7:30 p.m.: We’re opening with a clip montage from the 10 best picture nominees, to the tune of Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross’ rendition of “Hall of the Mountain King,” from “The Social Network.” I’m betting that will absolutely prove a predictor of the best original score winner. Plus, it really works well for all 10 nominees, not just “The Social Network.” We actually have good use of montage to start the movie biz’s biggest night.
7:32: Co-hosts Anne Hathaway and James Franco continue the good montage vibe by putting themselves into the best picture nominees, with an “Inception”-themed trip through Alec Baldwin’s dreams in the hopes of discovering Alec’s keys to successful Oscar hosting.
7:34: Morgan Freeman says “Alec likes me to narrate his dreams. He says I have a soothing voice.”
7:35: Anne performs the “Dance of the Brown Duck,” while James Franco frolics in a white unitard. Yikes. Funny, but yikes.
7:36: Alec and Morgan send Anne and James off to host the Oscars. And they’re going to get there in the “Back to the Future” DeLorean. OK, I was with them for awhile there, but they need to get on with it.
7:37: In the nick of time, James and Anne appear onstage. Anne already has changed clothes once, she’s now in a creamy white sleeveless gown with silver sparkles. She is a fashion goddess.
James: “Anne, I must say you look beautiful and hip.” Anne: “You look very appealing to a younger demographic as well.” Nice.
Anne ponders that “it used to be, you get naked, you get nominated. But not anymore,” in correcting James’ assertion that they both are Oscar nominated tonight.
James, who is nominated for “127 Hours,” wonders what he will get if he wins and if his mom will call him “Oscar winner James Franco.” James and Anne are pointing out their moms in the audience, and Anne’s tells her “Stand up straight dear, Mr. Steven Spielberg is here.”
James’ grandma is happy that she got to see “Marky Mark.” Nope, that’s Oscar-nominated producer Mark Wahlberg, James corrects. “It’s a great year for lesbians!” Anne proclaims. OK, can we please get on with it? These opening monologues always go on too long.
7:42: Oscar-winning film “Gone with the Wind” becomes the backdrop as we finally get to the first award of the night and see the ballyhooed “virtual reality” stage. Tom Hanks is there, but he’s not presenting an award. He’s giving us a history lesson about “Titanic.” This isn’t going to make the show shorter, guys.
7:44: Tom Hanks is finally going to present the art direction Oscar. Here are the nominees:
“Alice in Wonderland,” “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1,” “Inception,” “The King’s Speech,” “True Grit.”
7:45: Finally, the first Oscar goes to: “Alice in Wonderland” and Robert Stromberg and Karen O’Hara. Robert puts a funky hat on his Oscar and tells director Tim Burton to “meet me with a saw because half of this is yours.” If funky hats and Johnny Dance doing silly jigs made a good movie, Burton’s “Alice” would win best picture. Alas, it was Technicolor boredom in decidedly unimpressive 3D.
7:46: Tom is also going to present the cinematography Oscar, and I’m rooting for “True Grit” and Roger Deakins. That film is gorgeous. Here are the potentials:
“Black Swan,” “Inception,” “The King’s Speech,” “The Social Network,” “True Grit.”
7:48: Winner: Wally Pfister for “Inception.” He takes a deep breath to enjoy the moment and then sees the ticking clock. “None of this would have been possible without the vision of my master, Christopher Nolan.” That got huge applause, which makes me think I’m not the only one disappointed that Nolan was left out of the best director hunt.
7:51: James and Anne are back and they’re quickly turning the stage over to “a living legend” Kirk Douglas. He’s getting a well-deserved standing ovation from the crowd as he slowly walks to the microphone with the help of a cane. Kirk says that James looks much better out of the cave and then does a double-take and says Anne is gorgeous. “Where were you when I was making pictures?” Kirk asks. Anne is blowing kisses and fanning herself. Kirk is going to present best supporting actress, and I’m rooting for former Tulsan Melissa Leo. Here are the noms, and we’re getting to see a quick clip of each one’s performance:
Amy Adams, “The Fighter”; Helena Bonham Carter, “The King’s Speech”; Melissa Leo, “The Fighter”; Hailee Steinfeld, “True Grit”; Jacki Weaver, “Animal Kingdom.”
