The Early Show entertainment contributor and People Magazine Senior Editor Jess Cagle says the excitement started building where it always does -- on the red carpet.
"I was 9 when I had this dream, and I'm living it, and I'm just so thankful," saidas she arrived.
The dream continued inside, whenwon her second Best Actress Oscar for her work in "Million Dollar Baby."
"This is better than the icing on the cake," she said.
It was a two-fisted win for "Million Dollar Baby" 's Eastwood, who served as both director and co-producer.
"I feel good," he said. "It was a long journey with these guys, but I'm glad to be in the history books for 2005."
When he got to the ceremony,was asked by Cagle how Freeman would be celebrating later. "Dancing with my wife. She's a great dancer!" was Freeman's response.
He had reason to kick up his heels. After multiple nominations, he, too, took home a statuette for "Million Dollar Baby," as Best Supporting Actor.
Backstage, he noted that Oscar is paying more attention to African-American actors: "It means that Hollywood is continuing to make history. Life goes on. Things change. They never stay the same. So we're evolving with the rest of the world."
said, "I feel fabulous," as he walked down the red carpet.
Sure enough, the heavily favored Foxx took home Best Actor honors for his striking portrayal of Ray Charles in "Ray."
Foxx gave emotional thanks to his late grandmother, after picking up the Oscar: "I talk to her in my dreams. I can't wait to go to sleep tonight because we have a lot to talk about."
Oscar is still looking good at 77, Cagle observes. But this year, the Academy decided the show itself could use a facelift.
To streamline the proceedings, some groups of nominees stood onstage as the winner's name was read. And others never made it to the stage at all, accepting their award from the aisle.
Hostadded a touch of irreverence, including his reaction to the crowd's standing ovation. "Sit you're a--es down! " he exclaimed.
When she arrived,told Cagle she was feeling "pure excitement. What can you do at this point but sit back and enjoy it?"
"The Aviator" flew high with five Oscars, more than any other movie, but its biggest prize was Best Supporting Actress for Blanchett. Appropriately enough, she won for her portrayal of a multiple Oscar-winner, Katharine Hepburn.