For years I
have been lucky enough to be invited to the Oscar Nominees Luncheon, and let me
assure you, I am never blasé about it. I get to mingle with people I admire,
from both sides of the camera, at an event where no one is tense or nervous.
Once inside the International Ballroom of the Beverly Hilton Hotel, the
nominees (150 this year), Academy governors, and A-list filmmakers have a great
time schmoozing and enjoying each other’s company. The Academy makes sure that
seating is random, so a major movie star will be seated next to a sound mixer, or
a documentary short-subject director, or an animator. There are no tables
devoted to studios or nominated films. This event celebrates the community of
filmmaking and it is exhilarating. (I must apologize in advance for
name-dropping; in this instance it’s unavoidable.)
Here is how I
learn where I’m going to sit: by bingo-style lottery. This year I joined Brie
Larson, screenwriting nominee S. Lee Savidge (Straight Outta Compton), The
Big Short producer Jeremy Kleiner, noted casting director Ronna Kress, and
Academy Governor Lora Kennedy, of the Casting Directors’ Branch. Nice company
for a lovely lunch.
You wouldn’t know that Brie Larson
was hours away from having to fly back to Australia to continue filming Kong: Skull Island. She was clearly
enjoying the day, and when she got up to speak to Jennifer Lawrence I couldn’t
resist asking if they would pose for me.
One of the
nice things about award season in Hollywood is that I get to share it with my
best friend, Deadline Hollywood’s Pete
Hammond. Here we are with Mark Ruffalo, one of the nicest people I’ve
encountered in this business.
not my strong point but I know a great outfit when I see it, and Rachel McAdams
So did Rooney
Mara, who went through this process four years ago when she was nominated for
Best Actress in The Girl with the Dragon
I was having
a nice conversation with Sylvester Stallone, who came to my USC class last
November, when I became aware that Leonardo Di Caprio had entered the ballroom
and the fotogs were eager to get the two actors together. I said this to
Stallone and his publicist mouthed a “thank you” as she nudged him toward Leo,
where cameras and camera-phones broke into a shooting frenzy. Here’s my
souvenir of that moment.
ballroom, my colorful daughter Jessie was handing out unicorn stickers, as she
is wont to do. Leave it to an Aussie like Mad
Max director George Miller to put it on his lapel without a moment’s
hesitation. Two of the Spotlight producers
told me later that they were going to keep theirs as good luck tokens.
much of his career has been in television, Bryan Cranston is a newcomer to the
world of Oscar, but he earned his way in with that performance in Trumbo.
complimented Matt Damon on his work in The
Martian he said, “It helps to have a great director.” I was glad that
although Ridley Scott isn’t nominated in that category he is an Oscar nominee as one of the producers of The Martian. It’s one of my favorite
films of 2015.