Culture Film Oscars 2012 [h=1] [/h] [h=1]Oscars 2012: live coverage of the Academy Awards ceremony[/h] Didn't get an invite to this year's Oscars? Neither did Xan Brooks, but you can watch the 84th Academy Awards along with him here. The action began at 11.15pm GMT with the red carpet; we move indoors at 1.30am Share 42 reddit this Comments (75) Xan Brooks guardian.co.uk, Monday 27 February 2012 02.31 GMT Article history This page will update automatically every minute: On | Off Oscars 2012 host Billy Crystal sings at the start of the 84th Academy Awards. Robyn Beck/AFP/Getty Images 2.31am: We're back on track, ploughing on down the schedule and ticking off the editing Oscar. This goes to the duo behind The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo who also won last year for The Social Network. "We weren't expecting this," they say. "This is unbelievable." They stare at each other, unsure what to say. "Let's get the hell out of here," they say. Moments later the sound editing Oscar is delivered to Hugo and then the sound mixing prize is sent off in the exact same direction. This brings Hugo's tally up to four. Scorsese's film is dominating the technical categories and comfortably leads the field. But again, I pity the poor losing nominees in these three categories. In this case, Oscar tradition dictates that this particular band of losers must now ride children's tricycles around the parking lot out back of the Hollywood and Highland theatre. This, initially, may not sound so bad, except that the nominees must ride in the cold, in the dark, with nobody watching as they pedal round and round in circles. Only at dawn are they permitted to return the tricycles and return to their hotels. 2.23am: The Academy Awards takes a brief detour with a spry black-and-white short, allegedly showing the results of a test preview of The Wizard of Oz. The sample audience like the "flying monkeys", mistake the Munchkins for little kids and demand the affable Kansas farm-folk be given a bigger role. Playing the producer, Bob Balaban looks suitably harassed. 2.15am: Christian Bale (still struggling to rein in his pesky, wandering accent) steps up to call the winner of this year's race for the best supporting actress Oscar. Here come the nominees. There's Octavia Spencer, who baked a cake in The Help, and Jessica Chastain as the frazzled southern belle who took her in. Melissa McCarthy soiled her dress in Bridesmaids, and Janet McTeer played a horny-handed house painter in Albert Nobbs. Finally, there's Berenice Bejo, who co-starred as perky Peppy Miller in The Artist, a 1920s "It Girl" to rival Clara Bow. And the Oscar goes to ... Octavia Spencer, who sparks a jubilant standing ovation as he takes to the stage. She's whooping, she's weeping; she can barely get the words out. She wants to thank her family in Alabama, the state of Alabama, and a whole heap of others. "OK," she yells, "I'm wrapping up! I'm freaking out!". And with that she totters from the stage, treading on her train and clutching her Oscar. Congratulations to Spencer. Just don't ever let her bake you a cake. 2.10am: Time now for the best foreign language film Oscar, which is a battle between Bullhead (from Belgium), Footnote (Israel), In Darkness (Poland) Monsieur Lazhar (Canada) and A Separation (Iran). And the Oscar goes to .... A Separation, Asgar Farhadi's electrifying portrait of a floundering marriage in modern-day Tehran. Farhadi's speech is gracious and pointed, paying tribute to the people of Iran who respect other cultures and reject the language of violence. He is also, it should be said, a most deserved Oscar winner. Outside the one-time Kodak theatre, meantime, the parties are already under way. Assuming you can't get into the Vanity Fair bash, do feel free to drop in to the Guardian's very own US Twitter party. Even if you can, we reckon the Twitter thing is probably better. Better conversation and less chance of getting stomped to death by Harvey Weinstein as you stand at the urinal. Oscars 2012: Jennifer Lopez and Cameron Diaz Photograph: Gary Hershorn/REUTERS 2.00am: "Please welcome a recurring dream of mine," quips Billy Crystal, all but tipping a lascivious wink to the camera. "Cameron Diaz and Jennifer Lopez." But it's bad news for Crystal. Diaz and Lopez are not here to make his nocturnal fantasies a rich (and possibly naked) reality. They have merely come to present the Oscar for best costume to Mark Bridges for The Artist. It is Bridges' first Oscar and he duly introduces himself as "a kid from Niagara Falls who dreamed, ate and slept movies". This, on the face of it, sounds a more wholesome dream than Crystal's, although I suppose it depends on the movies. Moving on, the Oscar for best make-up is painted and plastered onto Mark Coulier and J Roy Helland for The Iron Lady. They offer thanks to Meryl Streep, the film's star, who "makes our work look good, no matter what." So that's that. But do spare a thought for the