Martin Scorsese wins Best Director for 'The Departed'

Martin Scorsese wins Best Director for 'The Departed'

The most popular guy in Hollywood tonight is a dude who's a little over a foot tall and shiny.

No, not E! red-carpet host Ryan Seacrest.

It's Ocsar night, which means three-plus hours of showbiz people thanking their agents, publicists, families, co-stars and occasionally their families. And we're here to chronicle every little, excruciating detail. So let's get to it:

5:34 p.m. Pacific time: I wonder if the little opening montage of the nominees is done to give time to let everyone get to their seats. Still, Peter O'Toole deadpanning "Somebody else won" and Peter Morgan explaining just what he means by "I'm here for 'The Queen'" is good stuff.

5:37 p.m. Host Ellen DeGeneres is living her dream to host the Oscars, and she's doing it in white shoes. 'K. One minute later, she makes the evening's first mention of this being "the most international Oscars ever." We suspect this might be a theme.

5:40 p.m. "It's not that we don't have time for long speeches, it's that we don't have time for boring speeches." Ellen's advice: Tell them you're just a homeless, illiterate kid from the Bronx -- even if you're not -- and you'll be fine.

5:43 p.m. Cue the choir! "Celebrating the nominees" appears to be another of the night's themes. We're more inclined to think her earlier assertion that tonight will be mostly about the winners is more accurate.

5:47 p.m. The night's first award, for art direction, goes to ... "Pan's Labyrinth." Shoulda been a best picture nominee, but the movie looked gorgeous on screen. Well deserved.

5:49 p.m. Ever notice how they always have a pretty young actress present the technical awards? Just saying.

5:57 p.m. Not sure what the point of the Will Ferrell-Jack Black-John C. Reilly song is, but it's good. And yeah, we'll say it with them: Helen Mirren is hot.

6 p.m. Two in a row for "Pan's Labyrinth." Yeah -- in your face, "Click"!

6:01 p.m. First speech cut-off of the night, for "Pan's" makeup artist David Marti. And it was like 30 seconds in -- what gives, Oscar conductor man?

6:03 p.m. So, Abigail Breslin and Jaden Smith are presenting the awards for animated and live-action shorts. Get it? 'Cause they're short, see? And in case you didn't, they make a joke about not making short jokes.

6:05 p.m. Your best live-action short winner? "West Bank Story." As its director describes it, it's a "comedy-musical about Israelis and Palestinians that takes place between two falafel stands." I think I might want to see that.

6:12 p.m. The idea of a "sound effects choir" toiling away on a soundstage somewhere at every studio is kind of cool. But they could have hired Michael Winslow and he'd have done this alone and saved everybody money.

6:14 p.m. Steve Carell + awards show = comedy gold. Case in point tonight: "Sound editing is a lot like sex -- it's usually done alone, late at night, surrounded by electronic gadgets." Good assist from Greg Kinnear too: "And if you really wanna do it right, it's best to pay top dollar for a real professional." And then the sound guy drops the mike out. Good bit overall.

6:17 p.m. "Letters from Iwo Jima" wins for best sound editing.

6:19 p.m. "Dreamgirls" picks up its first award of the night, for sound mixing. But that also means that "Apocalypto" sound mixer Kevin O'Connell is 0-for-19 at the Oscars. You gotta feel kinda bad for the guy.

6:23 p.m. Nearly an hour in, we get to the first acting award of the night -- Alan Arkin for "Little Miss Sunshine." Does this presage bigger things for the Not-So-Little Indie that Could? I might've given it to Mark Wahlberg, who ate up his part in "The Departed," but it's hard not to like an old pro like Arkin. Did "Norbit" kill Murphy's chances?