The Fien Print’s Academy Awards 2012 Live-Blog

I’ve spent the last two-plus hours live-tweeting all of the red carpet Oscars fun, but now it’s time to get “serious” and by “serious” I mean “bring page views to HitFix.” Thus, welcome to my Oscars live-blog. Join the conversation. I’ll try to chat along in the comments during commercial breaks!

Before we get started, you wanna know what I’m rooting for tonight? ANYTHING surprising. So if Spencer, Plummer, Davis, Dujardin, Hazanavicious and “The Artist,” “The Artist,” “The Artist” and “The Artist,” it’s gonna be a grumpy evening. I don’t need for all of the favorites to lose. Heck, some of them are the deserving winners. But gimme a Gary Oldman win or something… Just to keep things interesting. Is that too much to ask?

Let’s find out, after the break…

8:27 p.m. ET. Why do people keep saying the can’t wait to see what Billy Crystal’s going to do, as if it’s some state secret. I’ve seen Billy Crystal host the Oscars before. THAT is what he’s going to do.

8:30 p.m. Morgan Freeman kicks off the telecast. Is he going to sing? He tells us that through the cinematic ages, one thing is constant: We’re all mesmerized by the magic of the movies. 

8:31 p.m. We begin with Billy Crystal parodying “The Artist,” in which he’s silent-tortured into hosting the Oscars. He’s in a movie called “Parental Guidance”? Really? In “The Descendants,” Billy is Clooney’s ailing wife. He asks Clooney to say “I’m Batman,” which is funny. Clooney references how the Oscars have hired “the youngest, hippest writers in town.” Cut to the scouting scene from “Moneyball.” Justin Bieber? He’s here to get Billy the 18-24 demographic. He sits around for a couple seconds, “Midnight in Paris” style. Blackface Sammy Davis Jr. joke! Retro Crystal! Then he eats Octavia’s poop pie in “The Help.” Which leads to Melissa McCarthy pooping in the sink. No idea what Mission Impossible 4″ has to do with anything. It was not nominated for any Oscars at all. But Tom Cruise is a good sport. Billy Crystal as “Tin Tin,” which wasn’t nominated for Animated Feature. And now… He’s riding celluloid. This isn’t funny, but it’s pretty solid, technically.

8:35 p.m. Two straight “Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close” jokes bomb. “We’re here at the beautiful Chapter 11 Theater,” Crystal jokes. James Earl Jones is amused by Billy Crystal’s James Earl Jones impression. “Enjoy yourself, because nothing can take the sting out of the world’s economic problems like millionaires rewarding themselves with Golden statues,” he says.

8:38 p.m. It’s a wonderful night for Oscar! Wow. It really is 1991. And nothing’s… funny. It’s charming and inoffensive. Scorsese, for example, chuckles when the “Hugo” verse is sung to “That’s Amore.” Terrence Malick isn’t there for the “Tree of Life” verse, but Billy didn’t have anything funny to say about it anyway. George Clooney puts on a rictus smile for the “Descendants” verse. 

8:41 p.m. Tony Bennett, representing the target demographic, thought that was hilarious.

8:42 p.m. Celebrity Seat-Filler Carl has been filling seats for 59 years and he gets a warm shout-out from Tom Hanks. Nice powder blue suit, Carl. BOO. He’s not really a seat-filler, Hanks says. BOO. He’s presenting the cinematography award which, by rights, should go to “Tree of Life.” Will it? The winner is… Robert Richardson for “Hugo.” He’s won twice previously and has great, long, white hair. “I can’t believe somebody put cinematography up first, because it can only go up from here,” Richardson says.

8:44 p.m. We’re on to Art Direction. The winner is… “Hugo” and Dante Ferretti and his somewhat scary partner. This was really smart show organization, because two consecutive wins for “Hugo” will have civilians in their Oscar pools going, “I can’t believe I thought ‘The Artist’ was going to win everything.” Guess what, kids? It’s still gonna win everything. 

8:47 p.m. I like the supporting band in the opera box. Somebody has the flute over-mic-ed.

8:48 p.m. Someday, Emmanuel Lubezki will win a cinematography Oscar. Someday.

8:50 p.m. “The ‘Your Name Here’ Theatre,” Crystal says of the troubled Former Kodak. It’s tonight’s Jack Palance. 

