By Mandi Bierly
Updated December 20, 2019 at 07:37 AM EST
Credit: Kevin Mazur/

We’ve braved the red carpet shows, and we have the ringing in our ears from when Giuliana Rancic spotted nominees Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie — and squealed — to prove it. Can EW senior editor Thom Geier and I match that level of professionalism in our live blog of the 81st Annual Academy Awards? Considering I saw Oscar host Hugh Jackman on Broadway in The Boy From Oz three times, I’m going to say yes! Join us at 8:30 p.m. ET.


Thom: Hey, Mandi, I’m settling in for a loooong night of Oscar glamour and awkward “What, I didn’t win?” reaction shots. And who are you wearing this fine Oscar evening?

Mandi: I’m wearing Pajamas That Don’t Even Match. And you?

Thom: I’m wearing a vintage Snuggie from Valentino. Can’t wait to see what Hugh Jackman is wearing.

Mandi: I hope it’s that muscle shirt he was wearing in that rehearsal footage that popped up on YouTube. LIGHTS!!!

Thom: Camera! Action! It’s started.

Thom: Catcalls from Diane Lane. So cute.


Mandi: Catcalls from a girl sitting on her couch in Pajamas That Don’t Even Match, not cute.

Thom: You’re adorable. But Hugh’s self-deprecating Australia joke didn’t exactly kill.

Thom: Boy, they really didn’t spend money on sets or props, did they?

Mandi: The Craigslist dancers save the show!

Thom: Is this the Tony Awards?

Mandi: I like the idea, but the lyrics aren’t clever. Oh wait, I just heard “pubic hair.”

Thom: At least Brad likes it.

Thom: This may be Anne’s best performance this year.

Thom: Wow, after that note, that really was Anne’s best performance of the year.


Mandi: I knew she could sing from Ella Enchanted.

Mandi: Why can’t Hugh rip off his tux and be wearing white Spandex?

Thom: Is he cracking up at these lyrics? I’m glad someone finds them funny.

Mandi: Standing ovation? Actors take care of their own. He sounded great at least.

Thom: Ah, a Wolverine plug. But somehow I don’t think any of theX-Men fanboys are still watching. They must have decided this was theTonys and flipped the channel.

Thom: The 20-minute delay joke was cute.


Mandi: I am loving the intimate setting.

Thom: Look it’s Brangelina!

Thom: Are Meryl and her daughter wearing matching outfits?

Mandi: The lighting is good, too, tonight.

Thom: They can’t open the curtain!

Thom: I don’t think “Steve” is going to be back next year.

Thom: Hope that Christian Bale isn’t backstage to yell at poor “Steve.”

Mandi: We are contractually bound to mention Christian Bale five times during our blog.


Thom: I can’t believe you would freakin’ say that, Mandi.

Thom: Another standing O. So much for a shorter ceremony.

Mandi: Favorite moment of the night so far: Emile Hirsch’s “Oh, we’re standing?” look for the past supporting actress winners presenting this year’s award.

Thom: Why were they flashing the Kung Fu Panda under Viola Davis?

Thom: Is a silver snake trying to strangle Anjelica Huston?

Thom: Whoopi’s nun joke was apt.


Mandi: Goldie Hawn as Worst Dressed?

Thom: I didn’t realize she was wearing clothes. Is she?

Thom: Penelope wins, but the reaction shots are too small on the screen to see. (At least on my screen.)

Thom: Awww. Penelope seems so sweet. Odd that she would thank Almodovar before she thanks Woody Allen. You know, the guy who directed the movie that just earned her an Oscar.

Thom: Was that an Oscar heckler?


Mandi: This IS going to be a long speech.

Thom: Just don’t repeat the whole thing in Spanish, por favor.

Thom: Spoke too soon.

Thom: Did she even mention Woody?

Mandi: Maybe in Spanish. He’s huge in Spain?

Mandi: Okay, Thom. Early verdict on that style of presenting? Clearly, the nominees were touched. I suppose it beats the usual patter.

Mandi: Do you think we’ll see former cinematography and sound editing winners? Or, is that where we’ll get the folks like Seth Rogen? Quick commercial break!


Thom: Woody, btw, has a fanstastic track record for getting women supporting actress Oscars. Mira Sorvino, etc.