7:55: Kirk says, “Here’s the moment we’ve all been waiting for and Hugh Jackman is laughing. Why does everyone in Australia think I’m funny?” Kirk, who is 94, is a bit hard to understand with his post-stroke slur, but he still has a great sense of humor. And he’s torturing these five poor women by making them wait, but they are laughing their heads off. Finally, he is giving the Oscar to … Melissa Leo! She looks totally stunned at the news! Woot!
7:57: Melissa takes Kirk’s hand and courtesies low to him. Kirk holds the Oscar out to her, and says it’s heavy. She asks him to pinch her. “Mine?” she says. Kirk quips, “You’re much better looking than you were in ‘The Fighter.’” “You’re looking pretty good yourself. What are you doing later?” Melissa responds. She says even though people have been saying nice things about her: “Yeah, I am kind of speechless,” she says looking up in the cheap seats. “Golly gee, there’s people up there, too. When I watched Kate do it two years ago, it looked so (expletive) easy.” And she gets the first beep-out of the night, and she covers her mouth and looks chagrined. She is emotionally thanking everyone involved with the movie, the Ward family, her family, the industry, etc. It was long but heartfelt and kudos to the producers for not sounding the “go away” music.
8:01: As Melissa hobbles off sharing Kirk’s cane, James says “F-ing congratulations, Melissa.” Anne adds, “It’s the young and hip Oscars.”
8:02: Justin Timberlake and Mila Kunis take the stage and Timberlake has a confession: “I’m Banksy. It felt so good to get that off my chest.” It’s a shame we won’t be seeing the famed graffiti artist tonight. Justin says they can’t present the best animated short film award until he uses “there’s an app” for that and his smartphone to give the stage a “Shrek” backdrop. “Shrek” was the first animated feature to receive the Oscar 10 years ago in that category.
Really, “there’s an app for that”? Sigh. Anyway, here are the animated short hopefuls:
“Day and Night,” “The Gruffalo,” “Let’s Pollute,” “The Lost Thing,” “Madagascar, carnet de voyage (Madagascar, a Journey Diary).”
8:05: Winner: “The Lost Thing.” Before he gives it, Justin says “You know,” and pretends to drag it out, then says, “Never mind.” Kirk has created the running gag of the night. (By the way, my 4-year-old and I are disappointed that “Day and Night” didn’t win.)
Justin and Mila also are going to present the best animated feature award, and I’m thinking “Toy Story 3″ is a lock. Here are the noms:
“How to Train Your Dragon,” “The Illusionist,” “Toy Story 3.”
8:06: Winner: Yep, “Toy Story 3.” Director Lee Unkrich says “I can’t believe I’m actually saying this, but thank you to the Academy.” He’s praising Pixar as the best place in the world to make movies – it certainly owns this category – and thanking his grandmother for saying she’d always see him up there. He’s also “thanking audiences all over the world for coming out in record numbers to see a movie about talking toys that hopefully had something very human to say.” Nice of Hollywood to remember the fans.
8:12: Anne is taking us back to 1929 to talk about the first Academy Awards and showing film clips on the virtual stage. Josh Brolin and Javier Bardem take the stage together in their matching white-on-white tuxedos to present the screenplay winners, which were among the awards given at the first Oscars. They’re giving adapted screenplay first. Aaron Sorkin is practically a shoo-in, but here are the possibilities:
Danny Boyle and Simon Beaufoy, “127 Hours”; Aaron Sorkin, “The Social Network”; Michael Arndt, John Lasseter, Andrew Stanton and Lee Unkrich, “Toy Story 3”; Joel Coen and Ethan Coen, “True Grit”; Debra Granik and Anne Rosellini, “Winter’s Bone.”
8:14: Winner: Aaron Sorkin wins with his first Oscar nomination, and he is sharing the award with Ben Mezrich, who wrote “The Accidental Billionaires,” the book “The Social Network” is based on. Aaron is thanking everyone he wants to and ignoring those go-away strings. Go him. “This movie is going to be a source of pride for me every day of the rest of my life.” He tells daughter Roxy Sorkin that he just won the Oscar so he’s “gonna have to insist on some respect from your guinea pig.” Love the randomness there.