8:51 p.m. Oscar Montage! Celebrating… Ummm… Romantic movie moments? From recent movies? No. There’s “Ghost.” That’s practically ancient. And there’s “Jaws.” That’s not romantic.  And there are some funny movies. And some exciting movies. It’s a montage tribute to movie montages.

8:54 p.m. “Please welcome a recurring dream of mine: Cameron Diaz and Jennifer Lopez,” says the creepy old man hosting the telecast. They’re presenting Jennifer Lopez’s cleavage. And also the costuming award, which may ALSO go to “Hugo,” which would make “Hugo” into an unstoppable juggernaut. [It wouldn’t.] The winner is… Mark Bridges for “The Artist.” And just like that, “The Artist” gets its first woefully [“Woefully” was probably an overstatement here.] undeserved win and the “Hugo” juggernaut is over.

8:57 p.m. The next award is for makeup, but viewers at home are only wondering if they’re seeing Jennifer Lopez’s nipple or not. I have no answer to that question, but trust me, I’m trying as hard as you guys are to find out. The actresses’ butts present the prize to “The Iron Lady,” for expertly making Meryl Streep look like Meryl Streep in several inches of makeup. The first guy up graciously thanks Meryl Streep for keeping him employed. 

9:00 p.m. Stars remember their first movies. This looks like an Errol Morris package. Tom Cruise and Morgan Freeman are being the night’s All-Star good sports. I would watch a whole movie of Dame Helen Mirren remembering her favorite movie experiences. Babs! Adam Sander was a big fan of Sean Connery’s chest hair. That explains why, in his next movie, Adam Sandler plays Sean Connery’s chest hair.

9:05 p.m. Sandra Bullock is up next. She’s an Oscar winner. She’s presenting foreign language film. In recognition of the 1.2 billion people in China, she will be speaking Mandarin, albeit with a German accent. It’s really genuinely funny. In its own weird way. I never got to fee “A Separation.” I feel pretty guilty about that. It’s on my Netflix queue. DAMNIT STOP JUDGING ME. GEEZ. Anyway, the winner is… “A Separation.” As expected. As we’ve already seen on the awards circuit, the direct speaks flawless English. He has a passionate prepared speech and naturally we spend a good five seconds watching Steven Spielberg contemplate said speech. 

9:09 p.m. Billy Crystal makes a Republican primary joke before introducing Christian Bale to present Supporting Actress. Christian Bale is in a “skinny” mode. His presence makes Nick Nolte clap awkwardly. It’s like one of Nick Nolte’s hands can’t quite bring itself to hit the other and Nolte can’t bring himself to force the two hands together. The winner… Octavia Spencer. No quibble here. It’s a very good performance and she gives great speech. She also gets a standing ovation, which is slightly unusual. “Thank you, Academy, for putting me with the hottest guy in the room,” she gushes. She thanks her Alabama family and her LA family and her “Help” family. She thanks the world and also her agents and Steven Spielberg. That just about covers it.

9:14 p.m. Balcony Electric Violinist is awesome.

9:18 p.m. “I wanted to hug the first black woman I saw… which from Beverly Hills was about a 45 minute drive,” Crystal cracks of his reaction to “The Help.”

9:19 p.m. Filmed bit. A focus group critiques “The Wizard of Oz.” Bob Balaban is leading it and Eugene Levy is in the focus audience. That’s how you know Christopher Guest directed it. There’s Fred Willard. “If you can teach a monkey to fly, you can teach a monkey to talk,” Willard’s character says. Catherine O’Hara’s character is upset that the Munchkins took money away from full-sized men. Jennifer Coolidge didn’t like all of the unattractive people in the movie. “I didn’t particularly care for the rainbow song,” Levy’s character says. 

9:22 p.m. Yes, Billy. We know the people who were in the movie. We also know the people in the opening bit with you. Why does Justin Bieber need to be thanked? “You’re a lucky girl. He’s a very good kisser,” Crystal tells Stacy Keibler.

9:22 p.m. Tina Fey and Bradley Cooper’s Mustache are presenting the editing award. The editors actually get talking head moments. They don’t explain what they do, but they explain why they love movies, which is nice. Good to give editors exposure. The winner is… WOW. The night’s first GENUINE surprise. It’s Kirk Baxter and Angus Wall for “Girl With the Dragon Tattoo.” They immediately admit that they were not expecting this. They’re not the only ones.