Thom: Now, we’re getting that “narrative” that the producers talked about.

Thom: It’s Steve Martin.

Thom: Oh, and Tina Fey! Hey, that’s cool.

Thom: These two should host next year.


Mandi: She looks stunning. Why couldn’t they write the opening musical number? Martin has a banjo album out now.

Mandi: Sean Penn laughs!

Thom: Who knew?

Thom: The Milk screenwriter walks up. Sean is still smiling.

Thom: Spoke too soon. Now it looks like he’s crying. Or just squinting.

Thom: And the first political speech of the night.


Mandi: Screenwriter Dustin Lance Black told EW he really wanted Zac Efron to be presenting the award so he’d have an excuse to hug him if he won. Here’s hoping he gets to meet Zac at an afterparty.

Thom: If Vanessa lets him.

Thom: Expect a Slumdog win, the first of the night…

Thom: And I’m right! Let’s see what political soapbox he’ll leap upon.


Mandi: You called it, Thom! No politics, and a relatively short speech.

Thom: Jennifer Aniston continues the off-white dress trend.

Mandi: Is it just me, or does her dress look a little cheap compared to others we’ve seen tonight?

Thom: DreamWorks/Pixar joke — very inside baseball.

Thom: Maybe John Mayer got the rest of the sequins.

Thom: Huh? We’ve got a random clip reel of animated films, most of which are not actually nominees.


Mandi: Why are we having montages when we need to keep this telecast to three hours?

Thom: Three hours, 15 minutes.

Mandi: Best Animated Feature goes to WALL-E. And Aniston did the voice!

Thom: No surprise here. Love me some Wall-E.

Thom: Is Andrew Stanton wearing a velvet jacket?


Mandi: Me, too. Totally cried. Cried at Bolt, too. Did not see Kung Fu Panda.

Thom: You would have been bawling.

Thom: Finally we get the explanation for the Hello, Dolly clips in Wall-E.

Mandi: His high school drama teacher deserves a cut.

Thom: Did Bruce Vilanch write that lame banter?

Mandi: Brad and Angelina laughing at Jennifer having to talk about animated pandas instead of saving the world and its children.


Thom: I think La Maison is going to win here…

Thom: It’s actually Japanese-made, with a French title, but has no words whatsover.

Thom: BTW, you can see all these shorts on iTunes.

Mandi: We haven’t seen Hugh Jackman in a while.

Mandi: When does your schedule say he’ll return, Thom?


Mandi: HUGH!

Hugh: It’s Bond!

Thom: Is SJP wearing some sci-fi apparatus on her chest? And what’s with that twittery piano in the background? Very distracting…

Mandi: Did she almost trip on her dress? For the record, I’m loving it. It takes a lot for me NOT to look at Daniel Craig.

Mandi: Art Direction goes to The Curious Case of Benjamin Button.


Thom: So Benjamin Button won’t be completely shut out.

Thom: Costumes up next, then makeup.


Thom: The Duchess is the front-runner here. The Academy loves period films in this category.

Mandi: And it wins. Thom, you are on fire. You do predictions for EW. How are you doing so far?

Thom: I believe Dave Karger and I are doing well so far.

Thom: Gabby Tanner has a fan in the audience.

Thom: Is it makeup or CGI? Ben Button is the front-runner, but the CGI question could hurt it.

Thom: Is she just wearing a giant bow?

Thom: Like the kind you put on cars in TV ads?

Mandi: ROBERT PATTINSON! He said he screwed up badly in rehearsal. He looks uncomfortable, but hot!

Thom: Another random montage!

Thom: Do you think they were contractually obligated to include a clip from Australia?


Mandi: Romance montage: This is so they can show clips of films people have actually seen. Like What Happens in Vegas. (Which was funny. At least when you weren’t expecting it to be.)

Thom: Yeah, but no one actually saw Nick & Norah’s Infinite Playlist.

Thom: I wish they had, but they just didn’t.


Mandi: Um, I did. Twice.

Thom: Do you think Wall-E will be in every clip montage?

Mandi: A new short film from Judd Apatow. That should liven things up!

Thom: Do you think it’ll have that little girl who was in the clip with Will Ferrell?

