11:38 p.m. ET: That’s a wrap. Check back with ABCNews.com Monday morning for more gossip from backstage and the many Oscar post parties. Goodnight and thanks for reading!
11:35 p.m. ET: And the Oscar goes to … “The Artist.” Tearful producers thank the Academy, their families, and the late producer Claude Berri.
11:32 p.m. ET: Tom Cruise is in place to present the last Oscar of the night. It’s edge of seat time.
11:30 p.m. ET: Meryl’s beaming on stage and choking back tears. She thanks her makeup artist and hairstylist who’ve been by her side for years, and her husband before saying, “I really understand I’m never going to be up here again … I look out here and I really see my life before my eyes.”
11:29 p.m. ET: Meryl: “Oh my God, oh, come on. … When they called my mind I had this feeling that I could hear half of America going ‘Oh, no. Why her, again?’ But, whatever.”
11:28 p.m. ET: Meryl Streep wins for “The Iron Lady.” It’s her third Oscar. In many minds, she was neck and neck with Viola Davis.
11:26 p.m. ET: Colin introduces his “Mamma Mia” co-star, Meryl Streep: “We were in Greece, we danced, I was gay, and we were happy.”
11:24 p.m. ET: Now we’ve got last year’s best actor winner, Colin Firth, presenting best actress.
11:23 p.m. ET: Billy: “They must be going nuts in France right now, or whatever the French have in place of joy.”
11:19 p.m. ET: He explodes into a French victory cry before announcing, “Merci beaucoup, I love you,” and walking off the stage. It’s a Cuba Gooding Jr. moment.
11:18 p.m. ET: “I love your country,” Jean begins. “Thank you to the Academy.” He launches into a history of the Oscars — sounds like he’s been studying up.
11:17 p.m. ET: The Frenchman beats the American — Jean Dujardin wins best actor for “The Artist.”
11:16 p.m. ET: Jean Dujardin looks on the verge of tears.
11:12 p.m. ET: 2011 best actress winner Natalie Portman takes the stage to present best actor. She’s addressing the nominees directly, starting with “A Better Life’s” Demian Bichir.
11:12 p.m. ET: We’re nearing the end. Best actor, actress and picture are all that’s left.
11:02 p.m. ET: It’s time for the in memoriam montage. Odds that Whitney Houston will be the last tribute?
10:55 p.m. ET: Billy on Meryl’s many, many nominations: “She’s either the greatest actress of our time or a really dedicated hoarder.”
10:52 p.m. ET: And the Oscar goes to Michel Hazanavicius for “The Artist.” It’s his first Oscar. “I have an Oscar,” he says, “I forgot my speech. I am the happiest director in the world right now, thank you for that. … I want to thank Uggie the dog. I’m not sure he understands what I say, he’s not that good, but thank you.”
10:50 p.m. ET: We’re up to best director, a good indicator of who’ll get best picture.
10:50 p.m. ET: Bret McKenzie reflects on his Oscar win and the legacy of Muppets songs backstage: ”A friend of mine said, ‘You’ll never write another ‘Rainbow Connection’ and I said, ‘You’re right.’ It’s an honor to get this because ‘Rainbow Connection’ didn’t get an Oscar but … that was an absolute timeless classic and this is nothing in comparison.”
10:44 p.m. ET: “The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore” wins best animated short … and possibly longest Oscar winning film title of the year.
10:41 p.m. ET: “Saving Face” wins best documentary short.
10:37 p.m. ET: The entire cast of “Bridesmaids” takes the stage to present best live action short film. Kristen Wiig: “Size does matter.” Maya Rudolph: “But not length.” Cue lots of double entendres.
10:29 p.m. ET: Woody Allen wins best original screenplay for “Midnight in Paris.” Applause rings through the press room but Allen, a chronic Oscar shunner, isn’t there to accept.
10:26 p.m. ET: Could “The Descendants” take the big award of the night? They just won best adapted screenplay.
10:24 p.m. ET: Billy Crystal calls Angelina Jolie the “original girl with the dragon tattoo.” She laughs … and proceeds to brandish her right leg.
10:18 p.m. ET: ”I was genuinely star stuck when I got to meet Kermit the Frog, but once you get to know him, he’s just a normal frog.” — Bret McKenzie.