8:17: Now, it’s time for the best original screenplay Oscar, and I’m rooting for “Inception.”
Mike Leigh, “Another Year”; Scott Silver and Paul Tamasy and Eric Johnson and Keith Dorrington, “The Fighter”; Christopher Nolan, “Inception”; Lisa Cholodenko and Stuart Blumberg, “The Kids Are All Right”; David Seidler, “The King’s Speech.”
8:18: Winner: “The King’s Speech” gets its first win. It won’t be the last. Seidler finally finds the mic and says “the writer’s speech, how terrifying.” He comments his dad always told him he’d be a late bloomer and he thinks he’s the oldest person to win this award, “a record I’m hoping is broken soon and often.” He’s thanking the Queen for not putting him in the Tower of London for using the “Melissa Leo f-word” and dedicating the award to all the stutterers in the world like him who now have a voice thanks to the Academy.
8:23: Anne has changed clothes again, and she’s wearing a very feminine tux with sparkly high heels and her hair in a bouncy ponytail. She notes that there’s a long tradition of singing at the Oscars and she was going to do a duet but someone bailed on her. She’s not naming names, but she’s singing “On My Own” from “Les Misérables” and saying she’s “On my own because someone is a Hugh Jack-ass.” She’s playfully bashing him in song while Hugh smilingly puts his face in his hands.
8:26: James takes the stage in a hot-pink gown and blond wig in Marilyn Monroe-style drag. He says “The weird thing is I just got a text from Charlie Sheen.”(He may be an easy target, but if someone deserves a bullseye painted on him, it’s Mr. “I’m on a drug and it’s called Charlie Sheen.”)
Anne and James are kicking it over to Helen Mirren and Russell Brand. The dame is speaking in French and the Johnny Depp impersonator is playfully translating it as “My performance as a queen was much more convincing as Colin Firth’s as a king.” They’re going to present the best foreign language film, and I’m rooting for “Biutiful.”
“Biutiful,” Mexico; “Dogtooth,” Greece; “In a Better World,” Denmark; “Incendies,” Canada; “Outside the Law (Hors-la-loi),” Algeria.
8:28: Winner: “In a Better World.” Director Susanne Bier looks lovely in a vivid blue gown, and she’s emotionally thanking all involved with the film and her fellow nominees for their moving films.
8:29: Past best supporting actress winner Reese Witherspoon takes the stage to present the best supporting actor award. Get ready for a Christian Bale speech, but here are the noms:
Christian Bale, “The Fighter”; John Hawkes, “Winter’s Bone”; Jeremy Renner, “The Town”; Mark Ruffalo, “The Kids Are All Right”; Geoffrey Rush, “The King’s Speech.”
8:32: Winner: Christian Bale gets the KO for “The Fighter.” “Bloody hell, wow, what a room full of talented, inspirational people, and what the hell am I doing here with you?” He’s passionately thanking director David O. Russell for making the actors’ work mean something. He’s praising Melissa – “I’m not gonna drop the f-bomb like she did, I’ve done that plenty already” – and his fellow actors. And he’s getting the real Dicky Ekland to stand up and referring us to Dicky’s website. He’s getting teared up as he finally thanks his wife and daughter.
8:39: Anne is wearing a lovely dark gray gown with a silvery, feathery design all over it. She’s says that she and Hugh Jackman made up backstage “so he’s once again the Wolve to my Rine.” Aussies Hugh and Nicole Kidman are giving us a history lesson about sound in the movies, with more clips being projected on the backdrop. Cue an orchestra playing memorable clips of scores from famous movies, with naturally, many of them coming from John Williams’ oeuvre. Now, the orchestra is playing tidbits of the best original score contenders. There are some great pieces here, but I’m betting we get to see the Oscar go to Nine Inch Nails:
“How to Train Your Dragon,” John Powell; “Inception,” Hans Zimmer; “The King’s Speech,” Alexandre Desplat; “127 Hours,” A.R. Rahman; “The Social Network,” Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross.
8:43: The Oscar goes to Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross for “The Social Network.” It’s their first nomination and win. Trent looks rather handsome in a tux and he asks “Wow, is this really happening?” He says he and Atticus were just happy to be involved in the project and to be in this company is “humbling and flattering beyond words.” I can’t wait to hear what these two come up with for Fincher’s “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo.
