Liveblog: The 84th Annual Academy Awards

Oh, look, Billy Crystal is hosting. What year is this?

As you know unless you’re living not only under a rock but at the bottom of the sea, tonight is the 84th annual Academy Awards. There will be people in ugly dresses, people in pretty dresses and film nerds around campus yelling obscenities at various communal television sets. I’m liveblogging the event from the Caples lounge, both the show itself and the experience of watching the Oscars at Kenyon.

If you’re going to follow along at home, the full list of nominees can be found here.

11:39 p.m.: And they’re over. It was overall an underwhelming evening, but who cares? We don’t really watch the Oscars because we expect innovation. They’re just fun no matter what.

11:36 p.m.: Best Picture goes to The Artist. We all go “yup, called it,” then applaud anyway because The Artist actually was wonderful. Also, the dog is there!

11:33 p.m.: I find the mere presence of Tom Cruise on my screen insulting in and of itself. The fact that they’re letting him present Best Picture just enrages me.

11:29 p.m.: Well, if Viola Davis had to lose to anyone, I’ll take Meryl Streep, who looks shocked and delighted. “When they called my name, I had this feeling I could hear half of America going, ‘Oh, no. No! Her, again.’ …but oh well!” She thanks her husband and tears up and it’s beautiful.

11:27 p.m.: Colin Firth accurately describes Meryl Streep as “unreasonably good.” Yup.

11:25 p.m.: Viola Davis is seriously breathtaking. She really deserves better than The Help, and I hope she gets it from now on.

11:24 p.m.: Colin Firth! Is there anyone in this world who doesn’t love him? He’s presenting best actress and giving heartfelt speeches to all the nominees.

11:18 p.m.: Again, no surprises, but Jean Dujardin wins Best Actor. He is charming as all hell and everyone in this lounge coos over him. “I love your country.” When he tells his wife he loves her, Megan clutches her heart with glee.

11:15 p.m.: Jean Dujardin is blisteringly handsome. Nothing new here.

11:12 p.m.: All I got out of that montage of actors talking about movies was “Gabby Sidibe is the cutest person who has ever lived.”

11:03 p.m.: It’s time for the montage of those in the industry who passed this year, set to Esperanza Spalding singing “What a Wonderful World.” The Caples lounge becomes suddenly quiet.

10:57 p.m.: And they recap the Governors Awards. Dick Smith, James Earl Jones and none other than Oprah Winfrey received honorary awards for being beloved by everyone.

10:54 p.m.: Michael Douglas is presenting Best Director now, so you know they’re getting into the heavy-hitting awards. The Oscar goes to … Michel Hazanavicius for The Artist. He accepts with an adorably French-accented speech.

10:45 p.m.: Best animated short goes to The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore! I don’t know what it’s about, but I adore that title.

10:43 p.m.: In a lovely twist, the white guy acknowledges that it’s way more important for his female Pakistani companion to speak. And she does, and it’s awesome. “To all the women in Pakistan who are working for change, don’t give up on your dreams. This is for you.”

10:42 p.m.: Next up is best documentary, short subject. Those around me make fake, baseless predictions based on nothing but the titles, and Saving Face wins.

10:39 p.m.: You guys, it’s the cast of Bridesmaids. They appear to be likening films (and their lengths) to penises. As you do. They present the award for best live action short, and the Oscar goes to The Shore. Well, okay then. ETA: This actually is exciting, because producer Oorlagh George is a Kenyon alum.

10:37 p.m.: We get a recap of the boring technical Oscars no one outside the industry cares about. It’s an awards show within an awards show!

10:31 p.m.: Brad Pitt, cut your hair.

10:30 p.m.: Now a somewhat more interesting category, best original screenplay. I’m pulling for a surprise Bridesmaids upset, but Midnight in Paris wins. The movie deserves it, but I find Woody Allen (who does not actually make an appearance) incredibly creepy. Oh well; as an English major writing a thesis on a modernist poet, I did really enjoy Midnight in Paris.

10:27 p.m.: The Descendants wins. Rob and Taylor lose it with rage. Dean Pelton is onstage, at least, to cool their ire.

10:25 p.m.: Angelina Jolie, awkwardly introduced by Billy Crystal, comes onstage looking way too hot for this show. She’s presenting the award for best adapted screenplay.

10:20 p.m.: Inexplicably, women in shiny blue dresses handed popcorn to various audience members. No one understood, not even said women.

