Alan Arkin‘s triumph last night over Eddie Murphy “was one of only two times I actually cheered,” Manhattan movie journalist Lewis Beale confided this morning. “The other was when The Lives of Others won [for Best Foreign Language Film].” Me too. I didn’t exactly cheer when Arkin won — I murmured a quiet little “thank God” to myself, feeling a huge sense of relief — but I whoo-whoo’ed my ass off when Lives director-writer Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck bounded out of his seat. But I also clapped and grinned a lot. It was a great show.

Even though I only got 16 out of 24 correct. I won nothing, and have only myself to blame.

I never seem to pay much attention to the short films and the tech awards, so for guidance in these categories I relied on (a) the consensus picks that came out of Stone‘s final Oscar chart/poll and (b) a list of picks that The Envelope‘s O’Neil ran the other day. I should have spitballed my own calls.

It was a beautiful night all around. A spiritual one, really. The right people won, and the vibe was not only cheerful and alpha but almost zen-like at times.

We all knew An Inconvenient Truth was going to win the Best Feature Documentary Oscar, but hearing the title called out and then seeing Al Gore and the gang standing together and saying the right things felt like a moment of real transcendence — an affirmation of the importance of the film’s message, and a belief — a realization — that it’s catching on nationwide and worldwide. The vibe got even better when Melissa Etherdige‘s “I Need To Wake Up” won the Best Song Oscar.

The ogre David Poland will resent me for bringing this up, but I’ll never forget his writing early on that An Inconvenient Truth was “a movie nobody wants to see.”

I’d be remiss and lying if I didn’t admit to feeling delighted when Eddie Murphy lost. I stuck my neck way out with the stuff I wrote about him and his chances, and we all know I’d be taking a heavy pounding today if he’d won.

Speaking of poundings, all the pro-Eddie Murphy prognosticators need to ask themselves why they stuck by that extremely likable and wonderfully gifted artist despite the writings on the wall.

Of the 13 Gurus of Gold, ten — USA Today‘s Scott Bowles, the Hollywood Reporter‘s Sheigh Crabtree, Gregg Elwood, N.Y. Daily News critic Jack Matthews, MCN’s David Poland, Oscarwatch‘s Sasha Stone, In Contention‘s Kris Tapley, Hollywood Reporter columnist and Riskybiz blog’s Anne Thompson, L.A. Daily News critic Glenn Whipp and USA Today‘s Suzie Woz — were Eddie boosters to the last.

Only three Gurus went for Arkin — Indiewire‘s Eugene Hernandez, Toronto Star critic/blogger Peter Howelll and N.Y. Post critic and blogger Lou Lumenick.

The Envelope Buzzmeter calls were more evenly split, tipping slightly toward Arkin. Five friends of Murphy — Richard Roeper, Peter Travers, Ed Douglas, Gene Seymour, Sam Rubin — compared to seven Arkin allies — Tom O’Neil, Pete Hammond, myself, USA Today‘s Claudia Puig, The Envelope‘s Steve Pond, Reuters’ Art Spiegelman, and Entertainment Tonight‘s Clay Smith.