81st Annual Academy Awards Running Diary!

6:57 PM CST: Seriously we (I'm watching this year's telecast with my folks) just flipped from Andy Rooney to Barbara Walters. Can we retire people forcibly from tv journalism when they start saying random old grandparent things? Enough is enough already.

6:58: Time for half an hour of red carpet pre-show. Just so you're aware, I don't care who anybody is wearing, even if it's the dead flesh of an actual person.

7:00: Oh, it's pronounced "Tah-Rah-Gee" P. Henson. That's one mystery solved.

7:01: Tim Gunn is worth fifty of the Riverses of the world, but he needs to do better than ask Kate Winslet if she's more worried about "winning or tripping."

7:03: As Dave would say (if he didn't have to work, like a loser), Josh Brolin- luckiest man alive... This other silver-haired guy (henceforth "Other Guy") seems to make people uncomfortable, while Tim Gunn makes people happy (plus I do agree that stripper vs. nun is not a fair fight- meaning Marisa Tomei in the Wrestler vs. Amy Adams in Doubt).

7:09: I care about Valentino dresses? I'm getting something to drink.

7:11: The entire cast of Slumdog Millionaire! The "rags to riches" story of the movie's success is apparently a case of "life imitating art," according to our interviewer lady. Did they all sleep in garbage shanties last night?...Oh, don't talk to Mickey Rourke, good lord. I'm regretting that pick already.


7:13: Robert Downey, Jr.! Save this red carpet for me! What? Stop talking to his wife! Other Guy is terrible- he didn't set RDJ up for a single quip... I understand that Miley Cyrus can sing, but her speaking voice makes me grind my back teeth together...

7:16: A trailer for Knowing! Nothing says Oscar night like the trailer for Knowing. Or perhaps Antonio Banderas as the Nasonex bee.

7:20: The cheesy montage to accountants just makes me wish Vesper Lynd was carrying that suitcase... Other Guy continues his streak of hardly talking to the nominees themselves, talking over Meryl Streep to ask her daughter questions. Penelope Cruz's dress is sixty years old, so make a note of that.

7:22: Is there are rule that no question can be interesting at all? How do people watch more than half an hour of this stuff? Jack Black to the rescue, sticking it to Other Guy with copious eye-rolling.

7:25: Did Seth Rogen attend the Oscars stag? Why do we need a "sneak peek" at the Oscars at this point? They're five minutes away! Speaking from what I know of music copyright law (former job, long story), this incorporation of multiple movie themes was probably a nightmare to put together.

7:28: And finally, it's done. Two minutes to go time!

7:30: Wow, the set really does look like a huge nightclub- the kind that seats several thousand and a live orchestra.

7:31: RDJ applauds himself during the monologue, awesome. Wait, Hugh Jackman starts with a monologue? But then breaks into a song and dance routine, ah.

7:35: The Button thing is cute, and we'd all like to run off with Anne Hathaway. Actually, after her and Jackman's Frost/Nixon duet, I'd much rather see Anne Hathaway host the Oscars. She was aces on SNL two months ago.

7:38: People are standing and applauding? I liked the medley well enough, but does Hugh Jackman always sing like he has a cold? Now he's sitting in Frank Langella's lap? Can we present an award already? Even a sound one- I'm geeked for all 24.

7:41: I actually kind of like random montages, since they're always more fun to watch than awkward live television, and we get several clips of past winners of the (finally) Supporting Actress award. Come on, Amy Adams! I'm either going to look like a genius or an idiot.

7:43: Uh, why are we dragging this out? Five former winners are delivering speeches on each acting nominee? We enraged Peter Gabriel for this? Could they not get rights to film clips?

7:47: Seventeen minutes in, still no statues handed out...

7:48: Penelope Cruz wins! Damn! "Not an auspicious start," says my mom. Ugh- Cruz is killing me here. At least she thanks Almodovar for making her career. 0 for 1.

7:49: My dad's new tv has subtitles on all the time, and whoever's keeping up with the show just copped out and put [speaking in foreign langauge] when Cruz broke into some rapid Spanish.

7:53: Steve Martin and Tina Fey! Okay, I'm actually sort of digging not knowing the presenters ahead of time. We get a writing award already? Original Screenplay better go to Milk or this night will not go well at all for me.

7:56: Based on the applause-o-meter, Wall-E might steal this... No, it's Dustin Lance Black! I'm batting .500. Black really knows how to get to the point in a speech, by the way, but he is a writer. That speech was a hell of a moment, right there. Right on.

7:58: And Adapted Screenplay! Man, are they going to just rattle off all the techs in a five minute span later? I audibly "booed" The Reader's screenplay, by the way.

8:01: Beaufoy and Slumdog start the process. 2 for 3. He did make me smile with his opening line: "There are few places in the world you can never imagine yourself standing- for me that's the moon, the south pole, the Miss World podium, and here."