10:18 p.m.: Best original song now, presented by Will Ferrell and Zach Galifianakis in white suits with cymbals. I’m distressed that they didn’t have the nominees perform this year — there were only two. “Man or Muppet” wins, which isn’t a surprise at all, but which delights the entire room. Bret McKenzie, Oscar winner! Life is good.

10:14 p.m.: Best original score! Everyone loves music. The Artist wins, a result of which I approve and one that makes sense, considering the score had to carry an entire film that had very little sound and even less dialogue.

10:08 p.m.: Billy Crystal attempts to read nominees’ minds. Brad Pitt, according to him: “This better not go too late; I have six parent-teacher conferences in the morning.”

10:01 p.m.: Best Supporting Actor time. The Oscar goes to Christopher Plummer — it’s about time. At 82, he’s the oldest actor to ever win an Oscar. The theater gives him a standing ovation, and he addresses his new statuette: “You’re only two years older than me, darling. Where have you been all my life?”

9:57 p.m.: The visual effects Oscar goes to Hugo; shocking. “Put that in your pipe and snort it, Michael Bay,” Rob says with glee.

9:54 p.m.: Emma Stone is so cute. She is presenting the award for visual effects with Ben Stiller, and the world showers her in adoration, except Jonah Hill, whom she tries to ask onstage to dance.

9:50 p.m.: There is a promo for Brave, Pixar’s next big summer movie. Megan Llewellyn ’12 and I freak out with pure excitement.

9:47 p.m.: Rango wins Best Animated Feature, surprising no one. Director Gore Verbinski says, “Someone asked me if this film is for kids and I said, ‘I don’t know, but it was certainly created by a bunch of grown-ups acting like children.'” Then he calls Johnny Depp a “real-world chameleon.”

9:45 p.m.: Chris Rock makes the insightful, hilarious and sad observation that, in the world of animation, size and race are no boundaries: “If you’re white, you can play a Middle Eastern prince. If you’re a black guy, you can play … a donkey, or a zebra.”

9:43 p.m.: Robert Downey, Jr. is as ridiculous as ever. “I’m filming a documentary called The Presenter,” he informs Gwyneth Paltrow, with whom he is presenting best documentary feature. “I turned down The Descendants to do this.” Undefeated, which is not the only one in this category I saw (that honor goes to If A Tree Falls), wins.

9:39 p.m.: Verdict: it was cool; I didn’t understand why it happened. Everyone applauds forever. “Wow,” says Billy Crystal, “I pulled a hamstring just watching that.” I wonder if he actually thinks these lines are funny.

9:35 p.m.: Miss Piggy contemplates stealing Oscar statuettes again while Kermit tries to quell her impulses. Cirque du Soleil, with music by Danny Elfman, are about to perform “their interpretation of what it’s like to go to the movies.” I don’t know what that means, but it sounds cool.

9:27 p.m.: Now sound mixing, which is apparently different from sound editing. I can’t believe that Transformers: Dark of the Moon can call itself an Oscar-nominated film. Hugo picks up this one, too. Rob (who, may I remind you, is a film major) said, “I’ve always considered sound mixing a subset of sound editing.”

9:26 p.m.: And Hugo wins sound editing. If I had a better grasp on what makes good sound editing, I would comment more extensively about this development. The guy accepting the award literally thanks every single person who has ever lived or will live.

9:24 p.m.: Tina Fey exists, which is encouraging. So does Bradley Cooper, sporting a questionable moustache. They present the award for film editing to The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, a movie many people loved but I refused to see due to my utter hatred of the book.

9:20 p.m.: Now there’s an entertaining black-and-white short, featuring many of the Christopher Guest regulars, that envisions a post-Wizard of Oz screening focus test. “Cut the rainbow song.”

9:14 p.m.: Octavia Spencer thanks Allison Janney! That’s practically like mentioning Kenyon. Her speech was legitimately moving, which is lovely to see.

9:13 p.m.: Batman announces that the Oscar goes to Octavia Spencer, who looks instantly overwhelmed in a really touching way. Despite The Help being a slightly-better-veiled-than-usual white savior story, she was really excellent in it.

9:11 p.m.: Christian Bale! We’d all forgotten he was English, but he forges on and presents the nominees for Best Supporting Actress. The cheering for Melissa McCarthy is notably raucous.

9:07 p.m.: The Oscar goes to the Iranian film A Separation. Apparently, Rob and Taylor both called it despite having seen none of the films in this category.

