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Arts and Entertainment

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!

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.

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. Now, it's onto Best Costume Design (there's a costume department on that soundstage set). Sarah Jessica Parker's cleavage is intense has she leans over the podium to open the envelope. And the winner is The Duchess. Designer Michael O'Connor first mentions Rachel Portman's score for the film and closes by saying that Keira Knightley is one classy lady.

Craig and Parker now present the Oscar for Best Makeup...and it'sThe Curious Case of Benjamin Button. Greg Cannom thanks his crew, the cast, and New Orleans.

Backstage, Dustin Lance Black was asked what he would like to see Obama do. For Black, it's simple--repeal DOMA and Don't Ask, Don't Tell. He also said that people should look beyond Prop 8 and back to the 60s and the big movements. Lance and everyone knew the movie would get notoriety once Sean Penn with that haircut and suit stepped out. It was like seeing a ghost, he said.

6:25 p.m.: Rob Pattinson and Amanda Seyfried present the 2008 Movie Yearbook for romance films...and the music is Coldplay, Lovers in Japan. Some of the films are the usual suspects, like The Curious Case or Slumdog Millionaire (and Milk!), but there's also Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist, Wall-E and The Incredible Hulk.

Backstage: The first few questions for Penelope Cruz are in Spanish. Translator explains that what Penelope said on stage in Spanish was that she wanted to dedicate the award to the actors watching back in her home country. "This also belongs to them." She says, "I'm going to call Woody right now... I call him sometimes just to say hello. I think he's so funny, charming, so peculiar, unique."

6:31 p.m.: Natalie Portman and Ben Stiller are here to present the Cinematography Oscar. But Ben is wearing a beard and doing a Joaquin Phoeniximpression—looking away, chewing gum. Natalie asks what's up with him and says he looks like he works at a Hasidic meth lab. The clips of the nominated films play on a screen next to the podium and as Natalie reads the script, Ben gets big laughs are wandering around, just staring at parts of the set. Folks, this might be the highlight of the night. The Best Cinematography Oscar goes to Anthony Dod Mantle for Slumdog Millionaire; he tells his kids they should be sleeping and not watching the telecast (we're guessing they are in England).

Backstage: Most questions for Penelope are from Spanish media. About feeling insecure, she says, "I'm always insecure on the set no matter what. When you're working with Woody Allen, you know you can trust the person you're working with... he's not a man of too many words, he's honest."

6:39 p.m.: Ah, Jessica Biel comes out to announce the Science and Technical Awards, continuing the tradition that only a babe can present these awards to the nerds. But Ed Catmull, "a computer scientist, co-founder of Pixar Animation Studios, and president of Walt Disney and Pixar Animation Studios" does seem pretty cool.

Penelope on being so emotional for her win: "It was amazing to see all those women up there--the women i admire so much... That was a magical moment, a second before they opened the envelope. I don't know if I was going to surive it."

6:34 p.m.: The Pineapple Express stars Seth Rogen and James Franco are in a taped segment where they are playing their stoner characters reviewing some comedy films and some serious ones. They laugh at the clip of Doubt, wonder why Step Brothers wasn't nominated, and watch a clip of Franco kissing Sean Penn in Milk. It's too hard to explain, but cinematographer Janusz Kaminski, who won Oscars for Schindler's List and Saving Private Ryan (and was married to Holly Hunter), was also involved (Rogen wonder if they can make a bong out of one of his Oscars).

Live and onstage, Franco, Rogen and Kaminski present the award for Best Short Film to...Spielzeugland (Toyland), by Jochen Alexander Freydank.

Backstage, Slumdog Millionaire screenwriter Simon Beaufoy spoke. "I don't think you've could have made this film in any other city other than Mumbai," he said referring to the beautiful and brutal dichotomies. "I couldn't have written this film for New York or London or Paris... You can't load any of the city world with the same kind of massive tone changes that you can in Mumbai." He added, "I suppose it's what's happening in India in terms of cinema. I've been contacted by a lot of Indian actors and directors who say 'finally, we don't have to make a film about the middle class getting married and having five dance sequences'... We've taken a lot of flack by showing the slums of Mumbai... They just don't do that in cinema... It's opened a new cinematic pathways for Indian directors, at least that's what they're telling me... If you can get Hollywood and Bollywood combining, you'll have a new genre of cinema."

