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82d Oscars 8:31 p.m.

Posted by Wesley Morris  March 7, 2010 08:31 PM

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Having the best actor and actress nominees take the stage first is smart: Creating a little bit of drama while suggesting that the night is about them -- or, at least, Gabourey Sidibe, who's working the moment. Then it's Neil Patrick Harris doing an opening number in a dominatrix-shiny tuxedo jacket. He's good, but you miss the hardworking showmanship of Hollywood robot Hugh Jackman. The producers don't seem to know that the stars for cutaways aren't lit. This isn't bad  but where are Baldwin and Martin?  Oh, there they are prancing toward us. The back-and-forth is charming but awkward. Martin tells a "Jerk"/"Precious" joke, about how, he, too, was born poor and black. 

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Ty Burr is a film critic with The Boston Globe.

Mark Feeney is an arts writer for The Boston Globe.

Janice Page is movies editor for The Boston Globe.

Tom Russo is a regular correspondent for the Movies section and writes a weekly column on DVD releases.

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