Academy honours Oscar nominees at annual luncheon
Most of this year’s Oscar nominees have been the guests of honour at an exclusive luncheon at the Beverly Hilton Hotel – an annual event at which the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences brings the nominees together for an informal celebration of their achievements – three weeks before the awards season reaches its climax.
The publicity-shy directors Terrence Malick and Woody Allen were the most high profile no-shows, as about a hundred and fifty of those in contention for the film business’s most sought after honours gathered to eat Asian-themed hors d’oeuvres, Atlantic salmon and sorbet with mango sauce and berries – with the more experienced nominees offering advice to neophytes on how to compose themselves if they win – or lose – on the big day, later this month.
In an attempt to prevent the lobby being flooded with fans, hoping to catch a glimpse of stars including George Clooney and Brad Pitt, both of whom were on this years list of invitees, the hotel bosses limit the public viewing space to hotel guests, so people in the know book into the Hilton months in advance to ensure a spot.
Some of the celebrities sneak in the back door, but others are happy to mingle with the crowd that includes enthusiastic fans, lucky holidaymakers who happened to have arrived at the right hotel at the right time and professional autograph hunters, who muscle to the front with reams of posters and photographs.
Best Actor nominee Pitt, Michelle Williams, who’s up for Best Actress, her My Week With Marilyn co-star and Best Supporting Actor nominee Kenneth Branagh, The Help star Octavia Spencer, who’s up for Best Supporting Actress and Hugo director Martin Scorsese were among those who gave the most time to the crowd, working the line, signing autographs and posing for photographs.
While the nominees were inside, posing for photographs with the rivals in their category, before gathering for a group shot, outside the hubub continued; The Help supporting actress Missi Pyle, not nominated for an Oscar, was wandering around in the apparently in the hope that someone who stop her for an autograph too. She succeeded; it was a long wait for those hoping for another glimpse of the stars on their way out.
Many of the big names, including Clooney, his The Descendants director Alexander Payne, Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy’s Gary Oldman, Glenn Close from Albert Nobbs, Warrior’s Nick Nolte, his fellow supporting actor nominee, the octogenarian Max von Sydow and The Artist’s Jean Dujardin did a circuit of TV interviews around the hotel pool after lunch – some stopping to wave at delighted diners at the Beverly Hilton’s poolside restaurant.
From here, the pleasantries give way to rivalry as the studios step up their campaigns to secure the trophies for their films, although the Academy has clamped down on parties this season, to try to assure the public that awards are being earned not bought.
The Oscars will be handed out at the biggest event of the film calendar in Hollywood on 26 February.