The Oscar telecast will start on the evening of Feb. 28, but expect it to finish on the morning of Feb. 29.
Last year’s show, the seventh-longest in Oscar history, ran 3 hours, 43 minutes — or in movie terms, 45 minutes more than “The Godfather” and 15 minutes less than “Gone With the Wind.”
Hollywood’s annual lovefest has come a long — make that a veeery long way — from the first ceremony on May 16, 1929, which lasted 15 minutes. Here are the Oscarcasts that took award-giving to new lengths.
THE YEAR 2002
LENGTH 4 hours, 23 minutes
STRETCH MARKS The show ran long for history-making reasons. Halle Berry (“Monster’s Ball”) delivered an emotional speech after being chosen as the first African-American best actress winner. Denzel Washington (“Training Day”) became the first black man to win a best actor Oscar since Sidney Poitier for “Lilies of the Field” (1963). Poitier received an 85-second standing ovation as he accepted his honorary Oscar.
THE YEAR 2000
LENGTH 4 hours, 9 minutes
STRETCH MARKS Musical numbers that ran for what seemed like from here to eternity abounded. First came Billy Crystal’s song parodies of the best picture nominees, then Robin Williams’ rendition of original song nominee — and censors’ nightmare — “Blame Canada” from “South Park: Bigger, Longer and Uncut,” and finally a medley of past original song winners performed by Garth Brooks, Isaac Hayes and others.
THE YEAR 1999
LENGTH 4 hours, 2 minutes
STRETCH MARKS The theme song for this telecast should have been “I Could Have Danced All Night,” which was exemplified by an interpretive dance performed by an international troupe to introduce the original score nominees. Then Roberto Benigni took a long time leaping through the audience before reaching the stage to accept his best actor Oscar for “Life Is Beautiful.”
THE YEAR 2007
LENGTH 3 hours, 51 minutes
STRETCH MARKS Will Ferrell, Jack Black and John C. Reilly headlined a four-minute production number lamenting that “the saddest man of all” at the Oscars is a comedian. The Hollywood Film Chorale Sound Effects Choir, aka the Honda Choir, was also brought in to produce sound effects during a clipfest dubbed “Elements and Motion.”
THE YEAR 1998
LENGTH 3 hours, 47 minutes
STRETCH MARKS For the 70th Oscar ceremony, past winners were invited back for a “class photo” that took 14 minutes to snap. During his “I’m king of the world” acceptance speech, “Titanic” director James Cameron requested a moment of silence in tribute to victims of the 1912 ocean liner disaster. With the silence broken, he wrapped up by telling everyone to “party until dawn!”
— DANIEL BUBBEO