Oscars, blow by blow
Scott Collins provides a start-to-finish look at Hollywood's biggest night.
Jon Stewart's opening was a bit rough, but a brief dream sequence earned laughs. (Mark Boster / LAT)
After "Brokeback Mountain's" triumph at the Independent Spirit Awards over the weekend, the expectation is that Ang Lee's cowboys-in-love fable will dominate the Academy Awards. But there's been some late-inning movement (isn't there always?) toward some of the other best picture contenders, most notably Paul Haggis' L.A . melodrama "Crash." And who knows? It's possible that even Bennett Miller's "Capote" or George Clooney's "Good Night, and Good Luck" could pull through with at least one or two major awards.
And what of Steven Spielberg's "Munich?" Seems less likely neither Hollywood nor mainstream audiences ever really warmed up to it but we'll see. In the meantime, virtually all of the attention is going to be on first-time host Jon Stewart, who has spent much of the past week tamping down expectations and reassuring Academy voters that he's not going to be as slash-and-burn as last year's first-time host, Chris Rock. We never realized this back when Johnny Carson was doing it, but the Oscars are a notoriously tough crowd. Too soft and you'll bore the folks at home; too tough, and you'll break some fragile egos at the Kodak.
For Stewart, the first 10 minutes will tell the story.
For the nominees? Well, hopefully we'll get to best picture by 8:30. Nine at the latest.
So join us for the play-by-play.
5:00 p.m. What the heck was that? Creepy Oscar intro digitally inserted Judy Garland, Marlon Brando, Tom Hanks as Forrest Gump, James Dean and Spider-Man into a surreal, amber-hued cityscape. Yuck.
5:17 p.m. OK, so that wasn't so great. Jon Stewart's opening started off mighty rough. He was introduced by a kinda funny montage of past Oscar hosts (Billy Crystal and Chris Rock holed up in tent, a la "Brokeback) that wound up with Stewart in bed with first Halle Berry and then George Clooney.
Then Stewart faced the Kodak crowd, and came perilously close to bombing straightaway. He noted that the theme of Oscar this year was a "Return to Glamour," which is better than last year's theme, "Night of a Thousand Sweat Pants." Huh? What?
There was uncomfortable tittering from the crowd. You could almost hear people shifting in their seats. A reaction shot showed an appropriately stone-faced Charlize Theron.
But Stewart recovered. He mentioned "Good Night, and Good Luck," adding that that "is also how George Clooney ends all his dates. Stewart then went better: "Bjork couldn't be here tonight. She was trying on her Oscar dress and Dick Cheney shot her."
By the time he mentioned "Brokeback," leading into a genuinely funny collection of homoerotic-seeming clips from old movies, Stewart had nearly righted a pretty crummy start.
5:21 p.m. George Clooney gets best supporting actor prize (for "Syriana") and also delivers the night's first good line: "OK, so I'm not winning for director." But what's the deal with the constant music in the background as the winners speak?
5:28 p.m. Nearly a half hour into the show, and they're already wasting time. Tom Hanks did a recorded bit, meant to satirize winners being played offstage by the orchestra, of musicians surrounding him as he blathered on with thanks. This is why the show never ends on time.
5:29 p.m. Ben Stiller comes out clad in green tights to present an Oscar for special effects. Stiller prances around as if working in front of a green screen. "This is gonna blow Spielberg's mind!" Cut to Spielberg in audience, who mouths: "No, it's not." Anyway, "King Kong" wins.
5:32 p.m. Stewart congratulates Stiller on his green unitard. "It's nice to have proof that he's really Jewish."
5:34 p.m. "Wallace & Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit" takes the prize for animated feature. That must be something of a bittersweet salve for DreamWorks, which really took it on the chin for the film's disappointing box office.
5:37 p.m. Dolly Parton comes out in a form-fitting white suit. She sings. She sounds great. She looks well, her body dimensions still look as impossible as ever.
5:41 p.m. Now do you realize why this show runs long? We're nearly 45 minutes into the Oscars, and we've done just one major category. What else have we had? Well, a 15-minute so-so monologue. Two minor prizes. A live performance. Lotsa filler.