Thompson on Hollywood

Backstage at the Oscars, I'm wearing a headset (piping in the show) and sitting near Variety and the NYTimes. Indiewire has shelled out for a DSL line. After a frenetic chilly red carpet, and a funny video opener from James Franco, Anne Hathaway, Alec Baldwin and Morgan Freeman, the first awards were both in highly contested categories: Art Direction and Cinematography. Robert Stromberg thanked "the wacky wonderful world of Tim Burton," as he accepted for Alice in Wonderland. He also won for Avatar, so this is his second Oscar in a row. Inception was also in the running.

Wally Pfister won for Inception, when long-nominated Roger Deakins (nine) had been expected to win for True Grit. Stunning dreamscapes in Inception carried the day.

UPDATE: Stromberg backstage:

"The biggest challenge was making sure the actors knew where they were in all the environments," he says. "The production designer is more involved with visual effects. You rely on visual effects people to fill in those green screens." It helps that he comes from visual effects. "I feel that, esign is design no matter what form. We have lots of new technology that we're trying to fuse art and machine. The next generation of kids will know what they are doing."

Stromberg says he expected Inception to win. Johnny Depp decided to walk across the table, across all their china. That was the toughest challenge.