The 85th Academy Awards ceremony was one of the more compelling shows in recent memory thanks to a pretty even split among the nominees. There weren't any notable shutouts, and, with "Life of Pi" getting the most wins at four, there weren't any sweeps, either.
Scoll below for the live blogging as the drama unfolded.
12:02 a.m. Seth MacFarlane and Kristen Chenoweth take us out with "Here's to the Losers," a musical jolt we could have used earlier. But, hey, it's the Oscars, and this glutton will be back next year. See you at the movies!
11:56 Ben Affleck gives props to Steven Spielberg. And Canada. And wife Jennifer Garner. "Ten years ago, I had no idea what I was doing," Affleck says, thanking all of the folks who have taught him about filmmaking.
11:55 Best picture: "Argo." Michelle Obama reveals!
11:52 Jack Nicholson introduces ... first lady Michelle Obama, who says a few words about the best picture films.
11:48 "I'm so proud to have been included amongst you," Day-Lewis says to the other nominees. And he thanks the "mind, body and spirit" of Abraham Lincoln.
11:47 Best actor: Daniel Day-Lewis, for "Lincoln."
11:46 Meryl Steep, who was last year's best actress ("The Iron Lady"), presents best actor.
11:43 Best actress: Jennifer Lawrence, for "Silver Linings Playbook." Ouch! Down she goes. Sweet, nervous, short speech.
11:40 Jean Dujardin, last year's best actor winner, presenting the winner for best actress.
11:34 Achievement in directing: "Life of Pi," directed by the ever-humble Ang Lee, who thanks the movie gods and Yann Martel, the author. "Namaste."
11:33 Jane Fonda and Michael Douglas. (The orchestra, playing "Nobody Does it Better," is on point.)
11:26: Original screenplay: "Djanjo Unchained," by Quentin Tarantino, who thanks his cast. "This will be the writers' year, man," he says, as the music threatens. "Peace out."
11:24 Adapted screenplay: "Argo," and our first somewhat political speech of the night, with Chris Terrio avocating solving problems nonviolently, "with creativity."
11:22 Charlize Theron, a wee bit taller than Dustin Hoffman, presenting another favorite, the screenplays.
11:18 Since when do Bond films win Oscars? Not since 1965, when "Thunderball" won for visual effects.
11:16 Original song: Adele and Paul Epworth, for "Skyfall."
11:15 Norah Jones, in a dramatically stiff dress, performs "Everybody Needs a Best Friend."
11:10 Queen Latifah, Richard Gere, et al, present original score: "Life of Pi" (Mychael Danna).
11:08 More "Chicago," because, as MacFarlane says, "We're concerned the show isn't gay enough." OK, ha ha, but the supposed 11:30 p.m. end time is looking increasingly foolish. Enough!
10:58 Everyone's favorite: In Memorian. Ernest Borgnine, Jack Klugman, Michael Clarke Duncan. Wow, Beastie Boy Adam Yauch made the cut. Nice. And critic Andrew Sarris. Tony Scott. Hal David. Nora Ephron. Ray Bradbury. Richard D. Zanuck. Marvin Hamlisch. Fittingly, Barbra Streisand is singing "The Way We Were," by Hamlisch.
10:56 Seth MacFarlane is really being underutilized.
10:50 Salma Hayek, despite (in spite of, excuse me) a giant neckpiece, manages to introduce the clips for the previously awarded Governors Awards, including recipient D.A. Pennebaker.
10:48 Daniel Radcliffe and Kristen Stewart, presenting Production Design. Winner: "Lincoln."
10:43 Nicole Kidman, in a sparkly chocolate-brown gown, introduces the remaining three Best Picture noms. More clips, from "Silver Linings Playbook," "Djano Unchained" and "Amour."
10:34 Introduced as "the unstoppable Adele" by Jennifer Lawrence, the "Skyfall" singer launches into the film's minor-chord-drenched theme. The song truly fits within the Bond pantheon, and reminds me of the perfectly edited opening sequence. Adele is solid, somewhat balancing out the lingering tremors from "Chicago."
10:33 Film Editing: "Argo" (William Goldenberg).
10:31 Sandra Bullock, with MacFarlane introducing her by joking he'll be getting drunk soon.
10:23 Let's hope Hathaway remembers everyone in her speech and doesn't reappear and cut other folks off like she did at the Globes.
10:22 Best Supporting Actress: Anne Hathaway, "Les Miserables."
10:19 Christopher Plummer, introduced with a cute gag -- MacFarlane announces him, and he doesn't show, just like the Von Trapps in "Sound of Music."
10:14 Sound Editing: A tie? Yes, Marky Mark has confirmed. Feel it, feel it, feel the vibrations. The winners, then, are: "Zero Dark Thirty" (Paul N.J. Ottosson) and "Skyfall" (Per Hallberg, Karen Baker Landers).
10:13 "Ted" sequel! We can only hope.
10:12 Sound Mixing: "Les Miserables."
10:10 Mark Wahlberg and Ted! Ted isn't wearing shoes!
10:08 Chris Pine and Zoe Saldana, whipping through some of the tech awards that were already presented.
10:01 Hugh Jackman sings "Suddenly." And suddenly, I'm wondering when the scenery chewing will end.
