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Yes, my friends, the action starts right here, right now, right after the jump.

New comments will go above older remarks, so if you’re reading this later and want to start at the beginning, you’ll scroll down to the end. Got that? Good. Let’s hope for an interesting night and don’t forget to keep refreshing — the page and yourself with the commestibles of your choice.

9:30 — A few quick final thoughts. All in all, I have to praise producers Bill Mechanic and Adam Shankman for a swift and entertaining production, traditionalist though I am and even though I still feel the Academy badly shortchanged tonight’s lifetime honorees. The hosting team of Baldwin and Martin did a fine job, though I’ve seen both men individually be even funnier, but these guys clearly know their shtick.

Also, though I admire “The Hurt Locker” a lot more than I actually like it, I think it says something very positive about Hollywood’s respect for craftmanship and serious intent that a film that didn’t even come close to setting the box office on fire can win best picture and, I’m sure, get a whole new life as a result. Awards like the Oscars might be inherently silly in that comparing films is invariably like putting apples and oranges up against avocados and hamburgers, but occasionally they can also fulfill a function. And I say that even though I personally would have voted for “Inglourious Basterds” in a heartbeat over any of the other films. (“Up in the Air,” which I finally caught up with last night, would be a strong second.)

Well, time to wrap up, but they’ll more here on the awards later on tomorrow. Stay tuned…

9:21 — Tom Hanks has apparently been told to cut to the chase and eschews listing all ten nominated films for simply saying the winner’s name, which I have to say kind of hampers the drama. Anyhow, the prognosticators turn out to be right. Ten nominees or not, “The Hurt Locker” still won the way it probably would have had there only been five nominees. The film’s three main actors run up on stage and act kind of the way their characters did in the film would if they had won something, as Mark Boal and the producer who isn’t Nicolas Chartier thanks Nicolas Chartier, along with many others. Again, Kathryn Bigelow seems genuinely overwhelmed and takes the time to thank all sorts of military heroes.

Steve Martin and Alec Baldwin end with more funny shtick in which Martin praises Baldwin and Baldwin does not.

9:20 — Barbara Streisand, mentioning that tonight might be the night the first woman or the first African-American wins. Not at all surprisingly, it’s the first woman’s turns and Kathryn Bigelow wins for “The Hurt Locker.” She seems genuinely thrilled and intimidated, thanking writer Mark Boal, the cast and notes that the secret to directing is collaborating. She thanks lots of other people (including banished producer Nick Chartier) as well as soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan. “May they come home safe.” The band plays “I am Woman.” (Would they have played “(Say it Loud) I’m Black and I’m Proud” if Lee Daniels had won?)

9:10 — Another group testimonial for Best Actress. Forest Whitaker talks about directing Sandra Bullock for “Hope Floats”; Michael Sheen discusses working with the great Helen Mirren on “The Queen” — “Is it wrong to be so wildly attracted to a queen…Royalty with a tattoo”; a shaven-headed Peter Saarsgard talks about Carey Mulligan falling in love with him twice (on stage and in “An Education”) and praises her work to the sky; executive producer Oprah Winfrey talks about Gabourey Sidebe getting the title role in “Precious,” “a true American Cinderella on the threshold of a brilliant new career…congratulations Gabby Sidebe”; and Stanley Tucci, who really does enjoy a lovely chemistry with Meryl Streep onscreen — the camera misses a joke about his two films with her being “the highlight of my career” but he then jokes about capping the number of nominations at 16 while seeming to like her quite a bit.

Sean Penn presents the award, alluding interestingly to his non-membership in the Academy, to Sandra Bullock for “The Blind Side” who does a funny bit of actor-joke business with Meryl Streep. “Did I really earn this or did I just wear you all down?” She humorously and graciously praises all her competitors in various ways, including Streep and her kissing abilities. She ends by thanking “the moms that take care of the babies and the children, no matter where they come” which she says is the theme of the film, and then tearfully thanks her own mom for not letting her ride in cars with boys (she apparently was ready to engage in a parental worst case scenario had she).

