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Oscars 2009: Liveblogging the Academy Awards

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LAist editor Zach Behrens, who is at the Kodak Theatre, and Gothamist editor (and longtime Oscars fanatic) Jen Chung will be liveblogging Hollywood's biggest night. The liveblog will begin in earnest closer to the Academy Awards telecast (how much Ryan Seacrest inanity can one really take, anyway), but in the meantime, catch up on the nominees, wonder if there might be a surprise upset, and breathe a sigh of relief that the awards season is finally coming to a close.

But if one can hope for a winner, why not Mickey Rourke, for Best Actor and, unofficially, Best Comeback of the Year, because he'll totally dedicate the award to his beloved dog Loki who recently passed away. He won the Independent Spirit Award for The Wrestler last night, and gave a rambling, hilarious speech after kissing director Darren Aronofsky on the lips. Check it out:

The telecast begins at 5:30 p.m. PST, with Hugh Jackman hosting (there's a red carpet special at 5 p.m.). And, like it or not, Bruce Vilanch is the head writer.

4:50 p.m.: Things we've learned from Barbara Walters special: Anne Hathaway says she passed on doing cocaine in college, Mickey Rourke thinks an Oscar would mean a great deal but you can't "eat it, you can't f--- it, and it won't get me into heaven," and Hugh Jackman is super charming.

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4:58 p.m. Brad Pitt whisked by Ryan Seacrest—Brad did say a few words but essentially kept walking.

Awesome! Tim Gunn is co-hosting the official Academy Awards red carpet special (on ABC) with Robin Roberts. His pronunciation of "St. Laurent" (designer of Kate Winslet's dress) is wonderful.

Aw, Tim stopped Angelina and Brad to wish them well—Angie seemed gracious. There was also a little featurette about Valentino, who was on the red carpet. And a big Slumdog Millionaire entourage—including director Danny Boyle, Freda Pinto, Dev Patel, and many cast and crew—are crowded on a stage with Robin Roberts.

5:14 p.m. Viola Davis, nominated for best supporting actress in Doubt, says that before she acted with Meryl Streep, she took homeopathic stress tabs from Whole Foods.

Jack Black gave Jess Cagle a hard time during a mini-interview. Skadoosh!

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Preview of what the stage will look like: orchestra is not in the pit—they are in a bandstand. Also, architect David Rockwell says his references for the stage are Busby Berkeley as well as Plaza di Campidoglio in Rome.

5:31 p.m. Hugh Jackman walks out and cracks a joke about the Academy wanting to celebrate range: Kate Winslet, British, is nominated for playing a German in The Reader. Robert Downey Jr., American, is nominated for playing an Australian who is playing an African-American in Tropic Thunder. Whereas he, Hugh Jackman, is Australian playing an Australian in Australia.

5:33 p.m. Hugh uses his Broadway chops to sing a medley during a homemade production number, with sloppily painted (charming) sets and Craigslist dancers, about the Best PIcture nominees. He drags Anne Hathaway onstage to sing the bit about Frost/Nixon. Consensus: Hugh Jackman is an awesome sport (it's embarrassing, but not as bad at Rob Lowe with Snow White—below). The audience agrees and gives him a standing ovation.

Jackman does interaction with the crowd and nominees—he tells Mickey Rourke to say whatever is on his mind—"There's a 7-second delay but if you win, there's a 20-second one." He segues from Meryl Streep to the segment introducing the Best Supporting Actress nominees—basically projections of past winners in the category (not an actual montage on screen). Then the screens rise to reveal past Best Supporting Actress Oscar winners Eva Marie Saint (On the Waterfront), Goldie Hawn (Cactus Flower), Anjelica Huston (Prizzi's Honor), Whoopie Goldberg (Ghost), and Tilda Swinton (last year's winner for Michael Clayton). Forget the telecast ending on time, since there's an ovation. Each of the previous winners gives lengthy descriptions of the nominees' roles.

5:47 p.m. And the winner for Best Supporting Actress.... is Penelope Cruz, for Vicky Cristina Barcelona. This means Woody Allen does have the golden touch—this is the fourth Supporting Actress winner he's directed (past winners: Dianne Wiest for Hannah and her Sisters and Bullets Over Broadway; Mira Sorvino for Mighty Aphrodite)

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5:51 p.m.: That's Tom Collichio in that Diet Coke commercial.

5:53 p.m. Tina Fey and Steve Martin are cast most appropriately to do a tribute to screenplay writers. The set-up: Showing the screenplay's directions with the scene. Is that a microphone in Tina Fey's cleavage?!? And was that a Scientology diss?

5:56 p.m Dustin Lance Black wins Original Screenplay for Milk. That's somewhat expected, since the Writer's Guild gave the original screenplay award to him. Gus Van Sant is tearing up. Black gives a really moving speech about how he thinks Harvey Milk would want him to tell young gay people they are loved, no matter what anyone says. Sean Penn is teary, too!

Simon Beaufoy wins Best Adapted Screenplay for Slumdog Millionaire.

6:03 p.m.: Jennifer Aniston and Jack Black come out to announce that a 2008 movie yearbook montage (first up is Animation). Jack also makes a zing about how he takes the money he makes from working on Dreamworks animated films and bets it all on Pixar movies come Oscar night. Reaction shot of Jeffrey Katzenberg yucking it up.

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And if Jack Black really did that, it'd be a big win: Wall-E wins Best Animated Feature.

The Best Animated Short Film Oscar goes to La Maison En Peitits Cubes. The creator Kunio Kato, who is Japanese, thanks a number of people and things like "animation" and then ends on "D�?mo arigat�?, Mr. Roboto" which gets a big laugh. Here's his full speech:

So heavy. Thank you very much. Thank you, my supporters. Thank you, all my staff. Thank you, my producer. Thank you, Academy. Thank you, animation. Thank you my company, Robot. Domo arigato, Mr. Roboto. Thank you very much.

6:15 p.m.: Back to the show, where Hugh Jackson intros the presenters for Art Direction awards. Daniel Craig and Sarah Jessica Parker walk across an elaborate set that's a raw (in that Hollywood way) with that "soundstage" feel. And the Oscar goes to... The Curious Case of Benjamin Button: Donald Graham Burt (Art Direction); Victor J. Zolfo (Set Decoration). They give a special shout-out to director David Fincher.