8:45: “I am 6 Degrees of Kevin Bacon away from these next two presenters”: Scarlett Johansson and Matthew McConaughey are going to present the best sound mixing Oscar:
“Inception,” “The King’s Speech,” “Salt,” “The Social Network,” “True Grit.”
8:47: Winner: “Inception,” Lora Hirschberg, Gary Rizzo and Ed Novick. As feared, “Inception” is going to get lots of technical awards but won’t be honored at all for its artistic prowess. Tis a shame.
8:48: And now here comes the sound editing award:
“Inception,” “Toy Story 3,” “Tron: Legacy,” “True Grit,” “Unstoppable.”
8:49: The Oscar goes to “Inception’s” Richard King. Again, I’m glad to see the movie getting the wins, but I wish it also could have been given credit for the storytelling, acting, etc. Richard says he owes it “1,000 percent to Chris Nolan.”
8:53: James has changed into a dark gray suit that matches Anne’s gown. They look quite fetching as they introduce past Oscar winner Marisa Tomei in her gorgeous vintage navy gown. She was the hostess for the Academy’s Scientific and Technical Awards, and she’s showing a clip of that soiree. “All right, congratulations nerds,” says James.
8:55: James introduces the only actress to successfully play Queen Elizabeth I, Bob Dylan and Katharine Hepburn, so here comes Cate Blanchett in her strange lavender alien-with-acne gown. She’s presenting the best makeup award:
“Barney’s Version,” “The Way Back,” “The Wolfman.”
8:56: Winner: “The Wolfman,” which is Rick Baker’s seventh Oscar win out of 12 nominations. Dave Elsey also shares the Oscar with him. Cate said, “That’s gross” when she saw “The Wolfman” clip, which I guess is a strong endorsement. Dave says it was always his ambition to lose an Oscar to Rick Baker, but “this is better.”
8:58: Now, Cate presents best costume design:
“Alice in Wonderland,” “I Am Love,” “The King’s Speech,” “The Tempest,” “True Grit.”
8:59: Winner: “Alice in Wonderland.” Colleen Atwood wins her third Oscar, after “Chicago” and “Memoirs of a Geisha.” She looks great in her black gown with her long purple gloves, but reading from the 4-by-6 card is really distracting. Still, I must say she deserves the Oscar, but I’m surprised that it didn’t go to “The King’s Speech.”
9:01: Now we’re getting video with a kind of man-on-the-street series of interviews about people’s favorite cinematic songs, ending with President Obama saying “As Time Goes By” from “Casablanca”is his fave movie song. Kevin Spacey is singing his favorite film song, “Cheek to Cheek” from “Top Hat,” before introducing the first original song performance: Randy Newman, who has his 20th Oscar nod for “We Belong Together” from “Toy Story 3.” He’s playing piano and singing while clips from the movie run on the round big screen behind him, and honestly, he sounds just like he does in the movie. Definitely no Auto Tune for Randy.
9:05: Now, it’s time for Alan Menken on piano, with “Chuck” actor Zachary Levin, handsome in a suit with red tie and no jacket, and singer/actress Mandy Moore in a flowing blue gown, singing a clip from “I See the Light,” from the Disney animated film “Tangled.” You know, I was glad to hear they were bringing back the original song performances – and these have been great – but I would have preferred they do the whole songs and spread them out throughout the show. Instead, we’re getting shortened versions of the first two and then a commercial.
9:11: “She’s nominated again tonight, and he made out with my co-host – in a movie,” James quips as Amy Adams and Jake Gyllenhaal take the stage to present the short film Oscars, not only because many great filmmakers (George Lucas is used as an example) get their starts that way, but also because it can help you win the Oscar pool in your social circle. Jake looks very ill at ease but he’s going to help give the documentary short Oscar anyway:
“Killing in the Name,” “Poster Girl,” “Strangers No More,” “Sun Come Up,” “The Warriors of Qiugang.”