8:55 — An all star cast assembles to present pre-award testimonials the best actor award — Michelle Pfeiffer about Jeff Bridges drawing capillaries on his face while making “The Fabulous Baker Boys,” Vera Fermiga about George Clooney (as she talks about his concern with making sure his costars do as well or better than he does, he seems genuinely touched); Julianne Moore talks about working for only three days on “A Single Man,” though her scenes are in many respects central to the film; Tim Robbins kids about becoming the friend of Morgan Freeman on “The Shawshank Redemption”: “Being a friend is about getting the other a cup of coffee, can you do that for me, Ted? It is ‘Ted,’ isn’t it?”; finally, Colin Farrell talks about, apparently sleeping, literally, with Jeremy Renner on “SWAT” and seems genuinely impressed with his great work on “The Hurt Locker.”

I think using people who actually worked together beats the somewhat random selection of actors last year.

Kate Winslet actually presents the award to, of course, Jeff Bridges, who is certainly pleased if not hugely surprised. “Thank you mom and dad for turning me on to such a groovy profession.” He talks about being trained by his dad for a role in “Sea Hunt” and thanks his director on “Crazy Heart” and as many of his coworkers as they’ll allow him (and they seem to be allowing him a lot). He really does say “man” a fair amount.

8:40: More time wonkyness caused by a phone call I kind of had to take. Two of cinema’s most talented bad boys, Pedro Almodovar and Quentin Tarantino present the Best Foreign Language award.  The winner is one of the less hyped films, “The Secret in Their Eyes” from Argentina. The producer thanks the Academy for not considering Na’vi a foreign language. Good to know they have “development hell” in Latin America also.

8:30 — Gerard Butler and Bradley Cooper present the best visual effects award to “Avatar.” Not a surprise and, considering the advances in motion capture and 3-D, it’s kind of a given — though I’m sure techies might want to school me on that point somewhat in case I’m over-simpliflying it any case. One of the award winners (sorry, didn’t catch his name) notes that: “The world that we live in is just as amazing as the one we created for you.”

Nice head-bobbing to the “Sherlock Holmes” music by George Clooney. His hair is getting younger, even if no man can achieve that.

Matt Damon presents the Best Documentary Feature award. It’s nice to see these films get a nice amount of publicity with some good and lengthy montages. “The Cove” wins. Not a big surprise — except that this can be a wonky category at times that likes to honor less well known films, but not this year.

Tyler Perry: “They just said my name at the Oscars. I should enjoy it because it’ll probably never happen again.” He presents the editing award to “The Hurt Locker,” another “technical “award that tends to go to the film people like the most.

8:00 — James Taylor sings John Lennon’s  “In My Life” over the annual “in memoriam” montage. Makes up a little bit for the lack of “Best Song” musical numbers otherwise and, as always, it’s stunning the amount of great talent we lose every year. This year it ends with Karl Malden who passed on at 97 this year and was pretty widely beloved in “this town.”

That’s followed by a dance number set to this year’s nominated scores. Not to put down the obvious talent and acrobatic talent of these folks, but quasi-breakdancing to the music from “Sherlock Holmes” and “The Hurt Locker”? Things improve a lot with the music from “Fantastic Mr. Fox” and the lovely score from “Up” by Michael Giacchino. The “Avatar” music works nicely with the spectacular dancing and the audience seems pleased.

The award for best score goes to Michael Giacchino. Well deserved and very nice words to young people about the importance of creativity.

7: 40 — Elizabeth Banks helps the Oscars give short shrift to the “sci/tech” awards.

Quentin Tarantino seems pleased with the “Inglourious Basterds” montage. I think he’s made peace with the likelihood that Christoph Waltz will be getting the film’s only award tonight. When you make films that are the opposite of Oscar bait, you can’t complain too much about not getting Oscars, no matter how deserved they might be.

Sandra Bullock is funny explaining that the first job of cinematographers is making stars like her look pretty. (I like hearing her say “mishegas.”) It goes to Mauro Fiore of “Avatar.” Again, this is an award as much for the fact that people liked the movie as it is for Fiore’s good work. He’s also probably getting credit for the 3-D and motion capture work.