9:06 p.m.: It’s Sandra Bullock! She’s presenting the Oscar for best foreign language film. “They’ve asked me to briefly speak about this category in Mandarin Chinese. Luckily, I speak it fluently.” She proceeds to speak German.

8:58 p.m.: Right on the heels of costume design, they present the award for makeup. I really want to go see Albert Nobbs. The Oscar goes to The Iron Lady (starring the other queen of the free world, Meryl Streep). Robert Angell ’13, a film major sitting on the other Caples lounge couch, declares, “I am not displeased with this decision.”

8:55 p.m.: Now we’re getting the award for costume design. Taylor Ross ’13 says, “What the hell is W.E.?” Then The Artist wins, deservedly. Mark Bridges, for whom this is a first win, goes up and says, “Well, this is thrilling.” Secret Thrill shoutout?

8:54 p.m.: Billy Crystal: “Please welcome a recurring dream of mine: Cameron Diaz and Jennifer Lopez.” Maybe he’s deliberately trying to never get invited to host again.

8:52 p.m.: I don’t understand the theme of this montage. Forrest Gump, Titanic … then Twilight? Avatar? Is it “movies that, deservedly or not, became popular”?

8:48 p.m.: Ellen, the queen of the free world, makes me feel a billion times better about the universe by doing this amazing trick of hers called “existing.”

8:45 p.m.: Now they’re presenting the award for art direction. Hugo wins again. Thus far, Hugo is the winner of the night in “awards that kind of matter but are ultimately considered pointless.”

8:43 p.m.: Oh? An actual award? Achievement in Cinematography. Hugo, a lovely movie that didn’t quite fulfill its visual promise, wins.

8:40 p.m.: This just in: Billy Crystal can’t sing. This opening number is just awkward. Simply saying the titles of Oscar-nominated films doesn’t make things funny. Where are Hugh Jackman and his lovely voice when you need them?

8:36 p.m.: Was that blackface, Academy Awards? Really? May I remind you that that is actually not okay at all? Let’s just move on to the “giving people shiny statuettes” bit. Billy Crystal reminds us that it’s his ninth time hosting the Oscars.

8:32 p.m.: I like that, during the Oscars, things like George Clooney kissing Billy Crystal right on the lips become possible. (Yes, it’s the traditional “mock all the Best Picture nominees” opening montage.)

8:30 p.m.: The Academy Awards are actually starting at last! And the first person we see is, of course, Morgan Freeman (a.k.a. God). “All of us are mesmerized by the magic of the movies,” he says. “… This is the 84th annual Academy Awards.”

8:24 p.m.: Looks like the management might need to keep a close watch on Miss Piggy.

8:16 p.m.: Maya Rudolph was on my screen! It was excessively exciting. If you’re not watching her NBC sitcom Up All Night, you’re missing out.

8:13 p.m.: The debate in the lounge: is it more fun to be a nominee who knows she’ll lose and just gets to show up to the Oscars for fun or to be part of a close race with a real chance of winning?

8:05 p.m.: Glenn Close, Best Actress nominee for Albert Nobbs, is wearing a hybrid suit/dress outfit that I’m pretty sure is exactly what I want to wear at my wedding. Gimme that, Glenn.

8:00 p.m.: Apparently, the Oscars start at 8:30, not 8:00. Good thing I’m comfortable on this couch. While you and I wait, these pictures of Kermit the Frog and Miss Piggy on the red carpet are adorable.

7:53 p.m.: Miles Purinton ’12: “Nick Nolte has joined the ranks of Jack Nicholson as the only people who can casually wear sunglasses to the Oscars and not get thrown out. Morgan Freeman probably could also.”

7:51 p.m.: Jennifer Lopez is talking to Tim Gunn! I’m so used to seeing her on American Idol (hush) that I’d forgotten she could exist in other settings. She is lovely, though.

7:44 p.m.: Rico Rodriguez, who plays Manny on ABC’s Modern Family, is starring in a random yet adorable short about going to see every Best Picture nominee with “my date, my mom.” People are delighted but confused.

7:39 p.m.: Kristen Wiig is on my screen. Cue girlish giggling and hearts in my eyes.

7:32 p.m.: There is some sort of red carpet show with Tim Gunn on right now, and Michelle Williams is adorable. Ryan Eick ’13, who is sitting on this couch with me, expresses his hope that someone, when asked “What are you wearing?” on the red carpet, will answer, “A dress.”

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