6:01 p.m.: Proof of Hollywood’s influence? After a deluge yesterday, the storms have stopped in Los Angeles just in time for the 86th Annual Academy Awards. If only they could work that magic to stop the thunder sleet that hit OKC today!
6:03: Sidney Poitier is the first interview, which is so refreshing since Hollywood is about the in and the now. But Lara Spencer seems a bit out of her depth interviewing someone so thoughtful and dignified. Probably wasn’t expecting that at the Oscars.
6:04: Viola Davis, who will be presenting tonight, again looks dynamite. She’s wearing a gorgeous emerald green Escada dress, and she’s feeling relaxed, ready for the parties and proud to be accompanied by her hsuband of about 11 years. What a great couple!
6:06: Tyson Beckford tells best supporting actress nominee June Squibb that he saw her all the way down the red carpet in her sparkling deep green dress. “That’s the idea,” she says with a laugh. I see a style trend already.
She’s explaining why “Nebraska” co-star Bruce Dern teased her about being a pole dancer – she played a stripper many years ago on Broadway in “Gyspy.” Dern told her it’s the same thing as being a pole dancer, and a joke was born. Bruce is with Robin Roberts, his “other wife” and daughter Laura Dern, and I would love to see this man finally receive an Oscar after the amazing career he’s had – and the totally worthy performance in “Nebraska.” (I’m betting the McConnaisance culminates in an Oscar win for Matthew McConaughey.)
6:09: P.S. It’s great to see Robin Roberts back on the red carpet, after she missed last year due to cancer treatment.
6:12: I’m not a huge fan of basic black, but Anna Kendrick looks stunning in the less-than-basic number with the sheer shoulders and midriff with the starburst cutouts. Beautiful. She’s playing Cinderella in “Into the Woods,” which I’m counting on to make my Christmas.
6:13: How does Amy Adams always manage to look so great? I love her deep purple, almost black gown. Someday I hope she wins an Oscar, instead of just always being the prettiest, most stylish bridesmaid.
6:15: Sally Hawkins is wearing a very interesting golden and white gown, and she’s talking about the time she and Cate Blanchett got to have in New York to bond before playing sisters in “Blue Jasmine.” Cate is a favorite in the best actress category – unless “Gravity’s” Sandra Bullock overtakes her – and Sally is nominated for best supporting actress.
6:17: Jason Sudeikis and Olivia Wilde are a pretty adorable couple, and she makes having a baby bump look so elegant in black Valentino. Meanwhile, Jess Cagle sounds like he’s filling in for a freelancer assigned to do a column about what movies Hollywood’s hottest couples loved this year. “Do you have a lot of date nights at the movies? What do you like to see?” Maybe try asking them about their work or something slightly meaningful?
6:21: Another lovely mother-to-be: Kerry Washington in a shimmery lavendar-gray off-the-shoulder gown. Looks so pretty, especially with her skin tone.
6:24: Naomi Watts’ white dress from the Calvin Klein collection is amazingly beautiful. She says “Blue Jasmine” is her favorite among the Oscar-nominated films, and she actually wrote Cate Blanchett a fan letter she loved her performance so much.
6:25: “This is the gold standard of what we do in our industry,” says Matthew McConaughey, adding he’s received so much goodwill in the awards season. He looks sharp in his white tuxedo jacket with his wife and mom flanking him. Not surprisingly, Mama Mc thinks her son should win it. Chances are pretty good she’ll be the mom of an Oscar winner by the end of the night.
6:31: Jennifer Lawrence looks stunning in a ravishing Christian Dior red gown, and she’s calling her “American Hustle” character “my favorite character ever.” She’s crediting director David O. Russell for her back-to-back nominations – she won best supporting actress last year for “Silver Linings Playbook” – calling him “the actor whisperer.” She’s joking about tripping last year taking the stage. If there’s any justice, she’ll be walking the stage again, but I doubt the Academy is going to give back-to-back wins to a 23-year-old.
6:34: Like her co-star Sally Hawkins, Cate Blanchett is looking lovely in an interesting golden gown. Jess Cagle guesses correctly it’s Armani. She says she’s glad “Blue Jasmine” has been well-received – “and that the film made money.” She’s speaking out against the Hollywood fantasy that movies that star women don’t make money, and they’re pointing out that Sandra Bullock, Meryl Streep, Julia Roberts and Judi Dench might have something to say about that.
6:36: Jonah Hill brought his mom again – and he admits he never expected to be back at the Oscars so quickly after his “Moneyball” nomination. He’s chatting about his next project with “Wolf of Wall Street” co-star Leo DiCaprio – a biopic of Richard Jewell, who was wrongly accused of perpetrating the 1996 Atlanta Olympics bombing.
6:40: No one wears a classic tuxedo – even in navy blue – like Leonardo DiCaprio, and he’s talking about how he became obsessed with Jordan Belfort’s book and spent six or seven years trying to get “The Wolf of Wall Street” on the big screen, with Martin Scorsese helming. “There’s really only been two films in my career that I’ve fought to get made,” he says, along with this one, he says the other is another Scosese project, “The Aviator.” Leo says he thinks the movie is a narrative of our time and has important things to say about our culture’s perception of money.
