OK, folks, here we go. Let's see if solving the writers' strike was worth it.
5:38: Jon Stewart is doing well with his monologue. He just entered the political realm. ("Normally, when you see a black man or a woman as president, an asteroid is about to hit the Statue of Liberty.")
And the actual awards ....
5:41: Jennifer Garner to present Costume Design (all categories will be capitalized to display the Gravitas of the Occasion).
And the winner is ... Elizabeth: The Golden Age! The pressure is officially off of Cate Blanchett!
5:44: In what likely will be a pattern throughout the evening, they just played a short film of Barbra Streisand remembering when she won her Oscar in 1969. I wonder if this is left over from the infamous clip show the Academy was planning in place of the actual ceremony in the catastrophic event that the strike was still going on.
5:47: The Clooney arrives to say something important ... he seems to be introducing some bit about the history of the Academy Awards. This is the 80th one of these they've done of these, after all. Any event ending with a 5 or a zero is a big deal when you get to be this old, you know.
5:51: Anne Hathaway and Steve Carell giving out Best Animated Feature. Wow, she's gorgeous, and he's damned funny. Too bad their movie probably won't be. (Get Smart? Really? Well, it could worse. It could have been My Mother the Car.)
And the winner is ... Ratatouille! Sacre bleu! Rodents everywhere rejoice! Brad Bird does a funny bit about his guidance counselor but wastes his precious 45-seconds of thank-you time in the process.
5:56: Katherine Heigl, very nervous as she presents Makeup.
And the winner is ... La Vie en Rose! Eddie Murphy and Norbit skunked. Guess they'll have to settle for all of those Razzies they "won" yesterday.
Boy, the speeches are really brief this year, but not brief enough. There goes the rude playing-off music! Grrr!
5:59: Stewart introduces Amy Adams singing the first of the five nominated Original Songs, "Happy Working Song" from Enchanted. It's no "It's Hard Out There 4 a Pimp." But where are the little cartoon animals?
6:02: Michael Douglas and his wife Catherine Zeta-Jones recall when they won their respective Oscars. She says she wasn't around when Michael won his Oscar in 1988 for Wall Street. He corrects her: "Well, honey, you had been born." Ha ha ha. Thanks for reminding us about that.
6:06: Dwayne "Don't Call Me The Rock Anymore" Johnson to present for Visual Effects, which makes total sense to me, since he is a total visual effect.
And the winner is ... The Golden Compass! Really? I've seen more realistic polar bears in Coca-Cola commercials. Still, anything that makes Catholic League president William Donohue foam at the mouth is fine with me.
6:10: The about-to-drop-the-baby Cate Blanchett with Art Direction. Now this is a "big deal" technical award, so pay attention!
And the winner is ... Sweeney Todd! Blood and guts and music and Helena Bonham Carter's breasts prevail!
6:13: The first acting award, Supporting Actor, is coming up - proceeded by another clip package to mark the 80th birthday. Or to fill time. Or to burn off crap they had done to replace the regular show. Waste not, want not, right?
6:15: Here's Jennifer Hudson, reading off of the TelePrompter. It's kind of like Miss America handing off her tiara, isn't it?
And the winner is ... in a major surprise, Javier Bardem!!
He dedicates his Oscar to his mother, speaking directly to her in Spanish. I don't know what he said, but he made her cry, so it had to have been good.
6:22: Stewart helpfully translates what Bardem said to his mom: "I believe he told her where the library is." Then he introduces one of the clips that would have been shown in case of strike - a cinematic salute to binoculars and periscopes. Lame, but then again, wasn't it suppose to be? No, wait, there's another one - a salute to bad dreams. Save us - save us from ourselves!!!
6:24: Keri Russell to introduce the nominated song from her Movie That No One Saw, August Rush. The song is called "Raise It Up." I bet it's supposed to be uplifting.
During this interlude, I have to say I'm disappointed in Jon Stewart. The show's almost an hour old and he has yet to change outfits once. By this time in their shows, Whoopi had had three costume changes, Ellen had had two, and Billy Crystal had had seven - count them, seven. Way to slack off, Stewart. You're a disgrace to your Oscar tux - all one of them.