6:51 p.m.: Hugh Jackman is in white tie and breaks out into song...and it turns out Beyonce, in tiny showgirl outfit, is there. They are signing and dancing to famous movie songs from musicals. And then Vanessa Hudgens and Zac Efron appear, singing from High School Musical 3...then Dominic Cooper and Amanda Seyfried (from Mamma Mia) sing. Then there's an elaborate dance number and drum line singing Mamma Mia. At the end, Hugh proclaims, "The musical is back." Yes, there's a standing ovation, but it seemed sort of chaotic...oh, it was choreographed by Baz Luhrman. And...that's awards or anything.

7:02 p.m.: Back to a montage of previous Best Supporting Actor Oscar winners. And out come Christopher Walken (The Deer Hunter), Alan Arkin (Little Miss Sunshine), Kevin Kline (A Fish Called Wanda), Cuba Gooding Jr. (Jerry Maguire), and Joel Grey (Cabaret); no Javier Barden, who won last year for No Country for Old Men. Heh, when Joel Grey discusses Josh Brolin, he points out that Javier won last year for trying to kill Brolin. Ha, Cuba Gooding Jr. is mock upset with Robert Downey Jr. for taking parts from black actors. And the Oscar goes to... Heath Ledger for The Dark Knight. Heath's family go up to the stage—there's a standing ovation. His father, mother and sister go up to the stage and accept the award on behalf of his daughter Matilda (who it technically belongs to). The audience is pretty moved—Brad Pitt, Adrien Brody, Melissa Leo all look teary, as does Ledger's director Christopher Nolan. Here's the speech:

Kim Ledger [Heath's father]: First of all, I have to say this is ever so humbling. Just being amongst such wonderful people, such a wonderful industry. Firstly, I'd like to thank the Academy for recognizing our son's amazing work, Warner Bros. and Christopher Nolan in particular, for allowing Heath the creative license to develop and explore this crazy Joker character. To Steve Alexander, Heath's mentor, special friend and agent for 10 years. We love you, Steve. This award tonight would've humbly validated Heath's quiet determination to be truly accepted by you all here, his peers, within an industry he so loved. Thank you.

Sally Bell [Heath's mother]: Heath was such a compassionate and generous soul who added so much excitement and inspiration to our lives. We have been truly overwhelmed by the honor and respect being bestowed upon him with this award. Tonight, we are choosing to celebrate and be happy for what he has achieved.

Kate Ledger [his sister]: Heath, we both knew what you had created in the Joker was extraordinarily special and had even talked about being here on this very day. We really wish you were, but we proudly accept this award on behalf of your beautiful Matilda. Thank you.

7:11 p.m.: A classy montage for the Documentary Feature nominees, showing clips and the directors discussing their work. And Bill Maher is presenting the award—"Everyone's crying and now I have to go on"—ooh, and he says that Albert Maysles made the montage. And the winner is ... Man on Wire, director James Marsh orders Philippe Petit to come on stage. After Marsh and Simon Chinn say their thank you's, Phillipe appears on stage, says, "Yes!" and a few other words, does a magic trick and balances an Oscar on his chin.And Maher present the Oscar for Best Documentary Short Film to Smile Pinki, by Megan Mylan. It's about a little girl with a cleft palate—Mylan mentioned Smile Train.

7:24 p.m.: Montage of action films this year. Will Smith, who will be presenting the next few categories, discusses his happiness to be in action movies, because of, you know, the fan base. Anyway, the Oscar for Best Visual Effects goes to The Curious Case of Benjamin Button. The Oscar for Best Sound Editing...The Dark Knight. And the Oscar for Best Sound Mixing goes to Slumdog Millionaire (fourth Oscar for the night), whose recipients rush to the stage and are a little out of breath.

Finally, Will—still onstage—presents the Oscar for Best Film Editing to...Slumdog Milionaire. Editor Chris Dickens says he didn't want the film to end (fun fact, as we just looked at his IMDB filmography—he edited The Seed of Chucky!). Also, Will Smith is wearing that white knot for Marriage Equality.

Backstage: Big applause for Heath Ledger's family as they walk onto the stage in the interview room. Regarding where the Oscar will go, "Well obviously it belongs to Matilda, whatever has to happen." The next of kin gets it, they said, but she can't sign for it until she's 18 (she's three and lives with mom Michelle Williams in Brooklyn), so it will stay in a trust here or in Australia until she's 18. The Ledgers say that Heath knew that The Dark Knight would be a winning role for him: "When he came home from Christmas a year ago... he knew." And Kate Ledger says, "We're very close to Michelle.... we speak all the time."

