8:35 pm: Tom Cruise presenting the Best Picture Oscar to The Artist. And to all a good night. I don’t get Hazanavicius saying thanks to Billy Wilder three times. Not that Wilder’s example isn’t always worth pointing to. I’m sure there’s an explanation.

8:24 pm: Colin Firth is presenting the Best Actress award with the same tributes and clips. (Rooney Mara looks so much more alluring and intriguing as Lisbeth Salander, studs, punctures and all, than the way she does tonight with those bangs….no offense.) And the Oscar goes to Meryl Streep!! Sasha Stone freaks out! The over-62 crowd says no to Viola Davis. This is the shock-surprise we’ve been waiting for. Wasn’t in the cards, or at least the cards that many (most?) were consulting.

8:15 pm: Each Best Actor nominee is getting a “you went, guy” tribute from Natalie Portman plus a clip. And of course, the Oscar goes to Jean Dujardin. So The Artist will win only five Oscars, right? Best Costume Design, Best Musical Score, Best Director, Best Actor and Best Picture. THR’s Scott Feinberg had predicted seven, no?

8:03 pm: It’s kind of nice to run the death reel so late in the show (i.e. after the Best Director Oscar). It shows a greater degree of respect, I think, than to run it, say, at the halfway mark. The “Wonderful World” accompaniment is very nice also.

7:50 pm: We’re in the final moments, and Michael Douglas is about to hand the Best Director Oscar to Michel Hazanavicius for The Artist. The envelope opens and the Oscar goes to “the happiest director in the world right now…sometimes life is wonderful.”

7:42 pm: Terry George‘s The Shore wins the Oscar for Best Short Film, Live Action. The Oscar for Best Documentary Short goes to Saving Face. (Awards Daily‘s Sasha Stone predicted that the Japanese tsunami & cherry blossom film would win…what happened?) The Oscar for Best Animated Short goes to The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore.

7:32 pm: Reese Witherspoon‘s favorite movie is Overboard, the Goldie Hawn-Kurt Russell comedy? I’m sorry but that’s really lame. And it explains a lot.

7:16 pm: Angelina Jolie presenting the Best Adapted Screenplay Oscar to what I presume will be The Descendants. And it does. Good call. And the Best Original Screenplay Oscar, tipped for Woody Allen‘s Midnight in Paris, goes to Woody Allen.

7:18 pm: Cymbal-smashing Will Ferrell and Zach Galifinakis present the Best Song Oscar to “Man or Muppet.” Retire this category forever…please.

7:13 pm: And the Oscar for Best Motion Picture Score…uh-oh, here comes another Artist win, right? Yep. Kim Novak has just made a gagging sound (or pantomined it) and fallen on the floor.

7:09 pm: Crystal’s “I know what they’re thinking in their seats right now” bit…hmmm, not bad. Much better: “Thank you, Tom [Sherak] and thank you for whipping the crowd into a frenzy. Mr. Excitement.”

6:59 pm: Melissa Leo announces the winner of the Best Supporting Actor Oscar, which of course has been owned by Christopher Plummer for a long, long time. And it’s his now. The oldest actor to win an Oscar…ever. Plummer saying to his fellow nominees that “I’m so proud to be in your company”…nice.

6:55 pm: Emma Stone isn’t funny. Ben Stiller: “Perky gets old fast.” The Best Visual Effects Oscar goes to…let me, guess, Hugo again? No — it should go to Rise of the Planet of the Apes. Throw ’em a bone! Apes! Apes! Naah…Hugo. Its fifth Oscar so far. Hugo is the bone. The bone collector.

6:47 pm: Best Feature Animation Oscar, presented by Chris Rock, will go to Rango, of course. And it does. Director Gore Verbinski comes up on stage and says “this is crazy.” Nope — completely in the cards.

6:42 pm: The sound sounded wrong during Robert Downey, Jr. and Gwyneth Paltrow‘s little routine (which I didn’t get). And Undefeated win the Best Documentary Oscar! Which I felt was probably in the cards. Did they Oscar show producers cut the sound off on the Undefeated guys?

6:40 pm: I despise my internet service provider, which slows down every Oscar night without fail. (You guys really suck!) And I loved that Cirque du Soleil routine…who didn’t? Awesome, brilliant, etc.

6:24 pm: The Best Editing Oscar goes to The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo…great! No issues! Although I wouldn’t have minded a win by the Moneyball guy. And the Best Sound Editing Oscar goes to Hugo, which now has three.

6:20 pm: The Wizard of Oz focus-group bit is pretty good, I must say. “Cut the Rainbow song…the flying monkeys,” etc. Very agreeable.

6:12 pm: Octavia Spencer — no surprise — wins Best Supporting Actress Oscar. I remember that very first press gathering at the Beverly Wilshire with Octavia last July, etc. With no air conditioning.

6:08 pm: A Separation wins Best Foreign Language Feature Oscar — naturally, deservedly. Never a question about this in my head. From that first Telluride screening onward.

5:59 pm: Various movie stars talking about various seminal movie experiences — meaning, metaphor, aspiration — is easily the best thing on the show thus far. “Can I please do that?”

5:55 pm: Best Costume Design Oscar goes to…The Artist. Okay, it had to win something sooner or later. Suck it up, be a man. The Iron Lady wins Best Makeup Oscar! That’s fine…well deserved.

5:46 pm: The Artist stopped twice! Best Cinematography and Best Art Direction goes to Hugo‘s Robert Richardson and Dante Ferreti. The little people are happy and dancing! Two bones have been tossed!

5:41 pm: Billy Crystal‘s CG movie-visitation montage + cornball Milton-Berle-Bob Hope Friar’s Club song-medley is the same routine, basically, that he performed in ’97 or whenever it was when Jerry Maguire was in the running.

5:27 pm: At the very least the ads should be good. In fact, the ads need to be to counterbalance what we all know is likely to happen. Please, God, give us a surprise, an upset, a shocker…anything.