10:00 Why bring John Travolta out and not have him bring Olivia Newton-John up for some "Grease" action? We are wasting time, here, Oscars. On with the show.
9:57 On to "Dreamgirls," with Jennifer Hudson. The Academy always tweaks a muscle stretching to incorporate movie music.
9:55 Why are they making us relive "Chicago"? If I weren't working: Food break.
9:52 John Travolta. Somewhere, Joan Rivers is rolling her eyes. I don't know why she hates him so.
9:50 Presented by Jennifer Garner and Jessica Chastain. Best Foreign Language Film: "Amour," from Austria.
9:49 "This is like church, only with more people praying." MacFarlane's doing a solid job, and the producers aren't sequestering him backstage the entire time like they so often do with hosts.
9:43 Ben Affleck, presenting Documentary Feature. Winner: "Searching for Sugar Man" (Malik Bendjelloul and Simon Chinn). Since when do they play the "Jaws" theme to cut speeches off? Kind of fun, actually. Look at the Academy, gettin' loose!
9:42 Seth MacFarlane really does look like Donny Osmond, as he pointed out during the Oscars nomination ceremony.
9:41 Seth MacFarlane: A John Wilkes-Booth joke! ("He really got in Lincoln's head.") Collective groan.
9:37 Liam Neeson (must read: James Wolcott's latest column in Vanity Fair, about Neeson and Avenging Father films) presents more of the Best Picture noms, "Argo," "Lincoln," "Zero Dark Thirty."
9:35 Documentary Short Subject: "Inocente," directed by Sean Fine and Andrea Nix Fine. They bring up the subject of their film, homeless teen and artist Inocente.
9:32 Jamie Foxx and Kerry Washington, from "Djanjo Unchained," announce the Live Action Short. The winner: "Curfew," directed by Shawn Christensen. He thanks the Academy for recognizing short films.
9:24 Fifty Years of 007, with Halle Berry introducing. Great films, but a pretty lame clip-show tribute. But: Dame Shirley Bassey saves the day singing her mid-60s hit "Goldfinger." That voice is as wonderfully masculine as ever. (And, she's wearing a gold dress. Natch.) She's 76 and rocking it.
9:21 Don Johnson! He snagged a good seat.
9:20 Makeup and Hairstyling: Lisa Westcott and Julie Dartnell for "Les Miserables."
9:18 Achievement in Costume Design: Jacqueline Durran for "Anna Karenina." A short, sweet speech.
9:16 Jennifer Aniston and Channing Tatum, who walk out to Muzak Foreigner "(Feels Like the First Time").
9:09 Achievement in Visual Effects: "Life of Pi" (Bill Westenhofer, Guillaume Rocheron, Erik-Jan De Boer, Donald R. Elliott). The team's cut off during their acceptance, but the worker bees always are.
9:07 Cinematography: "Life of Pi," Claudio Miranda cinematographer. He looks like a wizard, which he is.
9:06 The guys from "The Avengers." Notably not up for Best Picture, but it's nice to have Samuel L. Jackson on stage, and in a velvet blazer I covet.
9:04 Reese Witherspoon (in blue dress with black trim, classic), introducing clips from Best Picture noms, "Life of Pi," "Les Miserables," "Beasts of the Southern Wild."
9:00 Animated feature winner: "Brave." Sweet kilt (on the co-director, Mark Andrews)!
8:58 Animated Short winner: "Paperman." A cute, short speech from director John Kahrs.
8:55 Paul Rudd and Melissa McCarthy on stage. And her hair is all is can focus on. Girl like her hairspray. Plus, where's Mike (Billy Gardell)? Love that show.
8:50 Actor in a Supporting role, announced by Octavia Spencer. And the winner is: Christoph Waltz, for "Django Unchained."
8:46 And a fourth musical number -- making fun of how bland the Oscars tend to be? Or just a bland number? Let's meditate on this.
8:44 William Shatner is still here, like the Ghost of Oscars Future. He can stay all night.
8:42 Daniel Radcliffe and Joseph Gordon-Levitt. Another musical number. (Auditions for "Dancing with the Stars"?)
8:40 Channing Tatum and Charlize Theron, and a second musical number. MacFarlane has such a velvety voice. And he's Ted. That's a lot of talent right there.
8:38 Is a musical number called "We Saw Your Boobs," when cloaked in fantasy, OK by viewers? It's working for me. I mean, an entire choir's singing it, it must be acceptable.
8:36 William Shatner: "Your jokes are tasteless and inappropriate. ... Why couldn't they just get Tina and Amy to host?"
8:35 The Shatner!
8:33 MacFarlane's going through the nominees. A shout-out to Daniel Day-Lewis. "Daniel your process fascinates me ... If you saw a cell phone, would you have to be, 'Oh my God, what's that?! ... How deep does your method go?" He's actually funny, and nary a poop joke.
8:31 Seth MacFarlane looks like a teen, but some good laughs so far. "The quest to get Tommy Lee Jones to laugh starts now."
8:30 Starting on time does not mean ending on time.
8:28 p.m. We have gotten through the marathon red carpet -- three hours! -- and the show is about to begin.