6:28: Owen Wilson, making one of his first major appearances since his unfortunate business last year, comes out to present Live-Action Short Film.
And the winner is ... Le Mozart des Pickpockets. Anyone have that?
6:30: In a tradition that won't die, they bring out an animated critter to give out the award for Best Animated Short!
And the winner is ... Peter and the Wolf!
6:34: It's time for Supporting Actress! Here Alan Arkin with the news!
And the winner is ... Tilda Swinton!! I called it!
She compares the Oscar to her agent and says that she's giving it to him. Wait, she already gave the BAFTA to her agent. She's not going to have any awards for herself! Best speech of the night so far. She made George Clooney smile. Cute.
6:47: Josh Brolin and James McAvoy presenting Adapted Screenplay.
And the winner is ... Joel and Ethan Coen. The onslaught begins!
6:49: Sid Ganis, the president of the Academy, introduces a short film about the voting process involved with the awards. Clip show or no?
6:53: Mylie Cyrus emerges to pump up the ratings by introducing the next nominated Original Song, again from Enchanted - "That's How You'll Know".
7:01: Stewart introduces "Dame Judi Dench and Halle Berry" - who in actuality are Seth Rogan and Jonah Hill. Who then enter into an argument about who's Dame Judi and who's Halle Berry. Well, that's original.
Oh, they're giving out Sound Editing.
And the winner is ... The Bourne Ultimatum! May not bode well for Kevin O'Connell down the road.
7:05: Oh, Dame Judi and Halle are back to give out another one. This is for Sound Mixing. Will O'Connell's dreams come true, finally? The tension ...
And the winner is ... The Bourne Ultimatum. Well, how many people with 20 Oscar nominations do you know?
7:08: Wow, they're giving out Actress now? They really are zipping along here!
7:10: Forest Whitaker has the envelope. This may be the last true tension of the night in terms of knowing what will happen next.
And the winner is ... Marion Cotilliard! OK, I know a lot of people were calling this, but I'm surprised. This is only the second time that an actress has won this for a performance done in a foreign-language. (Or third, if you count Marlee Matlin.) What a great speech as well. Emotional - we like that in an Oscar speech.
7:18: Stewart and the cute girl who sang the August Rush song are caught playing tennis on the Nintendo Wii on the huge Jumbotron built for the ceremony. He's doing a good job hosting - he's not Johnny Carson, but then again, that would make him dead, right?
7:20: Colin Farrell, managing not to swear, introduces the Irish duo who starred and performed in the small movie Once to sing their nominated song. Yesterday they were performing this at the Spirit Awards in a tent on the beach in Santa Monica. Now they're doing it in front of close to a billion people. That's Hollywood for you. I hope they win.
7:22: Stand back - Jack Nicholson is on the stage. Sorry, George - he's still the coolest cat in the room. He's introducing a montage of all 79 previous Best Picture winners. More burnoff? By the way, Jack's in three of them.
7:27: And we're done with that clip reel. God, that was long. Maybe it would have been more entertaining if Jack Black and Mos Def had acted them out themselves.
7:28: Here's Renee Zellweger with Film Editing.
And the winner is .. The Bourne Ultimatum! So much for the Coens' quintella. No history there. And that's three for Bourne. Hey, the winner is a second-generation winner - that's cool.
7:31: Nicole Kidman, yet another pregnant babe, looking regal and, well, pregnant. She's giving out an honorary award to production designer Robert Boyle, who's still working at 98. He should get a freaking award just for that!
7:38: A few speech lapses from Boyle during his gracious speech, but then again, that happened to Katherine Heigl too. I hope I'm that with it when I'm 98. Hell, I hope I'm that with it when I'm 38. He made sure to thank Nicole Kidman. Let this be a lesson to you - always thank your presenter, and be sure to tip them generously.
7:42: Penelope Cruz with Foreign-Language Film. It's good to have someone with an accent give out this award. Next year they should get Billy Bob Thornton to do it.
