The full report:
The last presenter of the evening, to present the biggest prize isn't a two-time Best Actor winner, thank God; Jack Nicholson's won three. But who wins Best Picture? Whoa! The Oscars have pulled off an upset after all. Paul Haggis' Crash picks up the top prize, leaving Ang Lee's Brokeback behind. This is indeed a surprise! The 78th Annual Academy Awards end with a startling twist.
Two-time Best Actor winner (this does seem to be the 'presenter' theme for the evening, yes?) Tom Hanks presents the penultimate award for the evening: Best Director. And the Oscar goes to Ang Lee for Brokeback Mountain, the film obviously ending the evening with a sweep. With one award to go, does anyone foresee an upset coming up? I think not.
Uma Thurman presents the award for Best Original Screenplay. Bobby Moresco and Paul Haggis pick up the trophy for Crash. With only three awards left, is this a compensatory award which means Crash won't win anymore? Or does it signal a sweep? With the predictability this evening has shown thus far, chances favour the former. Heavily.
Two-time Best Actor winner Dustin Hoffman introduces the nominees for Best Adapted Screenplay. Larry McMurtry and Diana Ossana pick up the award for turning Annie Proulx's 30-page short story into Ang Lee's 134 minute Brokeback Mountain.
As is customary, last year's Best Actor, Jamie Foxx, hands out the Best Actress trophy tonight. Reese Witherspoon is widely tipped to pick up the prize, and she does, getting the gold for playing June Carter Cash in James Mangold's Walk The Line. The actress who turns 30 later this month is in spectacular form, having just replaced Julia Roberts as the highest paid actress of all time. This trophy will just make that paycheck bigger.
John Travolta comes forth to present one of the most highly-contested categories this year, that of Best Cinematography. Dion Beebe wins for Memoirs Of A Geisha, beating out films like Brokeback Mountain and Good Night, And Good Luck.
So far, the evening has been extremely predictable, the kind of show that bookies really enjoy. But with the biggest prizes of all still left, there's still hope that the Oscars may just swing a big, last-minute surprise.
Two-time Best Actress winner Hilary Swank takes the stage to present one of the evening's biggest awards. Philip Seymour Hoffman is the odds-on favourite to win Best Actor, and the 37-year-old actor takes the trophy for Capote!
Memoirs Of A Geisha heroine Ziyi Zhang announces the nominees for Best Editing. Hughes Winborne picks up the award for Crash.
Will Smith presents the award for Best Foreign Language Film. The Palestinian Paradise Now is the frontrunner in this category, but the Oscar goes to South Africa. Tsotsi, directed by Gavin Hood, picks up the prize.
George Clooney introduces the cinematic names we have lost over the last year, a montage featuring names like Vincent Schiavelli, Sandra Dee, Chris Penn, John Mills, Shelley Winters, Ismail Merchant, Robert Wise, Richard Pryor and Anne Bancroft.
The next award is for Best Sound Editing, and to present it we have a visibly pregrant Jennifer Garner. The trophy goes to Mike Hopkins and Ethan Van der Ryn for King Kong.
Chris Bridges, better known as the rapper Ludicrus, introduces the final Best Original Song nominee: from Hustle & Flow, The 3:6 Mafia's It's hard out here for a pimp. Queen Latifah takes centrestage, presenting the award to Jordan Houston, Cedric Coleman, and Paul Beauregard for It's hard out here for a pimp!
Lily Tomlin and Meryl Streep adlib and improvise, falling over their lines -- a performance wonderfully appropriate to honour the notoriously cryptic director Robert Altman, director of groundbreaking films like MASH, Nashville, The Player and Short Cuts. Altman, 81, is justifiably honoured for Lifetime Achievement. The 6-time nominee is honoured 'for a career that has repeatedly reinvented the art form and inspired filmmakers and audiences alike.'
Jessica Alba and Munich leading man Eric Bana introduce the nominees for Best Sound Mixing. Christopher Boyes, Michael Semanick, Michael Hedges and Hammond Peek take home the award for King Kong.
Brokeback Mountain star Jake Gyllenhaal, who lost out on Best Supporting actor, takes the stage. He introduces another montage, one focussing on the larger than life films, the monumental ones, the epics. This featured the biggest blockbusters of all time from Sound Of Music to 2001: A Space Odyssey, from Ben-Hur to Jurassic Park, from Star Wars to Jaws. ET director Steven Spielberg obviously dominates this round of theatre-friendly clips.
The next Best Picture nominee is Benett Miller's take on Truman Capote, Capote, the biopic starring Best Actor favourite Philip Seymour Hoffman. Read the review.
Salma Hayek takes the stage and we are given a violin sampler of music from each of the five Best Original Score nominees. John Williams has two nominations, for Memoirs Of A Giesha and Munich, but is beaten out by Argentinian composer Gustavo Santaolalla for Brokeback Mountain.
Samuel L Jackson, the actor whose combined films have grossed the most money, introduces another montage, an incredibly eclectic one celebrating films striving to bring truth to the people. Stewart introduces Sid Ganis, President of the Academy who gives a 'keep cinema alive' speech.
Speed stars Sandra Bullock and Keanu Reeves introduce the nominations for Best Art Direction. John Myhre and Gretchen Rau pick up the trophy for Memoirs Of A Geisha.