losing nominees. In a long-standing Oscar tradition, they are now ushered through to the kitchens where they must count grains of rice ahead of the after-show dinner. Every diner must have the exact same number of grains in their bowl or there is hell to pay and the dinner is now just a few hours away. So they had better get cracking. Oscars 2012: Robert Richardson Photograph: Gary Hershorn/REUTERS 1.47am: The first award of the night is for cinematography and it goes to Robert Richardson for his work on Martin Scorsese's Hugo. I confess that I was hoping that this would go to The Tree of Life (surely the only award it stood a snowball's chance of winning). But it is sadly not to be. Second later Hugo picks up its second award of the night, for art direction. Scorsese's 3D spectacular has now converted the first two of its 11 Oscar nominations. Oscars 2012: Morgan Freeman introduces the opening segment at the 84th Academy Awards in Hollywood. Photograph: Gary Hershorn/REUTERS 1.44am: "We're here at the beautiful Chapter 11 theatre." announces Billy Crystal, a master of old-style razzle-dazzle who proceeds to regale the audience with a slick blend of jolly singing and tart one-liners; a reliable comedic routine that was honed on the borscht-belt circuit and plays very nicely to the gallery in Hollywood. Oscars 2012: Dante Ferretti and Francesca Lo Schiavo Photograph: Mark J. Terrill/AP The movies have always been there for us. So tonight, enjoy yourself. Because nothing can take the sting out of our economic worries more than millionaires presenting themselves with little gold statues. Crystal knows what he's doing and the audience, at least so far, loves him for it. In a quick three-minute spell he manages to expunge the memory of Hathaway and Franco, who died here just 12-months ago. 1.37am: Onto the stage steps Morgan Freeman, instantly bringing a little gravitas to the carnival. The 84th annual Academy Awards, he says, are here "to celebrate the present and look back to its glorious past." This, it transpires, is the host's cue to do both, at the same time, via the medium of the traditional Oscar montage. Get a load of Billy Crystal! He's gatecrashing all the Oscar-nominated movies, making like a silent-screen hero, being kissed by George Clooney on his hospital bed and munching merrily on Minnie's chocolate cake. One second, he's a mo-cap Tintin, the next he's chasing, poignantly after a roll of film that un-spools out of a top floor window. "Ladies and gentlemen," says the voice in the sky (I'm assuming it's not the crow). "It's Billy Crystal." As if we didn't know that already. 1.28am: Finally, finally, we are about to begin. Run for the doors and fight for your seats, the 84th annual Academy Awards are about to begin. Live, live, live from the Hollywood and Highland Centre (formerly the Kodak theatre). Stick with us and don't, for the love of God, listen to anything that Nick Nolte's crow tries to tell you. It means harm, it brings evil, and it must not be allowed to rain on this parade. 1.18am: And still the red carpet circus shows no sign of finding its way into the big top. It is now Penelope Cruz's turn to be grilled in the sun. "Penelope, Penelope, you never disappoint," soothes the compere, thereby proving that he has never sat through Captain Corelli's Mandolin. Oscars 2012: Penelope Cruz. Photograph: Steve Granitz/WireImage Away across the rug, we are introduced to none other than Ms Gwyneth Paltrow. "Your dresses never disappoint," says the compere, thereby suggesting that yes, she may well have sat through Possession, Duets and Country Strong. What's going on? Hasn't this thing supposed to have begun already. Could it be that they have started handing out the Oscars inside, the ceremony playing out to rows of empty seats as the likes of Brad Pitt and George Clooney still cavort before the cameras? Enough with the carpet! It's high time we went inside. 1.08am: Oh please let there be an Oscar for the formidable Nick Nolte. He's nominated for his fine turn in Warrior but gives what is arguably an even better performance on the carpet, facing off against a jittery TV host, with his shoulders squared and his chin jutting, a monument of Midwestern menace. The host is cooing and flattering and posing her honey-dipped questions while he stands stock still and stares right through her, as though listening to other voices on another frequency. The voices, I suspect, come from demons within. Oscars 2012: Fond of glasses Nick Nolte. Photograph: Matt Sayles/AP Finally he speaks. "If I knew what you said, I could probably answer you," he says. Unnerved, she tries another tack: "Now, I've heard you own a pet crow." "I do what?" says Nolte. And with that he's back hearing voices. Perhaps it is the crow that speaks to him. Perhaps it is telling him to kill her, to kill them all. To torch the Hollywood and Highland and then run for the hills. Pray God, he does not listen to the crow. 1.01am: Reeling from