And the winner is ... Austria for The Counterfeiters. It's about the Nazis, which of course made it a shoo-in.
7:45: Patrick Dempsey introduces the last nominated Song, from his own film, Enchanted. It's called "So Close." I'm so close to finally ordering dinner. Pizza or Chinese?
7:48: John Travolta dances (literally) onto the stage to give out Original Song. A good choice because, you know, he dances a lot.
And the winner is ... the cute Irish guys from Once! Happy day! They're stunned! A movie made for $100,000 wins a freaking Oscar! You've got to love it.
7:52: Spielberg's moment from winning for Schindler's List. Forgot how emotional that was for him at the time.
7:57: Class - Jon Stewart brings Marketa Irglova back out to finish her comments upon winning Original Song after she had been interrupted by the orchestra. And it was well worth it - she spoke from the heart about dreams. And Jon Stewart will never be back again for breaking the iron-clad rule - everyone must be played off while giving their speech if no one knows who they are.
7:59: Cameron Diaz, tongue-tied, presents Cinematography.
And the winner is ... There Will Be Blood! Yeah, that's a good award. That movie looked sick - in a good way.
8:01: Hilary Swank get the death reel. Do they draw straws for this one? How does the producer come to someone to ask them, "Say, can you present the montage of everyone who has kicked off in the last 12 months?" Obviously not heady duty. The last name on the lengthy clip? Heath Ledger.
8:08: Amy Adams, who already sang, now gets to present the Oscar for Original Music Score. I hope she's getting extra food money for all of this work.
And the winner is ... Atonement! Another good award - the score is one of the strong points to that movie. Though if There Will Be Blood hadn't been ruled ineligible, this would have been a far different result. Just saying.
8:11: Tom Hanks, Mr. Oscar, comes out, to introduce a via satellite thank you from the troops at Baghdad. Oh, wait, they're presenting the Oscar for Documentary Short Subject. More class. They did the whole thing, even the winner announcement.
Oh, the winner is ... Freeheld! A film about discrimination about same-sex couples, by the way.
8:15: Hanks will do Documentary Feature on his own. Let's see if Michael Moore will have another chance for shenanigans.
And the winner is ... Taxi to the Dark Side! Michael Moore stays seated. You can look up what that movie is about on your own; it's a doozy.
8:19: Elton John talks about winning his Oscar, but I'm more interested in what's going on with his hair during his mini-interview. You're a rock icon, an Academy Award winner and a knight, man - comb your hair!
8:22: OK, we're nearly at the three-hour mark and have only five awards left. Maybe my prediction on the time will be close to being right this year.
Harrison Ford comes out to the Indiana Jones theme (gee, who saw that coming?) to present Original Screenplay.
And the winner is ... Diablo Cody! Ye cats! And she's bawling. OK, say what you will about how she may have gotten here or that her script may be too clever for its own good, but that was damned nice to see.
8:29: Dame Helen MIrren comes out at the three-hour point to give Daniel Day-Lewis his second Oscar. Oh, wait, am I jumping the gun a bit? Come one, we all know what's about to happen here, right? I mean, this thing is a done deal.
And the winner is ... yeah, Daniel Day-Lewis, who kisses George Clooney on the cheek on his way up to the stage. He dedicates the award to his grandfather, father and three sons. But so far, the best speeches are from the ladies - Swinton, Cotillard, Irglova and Cody. And since the Coens aren't known for the scintillating deliveries, that's probably how it will stand.
8:40: Martin Scorsese himself to hand off the Director Oscar.
And the winner is ... or winners are ... Joel Coen and Ethan Coen! Boy, Ethan has a way with words, doesn't he? Joel is obviously the spokesman for the pair.
8:44: Denzel Washington gets the honor giving out Best Picture, which means he is now officially a member of the Legends Club.
And the winner is ... No Country for Old Men!! Joel and Ethan get three each! Good thing Scott Rudin co-produced with with the Coens so the speech will be a little longer than usual.
8:47: That's it, the show's over. Final time: three hours, 18 minutes, done before midnight on the East Coast. Which is almost, like, weird. What do we do with the rest of our night?