We finally got into the Dolby Theater, where for one last stretch of red carpet the A-list/no-list segregation was removed and we all walked as one. I stood in awe as the likes of Adele, Emmanuelle Riva, Joseph-Gordon Levitt and Quvenzhané Wallis (dog purse in tow!) walked alongside us. Jessica Chastain and her grandmother even stopped to talk to Anne, with Ms. Chastain being as angelic and sweet as you'd expect (I just stood awkwardly behind Anne, smiling like an idiot and trying to sneak a photo).
Then we were led up some stairs and into a circle-shaped lobby where basically everybody attending the ceremony stood in a giant blob of gowns and tuxedos, sucking back hors d'oeuvres and champagne. We had like 20 minutes until the show started, which I utilized for a much needed trip to the bathroom. I felt sorry for my opposite sex as I walked past the epic line to the ladies room (where Naomi Watts was probably 40th in line, with her husband Liev Schreiber keeping her company) and to the mens line, where exactly three people were waiting to use one of 10 luxury urinals: myself, John Stamos and Eddie Redmayne. When all three of us finally got the go-ahead, I ended up smack dab in the middle of them. I don't think I've ever stared so motionlessly and directly in front of myself.
An announcer warned we had 6 minutes to find our seats or we would be locked out of the theater until the first commercial break, so I found Anne and we high-tailed it up four giant flights of stairs to our seats on the second mezzazine. They were literally one row in front of the furthest row from the stage, but I wasn't about to complain. We were seated next to close friends of one of the members of the "Skyfall" sound editing team, and a definite highlight came later on when that film was the second one announced to have tied for the award, with our rowmates freaking right out as a result.
There were definitely some nifty aspects to being in house. You got to see various backstage ongoings (like Charlize Theron and Channing Tatum chatting it up to the side of the stage before their ballroom dancing number or staff quietly and frantically switching over set pieces during commercial breaks), and I suspect the view also made the musical numbers much more impressive than they were on a television (I'm not a fan of "Les Miserables," but I still got chills watching the entire cast belt out the musical's finale while giant French flags poured down from the rafters).
The number one question I got afterwards, though, was what was really happening when Mark Wahlberg and "Ted" presented an award. The answer: A television screen showed a pre-taped clip of Wahlberg and his animated friend while Wahlberg stood on stage in the dark waiting for the camera to cut to him in real-time to open the envelope. Mysteries of live television revealed!