11:15 – Tom Hanks dashes out on stage and (no time to list all ten!) blurts out the Best Picture: The Hurt Locker. I'm thrilled to have been so wrong with my non-stop Avatar predictions. Bigelow's acceptance speech may be the first in Oscar history to thank hazmat emergency crews.
Meanwhile, James Cameron puts his all-Na'vi speech back into his pocket and heads out into the night to kick the stuffing out of Ben Stiller.
11:09 – The Academy gets a dig in at Barbra
Streisand–never nominated for her three films–by making her give out Best Director
to Kathryn Bigelow, the first-ever female winner. While it's fantastic that Bigelow broke the glass ceiling, don't let this great achievement overshadow the really amazing thing: this woman is 58 years old?!
11:03 – Sean Penn seems happy and relaxed to be handing out Best Actress. No, I'm kidding, he seems as nervous as a cat in a rocking-chair factory. Gives the award to Bullock. (That squeal you hear is Moviegoer running screaming up and down the hall.) As cool as Bridges' acceptance speech, Bullock takes home the prize for a speech that is perfectly self-deprecating, funny, and touching. "My lover Meryl Streep!"
10:55 – Now the "friends and co-workers" of the Best Actress nominees. Forest Whitaker directed Bullock in Hope Floats and Michael Sheen co-starred with Mirren in The Queen (she played the queen, not him). Bald Sarsgaard gushes over Mulligan, Oprah talks about Sidibe, bald Tucci praises Meryl Streep.
10:51 – Jeff Bridges wins for Crazy Heart and a million Twittering film geeks tweet "The Dude abides." Bridges gets a standing O, drops a "groovy" on us and ends every shout out with "maaan." It's awesome.
10:43 – People who have starred with the Best Actor nominees are out to offer tribute to them. For five minutes Michelle Pfeiffer fondly recalls decades of working with Bridges only to realize she was thinking of Nick Nolte. Farmiga lauds Clooney, Julianne Moore talks up Colin Firth, and Tim Robbins thanks Morgan Freeman for busting him out of prison. Colin Farrell talks about appearing in SWAT with Jeremy Renner. Which means tonight has seen Fisher Stevens win an Oscar and SWAT get mentioned at the Academy Awards ceremony.
10:35 – QT and Pedro Almodóvar present Best Foreign Film in front of a wall of lamps. (In tribute to the important role lamps have always played in foreign films.) The winner is Argentina's El Secreto de sus Ojos ("The Secret of the Oreos").
10:25 – A complete lack of Holocaust documentaries leaves the category wide open this year, so Matt Damon gives it to The Cove. Dolphins and other sea-mammals of the world rejoice, decide to put sea-park revolution on hold for a few weeks. And in a the most amazing Oscar moment ever, Fischer "Short Circuit" Stevens accepts an Academy Award.
10:20 – Gerald Butler and Bradley Cooper are out to present Best Visual Effects. Butler speaks of "movie magic," two words that probably shouldn't come out of the mouth of an actor whose last few films included Law Abiding Citizen, Gamer, The Ugly Truth, and PS I Love You. Avatar wins, naturally.
10:15 – The interpretive dance for Up begs the question, did I miss the robots in the movie? Maybe the '80s pop-locking routine is leftover from when Mannequin's score failed to get nominated in 1988. One of my friends notes, "These dancers are very good at what they do, I just wish they'd stop doing it." Despite the GAP ad vibe, the dancing is impressive, especially the Avatar section, which features lots of CGI-free, hands-free flipping. Michael Giacchino rightfully wins for Up.
10:12 – Um, there is now interpretive dance to Sherlock Holmes music. The score interpretive dancing stuff is always top-notch unintentional comedy fodder. Such as a guy "dancing" as a "bomb" for Hurt Locker, causing the other dancers to be "blown away." (A routine that could also be interpreted as "when a really smelly guy gets on a crowded bus.") Parents, when your children come home from freshman year of college and say they want to be a Modern Dance major, you pull this tape out and show them. Show them before it's too late.