9:13: Karen Goodman and Kirk Simon win for “Strangers No More,” and Karen is thanking all the immigrant children involved in the school that is the subject of the film. Here is the short doc’s summary:
In the heart of Tel Aviv, there is an exceptional school where children from 48 different countries and diverse backgrounds come together to learn. Many of the students arrive at Bialik-Rogozin School fleeing poverty, political adversity and even genocide. Here, no child is a stranger. The film follows several students’ struggle to acclimate to life in a new land while slowly opening up to share their stories of hardship and tragedy.
9:15: Now, it’s the live-action short film. Here are the noms:
“The Confession,” “The Crush,” “God of Love,” “Na Wewe,” “Wish 143.”
9:16: “God of Love.” Filmmaker Luke Matheny, who sports one heck of a ‘fro, jokes, “Wow, I should have gotten a haircut,” and then goes on to rapidly thank everyone, including his mother, “who did craft services on the film,” and his composer and love of his life, Sasha Gordon, because “you make my dream come true.” He gets an adoring awww from the crowd.
9:18: James says it was a big year for movie musicals and when Anne tries to contradict him, we get a series of Auto-Tune dialogue remixes for “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 1,” “Twilight: Eclipse,” and “Toy Story 3.” Hip-hop horrendous. I think I would rather have a “salute to horror films we would never actually let be nominated” clip montage than that rubbish. And someone tell Franco that he’s not on the set of the “Pineapple Express” sequel.
9:19: “There are many great things about this job, and one of them is getting to wear a dress that does this,” Anne says, shaking it so the long silvery fringe on her gown sways crazily. “Sorry, personal moment. The other thing is getting to breathe the same air as this presenter: Oprah Winfrey.” Big applause for Oprah, who is going to present the best documentary award. Maybe Oprah’s Banksy. That would be the awesomeness!
“Exit through the Gift Shop,” “Gasland,” “Inside Job,” “Restrepo,” “Waste Land.”
9:21: Winner: “Inside Job.” I thought this was a great doc, and I predicted the win for Charles Ferguson and Audrey Marrs. I thought some of the Academy’s older members wouldn’t be won over by “Gift Shop” because they couldn’t be sure whether it was really a documentary.
Charles points out that three years after the financial meltdown that his film chronicles, not one corporate exec has gone to jail. Shocking, isn’t it? Maybe not shocking. Maybe just horrific.
9:26: Anne introduces one of the greatest Oscar hosts of all time – “whom I have even more respect for now” – Billy Crystal, who gets a standing O from the crowd. “So, where was I?” Billy jokes. “Some things never change. The producers tell me we’re running a bit long, so here are the nominees for best picture.”
He’s telling us a bit about the first televised Oscars in 1953, when they were hosted by Bob Hope. Hope hosted it 18 times. Billy says, “I hosted it eight times, I was pooped after two.” And he’s sharing his Bob Hope moment: As Billy was hosting the Oscars one year, he says that Hope flipped him off from the audience as soon as the cameras cut away. Now, we’re getting a few scenes from the late Bob Hope in Oscar-hosting mode on the big screens.
9:31: The late Bob Hope just virtually introduced Jude Law and Robert Downey Jr. to present the effects Oscars. The “Sherlock Holmes” co-stars are showing doing their shtick and showing off their great chemistry and sense of humor that makes us all love them before giving out the visual effects award. They win the Oscar for most entertaining part of this show, or maybe it’s a tie between them and Kirk Douglas. And now for the visual effects noms:
“Alice in Wonderland,” “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1,” “Hereafter,” “Inception,” “Iron Man 2.”
9:33: Winner: “Inception,” Chris Corbould, Andrew Lockley, Pete Bebb and Paul J. Franklin. And congratulations to “Inception” for again proving that the Academy can’t handle sci-fi no matter how imaginative or well-written.
9:34: Now, here are the noms for best film editing:
“Black Swan,” “The Fighter,” “The King’s Speech,” “127 Hours,” “The Social Network.”
9:36: Winner: “The Social Network,” Kirk Baxter and Angus Wall, and they start with a hug. Angus tells his daughter to find something that she really loves to do but notes “the hard part is finding a Fincher.” No joke.
9:41: Anne looks absolutely stunning in that gorgeous red gown, but she’s playing straight man to James Franco. He’s commenting that he’s disgusted by some of the movie titles this year, like “Winter’s Bone,” “Rabbit Hole” and “How to Train Your Dragon.” “I’m so glad you’re the arbiter of good taste on this show,” jokes Anne.
