6:01 p.m.: And here it is. After two years of waiting for this moment since the last Globes, our first taste of fashion is… Ricky Gervais. In a basic Calvin Klein suit. Sigh. At least his date’s busy throws Ryan Seacrest for a loop because it’s by Laundry, which he seems to think means she is saying she grabbed it from the hamper. So at least we’re getting some awkwardness.
6:04 p.m.: Giuliana Rancic keeps referring to Kate Winslet as “Kate Winslut.” She also looks like she’s been on the Master Cleanse for six weeks. Have a sandwich, girl. Giuliana chats up Jonathan Rhys Myers, who sounds much sexier when he’s playing Henry VIII than he does in real life, but looks smart in his tux.
6:07 p.m.: WHAT IS JAY MANUEL WEARING? A question for the ages. It seems to be….a metallic paisley suit? He is a treasure. We do, however, question his assessment that Lisa Edelstein looks exciting. The black dress is fine, although it looks a bit like the bodice is hanging low, but we wouldn’t have even noticed the jewelry he deemed eye-popping if he hadn’t circled it. Oh, Jay.
6:13 p.m.: Aha! A lady! Taraji P. Henson is also in black, but it’s impossible to tell from the waist-up angle whether it’s any good because the bodice looks funky and almost see-through. The E! people really need to turn her or pan up and down so we can get a good look, or what’s the point? At least she’s cute. She yammers away about how she failed pre-calculus while House’s Jennifer Morrison is visible in the background patiently awaiting her turn.
6:15 p.m.: Morrison gets her turn in a lovely jewel-toned blue strapless number and jewelry by “uhh… Lorraine Schwartz.” Giuliana tells some outrageous lie about how it’s so hard to have an awards show after all the holiday eating we all do, as if she’s ingested anything but paprika water since 2006.
6:21 p.m.: Jenna Fischer continues her tradition of wearing something that looks a bit like a shower curtain, but this year’s version is prettier than usual, and her bag is cool. She did lament that it had no food in it, and fretted that if you don’t get in early, you don’t get the dinner. This explains why people are always talking about how drunk everyone gets.
6:24 p.m.: Everyone from The Office seems to be showing up simultaneously. Did they car pool? Angela Kinsey looks fine but kind of bland in a burgundy strapless number and no jewelry. Mindy Kaling is in black – our third actress to choose that color so far.
6:30 p.m.: How has NOBODY taught Rumer Willis how to stand? Her posture is appalling, like she’s always trying to scratch her knees without anyone noticing. The red hair is cuter than we’d expect from someone whose coif is often a bit disheveled, but the burgundy dress (No. 2 in that hue) really needs to be tugged up a tad. She did, however, kind of win us over with a crack about dad Bruce having no hair.
6:31 p.m.: Freida Pinto of Slumdog Millionaire is glowing in mustard (not something one hears every day about mustard). While the Slumdog folks talk to Giuliana, we get a full shot of Taraji Henson and her dress is actually black-and-brown flecked, we think. More interesting than at first glance but we still haven’t seen it from the front. We also haven’t seen Alec Baldwin from the front, but we’d know the back of that mad genius’s head anywhere.
6:37 p.m.: Every time we see Jay’s outfit, we are surprised anew – as is Ryan, who makes a crack about it later. Mr Jay gives us a rundown of Olivia Wilde’s pinky-lavendar ball gown using the “Glamastrator,” which doesn’t provide nearly enough detail for our happiness. We can’t even tell if we like the dress or not. PAN IN, GLAMASTRATOR.
6:40 p.m.: WE LOVE ALEC BALDWIN. He marches into Ryan’s booth blowing a bubble, then grabs the mic from Ryan and starts harrassing him about how Ryan has been featured in the tabloids “groping some woman” and asks him who he’s “scr… uh, seeing.” Eventually, Ryan manages to wrangle the microphone back, but Alec takes control yet again by imitating Andy Rooney – at Seacrest’s behest – and riffing on how Ryan’s questions are DUMB. Ryan is not nearly as amused by this as he ought to be and, frankly, we wish Baldwin would take over for him forever.
6:45 p.m.: Why is the TV Guide Channel advertising its red-carpet coverage in the MIDDLE of E!’s red-carpet coverage? Do they really think we’re going to change the channel just to see Lisa Rinna?
6:46 p.m.: Ryan Seacrest is interviewing Eva Longoria-Parker on the staircase leading up to his dais, shot from above and straight down her cleavage. Right before her nipple falls out of her red Reem Acra, he gets her up the stairs to the platform. Of course it’s shiny, and of COURSE it’s got a fishtail – both feel like her hallmarks somehow – but the hair and makeup are unusually restrained and she actually looks really good. Also, the cleavage, although threatening to burst free, IS fantastic.
