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NEIL PATRICK HARRIS' OPENING NUMBER
''I know: What am I doing here?'' sang Harris, who kicked off the show with an over-the-top production number — complete with raunchy lyrics and fan dancers — to introduce co-hosts Steve Martin and Alec Baldwin, ''the biggest pair since Dolly Parton.'' Apparently NPH has become de rigueur at awards shows since his star turn at the '09 Emmys...and that suits us just fine.
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ALEC BALDWIN AND STEVE MARTIN KILL
The glib co-hosts packed their stage patter with zingers directed at audience members and each other. Even Meryl Streep was fair game. Said Martin: ''Anyone who has ever worked with Meryl Streep always ends up saying the exact same thing: 'Can that woman act?' and 'What's up with all the Hitler memorabilia?''' Their schtick also included a spoof of Paranormal Activity and a cutaway shot to the pair watching the awards from backstage swaddled in matching Snuggies.
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JOHN HUGHES TRIBUTE
Molly Ringwald and Matthew Broderick introduced a montage of the late writer-director's best-loved films and shared their memories of the man who so cannily captured what it meant to come of age in the '80s. Ringwald called Hughes ''a brilliant writer, director, and friend who saw something in me at the age of 16 that I didn't even see in myself.'' Broderick will remember him for another reason: ''For the last 25 years, nearly early every day, someone comes up to me, taps me on the shoulder, and says, 'Hey, Ferris, is this your day off?''' Notable Hughes collaborators Jon Cryer, Ally Sheedy, Judd Nelson, Anthony Michael Hall, and Macaulay Culkin also turned out to pay their respects, but Broderick said it best: ''John, danke schoen.''
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SO YOU THINK YOU CAN DANCE...TO THE NOMINATED FILM SCORES
Depending on how you feel about seeing someone do the Robot on stage at the Oscars, you can either blame or thank show producer (and So You Think You Can Dance judge) Adam Shankman for the decision to present this year's Best Score nominees via a modern and hip-hop routine by something called the Legion of Extraordinary Dancers.
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A ''KANYE MOMENT''
Roger Ross Williams, director of Best Documentary Short Subject winner Music by Prudence, was midway through his acceptance speech when Elinor Burkett, a journalist who worked on the film but left after creative differences (according to Salon) ''pulled a Kanye,'' bulldozing her way on stage and taking the mic. ''Let the woman talk. Isn't that the classic thing?'' Burkett said.
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BEN STILLER WORKS BLUE
Stiller presented the Best Makeup award in blue facepaint, braids, and pointy ears, speaking (at length) in Na'vi, before telling Avatar director James Cameron, ''I see you, I want to plug my tail, my braid, into your dragon.'' Stiller said he considered donning Spock ears to present the award (a nod to fellow nominee Star Trek), but decided that would be ''too nerdy.'' Right.
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GONE BUT NOT FORGOTTEN
A tuxedoed James Taylor sang and strummed the Beatles' ''In My Life'' alone at center stage as images of this year's dearly departed in the movie biz filled the screen. Commenters on our live blog cried foul that Farrah Fawcett (among other notable performers) was absent, and questioned the inclusion of Michael Jackson. Despite the grumbling, it was a moving homage.
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DO IT FOR THE DOLPHINS!
On stage with the cast and crew of Best Doc winner The Cove, dolphin trainer Ric O'Barry unfurled a banner that read ''Text Dolphin to 44144''... but the camera quickly cut away. It was one of few examples of activism in an otherwise chill night. (If you do send a text, you'll be subscribed to news alerts about efforts to stop dolphin fishing in Japan.)
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BE AFRAID. BE VERY AFRAID.
Finally, horror films get their due at the Oscars! Twilighters Kristen Stewart and Taylor Lautner (cue screaming) introduced a reel that included a slew of classic creepfests (The Exorcist, Psycho, The Birds, Halloween, Rosemary's Baby) along with a few not-so-scary flicks that left us scratching our heads (Edward Scissorhands?!). Sadly, the clip from The Shining was Jack Nicholson's only appearance of the night.
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A SHOUT-OUT TO EARTHQUAKE VICTIMS
Accepting the trophy for Best Foreign Language Film, El Secreto de Sus Ojos director Juan Jose Campanella thanked the Academy for ''not considering Na'vi a foreign language.'' Campanella seemed befuddled by the countdown timer, but managed to shout, ''Apoyamos a Chile!'' (''Let's support Chile'') — the only mention of the recent earthquake we heard all night — before getting played off by the orchestra.
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WHAT HAPPENS IN MEXICO?
We loved the show producers' decision to invite the Best Actor/Actress nominees' costars onstage to dish on their colleagues. How else would we know that Helen Mirren (The Last Station) has a ''spiderweb'' tattoo on her hand (thanks, Michael Sheen), or that while filming 2003's S.W.A.T., Jeremy Renner (The Hurt Locker) and Colin Farrell spent a night in Mexico during which they shared a bed — and spooned!
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A CINDERELLA STORY
Precious star Gabourey Sidibe didn't go home with any hardware, but when she was named among this year's Best Actress nominees by none other than Oprah herself, she was already over the moon. Winfrey recalled how almost overnight, Sidibe went from being a struggling student who auditioned for a part on a lark, to being nominated in the same category as Meryl Streep. ''If that isn't a Hollywood fairy tale, what is?'' Winfrey said. ''When we look at you, we see a new American Cinderella.''
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JEFF BRIDGES' ACCEPTANCE SPEECH
Was that Bridges or the Dude at the podium to accept the Best Actor award for Crazy Heart? Bridges thanked his parents for getting him into such a ''groovy profession.'' ''This is honoring them as much as it is me.'' And he said ''man'' a lot, man.
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SANDRA BULLOCK WINS BEST ACTRESS FOR THE BLIND SIDE
A visibly emotional Bullock collected her statuette with characteristic humility. ''Did I really earn this,'' she asked, ''or did I just wear you all down?'' She went on to praise her fellow nominees, including Carey Mulligan (''Your grace, your elegance, your beauty, and your talent ... makes me sick''), Gabourey Sidibe (''You are exquisite''), and Meryl Streep (''Such a good kisser''), and dedicated the award to ''the moms that take care of the babies and the children, no matter where they came from.''
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''A ONCE-IN-A-LIFETIME MOMENT''
Kathryn Bigelow made history when she became the first female to take home the top directing prize. Bigelow, normally a cool customer, seemed overwhelmed — hell, even presenter Barbra Streisand was verklempt! — as she shared the historic moment with her screenwriter Mark Boal, ''who risked his life for the words on the page,'' and ''the men and women in the military who risk their lives on a daily basis.''
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THE HURT LOCKER WINS BEST PICTURE
Kathryn Bigelow put the Hurt on her fellow nominee (and ex-husband) James Cameron, when her Iraq war drama edged out Avatar for the second time, to win the night's biggest prize.