By Sandy Cohen
LOS ANGELES — Backstage was bustling tonight at the Oscars as celebrities lined up to take the stage and announce winners. Daniel Craig, aka James Bond, stood with his arms folded and his face stiff as he watched the opening monologue on a monitor and waited to present the Oscar for art direction with Nicole Kidman. Craig finally cracked a grin when host Ellen DeGeneres joked that Americans were the most qualified to fill seats at the Kodak Theatre.
Jack Black and Will Ferrell high-fived DeGeneres as they made their way to the stage for their musical number, then high-fived each other after it ended. A publicist shared instant audience reaction from his Blackberry.
DeGeneres stopped young Jayden Christopher Syre Smith to compliment him on his role in the ‘‘Pursuit of Happyness’’ alongside his father, Will Smith.
‘‘If you ever get sick of living with your parents, I’ll take you,’’ DeGeneres told him.
Melissa Etheridge, nominated for her song ‘‘I Need to Wake Up’’ from ‘‘An Inconvenient Truth,’’ yelled ‘‘you’re funny’’ when she passed DeGeneres’ dressing room.
‘‘You’re funny and pretty and sweet and a singer,’’ DeGeneres replied.
After presenting the award in the sound-editing category, Greg Kinnear and Steve Carell waited backstage to watch the supporting-actor category won by Alan Arkin, their co-star in ‘‘Little Miss Sunshine.’’
‘‘Wow, congratulations.’’ Kinnear told Arkin.
‘‘I was really moved,’’ Arkin replied.
Kinnear said he and Carell were so nervous, they ‘‘were about to puke’’ before the award was announced.
Before the show, guests were greeted backstage by uniformed waiters serving champagne, cranberry-colored cocktails and bottles of Evian with straws.
Gustavo Santaolalla, nominated for his score for ‘‘Babel,’’ sipped gazpacho while actor Gael Garcia Bernal, who had a role in the film, sipped champagne with Cameron Diaz.
Keith Urban entered through a back door and went to a waiting room while DeGeneres gave an interview to Gayle King for the ‘‘Oprah Winfrey Show.’’
Winners on stage had a chance to fill their allotted 45 seconds of acceptance-speech time with something more meaningful and save the roll call of names for a backstage Web-based alternative — the new ‘‘Thank-You Cam.’’
The new alternative offered ample opportunity for winners to thank however many people they wanted to. Individual videos were broadcast moments later on Oscar.com, where they will remain until next year’s show.
Academy Awards producer Laura Ziskin came up with the ‘‘Thank-You Cam’’ concept months ago to dissuade winners from doing the deadly dull list thing onstage.