6:48 p.m.: Aaron Eckhart gets introduced for the first time to Eva L-P, and they make a rather fetching couple. He does get stuck being the first person to talk about Heath Ledger, which we imagine is not an easy topic of conversation for anyone associated with that movie (“I get the chills when I talk about him”) and he gives a very nice tribute to his former colleague. Aw. Our small hearts grew three sizes today.
6:49 p.m.: Giuliana talks to the three Office co-workers who play Creed, Meredith, and Stanley. She’s like the red-carpet sorbet – the palate cleanser after an actual interesting and emotional moment, to recalibrate us and remind us exactly what we’re here for: holding outfits in shallow judgment.
6:51 p.m.: Mmm, Simon Baker. We’ve read the wild allegations that he might not wear deodorant, but we don’t care, because we can’t smell him through the TV. We can only look. And mentally devour.
6:58 p.m.: Evan Rachel Wood chats up Seacrest, looking weirdly like Nicole Kidman from the side – a far cry from when she was dating Marilyn Manson and looked like she was wearing a 24/7 Dita Von Teese costume. Her dress is black and shiny and has sequins and tiered ruffles and flowers. That sounds a bit busier than it actually is, but it’s not NOT busy, either. We’re lukewarm on it, but overall, she looks very pretty with very subtle, flattering makeup.
7:02 p.m.: Kristin Scott Thomas arrives, in beige. In case you were wondering, she does not age.
7:05 p.m.: Ryan talks to Debra Messing, who is wearing a purple/black/navy blue dress with ruffles that direct us all right to her crotch. Her emerald earrings, on the other hand, are fantastic, as Jay points out when he wields the Glamastrator.
7:07 p.m.: Giuliana talks to Kevin Nealon, who clearly loathes her. The entire exchange is really awkward, especially when he tells her he’s wearing “Nabisco” (his child has apparently been getting cracker crumbs all over his clothes) and she seems to think this might actually be a real designer.
7:09 p.m.: Ryan gets Susan Sarandon, who has taken the boobs out for the night, but who – despite our mad love for her in general – looks kind of old in a black pantsuit and sensible shoes. We’re getting into blingier territory here after a subtle start, and Susan makes no bones about pleading with Fred Leighton to let her keep the long diamond chain she’s sporting.
7:10 p.m.: Amy Adams is wearing enormous leaf earrings – we can’t decide if we love them or think they’re insane; maybe both? – and a big poofy black Oscar de la Renta. But more interesting is the glimpse we just got of Drew Barrymore, whose bleached-blond locks look like she just got expelled from a wind tunnel.
7:11 p.m.: Christina Applegate’s ornate flower necklace is unusual and cool, in an antiquey way, but her canary-yellow dress is a bit Belle-in-Beauty-and-the-Beast for our tastes. We guess that beats looking like Beast, though.
7:12 p.m.: Giuliana is getting all the more boring people. At this point, when she’s on, we just listen for if she messes something up and then use the time to rest our typing fingers.
7:16 p.m.: Maggie Gyllenhaal is wearing a bluish-purple animal print dress tied at one shoulder with a large froofy bow-like contraption. Our first reaction was horror, but the colors do at least work with her skin. She yammers smugly for about twenty minutes about how hard it is for her to talk about Heath Ledger. There is the hint of disgust that Ryan even asked her about him.
7:19 p.m.: Holy cannoli, we were not kidding before: Drew Barrymore’s hair looks as though she was shot out of a cannon. She also sounds as dippy as usual when she talks about Grey Gardens. Is that why she’s wearing grey? Too on-the-nose, Drew.
7:21 p.m.: It’s the Disney-friendly segment of the show: Ryan talks to the Jonas Brothers, and then gets the entire Cyrus family. Miley looks very cute and much more age-appropriate than she did at the Oscars, but then complains that she only got a HAND-ME-DOWN Porsche for her sixteenth birthday and we lose all feelings of goodwill for her. Stop complaining, you spoiled brat. Some people only get hand-me-down floor mats. America’s collective broke asses aren’t going to have much sympathy for your struggles with your mildly used luxury sports car.
7:29 p.m.: Seacrest touts their mostly useless “Star Tracker,” where they take a really wide shot of the red carpet and point to a bunch of famous people you really can’t see. E! really needs to work on its camera angles.