6:43: Chiwetel Ejiofor admits he wondered “whether I was the guy to tell that story,” admitting that director Steve McQueen wanted him to star in “12 Years a Slave,” but he was hesitant to take it on. Now, I can’t imagine anyone else pulling that role off with such dignity and emotion. He’s probably Matthew McConaughey’s biggest challenger in the best actor contest.
6:51: Jamie Foxx looks great in a tux, too, but he’s more concerned about what his date – his 20-year-old daughter – is wearing, noting her white frock is showing a little leg. The 2005 Oscar winner is talking about the Oscar fraternity – and the thrill of seeing the art that the movie industry is capable of making.
6:54: Like his co-star Matthew McConaughey, Jared Leto is a first-time nominee and looks dashing in a white jacket, which he has punched up with a burgandy bow tie. Stylish. He says he brought his mom and brother as his dates. “I feel really lucky to be a part of this movie,” he says, noting that he hadn’t made a film in almost six years before starring in “Dallas Buyers Club,” an indie movie that barely got made. Don’t be surprised to see those two carrying home Oscars at the end of the night.
7:00: Bradley Cooper rocks a beard like nobody else! His red carpet interview with Robin Roberts gets hijacked by Jonah Hill, who clambers up on the dais next to him. Jonah’s joking that when the crowd screams, “I always assume Leo’s standing right behind me – or Bradley.” Jonah’s mom is coming up on the dais to hang out with Bradley Cooper, t0o. Who could blame her? “This is what I love about live television,” Roberts says, rather unconvincingly. Who could blame her – I wanted to hear from Bradley, too.
7:02: Lupita Nyong’o looks stunning in a deeply cut white frock, and she says she celebrated her birthday yesterday by winning an Independent Spirit Award for “12 Years a Slave.” Don’t be surprised if she adds an Oscar to her collection.
7:03: Barkhad Abdi used the “dream come true” cliche, but I can’t blame him: Not long ago, he was driving a limo for a living, now he arrives for the Oscars in one. I would love to see him win for “Captain Phillips,” since he managed to upstage Tom Hanks in his first movie – but Jared Leto is pretty much a lock for this. I would have loved to hear what he had to say, but Lara Spencer did all the talking just then.
7:05: Julia Roberts looks incredible in her black Givenchy gown that’s anything but basic. She’s trying to remember her first Oscars, commenting that one year she wore a “deeply unfortunate pallette – but we live and learn.” She looks great tonight.
7:06: Robin Roberts is there with Bill Murray – and he says that “I have a large extended family – a lot of my people are up there,” when the crowd cheers for him. He says that David Letterman and some of the guys on ESPN make him laugh, and he’s hoping there’s truth to the rumor that the Oscars going to happen in half the time – in about 1 1/2 hours. Oh, I wish, Bill Murray. I wish.
7:07: Jimmy Kimmel is coming through somone’s TV and into their living room to give them a hard time about their catty Oscar tweets. Jimmy, save it for your post-Oscars special. This isn’t funny – and I’m not believing for a second that these people can spell “Twitter,” much less use it. Move along, please.
7:13: Gotta love Will Smith when he gives a shoutout to the cameraman, who worked with him on “Fresh Prince of Bel-Air!” Jada Pinkett-Smith looks lovely in pink Versace, and Robin Roberts is noting that they seem as excited as anybody about the Oscars, even though he’s a two-time nominee.
7:16: “I don’t know how it looked, but it was a lot of fun,” Jeremy Renner says of working on “American Hustle,” which is tied with “Gravity” with a leading 10 nominations tonight. “12 Years a Slave” is close behind with nine noms.
7:17: Sandra Bullock always looks like a classy lady, and her deep navy Alexander McQueen gown only bolsters her fashion maven rep. “The person who went into filming this movie wasn’t the same person who came out of filming this movie,” she says of working on “Gravity,” my favorite movie of 2013. I’d love to see her win another best actress honor, but I think Cate Blanchett is gonna be tough to beat.
7:24: “The amount of air-kissing that’s going on is just phenomenal,” says Lara Spencer. Oh, boy. Someone has to end this red carpet before it starts to get REALLY shallow and ridiculous. Just more than 5 minutes left. Please let his end soon. We’ve got at least 3 hours of awards show gushing to endure.
7:25: “This is a night when we get to come together and congratulate each other and celebrate a great year in film, but this isn’t really what we do,” notes Kevin Spacey (who has embraced the men’s trend of navy tuxedoes, just to keep it red carpet-y). He says they go out and work hard on soundstages and their day jobs aren’t really glamorous. Not surprisingly, he saved the red carpet from getting really frivolous. Thank you, Kevin Spacey.
7:27: Yay, the credits are rolling. On with the real show … my Oscars live blog is up next.