GOLDEN MOMENTS

7 A.M. SUNDAY Three 6 Mafia singer JORDAN HOUSTON—a.k.a. Juicy J—starts the day with a veggie omelet, then does breakfast again (pineapple and cottage cheese) at 11 a.m. Before heading out to the event, he also doubles up on $40,000 Joe Rodeo diamond watches, both on one wrist. Says he: "It's hip-hop and it's the Oscars, yo."

8 A.M. Seven-months-pregnant RACHEL WEISZ and her fiancé, director DARREN ARONOFSKY, awake in their hotel, flip on their TV and settle in for some quality time with Frank Sinatra and Grace Kelly. "We watched High Society, the whole movie, and we ordered breakfast in bed and tried to relax," says Aronofsky.

10 A.M. After reading the paper, KEIRA KNIGHTLEY eats French toast, then starts to get ready for the show. Arriving later with her mom, dad and brother, she stops to sign autographs after getting a parental push. "My mum said, 'They're shouting for you! Would you go and sign now!' So I did."

10:30 A.M. GEORGE CLOONEY plays a few rounds of pickup basketball. "I lost every single game," he says.

11 A.M. Crash! While getting a cup of coffee, Crash screenwriter BOBBY MORESCO slams his finger in a door in his San Fernando Valley home. "I thought, 'Well, it can only get better,'" says Moresco. (It does.) Around the same time, nominee MATT DILLON takes "a nice, long run," he says. He does not expend mental energy pondering the night's outcome. "Everyone remembers who's nominated," he insists. "No one remembers who won."

2 P.M. While sister Maggie gets into her Bottega Veneta gown inside, nominee JAKE GYLLENHAAL spends guy time by the pool—watching hummingbirds—with her boyfriend, Peter Sarsgaard. "I told him he has to replace his [bird-feeder] water more often or they won't come back," says Sarsgaard. "They're temperamental."

3:10 P.M. A rough few minutes for NAOMI WATTS as someone in her entourage steps on her train three times in five minutes.

4:14 P.M. Pals SANDRA BULLOCK and KEANU REEVES are held up in a crowd trying to get through metal detectors. Once through, they face another throng. Keanu amuses his date by yelling, "Push throoooough!"

4:15 P.M. HELENA BONHAM CARTER hits the red carpet after tending to the fashion needs of partner TIM BURTON. In keeping with his spooky sartorial theme (his tie features white skulls), she makes cuff links out of buttons featuring the face of Frankenstein. "I am very crafty," she says.

4:28 P.M. Breathless from an encounter with MERYL STREEP, who tells her she's seen Pride & Prejudice "many times," KEIRA KNIGHTLEY is stopped in her tracks when a guest steps on her train. No apologies necessary, she says: "It's my fault for wearing this dress. It'll happen all night."

4:40 P.M. Twenty minutes before showtime, REESE WITHERSPOON darts past a gaggle of autograph-hungry fans, apologizing for not stopping because "I'm going to get in trouble!"

4:45 P.M. Presenter JENNIFER GARNER arrives and says, "I'm already ready to go." She's not a party pooper, just a new mom. As she says of 3-month-old Violet: "I'm missing her."

4:52 P.M. Over the protests of an usher, SALMA HAYEK cuts out of the red carpet line, steps over a velvet rope and heads for a bathroom, where she finds JENNIFER ANISTON touching up her makeup at a corner sink.

5:13 P.M. HILARY SWANK—who was wearing wedding and engagement rings—arrives too late to take her seat to watch Jon Stewart's opening monologue, so she waits at a second-floor bar, munching on a $5 bag of nuts and text-messaging.

5:24 P.M. Weisz makes one of many runs for the ladies' room, while Aronofsky waits at a nearby table with nominee PAUL GIAMATTI. While the boys chat—and Sideways alum Giamatti sips (what else) wine—Weisz fixes her gown and grumbles that "It's hard to move around in this f— dress."

6 P.M. After posing for pictures backstage with Best Costume Designer winner Colleen Atwood, presenter Jennifer Aniston steps aside to let photographers give Atwood a solo star moment. Aniston tries to watch the Best Supporting Actress Award on a nearby TV monitor but soon leaves when she realizes photographers are ignoring Atwood to snap the ex-Mrs. Pitt.

7:10 P.M. Hustle & Flow costar TARAJI HENSON gets ready to perform "It's Hard Out Here for a Pimp." She's not upset that Three 6 Mafia was asked to tone down the explicit lyrics. "My son, who's 11, is going to be watching tonight," she says. "I certainly don't want him hearing the original."

8:40 P.M. Ten minutes after the show wraps, UMA THURMAN grabs a latte at a coffee stand next to the valet.

8:50 P.M. FELICITY HUFFMAN and husband WILLIAM H. MACY wait for their limo—along with around 100 others. When a vehicle number is announced, Huffman shouts, "Bingo!"

8:51 P.M. Also in the car line, Bullock and Reeves chat with Uma Thurman by a heat lamp, then head off to pick up Bullock's husband, Jesse James, en route to post-Oscar festivities. "See you later tonight!" Thurman says. "Sometime.... Somewhere!"