Inside the 82nd annual Academy Awards

March 7, 2010 10:14:07 PM PST
The Academy Awards is without question Hollywood's biggest night, a time when the world stops to gawk at its celluloid heroes as they arrive wearing their finest clothes and jewels, many of them hoping they'll leave with a little gold statuette on their arm. With the stars gathered inside the posh Kodak Theatre to celebrate the finest films and performances of the past year, here is an inside look at what is going on off camera.

Sentimental favorite Jeff Bridges had his very own cheering section waiting in the wings for him as he walked offstage with the best actor Oscar in hand. Members included Michelle Pfeiffer, Julianne Moore, Tim Robbins, Forest Whitaker and Oprah Winfrey, who applauded and clapped the veteran actor and first-time winner on the back. "You need to keep this," Kate Winslet told him as she handed Bridges the winner's envelope with his name on it.

She had the Oscar in hand but Sandra Bullock still wasn't quite sure she'd really won for best actress. She stopped backstage to carefully examine the winner's envelope. "It does say it," Bullock said, looking at her name.

It was clear Oprah Winfrey was impressed when "The Hurt Locker" upset "Avatar," to win the Oscar for best picture. "Wowee kazowee," the talk-show queen shouted as she stood backstage.

You might have noticed that when Sean Penn was presenting the best actress Oscar he didn't seem to be sticking to his script. That's because he didn't have one. The TelePrompTer screen was blank as the former best actor winner was announcing this year's best actress nominees. When Penn called Sandra Bullock's name as the winner, her husband, Jesse James, stuck his fingers in his mouth and whistled.

The first Oscar nominee to claim her front row seat at the 82nd Academy Awards? Vera Farmiga, who sits alone adjusting her flowing crimson gown as she waits for the show to begin. It's not long, however, before her "Up in the Air" co-star and fellow supporting actress nominee Anna Kendrick shows up and introduces Farmiga to her mother.

Backstage, photographers click away as Cameron Diaz and Steve Carell chat. "Get rid of all the ones where our faces are like this," Diaz tells the shooters as she makes a funny face. When one of the photogs snaps that pose she adds with a smile, "Oh that's terrible. I'll remember your face!"

Robert Downey Jr. arrives for the show with his wife and they head straight for the green room, where Elizabeth Banks and Jeremy Renner are already relaxing, waiting for the show to start. Meryl Streep breezes through the area, a glass of champagne in hand. Javier Bardem stands in the hallway with a soda as Penelope Cruz stops by the makeup station for a quick touchup.

Old Hollywood meets New Hollywood as Lauren Bacall sweeps past "Precious" star Gabourey Sidibe in the hallway.

Applause doesn't decide who receives an Oscar, but if it did, first-time nominees Gabourey Sidibe from "Precious" and Jeremy Renner from "The Hurt Locker" would be taking home little gold men. The pair received the biggest reaction from the crowd inside the Kodak Theatre when the best actor and actresses nominees kicked off the show. Meryl Streep was a close second.

OK, you saw Neil Patrick Harris open the show with a little soft shoe. Not to be outdone, "The Hurt Locker" star Jeremy Renner and his friend and "North Country" co-star Charlize Theron danced in the aisle for a few seconds to Michael Jackson's "Thriller" during a commercial break. Meanwhile, director James Cameron kept his ex-wife and Oscar rival Kathryn Bigelow in good humor, cracking her up with a remark that couldn't be heard.

Bromance in aisle three! Bradley Cooper, Jake Gyllenhaal, Jason Bateman and Gerard Butler held their own awards show just before the real one got started. They laughed and patted each other on the back until a female voice came over the loudspeakers, interrupting the revelry to warn that the first commercial break wouldn't be until 25 minutes into the show. Some of the audience members gasped as they rushed to take their seats.

James Cameron may be "the king of the world" after that "Titanic" sweep of a few years back, but he's not in the front row this year. The "Avatar" king sat four spots behind Sandra Bullock and one row behind his ex-wife, "The Hurt Locker" director Kathryn Bigelow. Were the people with the seating charts prescient? Bigelow won the best director Oscar and her film was named best picture, beating out Cameron and his film "Avatar."

Ever wonder what Oscar winners are looking at when they walk on stage to thank everybody? As Christoph Waltz collected his best supporting actor trophy he saw a huge monitor that counted down from 45 seconds. When the countdown reached 10 seconds, the background changed from black to yellow. When it hit zero, and Waltz was still talking, it flashed to red and the words "Please Wrap Up" came on the screen.

That ominous, 45-second countdown clock didn't deter Jeff Bridges, Sandra Bullock, Kathryn Bigelow or "The Hurt Locker" producers from taking their time when they accepted their Oscars. That's because it wasn't on for the winners of the best actor, actress, director and film awards.

Mauro Fiore forgot to thank his wife when he accepted his Oscar for best cinematography. But he got a second in front of the backstage cam, and this time Sandra Bullock made sure he covered all the bases, coaching, "His wife, his backbone, the love of his life. ... And his children, oh my God the children." Afterward Bullock told him, "She'll forgive you. Just buy her some jewelry."

Mo'Nique was the night's first Oscar winner to receive a resounding standing ovation for her supporting actress role in "Precious." The first on his feet for her? Lenny Kravitz, the singer-actor and one of her "Precious" co-stars.

The Brat Pack is Back: Jon Cryer, Judd Nelson, Ally Sheedy and Anthony Michael Hall are huddled around a backstage monitor, along with Macaulay Culkin, as Robert Downey Jr. and Tina Fey walk offstage with original screenplay Oscar winner Mark Boal. The group had reunited for a tribute to the late John Hughes, who made all of them stars in such 1980s and early '90s youth films as "The Breakfast Club," "Pretty in Pink" and "Home Alone."

"Excuse me, you're in my seat." A pair of seat fillers got so caught up watching Zoe Saldana and Carey Mulligan present the Oscars in the short-film categories that Matt Damon and his wife had to tap them to get their attention.

And the most famous seat-filler award goes to Tina Fey, who kept Matt Damon's spot warm during the cinematography category. "It's not my seat," Fey mouthed to Meryl Streep when the actress saw her sitting there and did a double-take.

Not even the stars can escape the Oscar show's high-priced commercials. Some of them are being played on the monitors inside the Kodak Theatre, but with the sound off.

As the 82nd Academy Awards come to a close, co-host Steve Martin descends into the audience to kiss Meryl Streep and hug George Clooney. As most people rush for the exits, the brother-and-sister acting duo of Maggie and Jake Gyllenhaal linger for a bit before strolling away together.


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