9:42: Oscar winner Jennifer Hudson, in her stunning tangerine gown, introduces Florence Welch of Florence + The Machine and A.R. Rahman to perform “If I Rise,” best original song nominee from “127 Hours.” Florence, who looks terrific in her own tangerine-hued dress, is filling in for co-writer/singer Dido, who couldn’t be on the show tonight. Again, I wish we could hear more of these great songs.
9:44: Jennifer introduces fellow Oscar winner and “country music’s newest star,” Gwyneth Paltrow, who is singing “Coming Home” from her drama “Country Strong.” I definitely think we’ll be hearing from Gwyneth in the country genre again.
9:45: Now, Jennifer is going to present the best original song award. Again, here are the noms:
“Coming Home” from “Country Strong,” Tom Douglas, Troy Verges and Hillary Lindsey; “I See the Light” from “Tangled,” Alan Menken and Glenn Slater; “If I Rise” from “127 Hours,” A.R. Rahman, Dido and Rollo Armstrong; “We Belong Together” from “Toy Story 3,” Randy Newman.
9:46: Winner: Randy Newman and Pixar prove a winning combo again. Randy is on his 20th nomination, and this is his second win. The last time he won was for “If I Didn’t Have You” from Pixar’s “Monsters Inc.” Randy jokes that the Oscar lunch has a “Randy Newman chicken by now.” Randy is just throwing out jokes and thank yous simultaneously and he’s got the crowd laughing at his audacity. Gotta love him. He’s right, though, the percentages indicate he’d have never gotten one of those golden statuettes if he hadn’t done six movies with Pixar.
9:52: Celine Dion is singing “Smile” as the annual in memoriam montage runs honors Pete Postlethwaite, Leslie Nielsen, Robert Culp, Lynn Redgrave, Peter Yates, Susannah York, Irvin Kershner, Dennis Hopper, Tulsa native Blake Edwards and many of the others in Hollywood who died in the past year. Wonder who they left out that people will be freaking out over this year.
9:55: Oscar winner Halle Berry is paying special tribute to the late Lena Horne, the first black woman to sign a contract with a major studio like MGM. Bonus: We get a clip of Horne crooning her signature song, “Stormy Weather.” Man, what a voice.
10:01: Another striking dress for Anne, who looks incredible in a glossy column of rich blue fabric. She’s passing the torch to two-time Oscar winner Hilary Swank, who in turn is passing it to last year’s history-making best director winner Kathryn Bigelow. Bigelow will be presenting the award, and this year it’s going back to the guys. Go Fincher!
Darren Aronofsky, “Black Swan”; David O. Russell, “The Fighter”; Tom Hooper, “The King’s Speech”; David Fincher, “The Social Network”; Joel Coen and Ethan Coen, “True Grit.”
10:03: Winner: Tom Hooper for “The King’s Speech,” who is lavishing thanks on his fellow nominees along with the actors from his film. He’s acknowledging “the triangle of man-love,” formed by him Colin Firth, Geoffrey Rush and himself. He’s thanking his mom and dad. He says that he has to thank his mom because she went to play reading for a then-unproduced script called “The King’s Speech.” She called up her son and told him she’d found his next film. “The moral of the story is listen to your mum.”
So, Hooper gives a great, touching speech, but I’m very disappointed that Fincher didn’t win for “The Social Network.” That film was incredible, and Fincher’s direction really made it. Plus, Fincher deserves it for all his previous films like “Fight Club” and “Benjamin Button” that went unheralded. Nothing against Hooper or “The King’s Speech,” but that should have been Fincher’s Oscar.
10:06: Annette Bening is introducing the clip montage from the Governor’s Awards, where actor Eli Wallach, film historian and preservationist Kevin Brownlow and “The Godfather” director-producer Francis Ford Coppola were honored. Now, the men themselves are taking the Oscars stage to an extended standing O. Except for fellow honorary Oscar winner director Jean-Luc Godard, who skipped the whole bit. Can’t blame him if this is all they get.