10:12 – Jennifer Lopez and Sam Worthington are out to present the Best Score dance routine. It's like the broadcast is trying to drive me screaming from the room. Trendy nerd glasses don't make Worthington more interesting, but they do make his square Australian noggin look even more blocky than usual.
10:09 – James Taylor accompanies the Death Montage, causing my party's host to remark, "so this is what Hell is." Karl Malden is the final face in the memorial reel, but Farrah Fawcett (Logan's Run, See You in the Morning, The Apostle) is shut out, once again getting pushed aside by MJ (The Wiz).
9:50 – The always adorable Elizabeth Banks had the "honor" of being the starlet sent out to host the Sci-Tech Oscars Awards this year. (Or SyTek as I'm sure they'll soon be rebranded.)
9:47 – Hurt Locker wins both the Sound Editing and Mixing Oscars. The awards appear to have been accepted by the lost Irish Winters brother. (Okay, that joke was probably a bit obscure. See the Irish are very pale and so are '70s rock siblings Johnny and Edgar Winters.)
9:45 – Martin and Baldwin have a funny Paranormal Activity Meets Three Stooges clip, but the Academy goodwill toward horror films is tainted by having Lautner and Stewart introduce the horror-film montage, which includes clips from New Moon. No, the Twilight films are not horror, unless you are unduly terrified of hair gel and Boflexed pecs.
The montage itself is good fun, though it further confuses the whole "horror vs. thriller" thing. The Twilighters note that "horror" hasn't had a place at the Oscars since The Exorcist, and yet the "horror" montage features clips from such Oscar-nominated and Oscar-winning "thrillers" as Jaws, The Sixth Sense, and The Silence of the Lambs. But it more than makes up for it–for starters, it's pretty gruesome for a prime-time, non-horror audience (the Misery hobbling!), but best of all, it uses the violin music from Young Frankenstein and the Creepshow theme!
9:35 – The Young Victoria wins Best Costume. If you want to win Best Costume, just make sure part of your film is set in pre-1900 aristocratic Europe–even if you're making a film about space aliens in the year 3500 AD. In a stunning irony, this is followed by Charlize Theron and her cinnabons dress.
9:33 – Introducing the Best Costume presenters, the Martin-Baldwin joke is that Martin mispronounces "clothes horses" as "clothes whores," but what's even more subversively funny is using "horse" in any way when referring to Sarah Jessica Parker.
9:30 – Sigourney Weaver gives Avatar its first award of the night: Art Direction. Which also means our first gag-inducing "I see you" speech of evening. I hope they thank the little people who painted all those Pandora sets.
9:25 – In addition to mangling teleprompting, tonight's other trend is actress nominees crying in the audience while watching clips of their own performances. They can't help it, they're just so dang good at what they do.
9:22 – Almost hoping Mo'Nique doesn't win, does a Zoolander, and heads up to the stage on autopilot. But of course not, she wins Best Supporting Actress. She gets a standing O and then puts it right out there by addressing the "politics" of awards season. Also thanks her lawyer. Does NOT thank God, so ballot tie-breaker still in play.
9:16 – Clips from the Governors Awards Dinner a few months ago honoring Roger Corman (whooo!), the great cinematographer Gordon Willis, Lauren Bacall (life-time achievement award, aka the "you haven't won an Oscar and you could die soon" award), and producer and Thalberg Award winner John Calley. Can I just say that the addition of five extra Best Picture nominees has meant some–in my opinion–crappy compromises during the live ceremony: no real performances of the Best Songs, and folks like Corman, Bacall, and Calley get somewhat short-shrifted.
9:15 – My pool ballot takes a big hit when Geoffry Fletcher wins for Precious instead of Up In the Air. Fletcher gives a touching acceptance speech but fails to thank a deity, further weakening my ballot tie-breaker.
9:12 – Rachel McAdams looks stunning in a sheer camo dress. Perfect for awards presenting and deer hunting.