7:37: What’s that thumping behind Baldwin & Martin? It turns out to be appropriate as they are following it with a parody of “Paranormal Activity” to set up the coming horror film tribute.

Kristen Stewart and Taylor Lautner present the horror montage. Not exactly Karloff and Lugosi. Also, some shmoe of a writer says that no horror film has won an Oscar since “The Exorcist” to which I say, “What was ‘Silence of the Lambs’? Musical comedy?” Horror-loving film blogger Dennis Cozzalio will be delighted happy to see Chucky of “Child’s Play” represented, but having a clip from “Leprechaun” in there might be going a bit far. On the other hand I love hearing the music from “Young Frankenstein” alongside the iconic music from  “Psycho.” On the other hand, “Marathon Man” and “Edward Scissorhands” are not really horror films at all. They also show the alien-from-John Hurt”s-chest gag from “Alien” in all it’s bloody gory. What is this, the Scream awards?

Morgan Freeman explains the awards for Sound Editing and Mixing for people who never went to film school or made a film. There are some of you out there, right. Lautner and Stewart present the awards for both categories to  “The Hurt Locker.” Movies with a certain amount of effects work tend to get nominated and the movie which people generally like the best of those tends to win it. If you marked “Hurt Locker” on your Oscar pool, things are seriously looking up.

7:15: Sigourney Weaver presents the  production design/set decoration award. (Have they always been combined like this?) “Avatar” wins and she seems a bit excited about it. People who don’t realize the importance of this category should take a page from Ms. Weaver. She can’t do what she does if they don’t do what they do. An emotional moment from one of the designers who discusses an old illness. Lots of compliments to producer Jon Landau and, of course, James Cameron.

Clothes designer turned director Tom Ford of the excellent “A Single Man” and Sarah Jessica Parker present best costume design to the expected winner, “The Young Victoria.” Probably somewhat wrongly, this category always seems to go to period pictures and the two-time award winner, Sandy Powell, graciously acknowledges designers on other kinds of films. Classy move.

7:10: Robin Williams presents the Best Supporting Actress to, of course, Mo’Nique, for “Precious.” I can’t say she was as good as her opposite number, Christoph Waltz, in being a fait accompli award winner in a highly villainous supporting role, but she certainly brought the fire to her work and I can’t argue with it. She also brings the fire to her acceptance speech. She makes her point.

7:04: If you’re noticing that my times are slightly wonky, it’s the miracle of the DVR at work without which this would be a lot harder. Rachel McAdams and the hard to spell Jake Gyllenhaal present the award for best adapted screenplay to Geoffrey Fletcher for “Precious.” He won an Indie Spirit award yesterday for best first screenplay. Having seen the film just yesterday, I can’t agree with this award, especially considering how great “In the Loop” and “Up in the Air” are in terms of their writing, but I understand the feelings behiind it. Very emotional speech.

Montage of Governor’s award honorees to Roger Corman, Gordon Willis, and Lauren Bacall. Sorry, but these people all absolutely deserved to get their award live and have their own lenghty montages, rather than just waving from the audience. They are all true motion picture greats and, as gracious as  they are being, deserve more.

6:50: Similarly heighted — and similarly amazing looking — Zoe Saldana and Carey Mulligan present short film awards, almost stumbling over their dresses as they walk out on stage. John Lasseteer on short films (paraphrased): “You know what I like about short films; they’re short.” Award fo Aninmated short goes not to Nick Park’s latest, but “Logorama.” Best documentary short goes to “Music by Prudence” — the two filmmakers seems to be fighting for airtime or something before getting played off. Live action short goes to “The New Tenants.” Second award winner gets his mike cut before he say anything. They’re being brutally efficient.

And now Ben Stiller is a really funny, frightening Na’vi. (Wasn’t this related to the deleted Sacha Baron Cohen gag?) Great contact lens, hands, and tail gags. “I see you,” he says to James Cameron. Presents award for Best Make-Up to “Star Trek.”

