Brad Pitt's stop on the red carpet was almost eclipsed by a monstrous wave of shouts from photographers aimed at attracting the attention his better half, Angelina Jolie, but he still managed to share a bit of what his baseball film "Moneyball" was all about.
"From the moment I met him, I said, 'I gotta have him,' because he's the best man in the world," she gushed. "His integrity and his capacity to love and his loyalty -- you can't compare."
Davis, an academy member, didn't have words as kind for the organization. Asked to respond to the argument that the academy is only as diverse as the industry, the actress said: "I don't think that that's what Hollywood is.
"I think that that's probably who's just accepted into the academy."
George Clooney was as calm as ever walking down the Academy Awards red carpet Sunday, that same charming smile on his face as per usual.
"This is fun because usually it's people who want to have a good time," he said. "This is sort of the Super Bowl of all of the events."
Clooney, up for the two biggest awards of the night -- actor in a leading role for "The Descendants" and adapted screenplay for "The Ides of March," plus "The Descendants" is up for best picture -- said he had the sense it was "going to be a pretty big French night," referring to "The Artist."
"And I'm all right with it, because I really like the film."
Meanwhile, the actor, who has been an academy member since 2006, said he was hopeful the organization would become more diverse.
"That'd be a good idea, don't ya think?" he joked. "I think it represents almost every -- directors in Hollywood, as well. It represents not just Hollywood. You can look at the Senate and it's roughly the same thing. I don't think to diversify is ever a bad idea."
But how does the group actually make change happen?
"It's a tricky thing. I think you'd have to open it up to more, as opposed to trying to kick people out," he said. "Instead of taking their cards away."
Academy Awards producer Brian Grazer and producer-director Don Mischer definitely had host Billy Crystal's back on the red carpet before the show started.
"He's really excited to be back here after seven years and he's got some very special and surprising things," Grazer said.
Added Mischer: "He's extremely quick on his feet, and that is invaluable in something like this. ... He loves the movies, loves being there and he's really done his homework. So I think he's going to do great, really well tonight."
Grazer saw one great challenge ahead: to entertain.
"We always have the great challenge is to make the show entertaining, to offer some surprises, but don't go crazy with it. Try to keep it classy and try to keep it funny."
And, Grazer said with a laugh, to keep it "as close to on time as possible. Which we've been wrestling with all morning."
As for the host, hours before the Academy Awards were set to begin, a jeans-and-sneakers clad Crystal had taken the Oscar stage at 3:25 p.m., mouthing his routine to himself and gesturing with his hands as he rehearsed in the empty theater at the Hollywood & Highland Center.
Behind the curtain at Crystal's back, the sets still smelled of wet paint and a stagehand pushed a broom across the floor. A phalanx of security officers discussed how they would be transporting the gold Oscar statuettes to the backstage area, and a crewman delivered a cart full of props for the Cirque du Soleil show.
After five minutes of rehearsal, Crystal quietly left the stage. Presumably on time.
[For the record, 8:54 p.m. Feb. 26: This post and video originally referred to Don Mischer incorrectly as Don Hahn.]
Writer Christopher Hitchens, who died in December, will get a fitting tribute from Vanity Fair, where he was a contributing editor, at the magazine's star-studded Oscars party.
Editor in Chief Graydon Carter will welcome 130 guests for a private dinner and telecast viewing at the Sunset Tower Hotel, where Carter included a small touch in Hitchens' memory.
Each table will hold a lighter engraved with the Hitchens quote, "Everyone has a book inside them, which is exactly where I think it should, in most cases, remain." The writer passed away Dec. 15 after a battle with cancer.
Sacha Baron Cohen's Adm. Gen. Shabazz Aladeen not only made his way onto the Oscars red carpet Sunday, he made his way over to Ryan Seacrest and managed to stun the usually unflappable host — showering the diminutive Seacrest with the "ashes" of the late North Korean dictator Kim Jong Il.
It was a pretty decent payoff to a week's worth of hype.
As if Cohen's character from "The Dictator" wasn't disconcerting enough to interview, who wouldn't be taken aback by an urn's worth of ashes dumped onto an impeccable (and almost certainly Burberry) tux?
Nolte was happy to be sitting next to his son, Brawley Nolte. As for his chances against shoo-in Christopher Plummer, he said he wasn't frustrated that he wasn't considered the category's front-runner.
"I've had times here where the Vegas odds are in my favor," he said. "I'm not anxious to win because it's a terrible responsibility, what you have to do when you win.
"You've gotta talk to people all over the world. You've gotta pose for a picture with all the winners. It's a lot of work."
To the dismay of many fans, Ryan Gosling was missing from the Oscars red carpet Sunday.
It was rumored the actor was working on a film in Asia, and "Ides of March" screenwriter Beau Willimon — up for adapted screenplay with Grant Heslov and George Clooney — said he wouldn't find that surprising, describing Gosling as a guy who "never stops."
"That's what I think is fantastic about him: his work ethic and his determination and his love for making movies. Sometimes he comes to these things, and sometimes he's busy," Willimon said.