Off to a good start with the hosts, James Franco and Anne Hathaway, inserted into scenes from several of the Oscar nominees, on an Inception theme. The writing is funny and their performances sparkle - but mostly, the writing is funny. Best gag: Morgan Freeman narrating Alec Baldwin's dream. Then Franco and Hathaway opened up with a decent opening banter poking fun at themselves as tools to attract a young audience. Hathaway on her own lack of a nomination: "It used to be, you get naked, you get nominated." Not a bad line.
Oops -- Hathaway introduces her mother and James Franco introduces his grandmother, both of whom are in the audience. And they're both miked; it's a written bit. Grandma says, "I just saw Marky Mark." Enough. Get on with it.
What is up with the set design onstage? A semicircle of images, with concentric half-circles that also double as video screens - and the director keeps showing us what the audience in the theater is seeing, rather than what we need to see.
Tom Hanks presents the award for art/set decoration to Alice in Wonderland. Like anyone even remembers that dud. It's the closest Tim Burton will come to an Oscar tonight. The winner seems totally flummoxed and inarticulate.
That award presentation is being paired with cinematography - because, apparently, not that many films have won set decoration, cinematography and best picture in the same year. Won't happen tonight; cinematography just went to Inception, a surprise winner over Black Swan.
First commercial break. They just announced that one of the next awards will be next supporting actress. Why, my wife asks, is supporting actress the major award that's meant as a throwaway at the top of the broadcast?
Living legend time: Kirk Douglas, must be in his 90s (he's 95), walking with a cane but still looking vital. Trying to decide if having him present supporting actress is brave or cruel, given his speech problems since his stroke.
They're giving each of the supporting actress nominees a lot of time; will it come back to bite them in the ass later on?
Kirk is dragging the moment out but he finally gives the award to Melissa Leo. Not a surprise. He can't step out of the spotlight. But it's Leo's moment: "I'm just shaking in my boots now." Get on with it - oops, she dropped the "F" bomb and they just bleeped her. Will this be her unfortunate legacy for the future? She's just rambling at this point. They're going to play her off. No, she wrapped it up.
Justin Timberlake and Mila Kunis come out to give animated feature and short. Bad joke: Timberlake says, "I'm Banksy." Ha freakin ha. Animated short: Who gives a rat's ass?
Best animated feature: Toy Story 3. Big surprise.
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