5:30 (Pacific): At last, the telecast for what some observers have presaged to be the most boring Oscars in recent history. Most prognosticators think the award winners were locked in months ago. And since stats-geek Nate Silver (of FiveThirtyEight fame) has weighed in on likely outcomes, few folks are expecting shocks. But with (sort of) live TV, you never know...
So, on with the show!
5:31: Like pretty much everyone else, I can't help but ask: Hugh Jackman?
5:32: Snarky snap at New Zealand!
5:33: So this is what Depression-era Oscars look like. Sad.
5:36: Richard Nixon as creepy sex-symbol.
5:37: Loved the line about not seeing The Reader. I guess few folks want to see movies-as-homework.
5:58: That was a standing-O that was well deserved.
5:39: "Ladies and gentlemen, the real Nixon right here: Frank Langella." Huh?
5:44: I never thought I'd say this, but where's Hugh Jackman?
5:42: Five Best Supporting Actress nominees are needed for this?
5:45: Goldie Hawn: Supporting America's plastics industry since 1969.
5:47: Penelope Cruz wins Best Actress in a Supporting Role. What a sweet presence.
5:53: Tina Fey and Steve Martin: Can you imagine what a dinner party must be like with these two as guests? Love the line: "Or a very good idea for a poster."
5:57: Milk picks up the first big win, for best original screenplay.
5:58: "You are beautiful, wonderful creatures of value."
5:59: "Don't fall in love with me," Steve Martin warns Tina Fey. How cool must it be to know exactly how hard to write a line without going over the line? I may never know.
6:01: Slumdog Millionaire wins for best adapted screenplay. OK, time to admit it: I've not seen this one. Yet.
6:03: Jack Black earned an awkward laugh.
6:05: OK, so the theme of this Movie Storybook (or whatever it's called) is: there were a lot of animated movies this year?
6:06: Wall-E wins for Best Animated Feature. Good. But, frankly, it merited a nom for Best Pic.
6:08: Jack Black manages to say "thank you" in one syllable.
6:10: Props to Mr. Roboto!
6:16: Sarah Jessica Parker seems to have stepped off from another awards show, maybe the Golden Globes.
6:17: Benjamin Button wins for set design.
6:19: Nice. Talk just long enough for the other guy to get played off...
6:20: The Duchess wins for best costumes. And another five percent of the audience nods off.
6:23: Poor Daniel Craig: stuck in a suit that fits all too well.
6:23: Benjamin Button wins another consolation prize.
6:24: Really. Really. Whatever-your-name-is-who-just-won-for-best-makeup: Didn't Tom Hanks warn you how awful it is to read off names of people we've never heard of as quickly as you can?
6:25: Since the show is clearly going too fast, let's slow down with "romance in 2008."
6:32: Ben Stiller-as-Joaquin Phoenix. Easily the funniest bit of the night so far.
6:35: Slumdog pics up the win for cinematography. The winner tries to riff off of Stiller's bit. No luck there.
6:38: Jessica Biel's dress looks like she's had a most unfortunate accident with a microwave oven.
6:39: The tech awards: Well, that was fast.
6:42: Seth Rogen's stoner humor takes us to strange places. I have no idea why. I need some chips.
6:46: Trashing the German pronunciation of - well, whatever it was called. And have you ever looked at your hand? I mean really looked at your hand?
6:52: Hugh Jackman is reminding us of Depression-era musical fashion. After all those ads for JCPenney and Hyundai, I'm not too surprised.
6:53: By way of Bob Fosse and Grease? And High School Musical?
6:56: Did you catch Hugh Jackman's look? Something like... "I can't believe we're doing this crap."
6:57: The musical is back. God save us.
7:02: Best Supporting Actor time. Again with the five-top. What has Cuba Gooding Jr. being doing lately?
7:05: Cuba needs to work, indeed.
7:08: Heath Ledger wins. Family comes to pick up the award. A sad moment. We'll never understand why he left the way he did. He knew that he'd accomplished something amazing with this role. And then... I just don't get it.
7:11: Now, a generic moment about documentaries!
7:13: Bill Mahar steps up, wearing a suit that looks like a Colorform. He then pimps his own documentary. You should go see their movies, he chides: "starting with mine." Stay classy, Bill.
