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The 80th Academy Awards Blow-by-Blow

Nominations Tue 22.Jan.08 • Awards Sun 24.Feb.08
Rich's nomination comments: Some very nice surprises in this year's list of nominations, including well-deserved nods for Tommy Lee Jones, Viggo Mortensen, Johnny Depp and Laura Linney, plus the double-love for Cate Blanchett. Unexpected omissions include the absense of Into the Wild in key categories, Angelina Jolie, Tim Burton and James McAvoy, plus the odd collection of songs that omits much better songs in both Into the Wild and Hairspray. But then, perhaps these are casualties of the same kind of obscure and ludicrous rules that produced this strange bunch of Foreign Film nominees.

Monday, 25 Feb, 1am • Rich Cline comments:
blanchett Red is clearly the colour of the year for the women - it's a little outrageous, really, how many are in bright red. Two hours of live E! red-carpet coverage have left me punchy. Ryan Seacrest is just a little too happy with himself - trying to out-star the stars but at least he was having fun, which is fairly infectious. The E! fashion commentators were as hilarious as usual, taking it all far too seriously and not really saying anything at all. Like Ryan it's as much about them and their dresses as it is about the stars.

garner Red carpet winners include expectant earth mother Cate Blanchett, the hilariously sharp Tilda Swinton (she should do stand-up) in a black velvety sack, the shimmering Marion Cotillard, the drop-dead glamorous Jennifer Garner, the elegant and stately Laura Linney, and the classy and gleeful Helen Mirren.

Sky coverage starts at 1am with a bunch of strangers sitting in a studio in west London - an anodyne host, gobby fashion commentator, comedian Robin Ince and critic Hilary Oliver, who can't get a word in edgeways. They're even more obscure and ponderous than the E! team - and so pointless. Just get on with the show! Another critic shows up - Mark Eccleston - looking a bit groggy. Annoyingly we're stuck in Sky world rather than seeing the cheesy official Oscar pre-show this year. Finally it's time to go live to Hollywood.

stewart After a bad CGI movie montage - like some sort of fanboy YouTube mash-up, Jon Stewart beams onto the stage though some sort of pipeline. He sounds off-the-cuff, which is very nice, joking that after three months of strike, welcome to the make-up sex. He makes fun of the atmosphere of self-congratulation, and the plethora of psychopath movies - "Thank god for teen pregnancy". And he works his way through the audience, joking about the films and taking small political jabs everywhere.

Finally, here's the seriously stunning Jennifer Garner to present the first award, for Costume Design, to Elizabeth: The Golden Age. A nice short thank you, followed by a short historical clip from the year Best Actress was a tie - with commentary by Barbra Streisand.

swinton George Clooney glides onto stage next to introduce 80 years of Oscar memories. This is a great idea, but such a strangely edited montage - why the stills? At least we get a glimpse of that fabulous Rob Lowe and Snow White opening number from back in the early 1980s! They've got all the most memorable bits, some very funny clips, plus lots of lovely moments - well, fragments of those moments at least.

Now Anne Hathaway and Steve Carell emerge to the strains of the Get Smart theme, dry and funny as Steve starts introducing the feature docs before Anne stops him. They present Animated Feature to Ratatouille and a very happy Brad Bird.

bardem Here's Katherine Heigl, looking nervous but gorgeous in bright red, presenting Makeup to, no surprise, La Vie En Rose. Then Jon Stewart introduced the first nominated song, and starts singing it before noticing that Amy Adams is standing all on her own in the middle of the stage to sing Happy Working Song for us.

And about a minute in to this number my TV screen goes blank. Clearly someone at my cable company Virgin Media forgot to note that Sky was running a special programme tonight, and the system switched it off at exactly 2am. I am out of control with frustration - I call Virgin, only to be told by the recording to call back at 8am. After following the winners on various online blogs for about an hour I give up and go to bed.

cotillard This morning I have read through the winners list, heard audio bites on the news and watched a few online video clips of moments from the ceremony: Marion Cotillard's breathlessly lovely acceptance speech, Javier Bardem's wonderfully energetic thank you, Scott Rudin's effusive Best Picture thank you, and the In Memoriam clip reel, which felt a bit truncated (where was Brad Renfro?). Plus the beautifully understated performance of Falling Slowly by Glen Hansard and Marketa Irglova and the gloriously over-the-top That's How You Know with Kristen Chenoweth. I'm sure the whole show will be posted today, so I can fill in some other gaps.

But the truth is that I look forward all year to the Oscars as a night I can let out my inner movie geek and wallow in the minutae of the ceremony - every cutaway and goof-up, the gushing thank yous, nervous performers and embarrassed presenters. And most of all the constant hope that there will be a major upset - I would have been jumping on the sofa when they called out Tilda Swinton's and Marion Cotillard's names.

day-lewis Tuesday, 26 Feb 2008: I've had some time to both calm down and to watch the whole show, which was brisk and sleek this year, if rather uneventful, really. Jon Stewart set the tone perfectly, maintaining his wry humour with little gags all the way through (the tributes to binoculars and bad dreams were classic), and at least they tried to recapture that cheesy over-produced musical number vibe a few times. It's also nice to see that the thank yous are getting much more from-the-heart and not so list oriented. And the winners are remarkably strong this year (the glitches were in the nominations process); the most deserving actually took the awards in virtually every category. It's hard to remember a year when that happened. OK, so Oscar paid for it with the lowest TV ratings in 20 years - history shall vindicate!

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2008 by Rich Cline, Shadows on the Wall