The 81st annual Academy Awards (hour two)

As slowly as the first hour of the Oscars telecast seemed to go, the second hour was even more sluggish. And it wasn’t just the extended commercial breaks, either …

A new short film featuring the “Pineapple Express” lead characters (played by Seth Rogen and James Franco) was painfully unfunny, as was Ben Stiller’s Joaquin Phoenix parody.

And another big song-and-dance number — this one pairing host Hugh Jackman with Beyonce Knowles, and featuring “High School Musical” stars Zac Efron and Vanessa Hudgens, and “Mamma Mia!” stars Dominic Cooper and Amanda Seyfried — seemed out of place. (It would have been more appropriate in the upcoming Tony Awards telecast.)

So thank goodness for the emotionally rewarding Best Actor category, which saw the award go to late Australian actor Heath Ledger (“The Dark Knight”). Ledger’s father, Kim, mother, Sally Bell, and sister, Kate, accepted on his behalf. And as the following presenter, Bill Maher correctly noted, “Everyone is crying and now I have to go on.”

And for those who are keeping track of such things, seven more Oscar categories were announced in the second hour. The current running tally … predictions made: 11; correct guesses: eight.

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