9:24 p.m. The sound editors do not get talking heads. I wish “Drive” could win. Instead, it’s Philip Stockton and Eugene Gearty for “Hugo.” That’s the third below-the-line “Hugo” win already tonight. The editors begin with a “Hugo,” “No, Hugo” back and forth. They’re sound editors, not writers. But it’s cute.

9:27 p.m. No effort to clarify how Sound Mixing is different from Sound Editing. But the Sound Editing Oscar goes to… “Hugo.” Wow. The rout is ON! [I’m joking. Please don’t correct me, nice people.] So far, Martin Scorsese has easily been the night’s most thanked and featured audience member. 

9:34 p.m. Kermit and Piggy are in the balcony. “I remember being a young frog at the drive-in,” Kermit says of his first Oscars experience. Sigh. We’re only using Kermit and Piggy to introduce Cirque du Soleil. Sigh. Pretentious bendy Canadian circus performers reenacting movie scenes. On one hand? Athletically intriguing. On the other hand? Less relevant to the evening than maybe letting Octavia Spencer finish her speech. They’re definitely simulating an experience going to the movies that I wouldn’t want to have. I’d be all, “Put your leg down, bendy French-Canadian!” or “Stop contorting in front of me, you gorgeous bending French-Canadian.” Stacy Kiebler’s reaction is impossible to read.

9:39 p.m. The crowd is enthusiastic enough. “Wow. I pulled a hamstring just watching that,” Crystal says, adding, “We’re a pony away from being a bar mitzvah.” On to a joke about hold people nominated for Oscars. Poor Christopher Plummer and Max Von Sydow. “Where’s gonna slam the 78-to-84 group,” Crystal says of the Oscar ratings. 

9:40 p.m. Gwyneth Paltrow presents. Robert Downey Jr. is off in the wings Tebowing. “I’m filming a documentary called ‘The Presenter,'” Downey says. The camera crew is following him and distracting Paltrow. Why was she not given a mic? Why is she miss-speaking into the stage mic. “What you’re doing right now, this is disrespectful and disruptive,” Paltrow tells Downey and his crew. This is… not funny. 

9:42 p.m. Anyway, they’re presenting, Best Documentary. The winner is… “Undefeated.” Wow. Does that mean P.Diddy is an Oscar winner? Apparently not. He doesn’t get to come on-stage with them. One of the filmmakers gets bleeped and they get played off. Puffy does, at the very least, get thanked from the stage. 

9:44 p.m. Chris Rock is up next. BE FUNNY, CHRIS! The crowd is happy to see him. “I love animation because in the world of animation, you can be anything you want to be. If you’re a fat woman, you can play a skinny princess… If you’re a white man, you can play an Arabian prince. And if you’re a black man, you can play a donkey or a zebra,” Rock says. Heh. Rock does an amusing bit on how easy it is to do animation voices. I think we’re ready for Chris Rock to host this thing again. [Stacy Keibler is much more amused by Chris Rock than she was by Cirque du Soleil.]  Anyway, the Animated Feature winner is… “Rango.” It’s a very pretty and pretty twisted little movie. He should thank “Cars 2” for sucking. He thanks “real world chameleon Johnny Depp,” as well as the team of grown-ups acting like children who made the movie. 

9:52 p.m. Not funny bit with Melissa McCarthy hitting on Billy Crystal in the wings. Sigh. Melissa’s a good sport, but that game was not worth the candle.

9:53 p.m. Ben Stiller, Emma Stone and Emma Stone’s Bow are presenting the Visual Effects Oscar. Emma Stone’s happy she’s getting to present an award. “I remember when I was first here… it was very much still exciting,” Stiller says. He’s being the jaded old-hand as Stone gushes about all of the patter she wished she could do. I nominate Emma Stone to host next year’s Oscars with Chris Rock. She’s too adorable for words. “Perky gets old fast with this crowd. You don’t want to be the presenter who tries too hard with this crowd,” Stiller says before Stone reminds him of his past try-too-hard bits. See, Paltrow and Downey? That’s how you do a two-person bit. Boy, I hope “Rise of the Planet of the Apes” wins this. 

9:56 p.m. The winner is… “Hugo.” THE JUGGERNAUT CONTINUES! OK. This doesn’t have me wondering about Best Picture, but should it have us wondering about Scorsese for Best Director? I mean, these five Oscar-winning elements don’t just magically come together on their own. Surely that ought to mean something, right?