his altercation with the Admiral General Shabazz Aladeen, TV host Ryan Seacrest opted to beat a hasty retreat, skulking for cover with the ashes of Kim Jong-Il on his shirt, up his nose, in his eyes; a hideous indignity to be meted on a man of his stature. Oscars 2012: The ashes are hoovered in front of Jason Segel. Photograph: Chris Pizzello/AP Now, praise be, he has returned. He looks freshly laundered, bright as a button in a new tuxedo that's fresh off the rack. But his eyes are darting and his hands all a-tremble. The confidence of old has evaporated like smoke. Any second now they will ambush him again. They will find him, catch him and drag him down. Next, he fears, they will steal his trousers and daub him, head to foot, in the blood of Gadaffi. Oscars 2012: Michelle Williams Photograph: Kevin Mazur/WireImage No such worries for the wonderful Michelle Williams. She's nominated for her turn as Monroe in My Week With Marilyn and is content to idle outside in a fetching red dress that she helpfully explains comes courtesy of Louis Vuitton. No fears either for Jean Dujardin. He loves being here. He loves "the light, and the American faces," he says. "Mercy Buck-oo," chirrups his TV interrogator. 12.49am: Fashionistas take note: Emma Stone is on the carpet and she is wearing "John Batista Volley", although I may have misheard the name. Wasn't he the former Cuban dictator who played tennis while Havana burned? Oscars 2012: Melissa McCarthy Photograph: Steve Granitz/WireImage Stone is here to support The Help, which cast her as the plucky young journalist who helps out the help. "I cried all the way through that movie," confesses the red-carpet compere and believe me, she wasn't the only one. Talking of tears, the excellent Melissa McCarthy (nominated for Bridesmaids) is already dabbing at her eyes. She's arrived with her mum and the occasion is threatening to get the better of her. Oscars 2012: Max Von Sydow and Christopher Plummer Photograph: Lucy Nicholson/REUTERS Now up comes Christopher Plummer, 82 last birthday, and set fair to become the oldest actor to win an Oscar. Plummer is nominated for his deft turn as a liberated father in Beginners and looks likely to add to his Globe and Bafta later tonight. But for the moment he is content to stand out in the sun, giving his velvet tuxedo an airing before the real business gets under way. 12.39am: The longer they remain on the carpet, the more these nominees risk repeating themselves. Octavia Spencer has just asked to make another "shout-out to my hometown", while somewhere, across the way, George Clooney is regaling another reporter with his tales of driving an insensible Tony Bennett home along Mulholland Drive. Oscars 2012: Octavia Spencer Photograph: Steve Granitz/WireImage Nobody seems to care; they are just glorying in the spectacle. The comperes look as though are about to combust at the sheer perfect wonderfulness of it all. Everyone is beautiful, everyone a winner. If these TV hosts had their way, every nominee would wind up winning an award here tonight. They are conducting their own alternative, Prozac Oscars right out in the sun. Again, this was all so very different back in 1929, when the red-carpet team was made up of hobos and box-car riders whose names had been drawn from a raffle. These days they say "Oh, wow it's Jessica Chastain, you're looking so beautiful, who are you wearing this evening?" Back then they'd say, "Hey buddy, who the heck are you?" and, "Ooh mercy, get a load of Miss Fancy-Pants." They'd say, "Miss High-Britches here thinks she's better than me. Hey Miss High-Britches, you ain't better than me. Aw, come back here, don't be shy. You ain't better than me." The longer this goes on, the more we pine for far-off 1929. 12.26am: A late contender for the title of "Rooney Mara's Most Surreal Moment": Sacha Baron Cohen has just shown up on the carpet, brandishing what he claims are Kim Jong-Il's ashes, which he then proceeds to dump onto Ryan Seacrest. Oscars 2012: Sacha Baron Cohen with an urn of Kim Jong Il's ashes Photograph: Jason Merritt/Getty Images So this, it seems, is the great dictator's final resting place: smeared all over a grinning American TV host as he makes merry with the debauched and decadent millionaire celebrities of the Great Satan. Rest in peace, Kim Jong-Il. 12.15am: It is now standing room only on the red carpet outside the Hollywood and Highland. Up in the bleachers, the public stand and applaud as Octavia Spencer (nominated for The Help) jostles with Harvey Weinstein and offers a "shout-out to Montogomery, Alabama", Janet McTeer runs the gamut of the TV reporters and P. Diddy says "What up? What up?". Nobody, it seems, is able to provide an answer that satisfies. Oscars 2012: Octavia Spencer Photograph: Steve Granitz/WireImage "Oh look, it's Viola Davis," coos the reporter from PA. "Look at the body, it's amazing. Look at the skin." Elsewhere, Rooney Mara is asked for her "most surreal moment". She