10:11: James and Anne once again match, with him donning a blue coat and tie to go with that fabulous dress. They’re giving the stage to Jeff Bridges, last year’s best actor winner. According to Oscar tradition, he’s going to present the best actress prize. He’s doing it with lots of warmth and charm to go with the usual clips. Here are the nominees:
Annette Bening, “The Kids Are All Right”; Nicole Kidman, “Rabbit Hole”; Jennifer Lawrence, “Winter’s Bone”; Natalie Portman, “Black Swan”; Michelle Williams, “Blue Valentine.”
10:15: Winner: Natalie Portman, as expected, dances away with the best actress prize. She looks lovely in that plum dress gracefully draping her baby bump, and she gives one of the nicest props I’ve ever heard to her competition: “I truly wish the prize tonight was to get to work with my fellow nominees; I’m so in awe of all of you.”
She is thanking all the usuals, plus Luc Besson, who cast her in her first movie at age 11; Mike Nichols, who directed her in “Closer”; and Darren Aronofsky of “Black Swan.” She’s taking time to thank the unsung heroes like hair and makeup artists and camera operators. She’s also sweetly thanking fiance Benjamin Millepied, who co-starred in and choreographed “Black Swan,” for giving her the most important role yet, presumably as mother to their unborn child.
10:20: Anne jokingly urges us all to take a drink at home as she flubs her intro of last year’s best actress winner Sandra Bullock, who looks radiant in her bright red gown. Sandy is playfully teasing all the best actor nominees as she presents their clips. It’s going to Firth, but here are the possibilities:
Javier Bardem, “Biutiful”; Jeff Bridges, “True Grit”; Jesse Eisenberg, “The Social Network”; Colin Firth, “The King’s Speech”; James Franco, “127 Hours.”
10:25: Winner: Colin Firth, who wins his first Oscar after back-to-back years going head-to-head with Bridges. “I have a feeling my career’s just peaked,” Firth jokes. “I’m afraid I have to warn you I’m experiencing stirrings … that are threatening to form themselves into dance moves, joyous as though they are, they may be problematic if they get to my legs before I leave the stage.” He’s thanking his fellow actors and Hooper, and he has especially effusive thanks for Seidler, who used his own struggles with stuttering to inform the screenplay.
Firth also thanks his wife for putting up with his brief delusions of royalty and then excuses himself to take care of his urge to dance.
10:31: James Franco and Anne Hathaway (in a purple sparkly gown) quickly and enthusiastically pitch it to Steven Spielberg, who will present best picture. The moment of truth: “The King’s Speech” or “The Social Network”? Is there a hint here as Colin Firth’s climatic message from “The King’s Speech” provides the score for the clip montage for all 10 competitors? Here are the possibilities:
“Black Swan,” “The Fighter,” “Inception,” “The Kids Are All Right,” “The King’s Speech,” “127 Hours,” “The Social Network,” “Toy Story 3,” “True Grit,” “Winter’s Bone.”
10:35: The Oscar goes to … “The King’s Speech.”
I’m not surprised, nor am I knocking “The King’s Speech,” but I am disappointed that “The Social Network” was shut out of the top award and best director. I really hoped that “The Social Network” and “The King’s Speech” would at least split those riches.
The producers are thanking all the usual suspects as the final music plays and we go back over to James and Anne. James doesn’t seem to know who just won, but Anne helps him out. They pitch it over to PS 22 Chorus of Staten Island, N.Y., who will again pay tribute to Oscar’s rich cinematic history with a heartwarming rendition of “Somewhere Over the Rainbow.”
Basically, it seems to me that the Academy tried to have it both ways this year: Get James Franco and Anne Hathaway to yuk it up to appeal to the younger demographic, but then bog down every award presentation with a history lesson and flashback clips. And then cap it off by going “Over the Rainbow.” Somebody needed to pick a direction for this show, because it’s split personality was a bit wearing.
And now all the night’s winners and the co-hosts take the stage. Look at Melissa Leo singing along and hoisting her long-awaited trophy; that may be my favorite moment of the super-cheesy ending. As Anne and James shout their good-nights and exchange high-fives, the Kodak Theatre crowd rises to its feet and the last of the feeling in mine goes away completely.
Well, that’s the Oscars for another year. Good night and have a pleasant tomorrow – I plan to do the same, once I get past the pins and needles and remember how to walk again.
Thanks for joining me!