam Cullman

“Paradise Lost 3: Purgatory” Joe Berlinger and Bruce Sinofsky

“Pina” Wim Wenders and Gian-Piero Ringel

WINNER: “Undefeated” TJ Martin, Dan Lindsay and Richard Middlemas

DOCUMENTARY (SHORT SUBJECT)

“The Barber of Birmingham: Foot Soldier of the Civil Rights Movement” Robin Fryday and Gail Dolgin

“God Is the Bigger Elvis” Rebecca Cammisa and Julie Anderson

“Incident in New Baghdad” James Spione

WINNER: “Saving Face” Daniel Junge and Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy

“The Tsunami and the Cherry Blossom” Lucy Walker and Kira Carstensen

FILM EDITING

“The Artist” Anne-Sophie Bion and Michel Hazanavicius

“The Descendants” Kevin Tent

WINNER: “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo” Kirk Baxter and Angus Wall

“Hugo” Thelma Schoonmaker

“Moneyball” Christopher Tellefsen

FOREIGN LANGUAGE FILM

“Bullhead” Belgium

“Footnote” Israel

“In Darkness” Poland

“Monsieur Lazhar” Canada

WINNER: “A Separation” Iran

MAKEUP

“Albert Nobbs” Martial Corneville, Lynn Johnston and Matthew W. Mungle

“Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2” Nick Dudman, Amanda Knight and Lisa Tomblin

WINNER: “The Iron Lady” Mark Coulier and J. Roy Helland

MUSIC (ORIGINAL SCORE)

“The Adventures of Tintin” John Williams

WINNER: “The Artist” Ludovic Bource

“Hugo” Howard Shore

“Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy” Alberto Iglesias

“War Horse” John Williams

MUSIC (ORIGINAL SONG)

WINNER: “Man or Muppet” from “The Muppets” Music and Lyric by Bret McKenzie

“Real in Rio” from “Rio” Music by Sergio Mendes and Carlinhos Brown Lyric by Siedah Garrett

BEST PICTURE

THE WINNER: “The Artist” Thomas Langmann, Producer

“The Descendants” Jim Burke, Alexander Payne and Jim Taylor, Producers

“Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close” Scott Rudin, Producer

“The Help” Brunson Green, Chris Columbus and Michael Barnathan, Producers

“Hugo” Graham King and Martin Scorsese, Producers

“Midnight in Paris” Letty Aronson and Stephen Tenenbaum, Producers

“Moneyball” Michael De Luca, Rachael Horovitz and Brad Pitt, Producers

“The Tree of Life” Nominees to be determined

“War Horse” Steven Spielberg and Kathleen Kennedy, Producers

SHORT FILM (ANIMATED)

“Dimanche/Sunday” Patrick Doyon

WINNER: “The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore” William Joyce and Brandon Oldenburg

“La Luna” Enrico Casarosa

“A Morning Stroll” Grant Orchard and Sue Goffe

“Wild Life” Amanda Forbis and Wendy Tilby

SHORT FILM (LIVE ACTION)

“Pentecost” Peter McDonald and Eimear O’Kane

“Raju” Max Zähle and Stefan Gieren

WINNER: “The Shore” Terry George and Oorlagh George

“Time Freak” Andrew Bowler and Gigi Causey

“Tuba Atlantic” Hallvar Witzø

SOUND EDITING

“Drive” Lon Bender and Victor Ray Ennis

“The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo” Ren Klyce

WINNER: “Hugo” Philip Stockton and Eugene Gearty

“Transformers: Dark of the Moon” Ethan Van der Ryn and Erik Aadahl

“War Horse” Richard Hymns and Gary Rydstrom

SOUND MIXING

“The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo” David Parker, Michael Semanick, Ren Klyce and Bo Persson

WINNER: “Hugo” Tom Fleischman and John Midgley

“Moneyball” Deb Adair, Ron Bochar, Dave Giammarco and Ed Novick

“Transformers: Dark of the Moon” Greg P. Russell, Gary Summers, Jeffrey J. Haboush and Peter J. Devlin

“War Horse” Gary Rydstrom, Andy Nelson, Tom Johnson and Stuart Wilson

VISUAL EFFECTS

“Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2” Tim Burke, David Vickery, Greg Butler and John Richardson

WINNER: “Hugo” Rob Legato, Joss Williams, Ben Grossman and Alex Henning

“Real Steel” Erik Nash, John Rosengrant, Dan Taylor and Swen Gillberg

“Rise of the Planet of the Apes” Joe Letteri, Dan Lemmon, R. Christopher White and Daniel Barrett

“Transformers: Dark of the Moon” Scott Farrar, Scott Benza, Matthew Butler and John Frazier

WRITING (ADAPTED SCREENPLAY)

WINNER: “The Descendants” Screenplay by Alexander Payne and Nat Faxon & Jim Rash

“Hugo” Screenplay by John Logan

“The Ides of March” Screenplay by George Clooney & Grant Heslov and Beau Willimon

“Moneyball” Screenplay by Steven Zaillian and Aaron Sorkin. Story by Stan Chervin

“Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy” Screenplay by Bridget O’Connor & Peter Straughan

WRITING (ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY)

“The Artist” Written by Michel Hazanavicius

“Bridesmaids” Written by Annie Mumolo & Kristen Wiig

“Margin Call” Written by J.C. Chandor

WINNER: “Midnight in Paris” Written by Woody Allen

“A Separation” Written by Asghar Farhadi