6:30: Molly Ringwald and Matthew Broderick pay nice tribute to the late John Hughes. He says he’s frequently accosted by peole who ask: “Hey Ferris, is this your day off?” Nice montage following; I’m sure Hughes’ millions of devoted fans will be getting all misty eyed. Nicely done. Followed up with many of Hughes other stars, ranging from Ally Sheedy to Jon Cryer, Macauley Culkin, and Judd Nelson. It’s a nice tribute that it’s a shame more filmmakers can’t get.

6:27: Tina Fey and Robert Downey, Jr., very funny on the tensions between writers and actors. Downey: “It’s a collaboration between handsome gifted people and sickly little mole people.” Award for Best Original Screenplay goes to Mark Boal for “The Hurt Locker” — and so the sweep begins? He dedicates his award to the troops, well and injured, in Afghanistan and Iraq and to his recently deceased father.

6:20: Cameron Diaz and Steve Carrell introduce Barbara Walter’s “interviews” with characters from animated films. Cute. Nice shot of a happy looking Ed Asner. Award for Best Animated Feature goes to “Up.” Not a shocker by any stretch, but it’s a lovely movie, so hard to complain. (Also, I missed all but one of the other nominated films.) Pete Doctor, like everyone else at Pixar seemingly, is one of the good ones.

Next up Miley Cyrus and Amanda Seyfried of “Dear John” and “Mamma Mia”…who I’ll be meeting in a couple of days (along with scads of other journos; maybe I’ll get to ask a question, maybe). They’re introducing the Best Song with clips from the films rather than the usual production number(s). I wasn’t too thrilled about the change, but the clips aren’t badly orchestrated and certainly give an idea of how the songs are used in the films.

Ryan Bingham and T-Bone Burnett win for their song, “The Weary Kind” from “Crazy Heart.” Mr. Burnett is a long time hero of mine. And Mr. Bingham’s backpack seems full enough. (Sorry. “Up in the Air” joke.)

6:10: If Christoph Waltz doesn’t win tonight’s first award for Best Supporting Actor award for “Basterds”  the earth under the Kodak may just open up. He does a good job of acting surprised and mentioning everyone’s name. Nice to know the earth doesn’t need to open up and Waltz’s historically good performance has been acknowledged.

6:00: Baldwin & Martin heating up. Funny/silly gags about various nominated actors, though that gag about “Frida” and Brad Pitt’s “Inglourious Basterds” mustache will fly over many heads. Good reaction shot of George Clooney when the two couldn’t think of who was nominated for Best Actor other than Jeff Bridges.

5:51: Funny threesome gag about Baldwin and Martin’s work with Meryl Streep on “It’s Complicated.” Another good gag: “Anyone who’s ever worked with Meryl Streep always ends up saying the exact same thing: ‘Can that women act!” and “What’s up with all the Hitler memorabilia?” Martin calls out to “The Jerk” re: “Precious.” He too, you’ll recall, was born a poor black child.

5:49: Opening monologue okay so far, though the passing off between Steve Martin and Alec Baldwin seems slightly contrived rather than a comedy. Still, I liked this bit:

Steve: Oh, look, there’s that damn Helen Mirren.

Alec: Steve that’s Dame Helen Mirren.

5:43: Best actor and actress nominees all on stage at once. Ms. Sidibe seems to enjoy it. And Neal Patrick Harris lied, sort of — Martin Short is nowhere to be seen. Doesn’t quite nail his song as well as other shows, probably a bit nervous, but mostly pretty great, as usual. Song moderately clever

5:30: Jeff Bridges is “all Gucci’d out.” He also looks just like my semi-insane boss from a long-gone Orange County job. Gabourey Sidibe is a texting demon and very excited to be at her very first Oscars. Meryl Streep’s favorite part of the Oscars is sitting down in her seat and “getting off the Jimmy Chus”. The ladies hosting liked Sandra Bullock, Zoe Saldana dresses and Ms. Sidibe’s blue thingy. And we get ready to start.

5:14 — So they tricked me into being on time and watching some of the flackery on the pre-show. J-Lo loved “Precious” and Sarah Jessica Parker looks fantastic in Chanel, they tell me. Matthew Broderick is trying not to smirk, I think. He’s wearing Tom Ford. Must be uncomfortable for Mr. Ford. Yes, and I will be here all night.

  

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