8:03: That was a good Dreamworks slam, Jack Black. Can we give Wall-E a statue already? No, it's time for another montage.

8:06: Unexpectedly awesome? The Animation montage is set to Does It Offend You, Yeah? music. Point to you, Ganis. Wall-E wins Best Animated Feature! Andrew Stanton also knows how to make a speech, but he probably had the most time to prepare of anybody. 3 for 4.

8:08: Animated Short: here's where my random guessing skills come in to play. Come on, french title... La Maison De Petites Cubes wins! Boo yah! 4 for 5! I just threw up my arms with more vigor than at any point during the Superbowl (and I grew up in Pittsburgh).

8:10: If the Oscars get a third of the Superbowl's audience (hopefully), then do ads cost one third as much? Like $1 Million?

8:15: Craig... Daniel Craig. He sounds pretty authoritative even reading pre-pared Art Direction banter. Come on, Dark Knight love... Did I pick with my heart too much on this one? Yes, I did. Button takes it. 4 for 6. Last year I nailed Sweeney Todd out of nowhere for Art Direction and was so proud...

8:17 Straight into Best Costumes. I kind of like the "Oscars as narrative" gimmick they've got going. The Duchess- woot! 5 for 7.

8:22: Man, that costume guy went on forever. Straight into Best Makeup! Can Daniel Craig host the whole thing? Come on, Button... Nailed it! 6 for 8.

8:25: Did the announcer just say "Robert Patterson"? I really am sick of all the Twilight hoopla, but it's Robert Pattinson, people. He and Amanda Seyfried look like anime characters. Why do we need a "romance" montage? These should all be set to Does It Offend You, Yeah? I think.

8:28: Included in the "romance" clips is The Reader! Hooray for pedophilia! Commercial time. For the curious, Dave is one ahead of me at 7 for 8, presently- he missed only the animated short.

8:31: Ben Stiller's Joaquin Phoenix impression is pretty winning. Here comes Best Cinematography, another Oscar I picked for The Dark Knight that won't happen...

8:33: I really, really don't want Slumdog Millionaire to wine nine Oscars. Did I let that influence my decision making? Yes, yes I did. 6 for 9, now that Anthony Dod Mantle has an award. Hopefully I can make it up on the shorts and sound awards.

8:37: How come a guy never hosts the tech awards dinner? That's sexist, that is. Jessica Biel talks about one of the Pixar co-founders for a little while.

8:46: Okay, I forgot to write stuff during the Pineapple Express skit because I was actually entertained, so point there, Apatow. Live Action short: Spielzeugland! Go H-Caust factor! Bam! 7 for 10.

8:51: Hugh Jackman? Haven't seen him for a while. I thought Chicago brought the musical back, but Hugh informs us that Mamma Mia! has done so this year. And now Hugh's singing and dancing again... with Beyonce. Again, no Peter Gabriel for this? I'm checking out until this is over.

8:55: And people from High School Musical also join in. And the young ones from Mamma Mia!... I feel like Will Ferrell in the Celebrity Jeopardy sketches right now: "French Stewart, you answered 'threeve,' a combination of the numbers three and five. And you wagered 'Texas' with a dollar sign in front of it... I'm speechless." Just... why? There are no nominated musicals this year. How are musicals back? Mamma Mia! didn't even win any BAFTAs, and it's the highest grossing film of all time in Britain.

9:02: Finally, it's Heath Ledger time. I say we just let Matilda give the speech, that would be adorable... Christopher Walken alert!... Phillip Seymour Hoffman is wearing a knit cap, at the Oscars.

9:05: Man, they're lucky Cuba Gooding Jr. was available for this. Hee.

9:07: Okay, Heath Ledger isn't winning an Oscar for his entire life, people. Three family members accept? Couldn't we just have had Nolan say a few polite words? I bet they don't do the playoff music, for once. Anyway, 8 for 11.

9:14: Looks like it's documentary time, judging by the montage with the Phillip Glass music we just saw. Bill Maher is kind of a jackass, but that's not news. Man On Wire wins doc feature! 9 for 12. Okay, I love the French high-wire guy now- he made a coin disappear during his speech. Magic! Bring on Doc Short...

9:17: Damn it! I never get all three shorts! Congrats to Smile Pinki, but I'm skipping the speech. 9 for 13.

9:22: Time for Sound awards, I think. It's make or break time- does Slumdog sweep all nine, or will my Wall-E predictions hold any weight? Ooh, the Hives for this montage. Nice. Although the song overpowers most of the effects they're highlighting...

9:25: (Why are they taunting me with a part of Howard and Zimmer's not-nominated Dark Knight score as Will Smith is raised onto the stage? Don't rub it in). Turns out it was Visual Effects First, by the way. This category went rogue last year...

9:26: But not this time! Button picks up another. 10 for 14. How did those four dudes decide which one got to speak? Draw straws?