10:16 p.m. ET: Will Ferrell and Zach Galifianakis are wearing matching white tuxes and holding cymbals to present best original song. There are only two nominees. Bret McKenzie of “Flight of the Conchords” fame wins for “The Muppets.”
10:14 p.m. ET: “The Artist” wins best original score, Ludovic Bource accepts. “Please accept me, because I’ve got so much love to give,” he tells the crowd.
10:11 p.m. ET: It’s time for a Woody Allen power team: Penelope Cruz and Owen Wilson. They’re presenting best original score.
10:06 p.m. ET: Backstage, “The Undefeated” producers say the f-bomb was “completely accidental. … 45 seconds goes really quickly and they cut us off.”
10:01 p.m. ET: “You’re only two years older than me, darling — where have you been all my life?” — Christopher Plummer to his Oscar. Gives what might be the best speech of the night, says his wife deserves a Nobel Peace Prize.
10:00 p.m. ET: Best supporting actor goes to the guy many predicted would win — Christopher Plummer. At 82, he’s the oldest actor ever to win an Oscar. So far, no major surprises with the winners.
9:55 p.m. ET: Yet another for “Hugo” — achievement in visual effects.
9:53 p.m. ET: Emma Stone’s mimicking Anne Hathaway circa last year’s Oscars, over eager, super smiley, bubbly to the point of overflowing. It’s funny.
9:51 p.m. ET: A bit of awkward fun between Billy and nominee Melissa McCarthy. She’s pretending to hit on him, “Bridesmaids” style.
9:46 p.m. ET: “Rango” wins best animated feature film, as many predicted.
9:45 p.m. ET: Chris Rock’s making fun of animation. Calls it the easiest job in the world. Recalling fond memories of when he last hosted.
9:43 p.m. ET: And we have our first F-bomb drop. “The Undefeated” wins best documentary, one of the producers calls it “f***ing wonderful.” Backstage heard it, apparently producers bleeped it out for the audience at home.
9:40 p.m. ET: The Oscars just went cinema verite. Gwyneth Paltrow and Robert Downey Jr. are fighting about his desire to present the best documentary feature award like they’re in a documentary.
9:39 p.m. ET: He’s joking about the old crowd. “We’re going to slam the 78 to 84 group,” he says of the Oscars’ target demographic.
9:38 p.m. ET: Billy: ”We’ve got puppets, acrobats, we’re a pony away from being a Bar Mitzvah.”
9:34 p.m. ET: This might be the most action the Oscars has ever seen. Acrobats are doing somersaults above the crowd and seemingly impossible headstands on stage.
9:33 p.m. ET: It’s the Muppets! Miss Piggy’s slamming Steven Spielberg. “I remember being a young frog at the drive in,” Kermit quips. They’re introducing a performance by Cirque de Soleil.
9:29 p.m. ET: And achievement in sound mixing. “Hugo” could pull off an unlikely sweep.
9:26 p.m. ET: Another win for “Hugo,” best sound editing.
9:21 p.m. ET: “Girl with the Dragon Tattoo” picks up its first Oscar of the night — achievement in film editing.
9:20 p.m. ET: We’re seeing a black and white sketch of what movie criticism would be like if Twitter existed during “The Wizard of Oz.”
9:17 p.m. ET: Billy Crystal says that when he came out of “The Help” he wanted to “hug the first black woman that I saw. From Beverly Hills, that’s about a 45 minute drive.”
9:12 p.m. ET: “Oh thank you,” Octavia says through tears, shaking her head. She’s sobbing. “Thank you, Academy, for putting me with the hottest guy in the room,” she adds, referring to her new statuette (not Christian Bale, as previously thought). She goes on to thank the state of Alabama, her family, her “Help” family. More tears: “I’m wrapping up, I’m sorry, I’m freaking out.” She dissolves into tears before walking off stage.
9:11 p.m. ET: Octavia Spencer wins best supporting actress, as many predicted. It’s her first Oscar, expect this to be emotional.
9:09 p.m. ET: Another zinger from Crystal. Introducing Christian Bale, he alludes to the actor’s temper, saying beware if “you’re in his eye line.”
9:06 p.m. ET: As predicted, the Iranian hit “A Separation” wins.
