At the end of an Oscar program that went 30 minutes longer than scheduled, co-host Steve Martin had one of his best ad-libs.
"The show was so long that 'Avatar' now takes place in the past," cracked Martin.
It took almost three hours before any of the significant awards were handed out on ABC.
And the only thing more predictable than the show going long were the winners in the last 30 minutes -- best actor Jeff Bridges, best actress Sandra Bullock, best director Kathryn Bigelow ("The Hurt Locker") and best film ("The Hurt Locker").
In fact, there wasn't one surprise winner in any of the major categories.
Bridges gave a decent, lengthy speech that combined humor and heartfelt moments when talking about his show business parents. Bullock was funny but couldn't pull off the one thing she said she was determined to do on Barbara Walters' special: She couldn't avoid crying when talking about her mother, who she said didn't like it when award winners cried.
Bigelow, who was the first female to be named best director in Oscar history, gave a strong speech upon winning that award but seemed too overwhelmed after "The Hurt Locker" won best picture to do anything but repeat some of the speech she gave after winning as director.
Martin and co-host Alec Baldwin smartly made Bigelow part of their closing. The co-hosts did a very good job in the opening, but practically disappeared in the late stages of the program. But that was pretty predictable, too, because it happens almost every year to the host.
-- Alan Pergament