Here's something most Oscar-watchers probably never thought they'd see: a best director and best picture winner offering unqualified praise to the troops in Iraq and Afghanistan. Though the film Hurt Locker, which examines the squads that dismantle IEDs, isn't a pro-war film, neither does it propagandize against the war. And when its director took the stage, she maintained the level of respect and thoughtfulness she displayed in her film, simply saying, "I'd just like to dedicate this to the women and men in the military who risk their lives on a daily basis."
Oscar night was almost entirely free of political speech. Even the hosts refrained from jokes about anything related to the GOP (though of the bits they did do, an astonishing number were of a sexual nature). If anything, the evening was marked by an open-armed inclusion of Middle America.
Everyone knew that Up, a film that was written and directed by a Christian and that focuses on themes of marital commitment and the importance of fathers, would win for best animated feature. But what was not so expected was Sandra Bullock's best actress win for her role in The Blind Side as believer Leigh Ann Tuohy, the real-life adoptive mother of football star Michael Oher.
The Oscar producers' efforts toward inclusion paid off. Not only did the show garner high praise from TV critics, it also drew far more viewers than in recent years-41.3 million to be exact, 14 percent more than 2009's telecast. Of course, the fact that Avatar was nominated for the night's two biggest prizes probably had something to do with the bump as well. But after including pro-family-values entries and putting on a show that was mostly respectful of Christians and the conservative crowd (again, with the exception of a few inappropriate jokes), the Academy may find its numbers up again next year.