9:28: Now it's sound time. Sound Editing, to be precise. Anything but Slumdog, dear god. Yes! The Dark Knight! Whoo! Suck it, India! I got this wrong but I'm happy we don't have to hear about Slumdog in the same company as Return Of The King as a clean sweeper.

9:32: And Sound Mixing goes to...Slumdog Millionaire. Ugh. I'm heading to the bathroom. That's 10 for 16.

9:33: Will Smith, still? All right, let's do Editing. I would love Slumdog to lose here, as long as my percentage is dropping anyway... but Chris Dickens takes the statue. 11 for 17. Dave is still one ahead of me at 12 for 17, and it's going to come down to Penn vs. Rourke to see if I can tie him or not.

9:37: Let's see, are they going to present seven more statues and the lifetime achievement award before ten thirty? I say no.

9:42: Clearly there's no better choice to present a humanitarian award than Eddie Murphy. I'll be back in a little bit...

9:53: A montage of the Best Original Score music... can we hurry along? Nothing makes the Oscars seem longer than writing about them while you watch. Try it next time. Alicia Keys and the obligatory Zac Effron present Slumdog with yet another Oscar. 12 for 18.

9:57: How do we know that Best Original Song is stacked for Slumdog? John Legend gets to sing "Down To Earth" from Wall-E with backup dancers from Slumdog's first performance, at least at first. "Jai Ho" also clearly sends the subtitler into fits- he only gets the chorus.

10:00: Wow, you know what you get when you mix "Jai Ho" and "Down To Earth" together? A pile of garbage, that's what. And the Oscar goes to... "Jai Ho." Yawn. 13 for 19.

10:06: Foreign language time, and Waltz With Bashir inexplicably loses to Departures. 13 for 20. I'm getting tired.

10:18: Sorry, just checked out for the "People We've Lost" montage, set to Queen Latifah singing something or other. Reese Witherspoon trots out for... director? Before the lead actors? Come on, that's going too far.

10:19: I forgot all about Frost/Nixon until I saw Ron Howard just now... Danny Boyle takes home his first award. It's too bad he can't sell his Oscar and donate the proceeds to providing India with a better social infrastructure. 14 for 21.

10:25: Lead Actress highlight reel! For the record, I would love to be wrong about this one (much as I love Kate Winslet, you can't tell me she was better than she was in Eternal Sunshine). Making it through a whole paragraph with the 74 year old Sophia Loren was an adventure...

10:31: And the Oscar goes to Kate Winslet! 15 for 22. That's the only Oscar it gets, Dave. Content yourself with that. She's really milking her time here, but she's accepting for six previous nominations, to be fair.

10:35: Just so we're all aware, I'm at 15, Dave's at 16, and if Rourke wins we'll tie, and it Penn wins he'll beat me by two. It's go time here at Kinematoscope.

10:37: No Daniel Day Lewis for our quintet of Best Actor presenters? Aw. Again, what luck that Adrian Brody had the free time. Rourke has a slight aplause-o-meter edge, but that might be because De Niero didn't pause long enough talking about Penn...

10:43: Sean Penn?! That does it. I am officially not caring next year. (Yes I will, actually). Also, you know what kills drama during an acceptance speech? Reading glasses.

10:45: And Mickey Rourke was never heard from again. 15 for 23.

11:00: Slumdog Millionaire wins Best Picture and a total of eight Oscars. Just so we're clear, we're saying that Slumdog F*cking Millionaire is twice as good as No Country For Old Men, The Departed, A Beautiful Mind, Unforgiven, Driving Miss Daisy, Rain Man, Platoon, Chariots Of Fire, Ordinary People, Annie Hall, Tom Jones, Marty, Oliver's Hamlet, and Billy Wilder's The Lost Weekend. We're supposed to believe that it's precisely, exactly, twice the film that any of the Best Picture winners I just listed ever were.

Give me a break.

To sum up, I came up from last year's 13 with 16 correct out of 24. Last year I went with mostly conventional thinking and largely got burned, this year I would've done better to pick all favorites (I lost on Cruz, Penn, Button for Art Direction, Slumdog for Cinematography, and I would've got one Sound award if I put Slumdog for both like most people. That would've been 21, not that I'm counting).

Dave put in a very solid 18 out of 24 correct, missing only the two sound awards, the three shorts, and foreign language, which is really like getting 18 out of 20 for films he's seen.

I guess I'm a bit disappointed that there was only one surprise of any kind (Waltz With Bashir losing Best Foreign Language)- I thought the whole theme of the Oscars is "nobody knows anything," not "they're a herd of mindless sheep with a lot of white guilt to work off."

I did enjoy some of the things they tried with the telecast- making a film as narrative determining the presentation order, the Apatow short, and best of all no awfully boring speech from Sid Ganis. And of course, I'll be watching next year, because this is what I do.

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