7:40 p.m.: Eddie Murphy, who has also portrayed The Nutty Professor, comes out to present the Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award to Jerry Lewis. Montage of Jerry Lewis films and then into clips of him support for muscular dystrophy awareness for many decades. Lewis, who looks really good, comes out to a standing ovation. He says:

Thank you. Thank you so very much. For most of my life, I thought that doing good for someone didn't mean you would receive commendation for that act of kindness, at least until now. This award touches my heart and the very depth of my soul because of who the award is from and those who will benefit. The humility I feel is staggering and I know it will stay with me for the rest of my life. I thank you. I thank the Academy and to all of you people from the movie business. It's such a joy being a part of you and everything you do. Thank you and good night.

Backstage: We asked Philippe Petit, the mesmerizing daredevil whose incredible walk across the World Trade Center was featured in Man on Wire, what adventures he has planned next. He said it was a secret, but next fall in New York City, he will walk on a library in the name of literacy for the children. There seems to be plans for a world tour of libraries. 7:50 p.m.: The Academy's orchestra plays excerpts of Best Original Score nominees. And Alicia Keyes and Zac Efron are presenters: The winner is A.R. Rahman for Slumdog Millionaire. Which reminds us that what this telecast could use is a good M.I.A. (she's nominated for Best Song, alongside A.R. Rahman, for a Slumdog Millionaire song) performance.

Now there are performances for the Best Song nominees. There are two songs from Slumdog Millionaire and one from Wall-E. Rahman and John Legend perform them. There are Bollywood dancers and drummers and it's a huge production and there was a near wardrobe malfunction for one of the dancers. And the Rahman again, for "Jai Ho," with lyrics by Rahman and Maya Arulpragasam. He thanked the crew and Mumbai... he noted the theme of the movie is hope and optimism. "All my life I've had a choice of hate or love...I chose love and I'm here."

8:06 p.m. Hugh Jackman pays tribute to the Best Song performers, including the Soweto Gospel Choir from South Africa. Liam Neeson and Freda Pinto present the Best Foreign Language Film Oscar to...Departures, from Japan. Director Yojiro Takita said, "I'm here because of films. This is a new departure for me! And I will be back, I hope." And backstage, reporters gasped upon hearing that Departures won—many were expecting The Class or perhaps Waltz with Bashir to win. (It doesn't look like it was released theatrically...)

Then Queen Latifah comes out to sing a song over the montage of people who passed away over the past year (since the last Oscars telecast). It's the usual popularity contest with some of the deceased getting louder applause than others. The biggest applause is for the last few: Anthony Minghella, Sydney Pollack and then Paul Newman. Reporters backstage aren't impressed with that segment—they are complaining about not being able to read the names.

8:18 p.m.: Reese Witherspoon comes out to present the Oscar for Best Director and makes a crack about difficult actors (mentioning "Ben Stiller," who did spoof her Walk the Line co-star). And the Oscar goes to Danny Boyle who jumped on the podium, because he promised his kids (when they were little) to accept it in the spirit of Tigger. Who knew you could go from directing a movie about murderous roommates to this?

8:25 p.m.: The show cuts directly to a montage of previous Best Actress winners. The previous winners assembled: Sophia Loren, looking STUNNING, (Two Women), Shirley MacLaine (Terms of Endearment), Nicole Kidman (The Hours), Halle Berry (Monster's Ball) and Marion Cotillard (last years winner for La Vie en Rose). Shirley MacLaine thinks Anne Hathaway will be nominated again and commented how she thought her voice was lovely—Anne is teary and very touched. Halle Berry introduces Melissa Leo, because they were both nominated for indie films; sidenote: Melissa Leo looks great and we've loved her since Homicide. And the Oscar goes to...Kate Winslet, finally! It's her sixth nomination—Ricky Gervais called it! She wonders where her father is and asks him to whistle—and he does! So cute. She thanks her crew and family and notes that she's very privileged to be nominated among these "goddess" —and marveled they were all nominated in the same category as Meryl Streep.

Backstage: Departures director Yojiro Takita says winning was "unbelievable," since his was certainly not the Foreign Language Film frontrunner. He added, "For Japanese movies, it's always the clasical samurai movie, this was the first film that was more than that."