7:16: The would-be shortest speech in Oscar history - isn't.
7:17: Best documentary - short subject. Joy: More Bill, who suggests that, just maybe, the winners of Man on Wire deserved to win. How gracious.
7:23: Great chases in 2008 movies? OK, sure. No, now it's fights. Uh, special effects? Oh... "action."
7:26: Outstanding visual effects: Benjamin Button again.
7:28: Four Oscars. One long, boring speech.
7:29: Outstanding sound editing: Dark Knight.
7:30: One Oscar. On long, boring speech. Dude. "uh" is not a comma.
7:30: Outstanding sound mixing: The superheroes of post-production. Really?
7:31: Slumdog wins for sound-mixing.
7:32: Dude, huffing and puffing don't count as commas either.
7:33: Jennifer Aniston looked like she lost money on the sound mixing part of her Oscar pool.
7:34: Film editing: Another win for Slumdog.
7:36: Another list of names, names, names. Another ten percent of the Oscar audience bows out.
7:41: Eddie Murphy is here to present a humanitarian award to Jerry Lewis.
7:44: Dude. He hasn't gotten this award yet?
7:46: I sure am glad he did.
7:50: A medley music competing for best original score.
7:54: Slumdog wins again.
7:54: Winner tries some humor about being nervous before coming, marriage, and mothers. It's best to just read the card, friend.
7:56: Best original song.
7:57: I heard that Peter Gabriel wouldn't perform because he didn't want to be stuck into a minute for his entire song. This guy sure didn't mind.
7:59: How would you like to be one of those audience members with a drummer swinging next to your ears? Please, please don't shatter my eardrums!
8:00: OK, I'm gonna call it: That was a swell medley.
8:01: Slumdog is the winner of the night, so far.
8:02: The essence of Slumdog is optimism and hope?!? Great, dude. Thanks for the spoiler.
8:06: Best foreign language film: Departures. And a roomful of Oscar audience members mentally adds to their Netflix queue.
8:10: Time for the Cavalcade of Dead People: Powered by the patented Hollywood Applause-Meter.
8:15: The winner: Paul Newman (who benefited from a video-excerpt goose). I always thought his most memorable "last image" should have been the "Are you there, Ol' Timer" glimpse up into the rafters near the end of Cool Hand Luke. Oh well. And man, that audience had little love for Charlton Heston!
8:18: Cheeky line about the departing president of the Academy. Tacky, even. But oh so true.
8:20: Best Director: Danny Boyle, receiving his Oscar "in the spirit of Tigger." Oh, and he's enjoying the show too.
8:22: Boyle offers props to dude he left off the credits. Nicely done.
8:25: Time for Best Actress honors. Once more: a "final five" of winners. They say Kate will win it. She deserves it. But I'd love to see Meryl take it anyway.
8:28: Leave it to Shirley MacLaine to transform an introduction into a lecture (Keep working on that singing. You've got some talent there!).
8:31: I know! Let's have five actresses talk about other actresses! That will only take a minute or two, right?
8:32: Kate Winslet wins for The Reader. Breathless, on the verge of crying, and preparing to thank "some people." Here we go...
8:34: Names, names, names... And heavy breathing.
8:34: A list of positions. Some geography. Eyes to the heavens. Oh, and those other nominees. Props to Meryl.
8:35: A screech. And - she's off!
8:37: One more fivesome. A pretty impressive one, too.
8:39: I've said it before, but it bears repetition. Robert De Niro is one funny guy.
8:41: Richard Jenkins is thinking to himself: I don't have a chance.
8:42: Mickey Rourke. Man, I hope he wins this.
8:43: Ah, crap, says Rourke. Crap.
8:44: Nice line from Sean Penn: "I know how hard I make it for you to appreciate me."
8:46: Penn gets just a little political. Never saw that one coming.
8:47: Rourke gets props from Penn. And the world seems a little nicer now.
8:47: Spielberg gets ethereal.
8:48: A somewhat clever introduction to how each Best Picture nominee draws from a lineage of big ideas.
8:53: And the winner is: Slumdog Millionaire.