"You're the first," Pitt said.
All night the long, narrow stage wings are flooded with the show's hundreds of crew members, security officers, presenters, singers, dancers and — most notably — winners.
Before heading on stage, co-presenters Hudson and Jason Sudeikis conferred over the pronunciation of the nominees in their two short film categories.
"Eesh, what are the Vegas odds on that one?" Sudeikis said, reading a particularly tricky name.
"We knew you could handle it," stage manager John Esposito said. "We put the best man on the job."
Before heading into the lights, Hudson grasped Sudeikis' arm. "My dress is really long, so please walk slow with me."
At 15 minutes to show time, the mother of all celebrity traffic jams converged around the backstage bathrooms, as Jared Leto tilted his head back to put drops in his eyes, John Travolta and Robert De Niro kibitzed about Travolta's Florida home, and Martin Scorsese drifted past, unnoticed.
When Steve Coogan emerged from the restroom looking bewildered, Kurt Russell shouted, "You're on!"
"You look gorgeous!" Field said to Lawrence.
"No, you look gorgeous!" Lawrence replied.
"All right, you win!" Field said.
A round of applause stopped the conversation as host Ellen DeGeneres made her way to the stage, smiling and letting out a giant exhale.
A vocal and supportive audience watched DeGeneres' opening monologue from the wings, as Jamie Foxx (with a cellphone in each hand), Kerry Washington and Anne Hathaway laughed at her jokes, especially the naughty ones.
"That's hilarious," Foxx shouted at an off-color line DeGeneres directed at Jonah Hill.
Foxx may win the prize for most supportive celebrity of the evening. When Leto won the first Oscar of the night, Foxx declared that the "Dallas Buyers Club" actor's speech had given him chills. And when the backup dancers who performed "Happy" emerged from the stage, he slapped them high fives and declared, "Great job!"
Occasionally the scene backstage was a surreal clashing of moods.
As a teary Lupita Nyong'o continued her emotional acceptance speech on a backstage camera for online thank you's and academy President Cheryl Boone Isaacs breathed deeply to compose herself for her stage entrance, the smell of pizza wafted into the wings.
"Step aside, we've got the pizza guy coming through!" a voice bellowed over the hushed crew.
The stage doors slammed open to reveal DeGeneres carrying pizza boxes and a stunned looking delivery man with paper plates and napkins.
"You hold that and I'll hold this," DeGeneres said, swapping with him.
For the singers performing live at the Oscars, their first few steps backstage were a moment to exhale.
Pink, after her turn, immediately changed into blue jeans and said, "Out of body experience," as she walked down the hall.
When the backstage crew applauded U2, Bono tipped his head and smiled, "Well, thank you."
For the stage managers, Oscar night is a game of celebrity lost and found. "They can't find Whoopi," a stage manager said into her headset about presenter Whoopi Goldberg. "She's not in her seat."
Goldberg was soon located in an elevator — and delivered to wardrobe for a dress steam while carrying her red high heels.
Actors often greet each other with the universal celebrity hello ("I love your work"), but backstage on Oscar night, no one got warmer welcomes than presenter Daniel Day Lewis. Outside the men's room, Efron said to the "Lincoln" star, "Thank you for everything you do." Meeting at a monitor, Sidney Poitier said, "My pleasure to see you, my good son." And after Alfonso Cuarón won the directing Oscar and saw Day-Lewis he said simply, "You!"
Even when she doesn't win, Jennifer Lawrence manages to enliven Oscar night backstage.
"That's the envelope for Chiwetel Ejiofor," Lawrence teased McConaughey as he clasped his winning envelope.
As the best picture nominees were announced, she noted the lack of applause in the theater for her film, "American Hustle."
"Thanks, guys, for your support. Jesus, could it be more quiet?"
And when "12 Years a Slave" won, she charged toward the stage, saying, "I'm going out there! Where do the losers go?"