The second Best Original Song nominee is from Crash. In the deep is introduced by popstar Jennifer Lopez and performed by Kathleen York.
Best Actress nominee Charlize Theron takes the stage to hand out the much-coveted award for Best Documentary. Continuing the evening's no-surprise theme, the award goes to Luc Jacquet and Yves Darondeau for the super-successful French documentary, March Of The Penguins.
Oscar-nominee Terrence Howard, up for Hustle & Flow, presents the Best Documentary - Short Subject award to Corinne Marrinan and Eric Simonson for A Note of Triumph: The Golden Age of Norman Corwin.
Stewart instantly introduces a montage of his own, laughing it up at the Best Actress nominees: Charlize Theron's looking ugly for an award; Keira Knightley being too beautiful; Reese Witherspoon being the most American; and Dame Judi Dench not being 'Dame enough.'
Making her way through classic portaits and posters of her films, the legendary Lauren Bacall talks about film noir, and the innovators of the highly cult genre. The vividly evocative b&w montage features the finest names in the business, from Humphrey Bogart and Orson Welles to Bacall herself.
The next Best Picture nominee is George Clooney's second directorial venture, Good Night, And Good Luck. The low-budget black and white film, set in the 1950s, has snagged six nominations. Read the review.
Last year's Best Supporting Actor winner Morgan Freeman takes the stage to hand out the Best Supporting Actress Oscar. Rachel Weisz and Michelle Williams are primed as the top contenders in this extremely competitive category, which includes former Best Actress winner Frances McDormand. And the Oscar goes to Rachel Weisz for her work in John Meirelles' The Constant Gardener.
Stewart introduces a video of Wedding Crashers star Rachel McAdams handing out the technical awards, handed out the previous night.
Saturday Night Live alumni Will Ferrell and Steve Carell, sporting extremely overmade faces, present the award for Best Makeup. The award goes to Howard Berger and Tami Lane for The Chronicles Of Narnia.
Russell Crowe, Best Actor winner for playing John Nash in A Beautiful Mind kicks off a montage on biopics, the Oscar's favourite theme, spanning everything from Ray to Aviator and Evita. This year's big biopic nominees include the Truman Capote film, Capote; the Johnny Cash film, Walk The Line; and David Strathairn's Edward R Murrow role in Good Night, And Good Luck.
Jennifer Aniston presents the award for Best Costume Design. This year's nominees include the most visually extravagant films of the year, Charlie And The Chocolate Factory and Memoirs Of A Geisha, and authentic period pieces, Mrs Henderson Presents and Walk The Line. The award goes to Colleen Atwood for Memoirs Of A Geisha. The six-time nominee previously won for Rob Marshall's musical, Chicago.
Luke and Owen Wilson, the brothers known for their quirky comedic roles, are out to present Best Live Action Short Film. Irish director Martin McDonagh picks up the award for Six Shooter. The Best Animated Short award, presented by Chicken Little, goes to John Canemaker and Peggy Stern for their 28-minute The Moon and the Son.
No time is wasted as the first of the Best Picture nominees for the night is showcased: Steven Spielberg's Munich. According to speculation, the film may earn Spielberg yet another Best Director trophy. Read the review.
Usually a regular five-nominee category, there are only three contenders for Best Original Song this year, and Dolly Parton is the first of the performers as she sings Travellin' through from Transamerica.
Next up is Best Actress forerunner Reese Witherspoon, giving away the award for Best Animated Feature. Things stay predictable, as the award goes to Steve Box and Nick Park for British animated phenomenon Wallace & Gromit: The Curse Of The Were-Rabbit.
Ben Stiller, clowning around in a green jumpsuit, is here to present the award for Best Visual Effects. And the Oscar goes to King Kong, Peter Jackson's blockbuster remake beating out Steven Spielberg's blockbuster remake, War Of The Worlds and The Chronicles Of Narnia.
Nicole Kidman takes the stage to give away the Best Supporting Actor trophy. All signs point to it going to George Clooney for Syriana. And the predictions are correct! Clooney strides upto his Peacemaker co-star to pick up his trophy. 'Alright, so I'm not winning director,' he laughs, nominated for the big prizes for his Good Night, And Good Luck. Not a bad start to the first Oscar ceremony the actor has ever attended. Clooney had famously vowed never to attend until he was nominated.
Stewart's opening monologue features digs at mostly everyone: Felicity Huffman, Angelina Jolie, politically correct stars, triple-nominee George Clooney, Capote and Brokeback Mountain. Then comes the inevitable: a carefully put-together montage of 'the most gay moments' in Western film history.
Billy Crystal, Chris Rock, Steve Martin, Whoopi Goldberg, David Letterman, Mel Gibson (speaking in Malay!) -- after a stellar lineup of celebrities duck out of hosting the Oscars, comedian Jon Stewart wakes up in bed next to Halle Berry. No wait, it's George Clooney. Finally, Stewart takes the stage and the show is officially under way.
The stage is set at the Shrine Auditorium in Los Angeles. The 78th Annual Academy Awards begin in a couple of minutes. By now, most of us have memorised the nominations and made all our predictions. Here goes.
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