Mandi: I love Ben Stiller’s Joaquin Phoenix impersonation.


Thom: Ben Stiller was genius as Joaquin Phoenix. Too bad he didn’t rap.

Thom: And another award for Slumdog. It looks like there may be a sweep in the works.

Thom: What is that thingamajig on the front of Jessica’s dress?


Mandi: Frightening?

Thom: According to the schedule that was leaked online earlier, we’re actually only a few minutes behind. Live action shorts will be coming up next.

Mandi: According to my internal clock, I was done caring what Jessica Biel had to say 30 seconds ago.

Thom: At least she kept it brief.

Thom: Is it just me, or does she look a little like Evangeline Lily from Lost?

Mandi: It’s just you, Thom.

Mandi: The Soloist hasn’t come out yet? I thought it came and went.


Thom: It’s an ad for The Soloist — gosh, does that film look, uh, so postponed from 2008 to spring because it didn’t stand a chance during awards season.

Thom: Jinx!

Mandi: “Watch young boys have sex with Nazis.” First time I’ve perked up since “pubic hair.”

Thom: This must be the Apatow clip. Love Guru, Step Brothers. Bet those producers never guessed they’d make it to an Oscar clip reel.


Mandi: James Franco watching James Franco = awesome.

Thom: A Kaminski cameo! Genius.


Mandi: They should’ve had the Apatow gang do all the montages.

Thom: I so want to see a buddy movie with these three guys.

Thom: There’s a Holocaust film among the shorts — Toyland. Look for a winner there.

Mandi: You know, it’s true that cinematographers never get any respect on the Oscars. Remember that year when someone (Paul Newman, I think?) forgot to read all the nominees and just kept going?

Thom: I guess James Franco isn’t studying German in grad school at Columbia.

Thom: My schedule says that we’re not supposed to get Best Supporting Actor till after 7 (EST). So that must be one long “live performance.”


Mandi: During the pre-show on E!, Mamma Mia!‘s Dominic Cooper said he won’t ever be able to win an Oscar after his part in the production number. (Kinda like Rob Lowe.)

Mandi: Needless to say, I’m stoked to see it.

Thom: Is this where the High School Musical gang gets trotted out?

Mandi: Beyoncé!


Thom: But what is she wearing?

Mandi: This tribute to the musical isn’t working. Even though they’re trying to sell me sex now.


Thom: Is that Amanda Seyfried?

Mandi: And Vanessa and Zac!

Thom: Let’s all join in, each in our own key!

Mandi: Ha. Dominic was so right! This is straight out of Disney World.

Thom: It kinda makes you miss Debbie Allen, doesn’t it?

Thom: It’s like watching Junior High School Musical.


Mandi: Zac said in the pre-show it was thrown together quickly. It shows. Bless them for trying. That is a pity standing ovation.

Thom: Ah, so Baz Luhrmann is responsible. That explains a lot. I think he was trying to do a musical montage like “The Elephant Love Song” from Moulin Rouge, but this so didn’t work.

Thom: I love Betty White, but she looks to be about the best thing in The Proposal.


Mandi: Did he use any of “Come What May” from Moulin Rouge in that montage? He should’ve of. I’m always surprised by how many people love that song. (I thought I was the only one.)

Thom: Sina, I so agree that Patti will be after Beyoncé now (along with Etta James).

Thom: Get your Kleenex ready. Supporting Actor is next.


Mandi: I’m still trying to figure out why that number failed. They should’ve broken it down into scenes, with costume changes.

Mandi: Bet you never thought you’d see Cuba Gooding Jr. back at the Oscars!


Thom: Guess Mr. Arkin missed the rehearsal. Seymour Philip Hoffman?

Thom: Perhaps that’s just punishment for the hat. (Is it really cold in the theater?)

Thom: Cuba Gooding Jr. should not riff. Really.

Mandi: But now we know why they called him. To talk about Robert Downey Jr. in Tropic Thunder.


Thom: Walken really knows about having no filter between what he thinks and what he says. (Or was that just Stiller again, playing Walken?)

Thom: Mandi, is the suspense killing you?

Mandi: We all knew it would be Heath Ledger, and I’m fine with that. His family is accepting.

Mandi: Was that Sophia Loren?

