The Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences expanded the best picture roster from five nominees to 10 this years to try to make things more interesting, but the majority of the Oscars doled out have gone to just a handful of the nominees, including "The Hurt Locker," "Avatar," "Precious: Based on the Novel 'Push' by Sapphire" and "Up."
The four films are the only ones to win at least two honors this evening.
"The Hurt Locker" and "Avatar" are leading with three each.
The Oscar for sound editing went to Paul N.J. Ottosson for "The Hurt Locker." Ottosson had barely left the stage when he was called back to receive the sound mixing award for the war drama with Ray Beckett. Earlier, the film won for original screenplay for Mark Boal.
"Avatar" won for visual effects for Joe Letteri, Stephen Rosenbaum, Richard Baneham and Andrew R. Jones. Art direction went to Rick Carter and Robert Stromberg and set decorator Kim Sinclair for the James Cameron blockbuster, which also won cinematography for Mauro Fiore.
Meanwhile, "Precious" and "Up" have two wins apiece.
Mo'Nique, considered the shoo-in for for supporting actress as the vile, abusive mother of a pregnant teen in "Precious," took home the honor as expected. The comic talk-show host, who opted out of doing extensive campaigning this awards season, thanked the academy and said it proves that a win "can be about the performance and not the politics." Moments earlier, Geoffrey Fletcher won for adapted screenplay for "Precious." Holding back the tears, Fletcher said: "I don't know what to say. This is for everybody who works on a dream every day." His win was a surprise: Jason Reitman and Sheldon Turner were the favorites for "Up in the Air."
"Up" won animated film and original score for Michael Giacchino.
Other honors handed out at the 82nd annual Academy Awards: Original song went to Ryan Bingham and T Bone Burnett for "The Weary Kind (Theme from Crazy Heart)." Animated feature film went to "Up," which is also nominated for best film. And as expected, Austrian actor Christoph Waltz danced away with supporting actor for playing a brutal Nazi Jew hunter in "Inglourious Basterds." All three have dominated this awards season, winning practically every available honor.
Awards in the short-film categories were "Logorama" for animated, "Music by Prudence" for documentary and "The New Tenants" for live action. Costume design went to Sandy Powell for "The Young Victoria."
Ben Stiller, decked out in "Avatar" Navi blue, complete with tail and braid, presented the makeup award to "Star Trek."
The show kicked off with Neil Patrick Harris, who got rave reviews for hosting the Tonys and the Emmys last year, performing a musical number -- "No One Wants to Do It Alone." It was a reference to the hosts of the show, the wild and crazy Steve Martin and Alec Baldwin, or, as Harris called them, "the biggest pair since Dolly Parton."
And with that, the hosts came down from the heavens at the Kodak Theatre, holding hands.
The witty, salty banter that ensued included putting on 3-D glasses to spot "Avatar" director James Cameron in the audience and joking that Meryl Streep, with whom the two starred in "It's Complicated," is the most nominated performer in academy history. Or, as Martin said, the performer with the most losses. (Then they joked about having a threesome with Streep on the set.)
The marquee awards are yet to come. In the best picture category, will it be "The Hurt Locker," which has gained momentum in the past few months despite the recent disclosure that one of the producer's sent e-mails out asking academy members to vote for the film, or the highest-grossing movie to date, "Avatar," which won the Golden Globe for best drama film?
With those films battling for the first prize, perhaps one of the other eight nominees such as "Inglourious Basterds" will slip in to win the top Oscar.
The academy may also make history -- if Kathryn Bigelow receives the director Oscar for "The Hurt Locker," she'll be the first woman to win the honor.
Adding to the fun for Oscar watchers: Bigelow used to be married to Cameron. But there is no rivalry – Cameron has been a vocal supporter of Bigelow's film.