Best Actors of years past: Adrien Brody (The Pianist), Robert DeNiro (Raging Bull), Ben Kingsley (Gandhi), Michael Douglas (Wall Street) and Anthony Hopkins (The Silence of the Lambs). DeNiro jokes, "How did he do it? How did, for so many years, did Sean Penn get all those roles for straight men?" Ha, Anthony Hopkins pays tribute to Brad Pitt—remember their stinker, Meet Joe Black.

Sean Penn wins for Milk—Robin Wright Penn is crying. Standing ovation and cheering. He starts with, "You commie homo lovin' sons of guns." Milk screenwriter Dustin Lance Black is crying. Penn refers to his outspoken views, "I know how hard I make it to appreciate me." "For those who saw those signs of hatred as our cars drove in tonight"—referring to the really angry anti-gay protesters outside—Penn says it's a time for people who voted for Prop 8 to reflect. He mentions being proud to be in a country that elected an "elegant man" President and says Mickey Rourke is his "brother."

8:46 p.m.: Hugh Jackman comes on stage—as Penn is hugging the past Best Actor winners—and introduces Steven Spielberg, who will present Best Picture. On with clips of the nominees, mixed with films the Academy thinks is similar (Slumdog, Forrest Gump; The Reader, Lost in Translation; Milk, Braveheart, Gandhi). And the Best Picture of 2008, according to the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences, is... Slumdog Millionaire. Standing ovation as all the Slumdog cast and crew members who are in the Kodak Theatre flock to the stage—the audience really love seeing the little children.

It's over and it's 8:56 p.m., which makes it longer than last year's telecast. Over the closing credits, there are scenes from upcoming releases, like The Taking of Pelham 1-2-3, Julie & Julia, The Soloist, Sherlock Holmes, Funny People, Up, Fame, Ingloruious Bastards, Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince, Angels & Demons, Terminator Salvation, 500 Days of SUmmer, Amelia...yeah, it goes on.

Backstage: Kate Winslet seems like she's in shock, even though she's been racking up the awards for a while. She's sort of gasping. Kate doesn't care what her own country thinks of her character and movie (apparently England doesn't like The Reader?). When asked who she would like to pass the "nude" torch to: "This is the one time I really want to reach for my publicist," but eventually picked Susan Sarandon. When asked if she had nightmares of not winning, she said, "A dream is a dream, you know? When that dream starts to become a reality the nightmare doesn't seem to kick in. I think I always knew it was a dream, a fantasy, that it would never happen. It's sort of dawning on me now, it's only starting to sink in, right now actually.. Oh my god," and started to breath heavily.

Kate also ran into the audience of reporters and hugged Baz Bamigboye, columnist for the Daily Mail, who has been covering her since she was 17. She adds the she hopes that SAG will not strike, because it's not what they need, especially for the working people like the crew. As for her husband, director Sam Mendes' feelings about her nude scenes, "He's used to it. He's seen me naked before I met him for goddsake... I was pathetic and he was aboslutlely brilliant."

Backstage: Sean Penn was asked about the anti-gay protesters who were at Sunset and Highland. He said, "To see this culture of ignorance and this hateful expression, these people had the signs outside essentially telling [people] that 'you're less than human.' There's nothing more important than the themes this movie... when you see something like what you saw today, it enhances that." And what would he tell them? "I'd tell them to turn their hate care and find their better self. These are largely taught limitations and ignorances. It's really sad in a way it's such a demonstration of emotional cowardice."

9:38 p.m.: Jimmy Kimmel has his post-Oscars show, with Mel Gibson, Robin Thicke and, segments of his time with Tom Cruise, who appeared in a promo with Kimmel.

Backstage at the Kodak Theatre: Slumdog Millionaire's director Danny Boyle and producer Christian Colson are here. Danny Boyle, commenting on indie movies and their future, "One of the lovely things about this evening, it's a triumph for this kind of film, really. It's independent film minded, it's working against the odds, really. It was wonderful to see Heath Ledger's work acknowledged in Dark Knight, but virtually everyone started in small films. We've got to protect them and the studios have to protect them too. It's where it all begins, in the small movies."

Boyle once told a reporter from RottenTomatoes that he believes every film should be imperfect. does he still believe it? "Absolutely. I said in my own acceptance speech I said I forgotten to name in the credits the choreographer... that is imperfection walking and talking. You have to hold your hand and acknowledge how shameful that is."

Reporter from the Toronto Sun introduced himself. Boyle got excited and interrupted him, "The film really got its start in Tortonto at the festival."

10:04 p.m.: On Jimmy Kimmel, Mel Gibson claims he did not coin the phrase "sugartits."

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