A running diary of the 81st Annual Academy Awards:
6:03 p.m. ET We begin on the red carpet, where Ryan Seacrest is bragging about his location: “We are the very first live position where the stars will stop!” This ensures arriving stars will appear on Ryan’s show before their necks are disfigured by Joan Rivers’ fangs.
6:46 The official theme is revealed for tonight’s awards broadcast: the 81st Oscars— Maybe Next Year We’ll Nominate Someone You’ve Heard Of.
6:53 People are actually lining up to speak with Ryan Seacrest. And I have every confidence they’ll be doing the same a decade from now, although then it’ll be because they’re waiting to order a Big Mac.
7:09 Barely an hour into kissing up to celebrities, Seacrest is beginning to fawn at random. “We love our friends at the Coca-Cola company,” he tells us. “They do so much good.” Behind the scenes, technicians scramble to contain this core breach in Seacrest’s sycophancy circuitry. If Brad Pitt wandered up to him in this condition, Ryan might actually explode, showering everyone on the red carpet with hair gel and obsequiousness.
7:36 In a nod to functionality in a time of economic crisis, Anne Hathaway’s gown features a bowl-style opening at the neckline, perfect for serving dinner rolls.
8:30 Ladies and gentlemen, your host for the evening: Hugh Jackman! And right off the bat there’s intrigue as we attempt to discern whether he’s in blackface or wearing too much spray tan.
8:36 Hugh launches into a Broadway-style song-and-dance number that divides viewers. Some believe he absolutely killed while others believe he absolutely killed every stray remnant of the Oscar telecast’s appeal to heterosexual men.
8:47 Time for the first award of the night: Best Supporting Actress. Worried that conferring a golden statue and worldwide attention on the winner might not be sufficient reward, Oscar producers trot out five previous winners to lavish excessive praise on the hopefuls. Next year: every nominee gets a pat on the head from the ghost of Katharine Hepburn.
8:50 We’re supposed to be focused on the array of star power on stage, but I’m distracted by the fact that Goldie Hawn’s breasts seem on the verge of escape. I hope Anjelica Huston is packing tranquilizer darts.
8:52 Listen: I’m not saying Goldie has had a lot of work done to her face, but this is pretty much what Demi Moore is going to look like in 200 years.
8:53 Penélope Cruz wins, and uses her speech to refer to the Oscars as “a moment of unity for the world.” She later apologizes for the translation error—in the original Spanish, the line was supposed to be: “. . . a moment of being so far up our own backsides that we can see Whoopi Goldberg laughing at her own jokes.”
9:04 Ohmigod! Jennifer Aniston is on stage. Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie are just metres away in the front row. The seven straight men still watching the show collectively plead: how about we just dim the lights a little and see where this goes?
9:52 Hugh Jackman declares, “The musical is back!”—and along with Beyoncé launches into a choreographed number that defines itself as being in the proud artistic tradition of Rob Lowe dancing with Snow White and a hobo pulling down his pants and shuffling aimlessly down the train tracks.
9:55 Before the last commercial, this production number was touted as a “once-in-a-lifetime performance.” Only now do we realize that’s because it has the power to annihilate all of civilization. You’ve had a good run, humanity, but this thing is a Force 5 Sucklone.
9:58 I’ll tell you this much: it’s going to be pretty hard to accept Hugh Jackman as Wolverine after tonight. How will he be able to ward off Magneto when his main mutant power appears to be toe-tappingness?
10:24 Earlier we had a montage of romantic scenes from movies. Now we get a montage of action scenes. Yet again it seems we will be denied the only montage that any of us truly wants to see: A Half-Century of Gratuitous Toplessness.
11:12 The producers had hoped that by having Queen Latifah sing over the Solemn Images of the Dead, they’d forestall the Classless Applause of the Living. But no. Paul Newman gets an ovation. Other deceased people get silence. Perhaps it’s best to replace this awkward tradition with a video reel guaranteed to generate sustained applause in Hollywood—People We Wish Were Dead.
11:44 Sean Penn wins Best Actor, depriving us of a speech by Mickey Rourke, who took the recent death of his dog so hard that he brought the pooch’s custom-made tuxedo with him to the Oscars. On the bright side, the environment is spared the ordeal of absorbing three megatons of crazy.