9:57 p.m. Joke about how Harry Potter only played 14 percent income tax.

9:58 p.m. Melissa Leo is up to present Supporting Actor… Nick Nolte is confused. So confused. But he claps enthusiastically for the Nick Nolte-shaped man on the screen. The winner is… Christopher Plummer. He gets a standing ovation, too. “You’re only two years older than me, darling. Where have you been all my life?” Plummer asks his Oscar. He jokes that he’s been practicing his speech since he was in the womb.  Nick Nolte is confused, but claps red-faced for the Christopher Plummer-shaped blob on the stage. Plummer thanks all of the people he’s been thanking all awards season. This time he doesn’t thank the dog, though he suggests his wife deserves the Nobel Peace Prize.

10:07 p.m. “Congratulations to Mr. Plummer. The average age of the winners has now jumped to 67,” says Crystal, who had to be praying for one-armed push-ups.  Pretty sure we’ve had this “I know what the people in the crowd are thinking” bit before. Viola Davis and Martin Scorsese are especially amused by their cut-awards. Crystal just growls for what Nolte is thinking. “If I had ’em, I’d like ’em,” is what Uggie is thinking. Ah, no material like the classics.

10:07 p.m. Academy president Tom Sherak time. He thanks all of the nice people who stepped in after Brett Ratner was canned and Eddie Murphy flakes. Lovely. He thanks them “for being there for us.” Ha. “Thank you for whipping the crowd into a frenzy,” says Crystal, who is well-loved by this crowd.

10:11 p.m. Music time! Now seriously, if “Hugo” somehow wins THIS award, I’m gonna start getting really intrigued. Owen Wilson and Penelope Cruz show up to present the award, which “The Artist” realistically has in the bag. The “Tinker Tailor” score would get my vote, if I had such a thing. I do not, but it was fantastic. Anyway, the winner is… Ludovic Bource for “The Artist.” He enthusiastically shakes John Williams’ hand as he makes his way to the stage and thanks all of the nominees from the mic. He tells us all how much love he has to give.

10:16 p.m. Will Ferrell and Zach Galifianakis take the stage in white tuxes and cymbals. They make an easy “Hard Out Here For a Pimp” joke and present the award to… “Man or Muppet” from “The Muppets.” Bret McKenzie remembers being star-struck when he first met Kermit, who turned out to be shorter in real life. Jason Segel is very pleased in the audience.

10:20 p.m. Popcorn Break!

10:24 p.m. “Front row… Know what I’m thinking? Why don’t we chip in and buy the Dodgers,” Crystal asks. Michelle Williams in the front row has ZERO desire to buy the Dodgers.

10:25 p.m. Yikes. Why did Angelina Jolie think this was the night to show off the legs? I mean, I have no objection at all. They just don’t seem to go with the Screenplay categories.  I hope “Moneyball” wins so that Aaron Sorkin and Steve Zaillian can meet. But this is another one that I, personally, would give to “Tinker.” The winner is… Alexander Payne, Nat Faxon and THE DEAN for “The Descendants.” Wow. Go Jim Rash and Nat Faxon. And Alexander Payne, too, I suppose. Payne thanks his mother and dedicates the award to her. The other two don’t get to talk.

10:30 p.m. The Original Screenplay Oscar goes to Woody Allen for “Midnight in Paris.” Of course, Woody is elsewhere playing his horn. So that speeds the telecast along.

10:30 p.m. Werner Herzog and some other celebrities describe what makes a great film. Reese Witherspoon’s favorite film is “Overboard.” Sigh. Gabby Sidibe really likes “One Left Foot.” 

10:37 p.m. Milla Jovovich hosted the sci-tech Oscars. She remembers stuff that happened there.

10:38 p.m. The “Bridesmaids” cast takes the stag, hand-in-hand. Size matters. Kristen Wiig tells us. But length matters, Maya Rudolph tells us. “I’d rather have a short film with some heft that’s nice to me rather than a long film that just lies there and makes you do all the work,” Wiig says. Sigh. Anyway… Live Action Short. The winner is… “The Shore.” It was directed by Terry George and produced by his daughter Oorlagh. Awww. That’s kinda sweet. 

