Want to encounter a few hundred impeccably dressed, extremely happy film professionals? The annual Oscar nominees luncheon is the place to be.
Despite a rainy morning in Los Angeles, the mood was predictably upbeat at Monday’s annual gathering of Academy Award nominees at the Beverly Hilton in Beverly Hills. Honorees walked yet another red carpet, mingled during a cocktail hour, enjoyed a salmon lunch and, finally, posed for the famous “class photo” (above).
While bold-faced names like Viggo Mortensen (Best Actor, Green Book) and Willem Dafoe (Best Actor, At Eternity’s Gate) found quiet corners to confab, below the line and short film contenders used the opportunity to snap selfies with the likes of Rami Malek (Best Actor, Bohemian Rhapsody), Christian Bale (Best Actor, Vice) and Mahershala Ali (Best Supporting Actor, Green Brook), proving even Oscar nominees can be fanboys.
With photographers swarming, a handler of Rachel Weisz (Best Supporting Actress, The Favourite) guided her over to meet Marvel Studios chief Kevin Feige, a Best Picture nominee for Black Panther who attended in the “undercover superhero” signature logo-less baseball cap. Could a new MCU partnership be in the works? That’s what fans of Lady Gaga (Best Actress, A Star Is Born) were hoping when we posted this photo of the Best Actress contender standing next to Feige as the noms began filling the bleachers for the class photo. (Dazzler, anyone?)
— Kevin Polowy (@djkevlar) February 4, 2019
Asked how he celebrated his second nomination for Best Score, Moonlight and If Beale Street Could Talk composer Nicholas Britell said “I did everything.” (Though when asked to elaborate, it seemed he’s just continued promoting Beale Street at Q&As and such.) Hannah Beachler, who became the first African-American woman ever nominated for Best Production Design with Black Panther, said she simply went back to work on a Tom Hanks-directed project in Cincinnati. Speaking of Black Panther‘s production design, one of the most remarkable things about the seven-time nominated superhero movie is that while it’s set mainly in the fictional African country of Wakanda, all of the first unit shooting was done stateside. “People ask me where we filmed in Africa,” Beachler said. “I say, ‘Atlanta.'”
Revered director of photography Caleb Deschanel (Best Cinematography, Never Look Away) remarked how excited he was to be seated at the same table as “Glenny” — that’ll be The Wife Oscar favorite Glenn Close. In a Role Recall interview with Yahoo Entertainment earlier this year, Close credited her third Oscar nomination, for The Natural, to Deschanel, now a six-time nominee and the father of actresses Zooey and Emily.
While addressing the audience, Academy president John Bailey did not seem the least beleaguered over what’s been a challenging year for the organization between the blowback they faced over a proposed “Best Popular Film” category and the controversy over the short-lived tenure of one-time host Kevin Hart before he stepped down over a history of homophobic comments and tweets. While the host situation was never broached (the show will be hostless for the first time in 30 years, barring an 11th-hour change), Bailey did reference the very first Academy Awards ceremony in 1927, which included two Best Picture champions (Wings for “Best Picture, Production” and Sunrise for Best Picture, Unique and Artistic Productions, though Wings is historically considered the legit Best Picture winner). In other words: It’s been done before.
Bailey touted the record-breaking number of women nominated for Oscars, as well as high-profile first-time nominees like Spike Lee (BlackKkKlansman) in the Best Director category and Paul Schrader (First Reformed) in Best Original Screenplay.
He also promised a three-hour telecast (the Oscars is known for going well over), which was echoed by the show’s producers, Glenn Weiss (who won the Emmys last year with his marriage proposal) and Donna Giglotti. Rumors of what’s being cut from the telecast, however, has raised some eyebrows on Twitter, and the Academy has since changed their minds that only two of the five nominees for Best Original Song would perform live. Regardless, if your Oscar pool is still using “show length” as a tie breaker, bet on 3 hours on the dot.
Weiss and Giglotti, meanwhile, coached potential winners on the most effective way to deliver an Oscar speech, warning that all victors have no more than 45 seconds. As an example of what they considered one of the best, most “meaningful” speeches in Oscars history (another word that was oft-echoed), they aired Steven Soderbergh’s memorable acceptance speech from when he won Best Director in 2001 for Traffic (he was also nominated that year for Erin Brockovich) in which he championed the arts at large.
Then came Laura Dern Time. The Academy governor once again gamely handled duties of announcing (and oftentimes, impressively pronouncing) the entire roster of nominees in attendance as they made their way up to the bleachers for the class photo. (Notable absences included The Favourite actresses Emma Stone and Olivia Colman, Black Panther soundtrack artists Kendrick Lamar and SZA, BlacKkKlansman actor Adam Driver and Green Book co-writer Nick Vallelonga (who might not have drawn the warmest reception after an anti-Muslim tweet resurfaced in the lead-up to nominations).
As for who received the loudest applause — if it means anything in the tea leaf-reading that is predicting the Oscars, that would be Lee, Regina King (Best Supporting Actress, Beale Street), Malek, Barry Jenkins (Best Adapted Screenplay, Beale Street), Ali and Phil Lord (Best Animated Feature, Spider-Man: Into the Spider-verse) — but oddly, not his co-producer and partner in crime, Chris Miller.
Only one nominee was prefaced with “Queen,” though. And that would be Lady Gaga.
Watch Lady Gaga talk about her role in A Star Is Born:
The 91st Annual Academy Awards air on ABC at 8 p.m. ET on Feb. 24.
Read more on Yahoo Entertainment:
- Oscar 2019 streaming guide: Where to watch every nominated movie
- Our 2019 Oscars instant predictions: Will ‘Roma,’ ‘Green Book’ or ‘BlacKkKlansman’ win?
- ‘Black Panther’ in, Bradley Cooper out: The biggest 2019 Oscar snubs, surprises and milestones