doesn't know, she can't think. Her eyes are full of unnameable horrors. The evidence suggests that Clooney is bang on the money in tipping The Artist to win big tonight. Assuming it scoops the top prize, it will be the first silent best film winner since Wings emerged victorious way back at the inaugural Academy Awards in 1929. How does one even begin to compare then with now? Back in 1929, the guests arrived in pony-and-traps and "Oscar" was just a humble tin spittoon. The host for the night was Douglas Fairbanks Jr, whose show-stopper was a huge song-and-dance eulogy to all the "favourite housemaids" who used to "polish his bedstead". It was a different and more dodgy America back then, before The Help came along to sort the nation out. 12.00am: Make way, make way for that wily old pro George Clooney, who is nominated for his turn in The Descendants but claims to have come without a speech. Clooney, it transpires, does not think much of his chances. "Go find Jean Dujardin and ask him if he has a speech," he shrugs. "I think it's going to be a very French night. Oscars 2012: George Clooney and Stacy Keibler Photograph: Steve Granitz/WireImage He adds that he likes these red carpet marathons, because it affords him the chance to hook up with his buddies. "And look, there's Tony Bennett over there," he says. "I used to drive Tony Bennett, back when I was 19-years-old." "And was he nice?" bleats the red-carpet compere. "Yeah, he was a lot of fun," says Clooney. "Always drunk in the back seat. Either wetting himself or making out with hookers." Whoops, sorry, the sound levels are playing tricks. Clooney didn't say that at all. Instead he says that Tony Bennett was "unbelievably nice". There was no mention of hookers. 11.52pm: Out on the carpet, the stars are massing. Look, there's Demien Bichir, nominated out of the blue for his role as a migrant worker in A Better Life. And look, here we have demure Rooney Mara, shortlisted for The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo and resplendent in a dress of full-fat cream. "Rooney is always edgy," the red carpet compere informs us. "She always goes there." But goes where, exactly? Right now she is just standing there, motionless, her eyes fixed on the middle distance. Perhaps they have glued her feet to the rug. 11.43pm: High time to recap the main contenders. This year's awards, it strikes me, can either be regarded as a golden festival of nostalgia or a tragic wake, depending on your point of view. Leading the field with 11 nominations is Martin Scorsese's Hugo, a wistful celebration of the early days of cinema, while the firm favourite to sweep the big prizes is The Artist, a loving homage to the wonders of the silent screen. Oscars 2012: Christopher Plummer. Photograph: Steve Granitz/WireImage Academy mainstay Billy Crystal has been summoned out of mothballs to make his 9th appearance as Oscar host, and even the venue comes a distinct whiff of the antique. The Hollywood and Highland Centre has just been renamed. It was formerly known as the "Kodak Theatre" until the company went bust, forced out of the game by the rise of digital. All of which gives a curiously 20th-century vibe to this year's soiree. The dignitaries have come to revel in their history, exalt in their past. The future, at least for tonight, is being kept firmly on the sidelines. 11.25pm: Roll carpet, roll cameras: it's the 84th annual Academy Awards, live and lurid from Hollywood. The Guardian film team will be covering the event throughout the night, weeping with the winners and wailing with the losers as this season's awards circus clatters exhaustedly towards the finish line. This is where it ends, inside the Hollywood and Highland Centre (reputedly the winner of the 2007 "Ugliest Building in LA" award). Inside, the victors shall be encased in gold, the vanquished shown the door and all manner of movies laid tenderly to rest. Oscars 2012: Milla Jovovich. Photograph: Jason Merritt/Getty Images But wait, kick back, and keep the war horses tethered: the actual ceremony does not officially commence until 5pm (Pacific time). Time enough to cast an eye back over some late-breaking Oscar news. Following the storm-in-a-teacup controversy over Sacha Baron Cohen's appearance, it now transpires that the former Borat star is permitted to show up after all (and will be attending in the guise of Admiral General Shabazz Aladeen). For those in the market for a rambling discussion on this year's best picture nominees, feel free to marvel at the sight of Peter Bradshaw, Catherine Shoard and me talking trash in the Guardian office last week. And for those who merely like the thought of food, here's a gallery to fill your bellies. You can also take part in our Twitter interactive, or swan up to our US Twitter party, or make like an Academy voter and cast your votes for the films you want to win. And yes, our suspicion (as ever) is that your choices will be better than theirs. 10.57pm: .