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.
Fashion is not my strong point but I know a great outfit when I see it, and Rachel McAdams looked amazing.
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.
Because so 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.