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A Different Way to Do the Academy Awards

Instead of having past associates recreate "This is Your Life," why not have somebody like Judi Dench talk about the performances, or Quentin Tarantino chat writing; give us some real insight into the craft

The opening gag reel -- either do it right or don’t do it at all.

It flopped badly and got things off to an awkward start. By the end of the clip, I was sorry Alec Baldwin and Morgan Freeman weren’t hosting.

First, I was horrified when they brought out 94 year old Kirk Douglas to be a presenter.

By the end of the night, I was horrified that Douglas was one of the highlights. The guy still knows how to work a room. Which is more than I can say for most of the other presenters.

A lot of love for "Alice in Wonderland." Usually the prestige effect extends to categories like Costuming and Art Direction. Yet this critically panned stinker that made it to several worst of the year lists walked away with two statuettes, beating out both "True Grit" and "King’s Speech."

I'm really bummed "True Grit" didn’t win Best Cinematography. That opening shot was amazing.

Enough people are piling on James Franco and Anne Hathaway, I’ll try and say something positive.

Hathaway’s musical number was pretty good and revealed she has a great singing voice.

Anything else? About halfway through, I started thinking about all the times she was getting naked backstage during her numerous costume changes. Maybe I shouldn’t have watched "Havoc" the night before.

I was expecting a lot more from Franco but maybe working "General Hospital," attending NYU, and holding down a movie career has him tuckered out. Or maybe he just really wanted to tell a stoner joke.

You know it’s bad when you see an aging Billy Crystal and think, “Thank God!”

I may have liked "Social Network" more than "King’s Speech" but David Seidler owned during his acceptance speech. Nice dig at Hollywood ageism.

Luke Matheny, NYU alumnus won the Oscar for best live-action short for his thesis film.

Isn’t that every film student’s dream? Straight from the classroom to the podium. At first I thought he was kid but it turns out he’s 34. Dude, you really should have gotten a haircut. Wonder if his professor gave him an “A.”

Trent Reznor, Oscar winner. Hell. Yeah.

Not to pick on "King’s Speech," but I thought Collin Firth was grimacing a little after they showed his clip. Of all his scenes, why did they show the one with the obvious actor’s cry in it?

On the whole, I wasn’t impressed with most of the clips shown that night, Jesse Eisenberg’s being the notable exception. Who picks these things?

Best presenter of the night by far was Sandra Bullock. James and Anne take note -- that’s how you present.

Have some fun. Go off-script or at least make it look like you’re going off script. By the end, I was wondering how she could have such bad taste in comedy projects when she’s so hilarious in person.

What was missing? How about some clue as to what made these films, performances, etc. worthy of an award? Was "Alice in Wonderland’s" art direction really that good? Did it compliment the story? What about the cinematography of "Inception"? "Social Network’s" editing? We’re just supposed to take the Academy's word for it that what we’re witnessing here is greatness?

I don’t think so.

Maybe it’s just me, but what I’d like to see next year is somebody actually offering some analysis of the nominees.

Back it up with some concrete examples. Show that your voters actually know what they’re talking about and haven’t just been swayed by clever PR campaigns.

It could almost be like what they did with the actor and actress categories last year. Only instead of past associates recreating "This is Your Life," have somebody like Judi Dench talk about the performances or Quentin Tarantino talk a little bit about the nominees for writing. And have them pick the clip that best exemplifies the quality of the acting or writing or whatever.

Give us at home a little peak inside the craft. I think the audience would appreciate that.

People still seem to crave super detailed extras in their Blu-Rays. Also, if you’re really serious about updating the Oscars, modern internet-driven culture is about analyzing and re-analyzing every smallest detail.

That’s what I’d like to see next year. That and Sandra Bullock and Morgan Freeman hosting. Or if not them give Anne Hathaway a lot more costume changes.

Michael Lee is a novel writer, blogger and freelance journalist living in L.A. He's been a judge for the prestigious PAGE Awards and blogs about his two biggest passions, screenwriting and food, at Screenwriting Foxhole and To Cook and Eat in L.A., respectively. Lee is also a co-author of "The Insider's Guide to Screenwriting" and has just published his first novel, "My Frankenstein."