10:42 p.m. Before the Documentary Short category we get… A call-back to the SAG joke about drinking every time anybody says “Scorsese.” Weird. The winner is… “Saving Face.” I believe it already aired on HBO? Or do I just have a screener already. I should watch that screening. It seems inspiring. Sandra Bullock, in fact, is already crying. Morgan Freeman is apparently too emotional to clap.

10:44 p.m. And now, Animated Short… The Oscar goes to… “Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore.” Mazel Tov!

10:50 p.m. Michael Douglas takes the stage to present Best Director. He looks and sounds fantastic. Good for Michael Douglas. Because I’m pretentious, I think Terrence Malick should win here. But if he doesn’t? That’s OK. Your winner… Michel Hazanavicious for “The Artist.” So much for that brief window in which a “Hugo” shocker seemed possible. Oh well. “I have an Oscar… I forgot my speech,” Michel Hazanavicious says. [That was also going to be Nick Nolte’s speech, had he won.]. He thanks Uggie, but admits that Uggie may not understand.

10:55 p.m. Billy Crystal introduces Meryl Streep. “She’s either the greatest actress of our time or a really dedicated hoarder,” Crystal says after listing all of her past awards. She introduces clips from the Governors Awards. James Earl Jones and Oprah Winfrey were toasted. “It’s unimaginable that I would be standing before you,” Oprah says, echoing a wave of complaints that it was unimaginable that she’d be receiving an honorary Oscar. Jones and Winfrey are in the crowd. They get a standing ovation. 

11:03 p.m. Two Oscar producers — Laura Ziskin and Gil Cates — passed away in the past year. Cates brought Crystal to the Oscars for the first time and Crystal delivers a very simple, heart-felt tribute. Anyway… on to the Necrology. We’ve got a rendition of “What a Wonderful World” playing over mostly still photos of passed stars. Finally we start getting a few clips and words towards the middle. No audible applause at all. That keeps things simple, certainly. The pictures are going by so quickly that I’m not going to be able to tell you who got left out. Elizabeth Taylor closes the montage as expected.

11:11 p.m. Another Errol Morris series of interviews. People talking about why movies make them happy. Zzzzz.

11:12 p.m. “I’ve never had any of those feelings,” Crystal says.

11:13 p.m. Crystal thanks Esperanza Spaulding and the folks who sang “What A Wonderful World.” And then they cut to Penelope Cruz for some reason.

11:14 p.m. Natalie Portman presents Best Actor. Before each nominee, she tells them why they’re awesome. It’s very sweet. I’d like to experience it someday.

11:17 p.m. Gary Oldman… sooooo good.

11:18 p.m. The winner is… Jean Dujardin for “The Artist.” He kisses Natalie on both cheeks. “I love your country,” Dujardin says. He’s enthusiastic and gracious. 

11:21 p.m. Remember back in the beginning that list of presumptive winners? And how I just wanted one surprise? I don’t think those handful of below-the-line “Hugo” wins counts. But guess what? Viola’s gonna win and “The Artist” is gonna win. No surprises… 

11:24 p.m. “They must be going nuts in France right now. Or whatever they have in place of joy,” Crystal says.

11:24 p.m. Now, Colin Firth will say nice things about actresses. 

11:28 p.m. This show is not going to end on time, isn’t it?

11:29 p.m. The winner is… Meryl Streep. Wow. Viola Davis immediately stands up to move in Meryl’s direction for a hug. The crowd gives Meryl a standing ovation because she’s Meryl. “When they called my name, I had this feeling that I could hear half of America going, ‘Oh, come on…'” she says. She makes sure to thank her husband at the top. She gets choked up. Then she thanks her makeup man, who won the Oscar earlier in the night. “I really understand I’ll never be up here again,” Meryl says, thanking her old friends and her new friends. And Sandra Bullock has been crying for two hours straight.

11:32 p.m. Tom Cruise will be presenting “The Artist” with Best Picture…

11:33 p.m. Lots of clips from the eight nominees that don’t have a chance of winning.

11:35 p.m. TENSION!!!

11:35 p.m. The winner is… “The Artist.” Duh-doy.

11:36 p.m. Uggie comes to the stage. Humans join him as well. Michel Hazanavicious thanks Billy Wilder thrice.

11:38 p.m. The Show ends. Eight minutes over. That’s actually not bad at all. The show might have felt endless to you, but that’s a BRISK Oscars.

What’d you think? Of the show? Of the winners? Etc?