Thom: The sister looks pretty hot.

Thom: Yes, Sophia’s in the house.

Thom: I really like the sister’s dress. And another cream frock — very trendy.


Mandi: I liked that she spoke to Heath.

Thom: That was touching without being over the top. Restrained and classy

Mandi: Exactly. I feel like they should’ve cut to commercial after that. I guarantee we’re not the only ones still talking about it, instead of focusing on this montage of documentarians.


Thom: Good point, Mandi.

Mandi: Is Bill Maher’s suit pleather?

Thom: The Mayleses get applause. That’s nice.

Thom: You just knew that he was going to plug his own film.

Thom: A second plug for his movie. Ugh!

Mandi: I’m going out on a limb and saying Man on Wire will win. I’m right!

Thom: Right you are, Mandi! This was a great bunch of docs, by the way. That guy who sprinted up was the actual wire-walker from the film.


Mandi: This new format gives documentarians great seats!

Thom: A shout-out to Werner Herzog, a magic trick, and a balancing act!

Thom: It’s America’s Got Talent — French Emigre Edition.


Mandi: Documentary Short Film goes to Smile Pinki.

Thom: Smile Pinki is about curing kids with cleft palates in India. (Yes, the India theme invades the doc category too.) I feel a Slumdog sweep.

Mandi: I was not expecting that cut-out back on her dress. Very nice.


Thom: Next up, we should get another cheesey set for the “post-production” categories: visual effects, sound editing, sound mixing, and editing.

Mandi: I enjoy a good foley artist demonstration. Just sayin’.

Thom: Well, just wait. First, a JC Penney commercial. With really bad floral dresses.

Mandi: And a Dancing With the Stars ad.

Thom: Is that Tom Cruise in an ad for Jimmy Kimmel? That’s pretty cool.

Mandi: Cool. But still not gonna get me to watch Kimmel.

Thom: Yes, Mandi, I know your heart belongs to Jimmy Fallon.

Thom: Another montage of films that the Academy tends to show no love.

Thom: Unless that was just a long car commercial?

Mandi: Will Smith loves action movies.


Mandi: Visual Effects goes to The Curious Case of Benjamin Button.

Thom: No surprise there. Though it was good to hear that Hives song. (Thanks for pointing that out, Sarah!)

Mandi: Brad Pitt is so the Jack Nicholson of this year’s Oscars. I miss Jack.

Thom: But at least Nicholson cracked a facial expression or two — even behind the shades.

Mandi: The Dark Knight wins for Sound Editing.

Thom: Look for The Dark Knight to pick up the next sound award too. This award tends to go in pairs…


Mandi: The superhero team of sound mixing is from Slumdog Millionaire.

Thom: I guess I was wrong.

Mandi: I love this guy who is hyperventilating.

Thom: In fairness, they look pretty surprised too.

Thom: John Mayer looked very plastic, didn’t he?

Mandi: Danny Boyle’s smile is so genuine. Cut to John Mayer and Jennifer Aniston because we need star power, stat.

Thom: Another Slumdog win on the way…Then hellooooo, Jerry Lewis!


Thom: It takes Film Editing. FYI: Dev Patel and Freida Pinto are not dating. That info courtesy of Seacrest, who harassed them during the pre-show.


Thom: Eddie Murphy presenting to Jerry Lewis. Is this the only time he’ll get to hold an actual Oscar?


Mandi: Finally, a standing ovation that’s deserved.

Thom: Was that token applause from Downey?

Thom: Quick, get us some young people on screen. Stat. Anthony Hopkins is not young! What are they doing?

Thom: To all you debating the worthiness of Heath’s award, a fun fact: Heath is the second actor to win a competitive Oscar posthumously. And the previous person, Peter Finch for Network, had also gotten a previous Oscar nomination for playing a gay man (in Sunday Bloody Sunday).

Thom: Up next, the music categories, then foreign language film. They’re supposedly saving the acting categories for the very end.


Mandi: I may not make it.

Thom: You’re not the only one. Do you think any of those ladies have eaten anything since, I don’t know, Wednesday?

Mandi: I think the only thing that will save this show now is Hugh making a joke about how slow it feels, and taking off his shirt to give it a jolt. Who’s with me?