9:05 p.m. ET: Sandra Bullock is a women of many talents. The Oscar winner introduced the best foreign language film in German.
8:59 p.m. ET: The Oscars’ montage of stars talking about their movie memories feels like an Apple commercial. Reese Witherspoon, Steve Carrell, Brad Pitt, Hilary Swank, and more share their earliest memories of connecting with film.
8:56 p.m. ET: It’s hard to concentrate on the awards when Jennifer Lopez’s practically painted on dress appears to be … revealing a bit too much. Mark Coulier and J. Roy Helland win best makeup for “The Iron Lady,” in which Meryl Streep wore prosthetics.
8:55 p.m. ET: It’s the first Oscar of the night for “The Artist” — best costume design. Mark Bridges accepts.
8:53 p.m. ET: Well that wasn’t creepy at all. Crystal: “Please welcome a recurring dream of mine — Cameron Diaz and Jennifer Lopez.” They’re presenting achievement in costume design.
8:50 p.m. ET: Crystal’s delightfully corny introducing a history of movies montage: “Now, people watch movies on their phones. Give me the big screen anytime — my iPad.” Highlights include “E.T.” and “Forrest Gump.”
8:46 p.m. ET: In another attempt to woo younger viewers, there’s an ensemble playing a bongo-driven version of Coldplay tunes as the show goes to its first commercial break.
8:44 p.m. ET: “Hugo” also scores award No. 2 — achievement in art direction.
8:41 p.m. ET: Tom Hanks presents the night’s first award for achievement in cinematography. Robert Richardson wins for “Hugo.”
8:39 p.m. ET: “Though the girl was white, she saw their plight and wrote about it,” he sings about “The Help.” In the audience, Viola Davis looks mildly amused. “That’s nine, that’s nine,” he finishes, “Nine is the new five!”
8:38 p.m. ET: Wow, he’s kind of mean. In his signature show tune, Crystal sings about nominee Jonah Hill. In case he doesn’t win, “I think that you should know, they’re serving cupcakes after the show.”
8:36 p.m. ET: “That was extremely loud and incredibly close … that’s how my relatives are watching the show,” Crystal begins. “We’re here at the beautiful chapter 11 theater,” he jokes, alluding to the phasing out of the Kodak Theater. He’s snarky — call it the Ricky Gervais effect. “Nothing can take the sting out of the world’s economic problems like watching millionaires presenting each other with golden statues.”
8:34 p.m. ET: CGI takes Crystal from the scenes of this year’s movies onto the Oscar stage. Backstage, a
8:33 p.m. ET: Crystal’s hopped through “The Help” (and the infamous pie), the awful bathroom scene from “Bridesmaids” and now, “MI4.”
8:32 p.m. ET: And there’s Justin Bieber. A surefire way to rein in younger viewers … maybe.
8:31 p.m. ET: The opening montage features none other than George Clooney kissing Billy Crystal, begging him to wake up and “please come home.” “You’ve got to do it Billy,” he implores.
8:24 p.m. ET: Billy Crystal, watch your back. Chris Rock tells Robin Roberts, “It’s not too late for me to shoot Billy and do the show myself.” (He did, host the show that is, in 2005.
8:22 p.m. ET: Oscars producer Brian Grazer says he’s had shots of tequila to calm his nerves. Blame “The Dictator?”
8:20 p.m. ET: Inside the Kodak Theater, Natalie Portman admits that she was “in a daze” last year, when she won best actress. “I just zoned out,” she tells Robin Roberts. Sounds like she prefers being a spectator than the main attraction.
8:13 p.m. ET: Sandra Bullock is having “sexy time” tonight. “Everything’s going to be sexy,” she says on the red carpet, dressed in (you guessed it) white. Take that, Jesse James.
8:10 p.m. ET: George Clooney’s an old pro at this by now. “It’s always fun,” he tells Robin Roberts. Bet it’ll be even more fun if he wins a couple trophies tonight.
8:03 p.m. ET: Gwyneth Paltrow’s in white too. Tom Ford. She’s presenting tonight.
8:00 p.m. ET: Shades of ivory might be the color(s) of the night. Cameron Diaz is in a dazzling eggshell Gucci number.
