Oscar fans kept at arms length
Jason Korsner reports from LA
15 February 2010
The exclusive Beverly Hilton hotel in Beverly Hills has again played host to the annual Oscar nominees luncheon, the first time those up for the most prestigious awards in the film calendar have a chance to celebrate collectively.
This event used to be one of those rare opportunities where the very fans who put the stars where they are almost got to mingle with them. They could stand by the entrance, where the nominees jumped out of their limousines or line the foyer, collecting photographs and autographs as the stars made their way to the official press line. But this year, both inside and out, members of the public were kept behind a cordon so far away that that any interaction was kept to a minimum.
Most of the stars were so far away that hotel guests – some of whom paid for a room there simply to get a better view – didn’t even bother hanging around. Some even shouted that they wanted to return their room key for a refund.
It was mostly only the hardened professional autograph hunters who stuck it out, screaming to attract the attention of the nominees. It was mostly only the first timers or smaller names, who might fear this will be their only chance to bask in such glory – who headed over to enjoy the attention.
Anyone not willing to push smaller people out of the way and who didn’t have dozens of 10x8s, waiting to be whipped out of a satchel, neatly filed into sections for each nominee, would be wasting their time. These bullies are in their element, running down the line, thrusting photograph after photograph in the face of the unsuspecting stars, who apparently believe they’re signing for dozens of fans, rather than a handful of professionals who simply don’t care who they are.
Only a couple of nominees were good enough to work their way right to the end of the line and have their photographs taken with children, waiting patiently for the scrummage to be over. The British actress Carey Mulligan (a Best Leading Actress contender for An Education) gave the crowd more time than most. She said the whole Oscar experience had been mad and surreal, and there’s still three weeks to go. She told reporters that her best moment at the luncheon was walking backwards and bumping her backside into Quentin Tarantino’s. Jeremy Renner – an unexpected nominee in the Best Leading Actor category for The Hurt Locker – also appeared to enjoy meeting the few fans who held out long enough to meet the stars.
All of the big names stopped for the formal press line-up. Other nominees in Renner’s category – including Britain’s Colin Firth (A Single Man) and Jeff Bridges (Crazy Heart) delighted in the attention of the world’s press inside. First said he had no idea how he felt, but he was sure he was ecstatic. Bridges said he was surprised at how grand an event it was, thinking it would’ve been more of an intimate
The Best Supporting Actor nominee Woody Harrelson (The Messenger) said he suspected that the winner of his category would have an accent – but it wouldn’t be a southern one. It felt very much like a nod to the Austrian Christoph Waltz who’s been sweeping up all the Best Supporting Actor awards going for his role as the Jew Hunter in Tarantino’s Inglourious Basterds.
Other nominees in attendance at the luncheon included Meryl Streep (Julie & Julia) – no stranger to the event, with her record number of nominations, Maggie Gyllenhaal (Crazy Heart), Gabourey Sidibe (Precious) and her director Lee Daniels. Other guests included his rivals for the directing Oscar, ex husband-and-wife James Cameron (Avatar) and Kathryn Bigelow, whose Directors’ Guild Award for The Hurt Locker makes her a favourite from the prize.
The Oscars will be handed out on Sunday the 7th of March, at the Kodak Theatre in Hollywood.