Melissa Leo thanked Kirk Douglas for draaaaaagging out the suspense. Christian Bale sorta referenced his Terminator rant in a show of compassion for the F-bomb droppers of the world (like Leo). And a question about nothing more momentous than Natalie Portman's Oscar gown got worse reviews than the show. (Or maybe not.)
Here's what went down behind the scenes at the 83rd Annual Academy Awards:
5:45 p.m.: We can read lips probably about as well as you, so we make out some of what Leo says during her Best Supporting Actress acceptance speech (rhymes with "muck" or "tucking"), but we don't hear the unedited R-rated version: The audio on our TV feed was dropped out just the same as yours at home.
• When Leo arrives back here, our own Ted Casablanca is the first to congratulate her for dropping the F-bomb. Leo is not quite chagrined, but definitely not proud of the moment. "I had no idea," she says. "I apologize to anyone that they offend.…Probably a very inappropriate place to use that particular word in particular."
• The F-bomb's on Leo, but the show's run time is partly on Douglas, who wasn't the swiftest of presenters. Did Leo appreciate Douglas taking his own sweet ninetysomething time to announce her category? Surprisingly, we think, she did. "He's an old actor, [and] he was doing us this huge favor," she says. "The longer he strung it out, the calmer I got to be…He strung it out in a rather delightful way for me."
• What was that thing Robert Stromberg, the art-direction winner from Alice in Wonderland, put on top of his Oscar during his acceptance speech? "A little mad-hatter's hat," he tells us, then asks, "Could you not see it?" (Um, no, not really, although it shows up much better in person—and yes, his Oscar was still wearing its Lewis Carroll chapeau back here.)
• Wally Pfister, the cinematography winner for Inception, is doing his press conference when Oscar cohost Franco's Marilyn Monroe number comes on the TV, and it stops him cold: "James Franco's in drag right now? Wow? Gutsy."
• One point if you guessed Pfister was making a statement by thanking his "union" crew on the telecast. "I think what's going on in Wisconsin right now is madness," he says.
7 p.m. PT: Best Supporting Actor Bale isn't judging Leo, his Fighter mom, for dropping the F-bomb. You can almost hear his own infamous F-bombs detonating here as he sheepishly scratches his head, and admits, "I've laid down many of them myself. I've laid down many of them myself before, so I think I know what it was about."
• A reporter, apparently unfamiliar with the upcoming The Dark Knight Rises, asks Bale if his new status as an Oscar winner means "no more Batman." Bale assures him that after his current film wraps, he's "straight into Batman—so much more Batman."
• By the by, when Leo was searching for Bale during her acceptance speech, Bale was just outside the theater, having been locked out until the commercial break. "I was literally banging on the doors, saying, 'Let me in,' " he says.
• The official Oscar transcript of Leo's acceptance speech has arrived—and, like the broadcast, it's been sanitized for our protection. Here's how Leo's speech looks on paper, per the Academy: "When I watched Kate [Winslet, we presume] two years ago, it looked so [EXPLETIVE DELETED]." That is f---in' messed up.
(Update: We can read lips much better in playback mode. What Leo said exactly was, "It looked so f---ing easy." And, to explain the Winslet reference, Leo and Winslet were both up for Best Actress at the 2009 Oscars; on that night, Winslet was the one delivering the acceptance speech. And, no, Winslet did not drop an F-bomb.)
• Boy, Facebook's Mark Zuckerberg must be ticked that The Social Network is having a good night, huh? Aaron Sorkin isn't be so sure. "I think he's been an extremely good sport," the Adapted Screenplay winner says.
8 p.m.: "Won directing? Urgh."—Kirk Baxter, one of The Social Network's Oscar-winning editors, reacting to Tom Hooper's win for The King's Speech.
• Funnily enough, although not for Team Social Network, just minutes before Hooper's win seemed to seal the deal for the opposition, we asked Baxter and his coeditor if, given all his movie's wins, he thought a Best Picture upset was in the offing. ("Who knows?" Baxter shrugged.)
• It's not just your TV at home. "She has got to stop saying, 'Whoo!" groans a reporter who's had it with Hathaway's hosting, um, technique.
• Randy Newman is like his songs: brutally honest. So, for a change, it's not at all weird when the tunesmith says he "didn't totally expect" his Toy Story 3 win. (For the record, we totally celebrate the refreshing use of the word "totally.")
• If you can't believe Newman won for "We Belong Together," but lost for, say, his score for The Natural, then you're not alone. Says Newman even as he's holding his new shiny prize: "This isn't the most consequential thing I've done for a movie."
• There's buzz the very pregnant Portman won't make it back here, but she does, cradling her Best Actress statuette beneath her baby bump.
• Portman gets about as many baby questions as she does Black Swan questions. So, for the record, she's not naming the kid Oscar ("I think that's probably definitely out of the question."), she's not giving us any gender scoop ("I do not know the sex of my child."), and her kid, surprise of surprises, dug the show—well, part of it: "The baby was definitely kicking during the song portion of the show."
• Why wasn't Portman, the "face of Dior," wearing a Dior gown tonight? We don't know the answer to that one (exactly) because the Oscar police shut down the question, letting the at-a-loss-for-words Portman off the hook.
• The Dior question was a two-parter, also seeking Portman's opinion on suspended Dior designer John Galliano. (And, yeah, the controversy is why Portman didn't wear Dior tonight. Or so we guess.)
• His Best Actor win represents the end of awards season for Colin Firth—partly why, we surmise, he got choked up (for him) during his acceptance speech. "I've started having fantasies about when I don't have to talk to your lot," he admits.
• Yes, Firth played a king, but, no, The King's Speech star is not on Prince William's wedding guest list. "Mine most definitely is lost in the post," he says of the invite that never came.
• On a night of F-bombs, it's worth pointing out Firth is not behind the upcoming F-bomb-free version of The King's Speech. "I don't support it because I think the film has its integrity as it stands," he says.
• A weird night ends on a weird note: "When Tom Hooper won the directing award that increased our nerves," Best Picture-winning King's Speech producer Emile Sherman says, "because it was looking more likely."
Yeah, sure, there's nothing like success to make you nervous.
And if that's the case then Franco and Hathaway are no doubt resting peacefully tonight.