7:53 p.m. ET: If Zach Galifianakis is nervous about presenting tonight, he’s not showing it. He says he prepared by washing his mustache.
7:45 p.m. ET: “Artist” star/nominee Jean Dujardin sounds like he’s brushed up on his English. “I’m not a puppet, I’m an artist,” he quips on the red carpet.
7:40 p.m. ET: Tina Fey’s doing the peplum thing too. She’s in a custom Carolina Herrera. “They wouldn’t let me wear bike shorts to this,” she tells Tim Gunn. She’s presenting tonight.
7:36 p.m. ET: She’s not a nominee, but Stacy Kiebler’s dress is quickly becoming one of the most lauded Oscar gowns, at least on Twitter. Her gold Marchesa number would match boyfriend George Clooney’s Oscar quite nicely, if he wins best actor for “The Descendants.”
7:34 p.m. ET: “I can’t even put it into words,” Melissa McCarthy tells Robin Roberts, when asked what this night means to her. It’s her first Oscar nomination, capping off a year of incredible success for the “Bridesmaids” star.
7:30 p.m. ET: Emma Stone looks like a present. The “Help” actress has what appears to be a gigantic bow around her neck. Her crimson gown is by Giambattista Valli Couture.
7:29 p.m. ET: Apparently Sacha Baron Cohen/”The Dictator” poured what he called Kim Jong Il’s ashes on E!’s Ryan Seacrest. Seacrest looked none too pleased.
7:27 p.m. ET: Best actress nominee Viola Davis looks stunning in a green Vera Wang gown. “I am taking time because I think it is always important to take time,” she tells Robin Roberts, talking about savoring the success of “The Help.”
7:22 p.m. ET: Sacha Baron Cohen — we mean “The Dictator” — is in the house. The comedian arrived in full dictator regalia with two dour, attractive women (neither of whom appear to be his wife, Isla Fisher) on either arm.
7:18 p.m. ET: Billy Crystal is seriously Twitter happy. The host just tweeted, “#Oscars: Opening number changed. War Horse broke his leg, had to put him down.”
7:05 p.m. ET: Jonah Hill brought the best date — his mom. The best supporting actor nominee said that hasn’t spoken to his “Moneyball” co-star Brad Pitt today but he’s, understandably, pretty psyched to be at the Oscars.
7:04 p.m. ET: Octavia Spencer is glowing in a white, beaded gown. “I can’t believe this is happening,” she tells ABC’s Robin Roberts. “This is electric. … I think it will hit me in a couple of days after the lights have dimmed” She’s the favorite to win best supporting actress tonight.
6:55 p.m. ET: … Melissa McCarthy too. The “Bridesmaid” star and best supporting actress nominee is wearing a salmon colored, custom made Marina Rinaldi dress that pretty much balloons around her.
6:48 p.m. ET: Michelle Williams’ Louis Vuitton frock is probably going to be one of the most divisive dresses of the night. The vermilion, strapless gown has a peplum ruffle around the middle that recalls the inflatable saucers little kids wear in the pool. Not exactly a dress fit for a best actress contender.
6:47 p.m. ET: “Girl with the Dragon Tattoo” star and best actress nominee Rooney Mara is on the carpet in a plunging white number. Still has the signature, cropped “Dragon Tattoo” bob.
6:31 p.m. ET: Easily the most beloved walkers of the red carpet thus far are Miss Piggy and Kermit the Frog. Piggy’s in platinum blonde perfection, Kermit’s dapper in a tux. Who knew Muppets could clean up so nice?
6:23 p.m. ET: Sacha Baron Cohen and the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences will have a happy ending after all. Brian Grazer, the producer of the Oscars, told “Extra” that the organization is “thrilled” to have him on the red carpet as the character from his latest film, “The Dictator.” Let’s see what happens when he actually shows.
6:21 p.m. ET: Oscar winner Halle Berry has backed out of this year’s ceremonies. She was scheduled to present but scrapped her plan to attend late Saturday due to her broken foot, according to People magazine. She broke her foot while filming her latest flick, “Cloud Atlas.”
6:20 p.m. ET: HOLLYWOOD, Calif. — It’s here: Hollywood’s biggest night of the year. ABCNews.com is live blogging the ceremony and all the action backstage. Keep refreshing for the latest news, quotes and highlights.