Thom: I’d take off my own shirt, but this Snuggie is so comfortable.

Thom: Bill Conti got the boot this year for the Oscar orchestra. BTW, the new guy, Michael Giacchino, got his Oscar nomination last year for Ratatouille.


Mandi: Okay, for this, they should’ve had a Name That Tune kind of segment. You bring out actors from the nominated films and see who IDs each song first.

Thom: Zac and Alicia Keys? Did he dump Vanessa backstage?

Mandi: Zac Efron gets a second appearance on the Oscars telecast. Wow.

Mandi: Original Score goes to Slumdog Millionaire.


Thom: And the Slumdog sweep continues.

Thom: For those of you counting at home, that’s five awards so far.


Mandi: Is that the guy who just won?

Thom: Yep, that’s him. But where’s M.I.A.? This is her song and if she turned up at the Grammys when she’s nine months pregnant — her due date, no less — you think she’d be here.

Thom: I mean, how many times is she likely to get an Oscar nomination?

Mandi: Oh, you’re gonna get smacked down in the comments, Thom.


Thom: Mandi, you really have to teach me the “Jao Ho” dance moves.

Mandi: Very sweet moment on the red carpet when John Legend met Dev and Freida. You weren’t sure who was more excited.

Thom: Oh, it’s a mashup. That was actually kinda cool.

Mandi: “Jao Ho” wins. Dance lessons tomorrow at noon, Thom. Your office.

Thom: I can’t wait.


Mandi: How much money did JCPenney spend on advertising during the Oscars?

Thom: A whole lot less than they would have a month ago. ABC has been discounting the ads after a bunch of advertisers (GM, Clairol) pulled out.

Thom: Do you think Etta James will go ballistic on the Hoover ad?

Thom: So assuming that Slumdog takes Picture and Director (and that’s pretty likely now), it will take home eight Oscars, from 10 nominations.


Mandi: Irish is a foreign language?

Mandi: Liam Neeson presents Best Foreign Language to Japan’s Departures. Thom, fun fact?

Thom: Here’s the first upset of the night: Departures beats The Class and Waltz With Bashir.

Thom: I’m really shocked. This film is sentimental gunk, with over-the-top acting (particularly from that young guy standing behind the director).

Mandi: [Where I’d say something biting in agreement had I seen that film.]

Thom: No worries, Mandi. It hasn’t even gotten its U.S. release yet.


Mandi: Queen Latifah looks amazing, sounds okay singing “I’ll Be Seeing You” over the farewell footage.

Thom: But you can’t read the names of the people. Sloppy execution. How great to see Paul Newman again.

Mandi: He won the applause-o-meter. Naturally.

Thom: Yes, but the rest of the In Memoriam looked like it was a security camera scanning a Circuit City.

Thom: Four more awards, and it looks like they might be able to finish close to their three hour, 15 minute goal. 11:45 EST, here we come!


Thom: And for those of you looking for Heath, he died last January and therefore was included in last year’s In Memoriam reel.

Thom: Reese’s dress is very matronly — and what’s going on with those oddly disproportionate straps?


Mandi: Reese Witherspoon presenting Best Director. I didn’t think she had that kind of clout anymore.

Mandi: The Oscar goes to Danny Boyle for Slumdog Millionaire.

Thom: That’s seven.


Mandi: He told his kids that if he ever won an Oscar, he’d accept it hopping like Tigger from Winnie the Pooh. So sweet.

Thom: Danny Boyle’s top is made out of rubber, and his bottom is made out of springs!

Mandi: Three more awards, Thom?

Thom: Three more. We seem to be zipping along.

Thom: I didn’t realize there were two Best Actress winners who signed their acceptance speech…

Thom: You know, Mandi, I’m really kind of digging this five-way presentation of the Actors.

Thom: Who’s the hot guy with the stubble?

Thom: It’s hard to know where to begin with Sophia Loren. So classy, so gorgeous.


Mandi: I’d start with the sleeves on the dress, and rip them off.

Thom: I really like Nicole’s dress, even if she looks a little like an albino Big Bird.

Mandi: I want to pet the top of Nicole Kidman’s gown. And if you gave me a few drinks and sat me beside her, I would.