7:30 p.m.: America Ferrera gets the quickest of interviews before Seacrest jettisons her and her pointy-boobed ball gown for Kyra Sedgwick and Eva Mendes. Kyra’s Oscar de la Renta is tight, red, and fabulous, and Eva is in a sloppily-fitted white Dior. They’re both continuing the trend of incredibly understated makeup – so far, we’ve only spied Amanda Seyfried in a strong lip color – and both of them get hustled out of the way in favor of…
7:32 p.m.: … Kate and Leo. There’s jokes about how much they loathe each other before Leonardo DiCaprio says, “She’s my homie.” Winslet is in black and is rocking some crimson lipstick. It’s a big ol’ lovefest here. He adores her, she cherishes him, they both value working together, etc. Thank God they’re not actually dating, because what the hell could you call them? Kato? Lete? No. Doesn’t work.
7:34 p.m.: Anne Hathaway picked midnight blue Armani Prive, with a very sparkly bodice, and looks typically tiny. She is ALSO wearing darker lip color, so maybe all the people who arrived early just ran out of time to apply theirs in the limo. Hathaway waxes rhapsodic about how great her part was in Rachel Getting Married, and then shares that in the past year she’s learned how to accept love. Okay. Normally, we’d make fun of her for this, but girlfriend did have a really bad year, as far as love goes, so we’ll give her a pass.
7:39 p.m.: Marisa Tomei is wearing a pirate shirt with a long, dark skirt and a giant handful of jewels. It’s a ballsy choice on her part, which we have to appreciate, even if we’re not totally sure it works.
7:41 p.m.: Ryan gets his claws in Beyonce, who looks….just like Beyonce. After about 30 seconds, he sort of shoves her aside to climb down from his perch to CHASE Brangelina down the red carpet. We are not exaggerating. He full-on bolts down the stairs shouting their names, and they COMPLETELY SNUB HIM. Angie pretends he isn’t even there, as he stands behind them calling out their names pleadingly. AWKWARD. Also: FABULOUS.
7:44 p.m.: Instead of Brangelina, Ryan has to settle for Penelope Cruz, who looks kind of boring – albeit, of course, gorgeous – in a gold column dress. She sounds like she’s fumbling to say nice things about working with Woody Allen in Vicky Cristina Barcelona; she should have cut her losses and just changed the subject.
7:49 p.m.: After an overdue long commercial break, we slam back in with the MOST AMAZING shot of a crazy-looking blonde lady in a shoulderless black dress with a nude-hued panel in the front. It begs people to stare at it for a glimpse of nipple, to see if it’s actually transparent or just an effect. “WHO IS THAT?” we asked each other. “Is that…. Renee Zellweger? Please be Renee Zellweger. OH MY GOD, IT IS RENEE ZELLWEGER.” She and Drew Barrymore are totally saving this night from being all quiet elegance. Bless their nutty souls.
7:51 p.m.: Newsflash: Jeremy Piven has not bothered to shave at an awards show. Please try not to pass out from shock. While he talks about bolting from Speed-The-Plow, while trying to convince audiences who aren’t buying tickets that William H. Macy will be better than he was in the play, we see Salma Hayek and her spectacular breasts almost trip and fall on her face. Fortunately, she didn’t, although thanks to those magnificent cushions, she probably would’ve bounced.
7:52 p.m.: For reasons that are unclear, Megan Fox claims she is a tranny. Then she announces she’s so petrified to be there that she might vomit, and joins us in drooling over Salma Hayek’s boobs. And, as if she heard us, she notes that Brian Austin Green did not join her because “he’s a man,” implying – or possibly even saying directly – that his ego can’t handle attending as someone’s date. She says he’s probably not even watching, and that he’s at home working on music. We deeply hope his “music” is a remix of “You Are So Precious To Me (Am I Precious To You?).” We also hope we didn’t just glimpse the beginning of the end of their relationship, because she allegedly has “Brian” tattooed right above her, er, bikini line, and that could be very uncomfortable to erase. And possibly even weirder to leave there.
7:57 p.m.: Seacrest runs down to the red carpet to talk to Tom Cruise, who graciously chats him up, even though he’s practically running inside the theatre (while also cutely escorting wife Katie Holmes’ parents). It turns out that we secretly love Tom Cruise all of a sudden and we have no idea why.
7:58 p.m.: We then cut back to Mr. Jay, who brings up a shot of J. Lo, who looks FREAKING AWESOME in a gold, drapey, very low-cut, backless gown. He sweetly fails to mention that Ryan also wasn’t able to grab J Lo for a chit chat, which was very restrained considering the fact that Ryan has been making fun of Jay’s blazer all night.
7:59 p.m.: Last guest of the night: Sandra Bullock, who is wearing yet another ruffly off-white number. We don’t love it, but we do love her, not least because she doesn’t appear to have done anything rude to her face over the years. Ryan chats with her for a moment and then, with absolutely no fanfare, the red carpet is over and E! pushes play on…Napoleon Dynamite? Okay, then.
To see all the highs and lows from the red carpet, check out the slideshow.