Thom: Anne Hathaway seemed geuninely ecstatic that Kate Winslet won.


Mandi: I’ll admit I was hoping for a Meryl Streep speech.

Thom: The Brits are going to rip into her for this one. She seems very American in this acceptance speech.

Thom: Even her dad is trying to hide beneath that big black hat. The Brits are supposed to be more self-deprecating. Me, I like it. But the Brits hated her gushy Golden Globes speech.

Thom: I just noticed — I guess her “best friend” Leo was a no show.


Mandi: I have not missed him.

Thom: Now the suspense is on: Penn or Rourke?

Mandi: Robert De Niro has the line of the night, asking how Sean Penn did it for all those years — getting all those roles as a straight man.


Thom: Did Robin Wright Penn just grab her husband’s crotch?

Thom: Richard Jenkins looks like an undertaker — wait, he played an undertaker, the Fisher family dad in Six Feet Under.

Mandi: I missed it! A swaying Anthony Hopkins is giving the cameraman a work out.

Mandi: Robert Pattinson sitting behind Mickey Rourke so the shot doesn’t scare the children.

Thom: Uh-oh. Is Robert Pattinson going to nibble on Mickey’s neck? Or just bore him to death?

Thom: And that’s Tina Fey over his other shoulder.

Thom: And Sean Penn is the winner.

Mandi: I knew they wouldn’t waste De Niro.


Thom: Do you think Mickey is going to go Bobby Knight-crazy now?

Thom: Great acceptance speech line of the night (or decade): “I do know how hard I make it to appreciate me.”

Thom: Is Penn the only winner tonight to use written notes?

Thom: But who had the worst male hair of the night: Mickey Rourke or Adrien Brody?

Thom: Wow, Penn was funny, political, and gracious. And didn’t run too long. That’s impressive.


Mandi: It was a great speech. And, Adrien Brody, to answer your earlier question. It has to be for a role, right? Spielberg presenting Best Picture.

Thom: This Best Picture montage is a little confusing.

Thom: Okay, this montage is starting to grow on me.


Mandi: The best of the night (besides the comedy one). It’s all relevant.


Thom: And the Oscar goes to Slumdog. Of course.

Thom: Cue up the “Jai Ho” again.

Mandi: A lot of people upfront took a long time to get to their feet. Jaded?

Thom: This is the first time that the whole cast has gone up on stage. Usually, it’s just the winners — the producers, in this case.

Mandi: They should. Like the comedy and drama show winners do at the Emmys.


Thom: The little boy looks so happy.

Thom: Isn’t that the little boy that Ryan Seacrest tried to get to talk during the pre-show, only he didn’t speak English?

Thom: It’s Hugh Jackman again. I wondered where he went.

Mandi: Another classic Seacrest moment. And he asked the other kid to translate. And that kid was like, “There’s nothing to translate. He didn’t say anything.”

Thom: Hey, Mandi, it’s another montage/promo.

Thom: A bunch of visual-only clips of upcoming films. I wonder if the studios had to pay to include their films…

Mandi: Oh, I think you answered my question why?: Money!

Thom: And it’s one last chance to show films that people might actually pay money to see. You know, the ones with stars.


Mandi: Or, maybe because they couldn’t bear to show highlight footage from Hugh’s production numbers. So disappointing, don’t you think.

Thom: Mandi, you’re just upset that Hugh never took off his shirt. Get over it.

Thom: The show clocked in at three and a half hours exactly. Is that what you guessed in the office poo?

Mandi: I have depth, Thom.

Thom: Well, isn’t it time we changed into our after-show outfits?


Mandi: I did not enter the office pool, but I suspect that the running-time tiebreaker will be used in many an office since this year’s awards went mostly as expected, yes?

Thom: Yes, pretty much as expected. I liked a lot of the innovations and even the slower sections of the show seemed to move along at a pretty good clip. But I think it’s time to call it a night. Night, Mandi.

Mandi: Night, Thom. PopWatchers, keep the comments coming! And keep checking back later tonight and tomorrow for the rest of our Oscars coverage: Best and Worst moments, Best and Worst Dressed, Dave Karger’s reaction to the winners and losers, Ken Tucker’s review of the telecast, and Adam B. Vary’s backstage report.